A Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Breed for You

At the end of the month, I will be picking up my very own little westie to bring home- while I promise that I will not overload you with dog posts, I’m hoping to be able to share the things that I find useful along the way of dog ownership! This post is all about choosing the right breed for you, and what kinds of things to consider when you are looking into getting a dog.

A Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Breed for You

1. What Do You Want in a Dog? 

The first question to ask yourself is what you want in a dog- do you want a dog that will primarily cuddle with you on the couch, or one that will hike mountains with you? Do you want a small dog that you could carry with you, or one that could pull something themselves? Would you rather have a dog that has to be groomed periodically or one that sheds on it’s own? Obviously the questions are unlimited when it comes to pet ownership, but I would focus on these four to better decide what you want in a dog!

1. What is this breed’s typical activity level? 
You should be looking for an animal to match your activity levels! If you love walking/hiking/running, a dog that prefers to be a couch potato isn’t your best option. Conversely, if you hate exercising and would rather put a dog in the backyard for short spells instead of going on multiple, longer walks, a working breed that requires hours of exercise should perhaps be avoided.

2. How can you cope with hair and/or fur? 
Realistically, animals (and people) shed- depending on the dog’s coat, they may shed less but require grooming 2-4 times a years, or they may shed more but not need grooming. (And within your heavy shedding dogs, there are some that shed a small amount of hair continuously, and others will blow their coat a few times a year with more hair than you can imagine in a two week span.) Are you willing to either invest in a quality vacuum cleaner or pay for grooming?

3. What kind of temperament would you prefer in a dog? 
While there is no guarantee on a dog’s temperament, you can usually expect specific traits with most breeds. For example, labs will often be people pleasers, always happy and enthusiastic with their family, while a husky may be more independent and prone to mischief. Everyone looks for something different, one is not better than another, but you have to be honest with yourself.

4. What do you want your dog to do? 
Most dogs will default to the behaviours common to their breed; terriers will dig and hunt vermin, sled dogs will run, and herding dogs will herd. It is what they do! If you don’t want your dog to do anything particular, this may be less important, but you will still have to remember that they may default to these behaviours anyways.

Agnes the Westie.jpg
This is the famous Agnes who will be home with me in two weeks!

2. Rescue vs Breeder 

I fall strictly in the middle with rescuing a dog and purchasing one from a breeder- as long as you’ve done your research, you should be able to choose what you want! I volunteer at the local humane society and regularly support different local rescues and hoped to rescue, but unfortunately, rescuing a Westie here in Winnipeg was not in the cards for. They are incredibly popular dogs and people don’t want to give them up, so a breeder it is! There are certainly pros and cons to both rescues and pure-bred puppies; as long as you have educated yourself, you should be fine.

Rescue
Pros: 
-cheaper
-rescuing an animal in need
-if they are older (a year or older), you may have a better idea of their personality before adopting
-mutts tend to have less genetic medical issues
Cons: 
-you may not see some personality traits/issues when you first adopt
-it may be more difficult to know what expect if there are multiple breeds mixed
-you may not know what their previous situation(s) is, and what may result from it
-if they are still puppies, you might not have any idea of how big it will end up being

Breeder
Pros: 
-there is typically a family tree of parents/grandparents, and may know if there are any genetic issues (although they shouldn’t be breeding them if they are)
-if they are pure-bred, you may show them if you wish to
-you can generally expect some personality traits based on the breed
Cons: 
-cost (including any travel you may have to do to collect the puppy)
-pure-bred dogs tend to have more health issues
-you may have to wait months (or longer) for an available puppy

Loki Thor Banff Sulfur Mountain.jpeg

3. Having a Dog and a Job?

I would be hesitant to read online about owning a dog and working full-time- dog-owners on the internet will disparage anyone who dares to own a dog and work more than about 2 hours away from home. Well, I have a full time job, and don’t see any problem with it! Dogs sleep anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day, especially when they are puppies. If you are home, yes, they will want to play with you. If you aren’t home, they might be upset for a bit but they will eventually go to sleep! While they are a puppy, you will want to contain them to a small space to keep accidents limited to one area of the house, and also to make sure they don’t get into anything dangerous. Blocking off a small area in a kitchen or bathroom (typically rooms with easily washable floors) or crating them will help with both accidents and destructive behaviours! Ideally, if you can have people stop by to check on your puppy and let them out, that would be fantastic, but sometimes it isn’t always possible. Do your research and have a plan!

(This blog post is a great example of people who work full time and are raising a puppy!)

Dog bed.jpg

For those of you that have pets, how did you decide upon the pet you have? Are you a researcher who spent hours looking and waited, or were you out one day and an adorable doggo caught your eye? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian
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16 thoughts on “A Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Dog Breed for You

  1. Steph February 12, 2018 / 1:15 am

    Great advice! I’m so glad I took the plunge and got a pup, it was such hard work but so rewarding! We got Bonnie as a puppy from a breeder though we are planning to get a second at some point and we’d like another Beagle but I think we’ll get a rescue this time – there are lots of Beagle rescue charities here due to them commonly being used as lab dogs 🙁 So excited for you, it’s such a lovely (and exhausting!) time when they’re small! X

    Like

    • anhistorianabouttown February 12, 2018 / 8:00 am

      Aww, I love beagles!! We had beagles when I was younger, and they are such funny little dogs ☺ If you are on either coast of Canada, there are westie rescues, but none that will adopt to me here in the middle 😦 Still, I hope I can rescue another pupper in a few years once I’ve got the one handled (if that ever really happens haha). I am a little scared for the lack of sleep!

      Like

  2. Dork February 12, 2018 / 6:29 am

    Very interesting post, thank you! I’d love to have a dog one day, but right now, my living situation and time don’t allow it. I tend to do tons and tons of research on my pets. I’ve read for weeks before getting my tarantulas and I continue to further my education all the time. I’ve also read quite a bit about cats and dogs even though I don’t own either right now!

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    • anhistorianabouttown February 12, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Oooo I’m terrified of arachnids, you are brave!! 😣 I have been researching dogs for YEARS, and we have had them as a family- I still believe that you should do your research each time, even just to confirm what you already know. Pets are a big responsibility, and you have to know what you are in for 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hannah February 12, 2018 / 10:42 am

    This is good advice 🙂 We (me, mum and brother) all want a dog, but my dad is really anti it so he won’t let us get one. My brother has been looking after his brother’s dog quite a lot who is a Yorkie-Poo and she’s so cute. I think a yorkie-poo would be good for us though!
    I’m so excited to see lots of dog posts 🙂

    Like

    • anhistorianabouttown February 13, 2018 / 9:03 am

      I’ll be devil’s advocate and say that you should just bring one home so he falls in love with it!! Smaller breeds are typically more “low-maintenance”, so I think a Yorkie-Poodle cross would be perfect if he has reservations!
      I’m hoping to do 3ish dog posts a month 🙂 Not enough to put off people who aren’t interested but a decent amount for anyone who is!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. tahenryauthoress February 12, 2018 / 11:20 am

    I wanted a very specific animal that was extremely hard to come by in my location and I was determined to rescue. There’s lots to the story, but I’ll fast forward.
    I was on my 357th trip to the humane society, to see if a dog I liked and my son liked, liked my hubs – spoiler she didn’t, when my son saw puppies. sigh. I really didn’t want a puppy.
    But I agreed we could play with one as he was the last one left in the kennel, all his siblings were out being played with. Good fun was had by all.
    When it was time for him to go back, the HS volunteer tried to pick him and he ran around behind me, pressed his nose into my knees, and hid. Everyone thought this quite cute and funny.
    After the 4th time this happened, I said never mind we’ll keep him.
    Best dog I have ever had. Trained in a snap. People adore him. About six families we are friends with, have all said, if you ever had to give him up, we would take him in a heart beat.
    Sometimes you just get lucky.

    Like

    • anhistorianabouttown February 13, 2018 / 9:01 am

      My brother is so lucky with both of his rescues! Thankfully he wanted huskies, and huskies are very common to rescue here. I spent a good 3+ years waiting for one to come into rescue here but no luck 😦 What breed did you end up with? ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. amindfultravellerblog February 13, 2018 / 7:02 am

    Our dog Jackson is a Moodle, cross Maltese and Poodle. He is both indoors and outdoors and I love how he doesn’t shed any fur. I guess that was one of the main reasons we chose that breed. Xx

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  6. Dork February 13, 2018 / 8:38 am

    Not particularly brave, I was just never afraid of them. There are many people keeping inverts as a way to get over their phobia, now *that’s* brave.
    I agree with you 100 %: it is a big responsibility! The life and well-being of another living thing completely depends on you, so I doubt there’s such a thing as too much research.
    Your baby Agnes looks ADORABLE by the way, I’m so happy for you!

    Like

  7. lady sarah in london February 13, 2018 / 8:51 am

    Some businesses in lLondon allow their employees to bring their dog in. I used to work at such a place, it was a publishing company and having 3-4 dogs in the office made for a very good atmosphere – no trouble at all and we loved it.

    Like

    • anhistorianabouttown February 13, 2018 / 8:58 am

      Oh, that is the absolute dream!! That doesn’t seem to be common in Canada, aside from small boutique firms/companies. Given that I work at a university that routinely brings in dogs for pet therapy, you would think they would see the benefits of permanent canine company!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Stareofthedog March 20, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Great post. My wife and I bought Dudley, our crazy Chocolate Labrador two years ago and we’ve never regretted a single moment. Right now, he’s stood with both legs on my shoulders trying to lick my ears as I try and type….he’s the reason and source of my blogs…check them out if you fancy a slightly more comical look at dog ownership.

    Like

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