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Picking the right dog can be difficult but it is vitally important since you will be spending the next 10-15 years with your new canine friend. To help you make the right decision, consider the questions below:

Are you ready?

Most people are so excited to get a dog that they never stop to think about the true responsibilities of pet ownership. Are you ready to clean up diarrhea off of your favorite rug at 3am ? Or take your dog out to toilet in the pouring rain? Are you ready to have your house take on that unique odor that only a dog lover could enjoy? Or have dog hair on your favorite outfit? If you can say yes to these questions, then read on!

What type of dog fits into your life?

Too many people find the dog they want and then try to fit it into their current lifestyle. This often backfires once the Mastiff comes home to the small apartment or the 8 week old puppy has to stay alone for 10 hours as his parents go to work. Evaluate your life and what you want out of a dog. Be honest! How much time do you have for him? What type of activities do you want to do with him? Do you want a dog that sheds? Do you want a dog that can easily travel? Do you want a dog that can run all day or one that prefers to sit on the couch? Do you want an outgoing and dominant working dog or a soft and submissive lap dog? What will your life look like in the future? Do you want kids? Will your next job promotion require extensive trips? By honestly answering these questions, it can help you to narrow down exactly what type of dog will work best for you and your situation.

What age?

Puppies are adorable but they take TONS of work. They need to be potty trained, socialized, and taught basic manners. They will chew up at least one of your favorite possessions and pee on your rug. But they will also make you laugh and it can be one of the most enjoyable phases of a dog’s life. Adult dogs have already learned most of these behaviors so they take less work and can often adjust to your lifestyle faster but they may have some emotional baggage to deal with from previous homes. Older dogs tend to have less energy and are more content relaxin g with you on the couch. These “golden years” can be some of the best years to have a dog but since they are further along in their lifespan, health problems are more likely.

What Breed?

Picking the breed of dog you want is also critical since each breed has certain characteristics that will give you a clue into what your dog may be like in the future. For example, a lab is more likely to enjoy swimming then a Chihuahua. As you consider a breed think about size, energy level, grooming requirements, and temperament traits. But keep in mind that there is often a wide range of personalities within the same breed. Just because the puppy is a German Shepard does not mean it will necessarily make a good guard dog.

Purebred or mixed-breed?

A purebred dog has been selected for certain qualities and traits so you will have a general idea of what your dog will be like. But purebred dogs can be expensive and many breeds have certain hereditary diseases that you must be aware of. If you decide to buy a purebred dog, research the breeder thoroughly (see How to Pick a Good Breeder for more info). Mixed-bred dogs are often inexpensive and benefit from something called “hybrid vigor” which reduces the changes that the dog will be affected by hereditary diseases. However, the temperament and personality traits may be more difficult to predict since you are unsure of the dog’s genetic make up.

Which type of personality?

Too many people pick dogs based on sex or color. So many people say, “I picked him because I wanted a yellow male and he was the best looking in the litter” Looks is the last thing you should consider when you choose a dog because your handsome new family member may not be so cute after he eats the cake sitting on the dinning room table! To have the most successful relationship possible, you want a dog that has a similar personality to you. If you like to exercise a lot and are a natural leader then you will be most happy with the energetic dominant dog. If you tend to be more easy going, then the quiet submissive dog would be a better match.