How to choose the breed and type of dog best suited for you


 By Dennis Fisher.

This article is one of a great many articles written by Dennis Fisher about a very wide variety of subjects concerning different  dogs, such as obedience training, breeding, showing, health matters, training problems and other subjects.  All these articles appear on Dennis Fisher's websites.   Visit the site that has been set up specifically for German Shepherd Dog enthusiasts, or  if you interested in a breed   other than German Shepherd Dogs.

Once you have decided taken the first step and decided to get a dog the next step, which is sometimes a little more difficult, is to decide what type of dog you want.  There are a number of factors to consider.  Probably the most important is temperament – not only the temperament of the dog but also the temperament of the owner!  Your temperament is probably just as important as that of the dog.


Breeds vary tremendously with regard to temperament. Even though both breeds do have fine qualities a Fox Terrier, for example, is very different in character to a Labrador Retriever.    A Maltese poodle is completely different in character to a French poodle. 


If you are a quiet, somewhat shy retiring person in all probability you are going to want a dog of similar temperament, one that fits in with your style of living. As highly intelligent and remarkable as a Border Collie happens to me it would probably not be a good idea to choose a boisterous, lively, very active, often highly strung, dog like this.  There are many breeds that would  be more suitable for your  life-style  rather than a boisterous, lively over-active dog like the Border Collie.


An interesting choice and somewhat exotic of breed for someone who wants a dog that will be a good companion but is not as demanding  and constantly craving affection as some other breeds, is the Afghan.   For this reason the Afghan has acquired the very interesting label of  the “Philosophers Dog”.


Quite obviously where you live is of paramount importance in your choice of a dog.

If you live in an apartment and you do not have an opportunity to exercise your dog a great deal then you will be obliged to choose one of the smaller breeds such as a Pekingese, Yorkshire Terrier, King Charles spaniel or Maltese poodle. 


On the other hand, if you have the time to give the dog plenty of exercise, the choice can be made from the large variety of terriers, such as the smooth or  Wire-haired fox terrier.

Shetland sheepdogs – in appearance very much alike a miniature collie -  are very handsome animals, are very obedient, although sometimes a little sharp.   The Schipperke, a small sturdy dog, is also a delightful animal to own.


 Give some thought to your reason for wanting to get a dog in the first place.  Once you are quite clear  in your own mind about this  it will go a long way to helping you choose the most suitable animal.  


Is it because you want a pet for the children to play with, enjoy and come to appreciate the responsibilities of looking after a pet?    Is your main purpose to get a dog that will a guardian of your home?  Is it because you have fascinated with Obedience competitions and would like to enter – and win – competitions? Is it because a dog of a particular  breed is fashionable at the moment? 


 Perhaps you want a dog of a certain exotic breed because you want to have a dog that is different to everyone else’s?


Even though there may be an apparently frivolous or illogical reason for wanting to own a dog of a certain breed, there is nothing wrong or unnatural about this.   After all this probably an important reason why people buy certain cars.   The choice is often more emotional than practical. When you come to think of it, the choice of a particular breed of dog in some respects is similar to the choice of a motor car!


There is nothing wrong with wanting to have an exotic breed of dog.  You may be someone who wants something a little different to everyone else.  You want to express your individuality.


Having a better idea now   of the type of dog you are looking for, your next step should be to visit one of the many all-breed dogs shows that are regularly held, so that you can examine at first hand the great variety of breeds on display.  


The breed you finally decide on might be one that appeals to you because of physical beauty; its sporty nature; its friendliness; its happy outgoing temperament; its quiet reserved, dignified appearance. 


If your purpose in choosing a dog is to have one that responds more easily to obedience training this immediately narrows down your choice.   Your obvious choice would be a Border  Collie, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Doberman, Shetland Sheepdog or any of the dogs that fall in the category of “Working Dogs”.


The same would apply if you want a dog primarily as a guard but would also like the dog to be a family pet and companion.  Here again the group of  “Working Dogs” include many breeds ideally suited for this purpose, such as Rottweillers, German Shepherds,    Rottweilers and  some other fairly large breeds  that can be both  protective guards, suspicious of  strangers and   yet be  wonderful, friendly, lovable family pets.


Where to get the dog of your choice.


Having now more or less  made your mind up about which dog you would like to get, you will have to decide where to get a dog of this type.


It may be a strange suggestion, but a good place to look may be an animal shelter.  Even if it is a dog of a certain breed you want, and also a pure-bred  animal that is  quite clearly identifiable as a representative of this breed, you may find what your are looking for at an animal shelter.


There are sometimes animals of very good breeding that turn up at animal shelters.  There are a great variety of reasons for this.  People frequently change locations; move into apartments where they cannot accommodate a dog; sometimes there are domestic issues, families split up.   As a result the dog that came from a good, loving home is reluctantly  placed in an animal shelter.


A further advantage of getting a dog from an animal shelter is that quite often you may be fortunate to acquire a somewhat older animal, where the health problems that young pups sometimes have are no longer present.  It may also be a reasonably good specimen of the breed you have set your mind on.


If however, you have no success at animal shelters and now determined to get the dog  of the breed you have decided on,  your next step would be to follow up on  advertisements of pups for sale in your area.


It is always an advantage to choose a pup from a breeder  in your area, because you will   have the opportunity to see both the Sire and the Dam of the pup.   This is of great importance as far as temperament is concerned.   If both Sire and Dam have sound, friendly, approachable temperaments, there is every likelihood of the progeny inherited the same good temperament.


The temperament of the Dam is probably of even greater importance than that of the Sire.   The pup not only inherits genetic temperament features from the Sire, but is also influenced  often to an even greater  extent by the behavior and temperament  of the mother.


Of course, if you are a person who is interested in showing an animal competitively  in conformation classes,  then the procedures you would adopt would be quite different.

 In this instance it might not be advisable to select a pup from someone  breeding dogs  in your area just  because it is more convenient.   It might be worth your while looking further a field.  It is a completely different ball game and introduces many different factors


If however, like most people it is merely a happy, friendly, outgoing pup that you want, that is  handsome and good natured, then your choice is not so difficult.