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The Pet Set: The right dog for your family

Don't assume that purebred vs. mixed breed is the only question. Photo © Jessen Charlotte

Grooming makes a difference Photo © Rob Brugman

Dr. Berry's Lake Highlands Veterinary Clinic is located in Lake Highlands Plaza

I'm frequently asked what sort of dog a person should look for as a pet. Unfortunately, it's a really difficult question, because each person and family is different, and there's no one right dog for everyone.

Lots of people looking for a pet assume that they need to decide between a purebred dog and a mutt before they think about what type of dog would suit them, but I think that reasoning is exactly backward.

Having a list of characteristics that are important to you should come before any other parts of the process, including going to look at puppies.

Size Matters

First of all, think about what size dog fits your lifestyle. Do you have a large enough house and backyard to accommodate a large dog?

Is your fence in good repair, and how tall is it?

Are there young children in the house who might be overwhelmed by a large dog or too rough on a fragile dog? Are there older family members who might be knocked over by a large rambunctious puppy?

Do you need a large dog for protection, or would lots of barking at the door be all you need?

Do you want a lap dog or would a dog lying at your feet be better?

Once you’ve decided on a size of dog that will fit in with your family, I like to consider grooming next.

Hair of the Dog

Short-haired dogs usually are very easy to keep properly groomed – a quick brushing and an occasional bath will generally be sufficient.

The down side is that they are also usually copious shedders.

Most long-haired dogs shed less, but often require frequent home grooming to prevent matting, and many require trips to the groomer for trims.

Be sure you know how much time and expense you're willing to put into grooming before you the next step.

Fitness Factor

I also like to consider the type and quantity of exercise you want to provide for your pet.

If you plan on having a jogging companion, you want to choose a dog that is physically able to run distances and finds it enjoyable.

However, if a short playtime in the backyard is all you'll be able to provide, a dog bred to work and run will find destructive ways to entertain itself around the house if not provided an outlet for its energy. A couch-potato dog would be far happier.

Animal Planet website has a great resource for selecting dog breeds, and I encourage you to take their test if you're thinking about adding a new puppy to your family.

The selector tool is for purebred dogs, but next month I'll tell you how to use that information to choose either a purebred dog from a litter, or how to choose a lovable who-knows-what from a shelter!

Dr. Berry owns and operates the Skillman Animal Clinic which offers medical and surgical services for dogs and cats.

The clinic is located in the Lake Highlands Plaza shopping center at 9661 Audelia Road, Suite 340.

Readers can submit questions to Dr. Berry by commenting on her articles or emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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