Choosing a dog: what is the best breed for you?

Dogs can live up to 15 years or more. While they are a joy to be around, careful consideration should be given to whether you have the time and energy for a dog and also which breed is the right choice for you and your family.

Each dog can have different personalities and energy levels. Dogs known as working breeds typically have high energy levels. They will need a lot of exercise and also training to stimulate their mind. Working breeds include Border Collies, Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, and other hunting dogs. They have the energy to run for hours at a time. These breeds can be hyperactive and misbehave if they don’t get the proper amount of exercise and activity.

Before choosing a dog, research the breed by talking to people who own the type of dog you’re interested in. There are numerous books available and also websites that provide useful information. Many dogs end up in rescue centers because people don’t realize that certain dogs need more exercise and training to learn how to behave properly. Most dogs need to exercise at least twice a day. Energetic dogs may need a long walk twice a day. All dogs should be walked every day, even when it’s cold and wet. If you don’t like being outdoors or don’t have time for long walks, it’s not a good idea to have an energetic dog. Dogs should not be left alone all day while at work, particularly those prone to separation anxiety.

Most terriers were bred to hunt and kill small animals, either for sport or to control vermin. Therefore, they may chase other pets in the family, including cats, and may also chase and kill rabbits and squirrels when taken for a walk.

Some larger breeds were bred to guard livestock, protecting them from wolves or other predators. This group includes German Shepherds and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. These dogs tend to be aloof around strangers and naturally protective of their owners and families. If they are not well socialized as puppies, they may show aggression towards strangers or other dogs.

Toy breeds include Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Papillon, Pug, and Yorkshire Terrier. They were bred to be companions and are generally friendly and sociable with strangers and other dogs.

Other factors to consider are how much fur a dog will shed in the house and how muddy it will get on walks when the weather is wet. Some dogs, including poodles, bichon frizes, lhasa apsos and shih-tzus, do not shed, although their coats will need to be trimmed at regular intervals. Long-haired breeds or those with feathered feet will pick up mud when it rains. Certain breeds are known for shedding a lot, including German Shepherds. Smooth-coated breeds can be easier to keep clean and should leave less hair around the house.

Before choosing a dog, consider why you want a dog. Is it for enjoying long walks in the country, keeping an eye on your house, running, or just for company? Choose a dog that matches his activity levels and fits in with family circumstances. All dogs require a lot of time, training, and patience, so make sure you can make a lifelong commitment to a dog before bringing one home.

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