Whether you have a place in the suburbs with an inviting backyard or a studio in city central, there is a dog waiting to claim your heart. And when it comes to picking the right four-legged friend, it’s not so much the breed as the household that matters.
Finding Your Indoor Dog
You may easily identify a toy like the Maltese as a house dog, but many working dogs and sporting types like spaniels, retrievers and shepherds adapted to a mainly indoor lifestyle generations ago. Each breed carries certain influences from his or her gene pool, but Labs residing in a non-hunting home will retrieve sticks rather than ducks and Australian shepherds may find learning an agility course as stimulating as herding sheep. Like their outdoor cousins, inside dogs require a list of guidelines to abide by and consistent, loving training when it comes to following the rules.
Dogs are as individual as snowflakes but some breed traits like size do matter when you're adding a dog to your house. Obviously a gentle giant like the St. Bernard will find a tiny two-room apartment an impossible squeeze. But medium-size breeds like the boxer and smaller breeds like the Boston terrier need room to romp and space for all their toys, food and other necessities. Taking stock of your available space and deciding which closet you’re willing to clear out for the stuff will help you identify the right dog for you. Your vet can estimate how large a puppy might grow if you’ve found a fabulous mixed breed to bring home.
Keeping Up the Pace
Activity level varies greatly according to breed and is another important consideration when you're choosing a dog. If you prefer strolling to jogging every evening, a Clumber spaniel, although playful and loving, prefers long walks to runs. The smaller cocker spaniel has more energy than the soulful Clumber and needs plenty of exercise time to wear out. A border collie requires roommates willing to participate in daily high-energy activity to keep his mind and body fit. The pint-size Chihuahua, despite his lion-size heart, can settle for a quick trip around the block for his daily workout, and may be a perfect fit for households that prefer board games to the gym.
A Dog’s Life
Overall expenses and specifics like shedding habits also require some thought when you're choosing your dog. Like people, all dogs lose some hair now and then. But if you prefer less fur on your business suits, a golden retriever’s habit of leaving a little hair wherever he goes isn’t going to mesh with your household. Poodles don’t shed so much but require routine haircuts. Monthly visits to the groomer get expensive. All dogs need yearly vet checks and routine vaccinations that might strain a budget. A Great Dane may fit right into a home that has the room, but he uses up a lot more kibble than a pug. Check with a veterinarian, reputable breeder, shelter professional or experienced friend for information regarding what a dog really costs in time and money.
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