Snoqualmie Pets 101: How to Select the Right Dog Breed for Your Lifestyle

This is the newest installment in the bi-weekly guest column, Snoqualmie Pets 101.  Guest writer, Melissa, is a Pet-ology Expert and In home Dog Trainer at Le Chic Pet in Issaquah.  To get more training tips visit the LeChic websiteGot a specific topic you want Melissa to cover?  Just send it to info@livingsnoqualmie.com.  Enjoy…

When I was a child, my dearest wish was to have a dog. My parents tried oh so hard to satisfy my urge for a pet without actually getting a dog. I had many goldfish, all named Gloria. A cat named Muffin who consistently brought us dead “presents” that terrified my mother and chameleon whose name escapes me. Finally at the age of 11 I got my first dog “Snickers.”

One of the main reasons I wanted a pet in the first place was that in grade school way back when they had “Pet day.” All the kids could bring their pets to school and everyone had a fun day of meeting and petting pets! I was bereft with no pet. So we went to the Humane Society and got a dog. He was cute and white and fluffy, probably a terrier mix, we adored him. Unfortunately for me, while he adored us, he adored no one else.

The first indication was when he bit my cousin Tim. “Well Tim sat on him. He deserved it”, sure thing. People would want to lean over and pet him but I soon learned to advise against it. Alas he wasn’t very nice. Pet day at school was out of the question. We loved him dearly until he died at age 12 but if I knew then what I know now I might have asked myself a few simple questions to determine if that pooch was what my heart desired. Here are a few of those questions to help you decide which breed is right for you…

  1. What is the size of your space and the energy level of your desired pooch? You may think a tiny dog works for a tiny space but that isn’t always true. A Great Dane or a Mastiff have very low energy levels and can make wonderful apartment pets, whereas a tiny wound up Jack Russell may drive you bonkers.
  2. What size of dog do you prefer? Are you physically fit? Can you tolerate a young Golden Retriever dragging you down the street? Size matters when it comes to dogs. I personally prefer not so small they can’t go on a good two mile walk but not so large that I can’t pick them up and get out-of-the-way of a speeding bicycle. Remember small does not always mean easier.  Well… except for poop patrol, that’s definitely easier with the little guys.
  3. What kind of grooming do you want to do? A coated dog won’t shed but depending on the breed may require 4 to 6 grooming appointments a year costing up to $120.00 each! Our Goldendoodle clients can attest to this one. Huskies don’t require trims but the shedding can be so extensive you’d swear you have Husky colored tumbleweeds rolling down your front hall.
  4. Do you prefer a dry or a wet mouthed dog? I used to walk a Newfoundland every day. We’d start off dry but by the end of our walk he would have a long strand of spit swinging dangerously close to the ground. Some dogs you really do need to carry towels with you to periodically dry them off. Decide if you can handle that.
  5. Does anyone in your house have allergies? Some dogs have less allergenic coats. Naked dogs such as Peruvian Incan Orchid (an acquired taste beauty wiseJ) or Chinese Crested are less likely to be a problem. Or the curly coated types such as Bichon Frise’s, Poodles or Wheaten Terriers can be more tolerable.
  6. Most importantly I would advise thinking to the future and trying to ascertain what will be going on in five or ten years. A dog is a 12-15 year commitment and some breeds just don’t do well with small children. If you see babies in your future maybe pass on the Cairn terrier, Yorkie or Chihuahua and get a more kid friendly stable breed such as a Labrador retriever. Many dogs end up in shelters because of major life changes in their parent’s lives. Help keep shelters free of those little guys with a little forethought. Your future pet will thank you.

Be aware of other factors as well. Such as compatibility to existing pets in the family, trainability, noisy vs. quiet, passivity vs. a more aggressive breed (think maltese vs. terrier), if you want a working/hunting dog and lastly life span. Whatever you choose a little research will go a long way to ensure long happy human dog relationship.

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