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Dogsindepth: The Online Dog Encyclopedia Choosing a Dog for Your Lifestyle

So you are considering getting a dog.
Choosing a dog is a big decision. This guide to Choosing a Dog for Your Lifestyle offers you all the information you need to make the best decision when choosing a dog.

Did you know it's not just choosing a dog, it’s adding a new being into your life? Depending upon the age of a dog, their needs are similar to that of a new baby, a spouse or an elderly person. A dog needs food, shelter, exercise, grooming, health care and companionship. Some dogs need less, some dogs need more, but each and every dog requires at least these things from you. A dog is a commitment in time and money. A dog is a long-term permanent responsibility.

There are enough folks who go out of their way to bring suffering to a dog. You may have good intentions for getting a dog, but be sure you are not buying on a whim, that you are quite ready, meaning that should you ever need to undergo a change of living space, or get married and have children, you will be able to keep your dog with you. Surprisingly, one of the top 10 reasons why dogs and puppies are surrendered to shelters each year is due to "lifestyle change".

Most dogs and puppies that end up in pounds or kill shelters are euthanized. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 8-10 million dogs and puppies are euthanized each year at the cost to the taxpayers of $2 billion dollars per year.

Consider what will happen if you do give your dog or puppy up.
If you can no longer keep your dog, try to find a loving person or family or select a rescue organization or a no kill shelter first. If you must surrender your dog or puppy to a shelter, try not do do it during a holiday. Shelters and pounds are usually packed to capacity during these times and more than likely your dog or puppy will be euthanized before it has any chance of being adopted.

When surrendering a dog, should it have health problems, disclose the information. If it is a contractible illness don't jeopardize the health of the other dogs and puppies in the facility. Don't cause your dog or puppy added suffering by denying them their medication. It will also give a potential adopter the information they need to better care for your former dog or puppy.

Here is a brief overview of what owning a dog would require.

First consider why you might want a dog.
as a family pet
as an active companion
for sport - hunting, retrieving, obedience trials
for protection
for police work or rescue
for assistance
for show competitions

Consider whether you are home enough to prevent your dog from being lonely. Dogs are social creatures and enjoy company. Depending on the breed, you might consider having two dogs so they can keep each other company if you are away from home for long hours.

Consider whether you are or are not active.
Will determine your choosing a dog with a laid back demeanor or a very active one.

Consider who else might be affected. Take into consideration when choosing a dog the other family members, family members yet to come, family members with allergies, other pets, your landlord, neighbors or others if you live in an apartment building that may be affected.

Consider the financial costs of owning a dog.
Price to purchase
Dog food
Healthcare – shots, spay, neuter, medications (including flea, tick, wormer) - dogs suffer from many of the same illnesses as humans: cancers, blindness, heart disease, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, deafness
Equipment – dog food and water bowls, dog bedding, dog collars, leash, licensing, ID tags, dog toys, clothes
Grooming – hair and tooth brushes, combs, dog nail clippers, shampoos, toothpaste, dog skin and ear care products
Medical procedures - extended veterinary costs

Consider the commitment of time.
Regular affection - a dog will need and demand it of you
Feeding - a dog needs food and fresh water every day
Exercising - some dog breeds require high levels of exercise
Grooming - some dogs require hours of grooming to maintain cleanliness
Training - some dogs or puppies require more patience to train
Administering medications if needed

Consider how you might obtain a dog.
Wherever, inspect the premises for cleanliness. If you cannot travel to the location of the litter and inspect the premises, ask for references and contact them regarding the dog breeder or rescue organization.

•rescues – some folks think only bad dogs are given up, but that is not the case. There are many wonderful dogs waiting in shelters - with or without pedigrees - simply because they acted like their breed or in a manner their owner didn’t expect, or because there was a lifestyle change - the family had to move, there was a breakup, a downsize of living space, a family member developed an allergy, a new baby has taken up their time, or their owner has become ill or disabled.

•shelters/pound - these dogs and pups are in most need of adoption since they are on death row. Try to find out all you can about the dog or puppy, there might be health or vet records available. Do not adopt simply on the word of the shelter staff. Bring as many family members down to the shelter/pound and vigorously interact with the dog to gauge its level of sociability.

•a small kennel / hobby breeder - that has few litters per year and offers only one or two breeds, exerts the effort to hold and socialize the pups and breeds and screens to prevent such illnesses as: cancers, blindness, heart disease, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and deafness. Ask how long they have been breeding a particular breed. Ask them what happens if you cannot keep the puppy or dog. Will they take it back? A good way to find a reputable breeder is to get a referral from a rescue organization recommended by a national kennel club.

•kennel club referrals
•dog groomers
•trade magazines /on the web – try to visit and inspect the facility and parents and littermates

•pet stores and commercial kennelsstores invite the biggest risk of you supporting a puppy mill.

puppy mill A Puppy Mill

You may think you are paying less for a dog, but do your homework. Have or do they screen the dog for illnesses? Do they know the lineage? Do they breed out illness and hereditary disorders? Veterinary costs and medication will far outweigh the purchase price of a dog since dogs suffer many of the same illnesses as humans: cancers, blindness, heart diseasse, cataracts, epilepsy, hip dysplasia and deafness.

Don’t expect to be purchasing a national champion show quality dog. Beware of the establishment that might churn them out, overbreed dogs, sell them too young or without enough handling so they are not well adjusted.

Inspect the premises. Ask to see the parents and litter mates if possible. Check other dogs in litter. When choosing a dog, pick a plump and healthy puppy that asks for attention, don’t pick the runt out of pity and especially don’t be pushed into making a purchase from a hard driving salesperson.

Request a grace period in the contract--enough time to see if the dog or puppy is ill and to get test results back from the vet. If a puppy or dog is brought in from a kennel ask for papers and the breeder's name and require that they vouch for the pedigree (that the dog meets its breed standard) in writing.

Consider what type of dog

Male – costs less to neuter than spay. If not neutered might spray to mark territory and want to run off to mate.
Female – costs more to spay than neuter. If not spayed will go into heat and need sanitary conveniences and to be monitored to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Show/Not Show Quality - when choosing a dog get proper documentation and select a known industry breeder if you plan to show the dog in professional competitions.

Mixed Breed or Purebred -
there are good dogs with or without pedigrees. If choosing a mixed breed dog, try to find out what strains of breed the puppy is to better gauge the puppy's adult demeanor and traits.

Purebred groups:
the herding dog group - developed to control herds
the hound dog group - developed to assist man at the hunt
the nonsporting dog group - dogs whose utilitarian purpose has waned over time
the sporting dog group - developed to assist man to hunt fowl
the terrier dog group - developed to hunt vermin
the toy dog group - developed for companionship or toys for royalty
the working dog group - developed to assist man in working, pulling carts, guarding, fishing

Traits - when choosing a dog find out if the breed sheds, drools? barks or howls alot? digs? chews alot? hunts? Does it have a strong odor? Is it very active? Shy? Is it a dog breed accustomed to a cold climate? a hot climate? Does it most enjoy indoor or outdoor life? Does the breed travel well?

Temperament/disposition – when choosing a dog try to find out if the dog is affectionate? aloof? gentle? aggressive? playful? sedate? shy? high strung? hyperactive? fearful? Does it require abundant attention?

Size – when choosing a dog find out if the breed is large or small? resilient or frail? How much space does the breed require? a yard? a tall fence? Can it fare in an small apartment? If you travel, will the dog be a manageable size?

– when choosing a dog consider whether the breed requires little or constant grooming, clipping, brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, or dental maintenance?

– when choosing a dog find out if the breed requires little or vigorous exercise?

– when choosing a dog determine if the breed takes easily to command or does it require extra patience to train?

– when choosing a dog find out if the breed eats alot or does it pick?

Licensing/ID'ing your dog -
If you do not license, tag and ID, (and as an added measure microchip), your dog and it escapes and is picked up by a shelter there is no way for the shelter to notify you. You risk your dog or puppy being adopted out by another, or worse, euthanized once the alloted holding period ends.

Some shelters euthanize dogs and puppies after as little as 5 days.

What to look for when choosing a dog -
Age - If a puppy, they should be no younger than 2 months old. Don’t be swayed by pity for a runt, often they are accompanied by health problems. Puppies removed from their mother and littermates prematurely may lack basic socialization skills and suffer confusion over hierachy and dominance.

- Look for bright clear eyes with no dark runny stains, a cool nose that is slightly damp but not runny or scabby, ears that are free of wax and dirt, no bald patches or scabs, dry and clean under tail, firm pink gums-not bright red, shiny soft smooth coat (depending on the breed), fresh breath, white teeth, body a bit lean but not skinny, no incessant scratching, no red skin patches, no sign of lethargy or listlessness, no splayed toes (toes flat and spread apart), no persistent cough, no swollen stomach or no bow legs (sign of rickets). A dog or puppy should not cringe, lunge or snarl when you approach it. Most puppies should allow you to pet them.

Documentation - Check kennel registration papers, check any vet records, and get a guarantee of health. If you are buying to show, ask to see a 4th or 5th generation pedigree.

Ask for a Care Package and Instructions for the new puppy - To help the puppy or dog make a smoother transition, ask about and provide some things they are familiar with or bring them comfort. What type of food are they on? Do they have an exercise/eating/sleep routine? Any special types of toys or blankets they prefer and might take with them?

Choosing a dog or puppy requires alot of research and work.
We here at dogsindepth.com - the online dog encyclopedia, have provided this guide to choosing a dog and individual breed profile pages to greater assist you. We are adding links to rescue organizations so that you might adopt, receive enhanced information per dog breed, or seek a referral for a legitimate breeder from them-- or send them a little support. It is our greatest hope that the information provided in this guide for choosing a dog makes for a happy, comfortable relationship that lasts for the lifetime of the dog or puppy.

Dog Adoption Sites
adopt a homeless pet

Research Rescues
click here to charityfinder.org - research legitimate
animal rescues in your area

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