When it comes to choosing a dog, most people base their decision off of two factors, size and cuteness, or even just the latter. Others may choose a breed that is less prone to shedding or listed as “hypoallergenic.” Over time, people may start to resent their decision when their dog turns out to be destructive, hyper, stubborn, excessively vocal, or in some cases, aggressive.
The truth is, it’s not the dog’s fault. Really, it isn’t. Chances are the owner just didn’t understand the needs of the breed prior to bringing them into their home. With a little time and research, you can find a dog that’s the perfect match for your home!
Know the breed and you will know the dog. Before bringing a dog into your home, research the breed to see if it is a good fit for your home environment. For example, let’s examine the Siberian Husky. A popular dog because of it’s appearance, friendly disposition, medium size and weight. These beautiful dogs turn heads wherever they go, but do you know the history of the breed?
If you’re considering a Siberian Husky you should know these dogs were bred to pull sleds and run for long distances. They thrive in pack environments and have a high prey drive. They are not for inexperienced dog owners. In other words, do not expect this dog to sit at home, alone, and patiently wait for you to return from a long day at work. If you do not provide them with required daily exercise and mental stimulation, they will find it on their own – and you won’t like the results.
Now, if you take that scenario into consideration, is it the dog’s fault for getting into mischief? Or is it the owner’s fault for not understanding the needs of the breed and therefore setting themselves (and the dog) up for failure?
Another example is the Smooth Fox Terrier. A relatively small dog, smart, alert, friendly, and known to be great with children. If you research the history of this adorable dog, you will find that they were originally bred to hunt foxes. As a result, they would commonly go to ground to drive out their prey. Without knowing this, one might wonder why their sweet dog was constantly digging and destroying their yard! This inherent desire to dig has to be trained out of them. If you know that in advance, you could start training early and set yourself and your dog up for success! It bears repeating: know the breed, know the dog.
When doing your research, keep the following questions in mind:
- Does the breed require an experienced dog owner?
- Is the breed easy to train or stubborn?
- What is the energy level? Recommended amount of exercise?
- Does this breed get along well with other animals?
- Is this breed known to be excessively vocal (e.g., barking or howling)
- What are the nutritional requirements? (e.g., “will this dog require 9 cups of food a day and can I afford that?”)
- Does this breed have a high prey drive?
- Are there any health concerns with the breed? (e.g., hip dysplasia, skin conditions, congenital cardiac disease, patellar luxation, etc)
- Grooming requirements? Is daily brushing required?
- Is this breed suitable for city living or best in the country with room to roam?
If you have your heart set on a mixed breed, research both/all breeds. If the dog is a rescue with little or no background information, talk to your vet to help identify the primary makeup of the dog.
By thoroughly researching the breed and understanding their history, you will better understand which dog is right for you and how you can live in harmony together.