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How To Choose The Right Dog Breed For Your Home

September 30, 2022

how to choose the right dog breed for your home

Choosing the right dog breed is a significant first step in easing the transition of a new puppy or adult dog into your household pack. Beware the lure of purchasing a dog based on looks - or size! Both can be misleading. As professional dog trainers with decades of experience, we’d say lack of breed research is one of the top causes of dog behavioral issues.

Choosing the right dog breed for your home is the best way to create strong, long-lasting bonds and minimize potential incompatibility or behavior issues.

4 Tips For Selecting The Right Dog Breed For Your Household

Are you in love with the wolf-like aesthetic of a Siberian Husky? That’s great, as long as you’re prepared to walk, hike, or (better yet) run for miles every day. Those dogs were bred to pull sleds in harsh conditions, and all that energy has to go somewhere. Are you a fan of sweet, little chihuahuas or dachshunds? So are we, but did you know both are at the top of the small dog breeds most likely to bite list? 

Our point is that judging a dog by aesthetics, and even dog size, is a bad idea. Both are poor indicators of a dog’s predetermined genetic tendencies. While there are always exceptions, dogs are pretty good at displaying the traits they’ve been bred to exhibit, so do your homework.

Use library books or vetted online guides

If you have small children, we recommend checking out library books on dog breeds. First and foremost, you and your kids will absolutely love looking at pictures and learning about the many dog breeds out there, many of which you may not have heard of. This is a great way to sit for a while with accurate, detailed information about dog breed origins, temperaments, and best-fit assessments. 

Examples include:

  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds (Joan Palmer)
  • Every Dog: A Book of Over 450 Breeds (Nancy Hajeski)
  • The Dog Encyclopedia (Penguin-Random House)
  • Dog Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Best Friend Fur-Ever (National Geographic Kids)

If you prefer to identify breeds online, visit the AKC Dog Breed Selector. Their interactive selection process directs you to breeds based on real-time information about you and your household. You can also speak to local dog trainers or veterinarians - both are emotionally invested in making sure dogs find the right homes.

Be 100% accurate with your answers & considerations

Sometimes, we are so attached to a particular breed that we start fantasizing about a new version of ourselves or our lives to make it fit. This is never a good idea. For example:

  • You live in an apartment but plan to buy a home in the next year. In this case, still, look for dog breeds that do well in apartments. Purchasing a dog that needs a yard because you think you’ll have one soon can backfire if you have to stay put for a whale.
  • You have a yet-unrealized weight management/health goal. Yes, I have worked with clients who became motivated to take daily walks due to their new canine companion’s exercise needs. That said, I’ve also worked with clients who had all the right intentions (sort of like purchasing a pair of jeans one size smaller to inspire you to lose the extra 5 - 10 pounds). Instead, they didn’t keep up with the walking/exercise schedule, and their dog became aggressive, anxious, or destructive due to a lack of exercise and pent-up energy.
  • You think you can learn to groom a groom-dependant dog on your own. Think again. Those YouTube videos might be inspiring and make DIY dog grooming look easy. But when you get a breed that requires regular grooming, ear plucking, anal gland expressing, etc., you must have the ability to honor a professional grooming schedule and budget, or your dog will suffer.
  • You plan to have children in the next several years. Again, there are always exceptions. However, if you’ll be bringing a baby or small children into the home in the dog’s lifetime, you should absolutely steer clear of breeds that are known to resent or attack little ones.  
  • You want a puppy. Beyond breed, consider a dog’s age. Puppies require a tremendous amount of attention, care, energy outlet, chew toys, etc., throughout the day. It’s not fair to any puppy to be home alone all day. Instead, look at local shelters or dog rescues for one- or two-year-old dogs that are easier to housetrain (in most cases) and aren’t as needy as a puppy. Even middle-aged dogs make great companions without all of the teething, small bladder, and continuous attention required by dogs in the first year or so of their life.

I promise that while you may not get “the breed of your dreams,” yet, your honesty and realistic awareness make for a far more successful companionship experience.

Consult with a professional dog trainer about the right dog breed

As I mentioned above, dog trainers have an emotional investment in making sure every dog finds its just-right home. We spend much of our time supporting dogs and their humans in the opposite scenario. We love to work with individuals and families looking to find the right breed. We can visit your home, talk about your lifestyle, and introduce you to clients with breeds you’re considering so you can see if it feels right.

Contact Alternative Canine Training Before Choosing Your Breed

The professional trainers at Alternative Canine Training love working with people searching for their best fur friend. Contact us to schedule a consultation, learn more about your prospective dog breeds, and get personalized recommendations.

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