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Deciding to adopt a dog is a big decision, but finding the right one can feel downright overwhelming. The secret is to pick a pooch that will fit right into your lifestyle. So before you run to Petfinder, think long and hard about how much play time, exercise and training you’re able to give your new bestie. Then consider the following:
Sure puppies are cute, but do you have the time to housetrain, exercise and play with one? Can you get up every few hours to feed your wee one? If not, focus your search on a dog that 12 months or older -- they usually have that whole obedience and potty training thing down pat.
Choosing male or female is important if you already have a dog. Males usually don't like other males and may need to be introduced gradually. On the plus side, neutering a male usually costs less than spaying a female. Once neutered or spayed, males and females have similar temperaments.
All puppies start out small so, before buying that wee one in the window, get a guesstimate of what its average weight and size will be as an adult. Smaller dogs have smaller appetites and require smaller spaces for exercise and play. Larger dogs are just the opposite.
If you don’t have the time to devote to brushing your dog every day, forget any long-haired breeds. Without daily grooming, your pup’s flowy mane will be a head-turner, but for all the wrong reasons. Remember too that some breeds, like poodles, need professional grooming to maintain their classy looks. Make sure you have the budget for regular visits. Prone to allergies? Most dogs will shed, so if you're allergic to fur or don't like it all over your house, go for a low-allergen dog, like a Portuguese Water Dog, Schnauzers or Maltese.
Yes, a healthy dog is lively and has a shiny coat and bright eyes, but appearances don’t tell the whole story. Before you bring home your canine pal, have your veterinarian perform a thorough exam. Be sure to ask if the breed is prone to any particular health problems.
In the end, all dogs want to please; it's up to you to spend the time it takes to shape your pet's personality. That said, some breeds, like the Bichon Frise, Labrador Retriever and Havanese, are better suited for families. Senior dogs are also often super mellow and patient with kids.
Karen B. Gibbs is a writer and editor based in Lacombe, La.