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Tips From A Mt. Airy, MD Veterinarian: Choosing Your Next Dog

March 1 2024

Are you planning to adopt a dog soon? Choosing the correct canine may be difficult, especially with so many gorgeous puppies in need of homes. How do you choose the right puppy? A local Mt. Airy, MD veterinarian provides some advice below.

Starting The Search

We would generally recommend starting with the AKC. Even if you’re not looking for a purebred, the AKC website could prove to be a useful resource. We would recommend reviewing each group. Every breed was originally created for a certain work or purpose. Knowing which category a dog has been classified in might tell you a lot about their disposition.

Herding Group: The herding dogs were only concerned with assisting their owners in herding and protecting cattle. This calls for a considerable amount of thought and calculation, so it’s not surprising that this category includes some of our most clever and energetic canine companions. Puppies in this category include German Shepherds, Collies, and Sheepdogs.

Sporting Group: Sporting dogs were initially assigned to assist humans in hunting. Retrievers, as the name suggests, excelled in retrieving game for their owners. These roots are still very prominent in Fido’s personality. For example, the Labrador Retriever’s passion for swimming and fetching goes back to his original job: retrieving ducks. This category comprises not just Retrievers, but also Setters and Spaniels.

Hound Group: Hounds specialize at tracking and pursuing prey. There are several types of hounds. Scenthounds, like the Bloodhound, use their noses to track, whereas Greyhounds use sight. It’s worth mentioning that many hounds are rather vocal. Some make a distinct sound, which is known as baying.  

Working Group: As the name implies, the dogs in the working group were bred to perform specialized jobs. These include protecting cattle, pushing carts, and providing protection. These dogs are known for their intelligence and strength. This category includes well-known watchdogs like the Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler, livestock guardians like the Great Pyrenees, and sled dogs like the Siberian Husky. Many of these dogs are very energetic. They also require a lot of intellectual stimulation.

Terrier Group: The Terrier Group’s dogs are all motivated to pursue prey. Smaller terriers were commonly bred to chase rodents, sometimes through underground burrows. That line of business requires tenacity and confidence: Fido should be fun, energetic, and a little bold, as well as friendly and affectionate. Terriers’ sizes, coats, and appearances vary greatly.  

Toy Group: The pups in this classification share a few characteristics. One: they are quite small. Two: They’re adorable. These are typically cuddly companion dogs, whose primary function is to charm and soothe their owners. This group includes Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pekinese, Pugs, Pomeranians, and Yorkies. Toy breeds are ideal for apartment living because of their tiny stature.

Non-Sporting Group: Last but not least, we have the non-sporting category, which is essentially a catch-all for dogs that do not fall into any of the other groups. That’s not to say that these canines don’t have a specialty. The Dalmatian, for example, is in this category, despite having a long history of being a superb horse buddy and firefighter’s companion. Then there’s the Poodle, a former circus dog, and the French Bulldog, whose distinctive face and bat ears have won enough hearts to make him America’s most popular canine. In fact, the Frenchie recently displaced the much-loved Labrador Retriever from the top position in the AKC’s popularity list. That’s quite an accomplishment for a tiny pooch!

Figure Out  Your Deal-Breakers

It’s also important to consider what you don’t want in a companion animal. For example, if you want to raise chickens in your backyard, a puppy with a high prey drive wouldn’t be a suitable fit. If you want to have children soon, you’ll obviously want a child-safe dog that will make a nice family companion. If you or your close family members have allergies, you might want to go for a puppy whose fur will not cause serious responses. Poodles, for example, are a fantastic choice for people with pet allergies. (It is worth mentioning that people are more likely to react to dandruff than to hair. However, that’s another blog topic.)

Whittling Down The List Of Contenders

The American Kennel Club is a fantastic resource in this regard as well. Once you’ve cut it down a little, start to look more closely at the remaining candidates. Each recognized breed has its own profile. These break down various characteristics that individuals ought to take into account before purchasing a canine companion. That includes things like size, weight, life span, how affectionate they are with family, if they are good with young children and other dogs, shedding level, grooming frequency, drooling level, coat type, length, openness to strangers playfulness level, protective/watchdog nature, adaptability level: trainability, energy, barking, and needs for mental stimulation. All of these are crucial factors to consider. 

Consider Fido’s Age

Puppies are super cute and lots of fun. Many individuals prefer to raise their own canine pals, which is understandable. However, young puppies require a significant amount of effort and training. They are also a bit messier than adults, especially during the housebreaking stage, and require a lot of toys and activity. There are also the terrible twos, or, as we often refer to them, the terrible chews.

Age also affects lifestyle compatibility. If you’re an energetic person looking for a companion to accompany you on travels and hikes, a younger dog might be a good option. If you’re more relaxed back and like to stay home with books, games, hobbies, or movies, a calm senior may be a better fit. In reality, there’s a lot to be said for seniors: they’re often very docile and friendly, have outgrown harmful habits like chewing, and don’t require as much exercise or stimulation as  young dogs do

Look At Rescues And Mutts

Whatever you’re searching for, there’s a lot to be said for rescue dogs. Don’t forget about mutts, either! These lovable pups often provide the best of both (or numerous) worlds. In reality, the great majority of the dogs in shelters are mixes. Giving a sweet pup a second chance can be very rewarding! 

Do A Meet And Greet

Once you believe you have a contender, or a list of contenders, the next step is to spend time with Fido. It’s always crucial to establish a personal connection! Then, once you decide, it’s time to get ready! We recommend doing your shopping and petproofing before bringing the puppy home.

Consult Your Mt. Airy, MD Veterinarian

No matter what type of dog you choose, one of the first things you should do is contact your veterinarian for specific instructions and recommendations. We can provide advice on anything from diet to helping Fido adjust to staying active and healthy.

Follow Your Heart

No matter how well you research and develop lists, it is also essential to give room to just follow your heart. Sometimes you just know! Also, make sure that you are prepared, willing, and able to commit. Adoption is a lifetime promise!

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your dog’s care. As your Mt. Airy, MD pet hospital, we’re here to assist!