Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You

List the Traits Most Important to You

The first and most important step in finding the right dog for you and your family is deciding what dog traits will best fit your lifestyle. Only after completing this step can you start looking for the dog that has the behaviors and physical characteristics you want.

Step 1. Using the list of traits shown in the next two pages, choose the four to six traits that are the most important to you. These can be either traits you want in a dog or traits you want to avoid, just as long as they are the traits most important to you. You can print out the list of these traits if that would make it easier for you to complete this part of the exercise.

If there are traits you want that aren't on the list shown on the next couple of pages, go ahead and write these other traits down on a second list. Chances are you will be able to use a combination of the traits that are on the list to find the characteristics you want.

For example, the list does not show a trait for "does well at home alone all day". But by using a range of 1 - 2 (below average and very low) for both the activity level inside and how loving the breed is with family, (an indication of how much the breed needs to be around people) you can find the best options for dogs that can be left alone all day.

Without this list of 'must have' traits, the chance of a mismatch between your needs and the needs of the dog you choose skyrockets. It goes back to the old idea that if you don't know where you want to go, it's impossible to know when you get there. Go ahead and make the list of the traits that are most important to you now before you go on to the next step.

Step 2. The second part of making your list of traits is to create a second column and name it "Trait Amount". Using the table below determine the amount of each trait you want in your dog and enter it in the column you just created next to the corresponding trait. You can use a single amount or a range for each trait. However, for the best results choose the widest range of the trait that is acceptable to you.

For example, if you want a dog that sheds as little as possible because someone in your home has allergies, use the value of 1. But if you don't want an excessive amount of dog hair to vacuum up, a dog that sheds from the least possible to no more than average may be acceptable; so the amount of the trait you should write down is 1 (as little of the trait as possible) to 3 (an average amount of the trait). Go ahead and decide on the amount of each trait you want and write it down in the "trait amount" column now using the numbers shown in the table below.

Rate the amount of each trait you want
according to the following table

5 - The highest possible amount of the trait
4 - An above average amount of the trait
3 - An average amount of the trait
2 - A below average amount of the trait
1 - As little of the trait as possible