Numerous factors involvedin choosing right dog for you

Matthew Bradfield and his dog Neesha, of Perrysburg, during the Beauty PAWgent. The Wood County Humane Society's Mutt Strut at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg.
Matthew Bradfield and his dog Neesha, of Perrysburg, during the Beauty PAWgent. The Wood County Humane Society's Mutt Strut at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve in Perrysburg.

One of the more com­mon ques­tions I hear from peo­ple con­sid­er­ing a new dog is what breed is right for them. It is a rel­a­tively sim­ple ques­tion and peo­ple are taken aback when they get such a com­plex an­swer. Numer­ous fac­tors en­ter into the de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cess and the con­se­quences can be di­sas­trous if the wrong per­son­al­ity dog comes into your life, be­cause be­hav­ioral prob­lems are the num­ber one rea­son dogs are sur­ren­dered.

The liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment needs to be matched to what type of dog you may be bring­ing home. Do you live in an apart­ment or have a small yard? Then a high-en­ergy dog like a Lab­ra­dor re­triever or bor­der col­lie might not be a good fit. Dogs that do not get ade­quate ex­er­cise are prone to de­struc­tive be­hav­iors like chew­ing and dig­ging. A howl­ing bea­gle might cause some trou­ble with your neigh­bors if you are in a du­plex.

Are you up for the on­go­ing care some breeds may need? A bichon looks beau­ti­ful with the long flow­ing white hair, but that is a high-main­te­nance ap­pear­ance. Reg­u­lar bath­ing and groom­ing are im­por­tant for some dogs and if you do not have the time or in­cli­na­tion, a lower main­te­nance dog might be bet­ter.

Do you have young chil­dren? Herd­ing breeds such as col­lies, sheep­dogs, and Shel­ties might not be the best choice. Young chil­dren are prone to run around in a hap­haz­ard fash­ion, which a herd­ing breed sees as an op­por­tu­nity to bring or­der to the world and in­stinc­tively may try to cor­ral the kids with bark­ing and nip­ping. We all have im­ages of Lassie sav­ing Tommy in the well, but the pic­ture might be very dif­fer­ent if Tommy was play­ing foot­ball with his friends in the back­yard.

Most im­por­tantly, you need to match your per­son­al­ity with the dog you are con­sid­er­ing. This is where some in­tro­spec­tion and hon­esty is vi­tal. A strong-willed dog will get his way and if you do not have the time or for­ti­tude for rig­or­ous train­ing, you might be adopt­ing a four-legged boss for life. Ter­ri­ers are no­to­ri­ously sin­gle-minded and these dogs might not mesh well with you.

The most im­por­tant part of the pro­cess is to re­mem­ber that this is a long-term de­ci­sion and you are go­ing to be re­spon­si­ble for the care of this dog for a life­time. Bull­dog pup­pies are ador­able, but you need to be pre­pared to ad­dress the laun­dry list of health prob­lems they will have over the years.

The adop­tion fee is only the be­gin­ning and it is im­por­tant to keep in mind the costs that will be as­so­ci­ated with car­ing for this dog as he ages; if you are not in a fi­nan­cial po­si­tion to han­dle that, maybe wait­ing un­til you are is a wiser choice.

Keep in mind these are all gen­er­al­iza­tions of breeds. A dog’s in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­ity can and will trump ge­net­ics and you may be able to find the per­fectly calm, con­tent, and lazy bor­der col­lie. 

This is where get­ting help be­fore you make the de­ci­sion will avoid the need to cor­rect prob­lems down the road. 

Ask your vet­er­i­nar­ian’s of­fice for ad­vice on choos­ing the right per­son­al­ity puppy. They may work with res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions or could rec­om­mend rep­u­ta­ble ones that might be able to keep an eye out for the per­fect dog for you.

Ques­tions for Dr. Gary Thomp­son can be emailed to ask­thevet@the­ or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 N. Su­pe­rior St., Toledo, OH 43660. Dr. Thomp­son re­grets that he can­not an­swer in­di­vid­ual let­ters.