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Your Happy Pet: Find the dog that is right for you

Original Publication Date: August 26, 2014
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

All dogs have four legs, but they come in a variety of sizes, temperaments, and energy levels.

There are important considerations including your time, energy, and finances when choosing a new dog.

You may want a pure bred dog, but don't overlook the great dogs available at your local shelter. The staff can tell you what breeds make up the special blend dog you choose.

First, do you want a small, medium, large or very large dog? Personal preference plays a role, but the size of the dog should fit the size of your living space, yard, perhaps your couch and bed and must fit in with other pets, small children and elderly folk already part of the household.

Next, consider the energy level and temperament of breeds in the size range you want. If you like to hike and jog, you want a dog that can keep up when you are on the go. On the other hand, a laid back couch potato breed may fit your lifestyle if you spend hours at work or at the computer and consider a leisurely walk around the block vigorous exercise.

All dogs, even couch potatoes, need an appropriate amount of time for exercise and play. Make sure you and your new pet are on the same page when it comes to energy and temperament.

Don't overlook maintenance. Some breeds require daily brushing and frequent trips to a groomer to keep a coat that looks great and feels good to the dog.

Dogs with long coats look lovely but require a major investment of your time and money to stay that way. Mats and tangles are no fun for you or your dog.

Other breeds require less brushing and grooming to maintain a healthy coat.

Choose a breed with a coat that fits your lifestyle.

Don't forget to consider what the dog was bred to do. Some small dogs were bred to be companion animals that are perfectly happy as lap dogs. Many of these fall into the toy group. Other dogs have a heritage that gives them strong instincts to hunt, work, herd, protect, or display other skills. The job a dog was bred to do is important. Finding himself without a specific job, a pup from the herding group might take it upon himself to herd other pets, children and you into small groups. He would be doing his job although it may not be the job you intended for him. You and the dog need to agree on his role.

You make a commitment for the lifetime of the dog when you bring him into your home as a new member of the family. Take your time and do the research necessary to make a wise decision for both you and your new best friend.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at