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Choosing Your Canine Companion

February 1 2024

Are you thinking about adopting a new dog? This can be an exciting and fun time. Of course, with so many cute pups out there in need of homes, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some tips from a local Carolina Forest, SC vet.

Choosing A Dog: Starting The Search

We’d suggest starting with the AKC, even if you aren’t looking for a purebred. Start by checking out the breed groups. Each breed was originally developed to perform specific jobs or tasks. You can get a pretty good idea about Fido’s temperament by finding out what group he is in and learning about breed characteristics.

The Hound Breeds

Tracking and following prey are hounds’ specialties. There are different categories of hounds. Scent hounds, such as the Bloodhound, track using their noses, while sight hounds, such as Greyhounds, go by sight. There’s also a third category, for pups that don’t fit neatly into the other two. It’s worth noting that many hounds are a bit vocal: some pups in this group have a specific type of vocalization, the bay. Beagles are in this group, along with Basset hounds, Bloodhounds, and Greyhounds.

Working Breeds

These dogs are characterized by their ability to perform specific tasks, from guarding livestock to pulling carts to protecting. They tend to be extremely smart, strong, and sturdy. The group includes many renowned watchdogs, including the Rottweiler and Doberman Pinscher; livestock guardian dogs, like the Great Pyrenees; and sled dogs, like huskies.

The Herding Breeds

The dogs in the herding group had one original focus: helping their humans herd and protect cattle. These jobs call for a lot of thinking and calculation, as well as stamina, so it’s not surprising that many of our most intelligent and active canines are in the herding group. That list  includes German Shepherds, Collies, and Sheepdogs.

The Sporting Breeds

Sporting dogs were initially charged with helping humans with hunting. They tend to be very active, and often have a lot of stamina. Many of these dogs are still more or less hardwired to perform their original tasks. For instance, Labrador Retrievers were excellent at retrieving waterfowl from lakes and ponds. That shows in Fido’s innate love of swimming and playing Fetch. This group includes not only Retrievers, but also setters and spaniels.

Terrier Breeds

Terriers differ widely in size, coat, and appearance. One thing they do have in common? A drive for going after prey. Smaller terriers were often bred to chase rodents, sometimes through underground burrows. Some of the larger ones were fighting dogs. You can expect many terriers to be playful, high energy, and a bit stubborn, as well as loving and affectionate.

Toy Breeds

Toy breeds all have two things in common: they’re very small, and very cute. These guys are cuddly companion dogs whose main task is to charm and comfort their owners. There are several breeds that fall into this category, including the Chihuahua, Pug, Pomeranian, Maltese, Pekinese, and Yorkie. Because of their small size, they’re ideal for people who live in apartments.

Other Breeds

Last but certainly not least, we have the non-sporting group, which serves as a catch-all for pups that don’t fit into other categories. While this may suggest a lack of specialties, many breeds in this group do have unique talents. Take the Dalmatian, for example, who has an impressive history of befriending horses and serving as a fire dog. And let’s not forget the Poodle, once an esteemed circus performer, or the French Bulldog, whose adorable face and bat ears have captured hearts nationwide.

What Are Some Ways To Know If A Dog Is Right For You?

After you have narrowed things down a bit, start looking at the remaining contenders. Each official breed has its own profile. These describe the characteristics people need to consider when choosing a puppy. Appearance is of course one thing: some people like fluffy dogs, while others prefer a sleeker pet. However, there are many other things to think about.

Aside from that, here are some things to consider:

  • Behavior With Young Children
  • Behavior With Other Dogs
  • Behavior With Cats
  • Shedding Level
  • Common Health Issues
  • Grooming Needs
  • Drooling Level
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Lifespan
  • Affectionate With Family
  • Coat Type
  • Coat Length
  • Openness To Strangers
  • Playfulness Level
  • Mental Stimulation Needs 
  • Watchdog/Protective Nature
  • Adaptability Level
  • Trainability Level
  • Energy Level
  • Barking Level

You’ll also want to consider your lifestyle, household, and goals. If you live in an apartment or have nearby neighbors, a pooch that barks at everything may cause friction. Renters may also have to stay within certain size limits. If you like going to events and socializing, a nervous homebody may not be a good match. Ask your Carolina Forest, SC veterinarians for more information.

Know The Benefits Of Adopting Mutts

We’ve discussed specific breeds, but let’s not forget mutts! In fact, the majority of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds. These often offer the best of both worlds. They’re cheaper than purebreds, and often sturdier!

Know What You Don’t Want In A Dog

It’s also important to know what your deal breakers are. For example, if you want backyard chickens, a pup with a strong prey drive probably isn’t going to fit in well. If you have a cat, a pup with strong prey drive may not be a good choice. Your Carolina Forest, SC veterinarian can offer tips as well.

Consider Fido’s Age

Many people go for puppies when choosing their pets. We know, little Fido is ridiculously cute. It’s also understandable that many prefer to raise their dogs themselves. However, puppies aren’t the right choice for everyone. Young dogs are very active and playful, and need a lot of work and training. They can be messy, especially during housebreaking. You’ll also have to deal with your pet’s terrible twos, or terrible chews, as we sometimes refer to them.

Not everyone wants a super active pet. If relaxation and indoor hobbies like reading, crafting, or watching movies are more your style, an older dog may be a better fit. In fact, there are some wonderful advantages to adopting a senior pet. They tend to have a calm and amiable demeanor and have typically outgrown destructive behaviors, like chewing. They also require less activity and stimulation than their younger counterparts.

Do you want a bit of both? An adult may be the perfect pup!

The key is to make a carefully considered choice, knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Consider Adopting A Rescue Dog

No matter what you’re looking for, rescue dogs have a lot to offer. While you may not have a lot of information on your pet’s background, that doesn’t mean you can’t research Fido. If your potential pup has been fostered, the fosters may have learned quite a bit about him. Some shelters even offer foster-to-adopt, a great way to test things out.

Choosing A Dog: Final Steps

In addition to doing careful research and making lists, it’s also important to listen to your heart. Choose the dog you connect with!

After you have a candidate, or a list of candidates, the next step is to spend time with Fido. 

Finally, contact your Carolina Forest, SC veterinarian. We can offer advice on everything from food to helping Fido get adjusted to keeping him fit and healthy. 

Just make sure you are ready, willing, and able to commit to adopting your pet. Adoption is forever!

As your Carolina Forest, SC pet hospital, we are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have about your dog’s care.

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