Finding the Perfect New Dog

By: Kathryn Sarpong, DVM, DABVP

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COVID and working from home have brought lots of new animals into our lives. I know many families are still contemplating a new dog. What type, what size, what personality, fits my life? These are important decisions to consider.

Where To Find a Dog-Breeder Versus Shelter / Rescue Group: Consider rescue groups for dog adoption even if looking for a pure breed dog/ mostly pure breed. They get a large number of great dogs needing homes and have the advantage of being able to tell you about the personality and habits prior to bringing them home. This is a great option if you are new to sharing your life with a dog since a young puppy is usually the most challenging time. Do not get a puppy at a flea market setting or off a website where you “meet up” with the breeder at a parking lot. These are often fronts for puppy mills and you could be inadvertently supporting a cruel industry. The dogs often suffer from in-bred leading to numerous health issues. A client recently purchased a puppy for $3,000 with many congenital health problems and the breeder refused to refund the purchase price or be responsible in any way for the poor health of the animal. I am often involved in cases of breeding dogs dumped at local parks when their poor bodies are exhausted from having had too many litters. Good breeders usually have long waiting lists and are happy to provide you with references for their dogs.

Researching Breeds: This is an important step to consider if looking for a pure breed or mix of pure breeds. Most pure bred dogs (not everyone) share genetic personality traits based on the original purpose breeding of the dog line. Some breeds are very high energy (Labradors, Vizslas, Jack Russel Terriers) and some are highly intelligent and need a family dedicated to training them intensely (German Shepherds and Border Collies). Some breeds are great lap dogs (Cavalier King Charles, Bichon), but do not want high stakes adventure or to be your jogging partner. Some breeds are sweet natured and good with children, but generally terrible guard dogs (Golden Retrievers). Some cannot take the heat of Texas, and need to mostly be indoor dogs (Bulldogs, Frenchies, Bernese Mountain Dogs). Know that some pure breed dogs are more expensive over their lifetimes for common medical issues (English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Great Danes). The average mutt is healthier than the average pure bred dog.

Shedding is a common concern of many potential dog owners. Some breeds and crosses shed much less than other dogs, but the crosses can occasionally still shed. So, be aware that the poodle cross may still shed!

I recommend talking to your vet, a rescue group, or even a doggie day care owner about your lifestyle and what you seek in a dog companion. Spend time with friends that have a dog breed you are considering in their homes and ask hard questions about the things that are challenging. And just like with human children – there are no guarantees……. So enjoy the adventure!