Finding the Right Dog Breed for You

by The Pet Care Guy on December 5, 2011

Looking for a dog? What is the right breed for you? At some point in your life, you might find yourself wanting to take on the responsibility and joy of owning a dog. You imagine picking out that perfect puppy or maybe an adult dog and living happily ever after with your new best friend.

But before you even make an appointment to see a potential pet to adopt, remember to think about which type of dog might be the best fit for your personality, lifestyle and environment.

Too many people fall in love with how cute or good-looking a dog is without first considering what might work best in their particular situation.

It may be tempting to choose a dog based just on his looks or size, but it’s wise to keep in mind that breed does matter. Every dog is an individual with a definite personality, but some dogs have been bred over the years to bring out specific traits.

Here is a basic guide on dog breeds to get you started in your search. This general overview is sorted by group. There is a large number of breeds, so every breed is not named, just examples that you might be familiar with.

Working Dogs

Siberian Husky

The dog breeds in this group include the larger-sized dogs like the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Great Dane, Siberian Husky, Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, Mastiff, German Pinscher and Portuguese Water Dog.

Throughout history, these dogs have worked alongside man, performing tasks that take advantage of their strength and size. They work pulling sleds, guarding people and property, and rescuing people from water. The dogs in this group are strong, tough and intelligent.

These dogs are physically large, and need to be able to “work.” They are used to performing tasks that challenge their intellect and physical strength.

Like any intelligent animal, if they aren’t stimulated and challenged, they can cause mischief and may act out destructively and even aggressively.

Sporting Dogs

The Sporting Group includes dogs such as the Cocker Spaniel, Irish Setter, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Viszla and Pointer.

Golden Retriever

These medium to large-sized dogs were bred to excel in the outdoors, hunting and retrieving for their human companions. As you would expect, these dogs thrive on vigorous exercise in a natural environment.

They are intelligent and do well with consistent training both mentally and physically.

Hounds

This group boasts a large variety of hounds, including the Beagle, Basenji, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Greyhound, Whippet, Rhodesian Ridgeback, English Foxhound and Daschund.

These dogs, with their physical stamina and keen sense of smell, were bred to hunt. I’m sure you’ve seen movies or TV shows where British men on horseback follow a pack of loudly baying hunting dogs, usually beagles, across a picturesque countryside to track and corner prey such as a fox.

Because of their hunting instincts, care must be taken when putting them together with smaller pets, such as cats. They must be socialized properly when young so they don’t view their companions as prey.

Again, because of what these dogs were bred for, they need plenty of exercise, and physical and mental challenges. Sizes of hounds vary from small to medium.

Terriers

Terriers are a feisty lot and can be a handful for the owner. The group includes breeds such as the Bull Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Scottish Terrier, Airedale Terrier and West Highland White Terrier.

Miniature Schnauzer

Another group of dogs that were bred to hunt and kill small animals, these small to medium-sized dogs are known to be lively, and have a bit of an attitude. High-energy and very spirited, they need owners with equal energy and attitude.

Again, smaller companion pets like cats might not be the best match for these hunting dogs.

Herding

Herding dogs include the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, Border Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Australian Shepherd and Belgian Malinois.

German Shepherd Dog

These dogs can range in size from small to large. Formerly classified as part of the Working group, these dogs are excellent at herding large groups of livestock, such as cattle and sheep.

These intelligent dogs make great companions. Many times, their natural instincts will have them “herding” their human companions.

A friend of mine has a shepherd/lab mix. When she’s allowed off-leash on a walk, she inevitably begins to “herd” anyone she’s with, moving back and forth behind her human companions to make sure they stay on track.

Non-Sporting

This group includes a large variety of breeds, including the Chow Chow, Poodle, Dalmatian, French Bulldog, Keeshond, Boston Terrier, Bichon Frise, Shiba Inu and Lahsa Apso.

Because this group encompasses so many different breeds, it can’t really be generalized. This group has dogs with many different physical traits, personalities and temperaments.

For example, the Chow Chow, originally bred in China as a working dog, is known to be more independent and aloof than other breeds.

In contrast, the Bichon Frise usually has a gentle temperament. It is an affectionate, playful and cheerful breed of dog.

Toy Breeds

The breeds within the Toy group are what you would expect from the name – small and cute! This group includes the Papillon, Chihuahua, Maltese, Chinese Crested, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Pinscher, Pug, Shih Tzu and Pomeranian.

These little dogs are a great choice for people whose homes or apartments are smaller. But these small dogs tend to have big personalities and a lot of courage, so they can become a handful if not trained to behave properly.

I have taken care of  little Pomeranians and I would swear that they believe they are a fierce, large dog like a German Shepherd or Rottweiler!

Although there are many differences in the various groups and breeds of dogs, all dogs need plenty of exercise, physical and mental stimulation and plenty of love.

Dogs are social animals and you become part of their “pack” when you bring them into your home. They depend on you not just for food, water, and shelter, but social interaction and leadership every day.

Keep in mind the general traits of dog groups and how well you can adjust to their needs when choosing your pet. And even mixed breeds (mutts), can exhibit specific dog breed or group traits.

 

Photos:
Courtesy of flickr.com. Creative Commons License
Siberian Husky: Tomi Tapio
Golden Retriver: digital_image_fan
Miniature Schnauzer: KaCey97007
German Shepherd: Euro magic

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