Choosing the Right Dog for You

August 18th, 2012

The problem with adopting a dog from an animal shelter? The selection of available canine companions can overwhelm you! Man’s best friends come in all shapes, sizes, and—of course—personalities.

While almost any shelter dog can make a wonderful, lifelong companion for you and your family, some of those bundles of energy will make less appropriate pets for you than others.

The key is knowing what to look for. Here are a few things to think about:

What’s your lifestyle?

Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your lifestyle. If you live alone in a small, third-floor apartment, for instance, adopting a large, active retriever-mix might not be the best choice. Conversely, if you have a family of four and are looking for a companion to match your active lifestyle, such an animal may be perfect. A dog’s size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision. An adoption counselor can help you select canines who will match your lifestyle.

Breeds and mixes

How do you find out which dogs have the qualities you’re looking for? Information is the key: learn about various breeds, visit with animals at the shelter, and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance.

Dogs fall into one of two categories: purebreds or mixed breeds. Most animal shelters have plenty of both. The only significant difference between the two is that purebreds, because their parents and other ancestors are all members of the same breed, are similar to a specific “breed standard.” This means that if you adopt a purebred puppy, you have a good chance of knowing about how big he’ll get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics he’ll have.

Mixed breeds

Mixed breeds offer several advantages over purebreds. When you adopt a mixed breed, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog who’s likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. Mixed breeds, in fact, are often considered the more “natural” dog. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a unique companion.

Visit with shelter animals

While you’re at the shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Quite often, a dog’s true colors won’t show until he’s away from other animals and the shelter environment. So even if you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn’t vying for your attention, don’t count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.

Choose a pal for life

Every dog in the shelter can provide you with boundless love and companionship, and every dog certainly deserves a lifelong home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That’s why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you’re choosing a pal likely to be with you 10 to 15 years—or even longer. Select the right dog, and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.

Provided by The Humane Society of the United States www.hsus.org