Choosing a Dog for You and Your Family

Choosing a dog or -- adopting a puppy -- is a major life changing event for a family. Your cute little puppy will very quickly grow into a dog -- small or large -- with his or her own unique personality that will be a big part of your family many, many years to come.

Every dog is different and how you treat him or her will go a long way in determining his or her personality. However there are several things that can be known about the kind of dog a young puppy will become -- based upon the breed you choose. Before you pick a puppy you should educate yourself about the breed of dog you are considering and its personality.

1. Consider your home and environment. Someone who lives in a small apartment on the 30th floor in a large city center should probably be looking for a very different dog than someone who lives on a farm. That's not to say that the city-dweller should not consider a large dog or the farmer a small one but just be aware of these conditions -- for you and the dog. His or her happiness and even health will be determined by the environment. For instance, a very small dog will be perfectly happy -- and get plenty of exercise -- running between 3 small rooms and taking short walks. A Doberman on the other hand could become fat and lazy if he or she only get to take small, short steps in the house and doesn't get frequent long walks.

2. Consider the "average day" the dog will have. Will a dog who loves to run and chase things be happy cooped up in a small space all day while you work? Will a small fragile dog enjoy visits to the barn and running in the fields? Learn all you can about the different breeds and make you choice based upon what the dog will be doing in an average day.

3. Consider the life-style you lead. Do you have small children? Do you travel a lot? Do you take long walks everyday? Here's a good example of why you need to consider your lifestyle -- Terriers are a favorite choice of many families. This breed comes in many sizes and they are known to a great deal of personality. For city dwellers the Cairn Terrier may be a good choice. This breed is wire-haired and sheds very little. However, this dog was bred to be a "ratter" and loves to dig and burrow -- so it may not be right for someone who lives in a house and loves to garden. It's also prone to barking. Know everything before you pick your dog and you will be much happier.

4. Consider the dog's natural instincts. Many dogs have been bred for certain characteristics and personalities. For instance, you do not want a dog with herding instincts around small children as they will naturally try to "round up" the kids and many nip at their heels during play. Likewise dogs with the hunting instinct may not work well in homes where there are other small animals -- such as cats, hamsters, and birds. Long haired dogs that require constant grooming may not work well on a farm or even living outside at all.

There are hundreds of breeds, sizes and personalities of dogs -- and it can seem intimidating at first. But do your research and you will find the right dog for you.

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