The importance of choosing the right breed of dog can't be overstated!
I do know how easy it is to fall in love with the first set of puppy-dog eyes you see....
.... but if you want the relationship between you and your new pup to be a long & happy one, you must make sure that you pick a breed that is a good fit for your personality, environment and lifestyle.
The first question you're most likely to ask yourself is "what do I want in a puppy?"
But the real question is "what do I want in a dog?"
This is because every chubby, fluffy little puppy will eventually grow into an adult dog with his own personality, quirks and characteristics and inborn instincts.
A furry package of strengths, weaknesses, breed-specific traits, inclinations and contradictions.
The key to a happy ending is to choose a pup whose specific breed traits (such as size, temperament, activity level, grooming needs and so on) and individual personality will mesh with your expectations and abilities.
ALL puppies are adorable (I've yet to meet one I haven't wanted to take home!), and all dog breeds are wonderful in their own way.
But when thinking about dog breeds, it's good to remember that the bright-eyed, cuddly pup in your arms could be a 70lb 'teenager with attitude' in a few short months.
if you don't understand the type of dog your puppy will grow into, it can end up being frustrating and disappointing instead.
Some important things to think about include:
The first step here is to get an idea of the breed-specific traits of the breed/s you're interested in.
In short, every breed was developed with a particular purpose or 'job' in mind.
Some might be all-purpose working dogs, filling the roles of herder, guard dog and loyal friend. Others were bred as companion animals, especially designed to sit on your lap!
Some of the smartest dog breeds around are hunters, herders, retrievers or guardians and these guys NEED a job to do!
They also need a lot of exercise and both mental & physical stimulation. If they don't get it they can become unhappy, neurotic and destructive.
The second step is to look at the blood-lines and parents of your puppy.
Temperament isn't just dependent on breed-characteristics, genetics play a big role too.
Meeting, and interacting with, the sire and dam of a puppy will give you a good idea of the type of personality traits your new pup might have.
Of course, all puppies are unique and within any litter there will be a range of personalities.. from the shy, quiet pup right through to the dominant, bossy one.
Choose a reputable, responsible breeder and let them guide you when you make your pick.
If you tell a breeder what you want from this puppy and what you can offer him/her, they'll be able to steer you in the right direction.
They usually have some background information on each dog, and also an idea of their personality, drive, abilities and so on, because they're seeing them on a daily basis.
Some large dog breeds, such as the English Mastiff, are very big but they don't need a huge amount of space or exercise because they're not very energetic.
Then you have the Jack Russell Terrier (or Parson Terrier), generally a whirlwind of energy and spunk. He may be more than you, or your home, can handle.
Now, you may be able to rule out some of the options right away if you have size, space, and exercise or time restrictions.
For example, if you don't want to spend time grooming your dog every day or two, choose a dog breed with a wash-and-wear type coat rather than full coated Shetland Sheepdog or a Komondor with those fantastic dreadlocks.
If you live in an apartment, a Great Dane may not be as strange an option as you might think because as adults they're a pretty laid-back breed. BUT, they do take up a lot of space even when they're not moving.
So, a two bedroom apartment with a small balcony might work out just fine, but a tiny bedsit or similar might make life a little crowded.
If you have very young children, or an elderly, frail or chronically ill family member, one of the extra large breeds might not be a good choice.
Big dogs can be clumsy as puppies, and as adults could easily knock someone over totally by accident.
Perhaps this will surprise you - very tiny breeds are often (not always) not a great choice for a family with very small children.
This is because these little guys can be very fragile, and toddlers aren't known for their fine motor skills or gentle hands!
A teacup puppy could be seriously injured or even killed by being dropped, or even by being squeezed too hard.
Once you've narrowed it down, do some more in-depth research on the dog breeds that you're most interested in before making a commitment.
Here are a few pages with more info. on specific types/sizes of dogs...
Now, for fun, let's take a quick look at the personalities of a handful of the most popular dog breeds.
Do remember though, every single puppy is a unique individual and he may, or may not, fit the broad characteristics of his particular breed.
If you want a dog breed that will shower you with affection at the drop of a hat (and everyone else too for that matter!), there are a lot of very popular breeds that will fit the bill.
The 'Lovers' are generally friendly and outgoing, and greet other dogs and people as if they've been best friends for years.
They usually make excellent family dogs and get along well with children.
If you think one of these dogs might fit the criteria you're using to choose the right breed of dog , you may want to consider one of these breeds.... Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, the Labradoodle or Goldendoodle, the Dalmation, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Cocker Spaniel, the Boxer, most Mastiffs, the English Bulldog, the Shih Tzu, the Maltese, the Italian Greyhound, the Dachshund or the Beagle.
These dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but many of them are medium to large-sized dogs, so make sure your sofa (and your lap) can support a 90lb lap-dog!
If you're looking for a dog breed that can protect both you and the family heirlooms, there are a several to choose from.
Many of the 'Heroes' also make fantastic family companions and excel at sports and activities such as tracking, obedience and agility.
They're generally large dogs, often with high activity levels and are extremely intelligent.
Luckily, big dogs don't always need a lot more space (indoor or outdoor) than their more average-sized cousins, but they do need regular exercise and training.
Here are a few dog breeds that fit into this category... the German Shepherd, the Rottweiler, the Doberman Pinscher, the Belgian Malinois, the Anatolian Shepherd, the Cane Corso and the Airedale Terrier.
These dogs all make good personal body guards!
When you're choosing the right breed of dog for your family and want a 'hero', but are short on space or prefer a small dog, it is possible to find them.
Some small dogs THINK they're guard dogs (eg the Chihuahua or Yorkshire Terrier), and if all you need is the 'bark' you may want to take them into consideration.
Do you want a dog who'll make you look good at obedience school? Or one who'll ace the agility course?
If this is important when you're choosing the right of breed dog, take a look at the Border Collie, the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever, the Poodle, the Teruvian Shepherd, the Australian Shepherd or the Shetland Sheepdog.
Any dog that was bred to work under human direction (such as a sheepdog/herder, a hunting dog, a service dog, or a search and rescue dog for example) is likely to fit this role well.
This type of dog is very smart, eager to please and very focused on their owner.
The downside is that some of them have high energy levels, can be a bit 'nippy' (herding dogs are notorious for this) and may need a lot of exercise both mental and physical.
However, if you want to compete in sports or obedience, to teach 'tricks' or to hunt etc., then one of these breeds could be just what you're looking for.
If you're looking for a dog breed that will happily accompany you on your daily run, or one that is super-active and will appreciate any outdoor pursuit, then one of these breeds could be the perfect choice...
The Border Collie, the Australian Shepherd, the Siberian Husky, the Greyhound (or a Lurcher), the German Short-haired Pointer, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, the Flat Coated Retriever, the Boxer, the Labradoodle, the Weimeraner or the Irish Setter.
If you think you may be overestimating your athletic potential, but still want to keep your options open, you could also look at the Schnauzer, the Jack Russell Terrier or the Labrador Retriever.
The smaller breeds here won't be able to go as far, or for as long, as the larger ones but they may surprise you with just how much energy they actually have!
There are all sorts of reasons that you may prefer to choose a dog breed that can play the role of a silent partner!
Perhaps you live in an apartment, or duplex with thin walls, or maybe you work from home, simply can't tolerate a lot of noise, or just have very tetchy neighbors!
Whatever the reason if you're choosing the right breed of dog for this scenario consider one of these.....
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Beagle, the Greyhound (or Italian Greyhound, Whippet or Lurcher), the English Bulldog, the Maltese or the Pekingese.
The Basenji doesn't bark at all (but it 'yodels' instead).
Bear in mind that even though these breeds tend to be quieter, and less yappy, than many others - they will still bark. As a warning, in play, to complain and so on.
Puppies tend to be more vocal than adult
dogs and when you're crate training, or playing with them, there can be
quite a bit of noise.