Adding a dog to your family is a very big decision. The choice about whether to get a puppy or an adult, or whether to buy from a breeder or adopt, is very personal and specific to each individual or family’s situation. One of the most important things to understand before making your decision is how the breed of a dog can impact its demeanor, personality, and temperament. Here are some things you should know about dog breeds before choosing your family pet.
Established Dog Breeds
Dog breeds have been created and established to categorize dogs that look, behave, and act similarly. Dogs are bred with other dogs of the same breed in order to continue the lineage of the group. Dogs that mate with other types of dogs produce offspring that are considered mixed-breed or, in some cases where the lineage cannot be traced, a mutt. Cross-breeds are dogs that are specifically bred to create a combination of characteristics between two breeds, such as a Goldendoodle, which is a combination of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle.
Predictable Breed Characteristics
Researching typical traits in different types of dogs is helpful in choosing your new dog, as breeds are easily predictable in temperament. Some of the characteristics specific to certain breeds are fairly consistent across all dogs in the breed. Greyhounds are known for having boundless energy, while Beagles are known for barking frequently, and French Bulldogs are noisy when breathing. Prior to bringing home a new dog, it is important to do your homework on the different breeds to ensure that the dog you choose is the right fit for your home and family.
Unpredictable Breed Characteristics
While many things about the breed can tell you about the dog, not all characteristics are predictable and certain for your specific pet. Aggressiveness, while sometimes considered a predictable characteristic for some breeds, is a trait that is not inherent. Instead, it is nearly always nurtured through the environment in which the dog is raised or has lived. Hyperactivity is also a trait that is not always ingrained in the genetics of certain breeds. Often, like aggression, excessive levels of activity are created by the environment. So, while knowing the breed will help you narrow down traits that are compatible with your home environment, it is essential to do your research on the dog’s early life. Interviewing the breeder or the shelter employees can help you to determine this information prior to selecting and bringing home your dog.
A dog that is considered purebred has a lineage including only one breed of animal. These dogs are the most consistent in terms of their predictable characteristics, which can be helpful when selecting a pet since you are better able to foresee the way the dog will act and behave in your home. While bringing home a purebred pet gives you some peace of mind about what to expect from your dog, some purebred dogs deal with health issues related to years of mating within the confines of the breed. For example, German Shepherds have a high incidence of hip dysplasia, while Pugs are known for having eye problems. When purchasing a purebred dog from a breeder, be sure to ask about any of the known medical concerns and ensure that your specific pet is cleared of any that can be determined at that point.
Dogs that are the product of two breeds mating often have their own unique set of characteristics. However, with cross-bred dogs, it is not always possible to know which sets of traits are stronger and more prominent in the specific pet that you are considering. Speaking with the breeder or shelter worker may be able to give you more insight about your dog’s specific background and parents, which can help you to better forecast your dog’s personality and temperament.
Mixed-Breed and Mutt
When several or more breeds are present in the lineage of a pup, it can be difficult to ascertain any information about the dog’s ancestry. In some cases, it can be impossible to know any or all of the breeds that are in the genetic makeup of the dog. This can make it hard to determine anything specific about the dog, and is why some may recommend avoiding bringing home a mixed-breed or a mutt. Mixed-breed and mutt dogs are typically found in shelters, as they are the result of unintentional breeding. Therefore, most of these dogs are usually older and have either had previous owners or have been subjected to harsh living conditions. It is important to talk with the person who has background and history information about the dog, as breed information may not be helpful with dogs that fall into these categories.
Those with pet allergies will be more sensitive to some dog breeds than others. Dogs with long hair and thick undercoats will shed more, and therefore create a higher risk of an allergic reaction or irritation. Some dogs have been bred to have hypoallergenic fur, which is less of an irritant to those with allergies to dogs. If you or another member of your family has an allergy to dogs, be sure to research the breeds for allergen information prior to selecting a dog for your home.
One of the most important things to consider when bringing home a dog is to ensure that it will fit your lifestyle. If you work long hours and do not have a lot of time to spend walking your dog, you will want to avoid breeds that are known for their high energy. If you are an avid hiker and want a dog that can climb mountains with you, you will want to avoid breeds of dogs that have short legs or breathing difficulties. Ensuring that a pet’s traits are similar to your interests and characteristics will ensure a better match.
Adding a dog to your family is an important decision and one that should be well thought out and thoroughly researched. Information about the different breeds can help you choose the right dog for you.