It’s the time of the year when Christmas lists are written and many children put a puppy on their wish list. According to the ASPCA, of the 3.9 million dogs entering shelters each year, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs are returned to their owner. According to the American Humane Association, the most common reasons why people relinquish or give away their dogs is because their place of residence does not allow pets (29%), not enough time, divorce/death and behavior issues (10% each).
With the relinquishing and euthanasia rates unacceptable to many, it’s a good idea to research as much as possible before obtaining a dog. Dogs should be a friend for life-not a temporary companion.
Evaluating lifestyle and doing research on what type of dog breed that will fit lifestyle can be a challenge. Yes, there are online quizzes to help match a breed of dog to a specific lifestyle. The quizzes usually look at owner needs, size of dog desired, energy levels, care needs, temperament and train-ability. Those quizzes and some pre-knowledge of breed types and their common behavior can greatly assist the search for a compatible match.
Dogs are available through pet stores, breeders, animal shelters, and sites including Pet Finder, Hannah the Pet Society and others that link potential pet parents to animal shelters and rescue groups. There is even an app for the iPhone called BarkBuddy that lists 250 thousand available pets from 2500 different rescue organizations.
According to the American Kennel Club, there are 339 internationally recognized dog breeds.
Purebred dogs tend to be more expensive, but it’s easier to know the characteristics and behaviors for those breeds. It is harder to determine behavior for mixed breeds (generally called mutts), but with a basic knowledge of breed characteristics and a veterinarian’s or shelter’s determination of the dominate breed within the dog, potential behavior issues may come to light.
Before purchasing or adopting, learn more about the background of the dog, if possible. Training, living conditions and parental temperaments can all affect dog behaviors beyond natural breed characteristics. Abandoned, abused, and neglected animals will behave differently than a pup raised in a loving, safe place. Purebred dog breeding in the USA is a multibillion dollar business every year and although many cities have recently cracked down on puppy mills and those who overbreed dogs, knowing a dog’s background will help with potential training or behavior issues.
Here are some top common breeds and the characteristics that they usually have in common.
Labrador Retrievers have ranked the top dog breed in the US in both 2013 and 2012 (among other years). Labs are not small, they can be 55-75 pounds, and do require regular grooming, but these gentle, devoted family dogs are easy to train and are also popular for sportsmen. Labs tend to be outgoing, loyal and good with children and other animals.