How To Pick the Right Dog!

by the Canine Caretaker

First thing to do is to sit down with everyone that would be involved with a dog (including children) and make up a list of Likes and Dislikes and try not to be too general.

Example list: - average grooming, no salon

- lots of exercise for jogging, camping

- indoor but not on furniture

- easy to train but with character

- etc.

Go through all the things that sparks everyone’s interest and that they would like their dog to be or things you don’t want to deal with in a dog.

Example list: - not too stubborn

- minimal health problems

- a guard for the kids

- a friend to play with in the park

- someone to go swimming with

- etc.

Now, add to this list, the basics of common sense and ask yourself...

Example list: - do I want to train a puppy?

- or I’d prefer an older dog that is already housebroken

- or maybe an adult dog that needs a home or special attention

- where will the dog sleep (outside, basement, my room, kitchen, etc.)

- what is our family income and can we afford regular health visits to a vet

- do I have a fenced yard or

- will the dog be walked and exercised on a leash

- am I an active person that jogs or hikes and goes camping on the weekends or

- maybe I’m a quiet person that enjoys piano and baking cookies on the weekend

- how many hours in a day do I have to train & socialize a dog or

- do I work alot and rarely see my home during the week

- can I take the dog to work with me or

- is this going to be a family dog to stay home with children.

- etc.

Once you (and your family) have discussed and decided on WHAT to put on your list - now you need to PRIORITIZE the list. Things that are the most important at the top, right down to the least important.

This list will better aid you in finding a specific breed or type or age of dog for you.

Second thing to do is ‘Research’.

Go to the's dog area and checkout some info on breeds and their characteristics. We also have a bookstore with thousands of books on breeds of dog that state characteristics, grooming needs, etc. on each breed.

You might consider attending some dog events in your area - to see first hand some of the different breeds and personalities. You’ll also meet with owners/breeders of these breeds and learn from them the pro’s and con’s of each breed. Events may include Conformation shows, obedience trials or training classes, agility trials/training classes, flyball tournaments, specialty shows and anything else dog-related.

Ask your vet if they have a recommendation of a breeder and/or breeders, based on their opinions on health issues, popularity, etc - perhaps ask your local Pet Supply outlet for their advise/opinion on specific breeds.

Now take all this information and read and learn and try to come to a decision of 4 or 5 breeds that suit all your needs, desires and lifestyle.

Third, the action you should now take BEFORE any actual purchase/adoption is to visit and communicate with as many breeders/shelters and dog experts as possible. Talk of the 4 or 5 breeds you’ve narrowed it down too and the list you have made.

Even if you have narrowed your choice down to 2 breeds of dogs and you’ve decided on a purchase of a puppy - there are tons of breeders here for those 2 breeds. Every breeder is different, with different views, ideas, methods, practices, etc. You need to feel totally comfortable with the person you acquire your pup from because they will be your help line in the future. No need to deal with someone that doesn’t give you any answers or seems to hide certain things from you. Deal with someone that is honest and more that cooperative in showing you contracts, pedigrees, certificates and hands you phone numbers of other buyers or vets, etc., etc..

At this point and time I want to stress to you - to AVOID Impulse Buying or Pressure Sales and try to spend minimal time around the sad faces in the shelters. This should be a common sense and responsible decision and not one that tugs on your heart or guilt complex.

Dogs are not items in a Supermarket where you wander down an aisle, pick up what ever is on sale and pay for it at the checkout and perhaps return it later if it is not what you expected. Dogs are living, breathing creatures with intelligence, feelings, and a need to feel love and compassion. They are not the latest trend in vehicle to be polished and hidden in the garage until a sunny day and then only for an hour or so and then back in the garage.

I believe that this also touches on the sensitive topic of dogs purchased from Pet Stores or from Road-Side signs (For Sale). Most often than not, these places have little or no knowledge of the breeds or dogs they are selling. They tend to exaggerate or out-right lie about lines, heritage, pedigrees and so forth. Over 85% of dogs sold through these means are acquired from over-crowded and inhumane puppymills. Any papers and/or documents are easily altered or doctored.

B u y e r B e w a r e ! !

Avoid doing business over the phone, via the net or fax machine. Appointments can be made this way - information can be gathered this way but an Appointment is always the best way so you can get a feel for the person, the surroundings and environment from which a puppy will be coming from and an overall view of the condition of the dogs and/or puppies. You also want to try to avoid buying from a newspaper add, especially adult dogs. There is usually a reason why these adult dogs are for sale. You might be getting a problem that someone else couldn’t handle.

Once you’ve decided on what type of dog, what age, and from what person or establishment - now is the time for getting those details ironed out BEFORE signing anything or the transferring of funds.

Look at contracts, supply sheets, training tips, behaviour concerns, health problems, guarantees, etc.

What happens if... What will you do if.... what can I do if....

Any purchase of a dog should ALWAYS be on paper. Signed by both parties, dated and witnessed.

Visit the Canine Caretakers web site at, Inc. is not responsible for content or opinions of contributing writers