Choosing a Breed That Matches Your Lifestyle
Whether you’re looking for a purebred puppy or want to rescue an adult dog, it’s extremely important to select a breed or mix that matches your lifestyle and personality. A dog’s breed or mix determines external features like size, coat, and color, but also qualities that go far beyond appearance, like energy level, sociability, and intelligence.
If you get a Husky because you think they’re beautiful (and no doubt, they are!), remember that Huskies are high energy, independent natured sled dogs with strong prey drive and LOTS of hair. If your family prefers watching TV to daily hikes, and you don’t enjoy the idea of sweeping, vacuuming, and lint rolling frequently, a Husky isn’t for you – no matter how beautiful they are.
On the other hand, if you’re a hiker, a jogger, or a biker, and want a dog to adventure with you, an English Bulldog, with a heavy body, short legs, and pushed-in nose, is probably not the right dog for you. They have difficulty running for long distances and can overheat easily, making them better suited to a laid-back lifestyle.
Also consider how much time you have for training. Even if you’re an outdoorsy person who’s active, a dog like a Border Collie needs more than just running, it needs lots and lots of mental stimulation. If you’re not prepared to pursue advanced training in agility or competition obedience, you should probably look for another breed.
Mixed breeds can also display strong breed tendencies from whatever breeds make up their heritage. It’s a myth that mixed breeds only get the “best” tendencies from each breed; the truth is that the way a mixed breed’s genes line up is random, and “best” is subjective. I might like high-energy dogs, and you might like low energy dogs, and neither is right or wrong.
If you cross a low key dog, independent dog like a Chow-chow to a high energy, highly trainable dog like a Border Collie, you could get a low key, highly trainable dog, or a high energy, independent dog.
When choosing a mixed breed, what’s important is to examine the individual dog and decide if his or her breed traits are something that work for you. That Shetland Sheepdog mix might be cute as a button, but can you handle a dog that’s high energy, smart, and may bark a lot? If he’s part Beagle, are you prepared for the fact that he might spend most of his time following interesting smells?
If you’re curious about a certain breed, the best place to find reliable information and breeder/rescue referrals is the breed club’s webpage. Almost every breed has a national club (i.e. the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America). There you have access to the firsthand knowledge of hundreds of owners/breeders of the breed you’re considering, and lists of reputable breeders/rescues.
Being honest with yourself about your needs and lifestyle is the first step to finding a dog that will be a lifelong companion. Good luck and happy hunting!