A TIME FOR PAWS
Picking a Dog Breed
Spring represents many things to us, such as the greening of the world around us and new life. For me, since I am a veterinarian, the new life aspect to spring brings to mind all of the new puppies that I will get to see. And recently, I have joined the ranks of new puppy owners. Sleepless nights and constant trips outside for house training have become my lot in life of late. So, in this article, I decided to discuss one of the most important questions to be asked before picking a puppy. What breed should you consider?
There are hundreds of different breeds in the world, and they have varying personalities and needs. For example, some dogs fall in the working breeds category. Working breeds were developed to help with very specific tasks, such as herding sheep. Working dogs will need lots of exercise and mental challenges to prevent behavior problems. Before you decide that you like the look of certain breed and go to a shelter or approach a breeder, you should study the characteristics and needs of that breed (or breeds, if the dog is mixed) and make sure it fits your life style. Obviously, a family with young children should be looking at very different breeds from an older couple living in a retirement community. The American Kennel Club has a questionnaire that can help you identify breeds that would match with your life style. You can access this on line, but there are other sources that can easily be searched, as well.
Remember that you can often find wonderful dogs through rescue groups, and they will usually help you decide what type of dog would best fit your circumstances. Three years ago, I adopted a mixed breed dog from the Cornelius Animal Shelter. We found one that all of the family liked, but we had a little work to do before we adopted. I spent some time studying to figure out which breeds she was most like and what behaviors I might expect from her as she grew up. I figured out that she would be very active and that she had breeds in her that love other dogs. Since we love to hike and play outdoors, I knew she would be a good fit. I also knew that I wanted another dog in the future, so liking other dogs was very important. Adding a new puppy to my house has worked out very well. My new puppy loves her new older sister and the older sister loves her new friend (after a couple of days of my older dog having her nose bent out of shape).
Dr. Dick Hay is a veterinarian at TotalBond Veterinary Hospital at Davidson and has lived in Davidson since 1989 with his wife Pam, a retired Davidson College biology professor. They raised two wonderful children in Davidson, Sarah and Ben. Dr. Hay is a Davidson College graduate from the Class of 1973 and received his MS and DVM degrees from the University of Georgia. He is active in the community, having served on several nonprofits boards, including many years with the Davidson Housing Coalition.