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

Physical Traits

A Dog's General Size. What size dog do you want? Do you want a dog that can look you squarely in the eye when standing on all four feet, a dog that looks at your ankle when standing on all four feet, or something in between? Tiny dogs can be easily injured and are not a good match for those with pre-teen children. Large dogs require a large food bowl, a large food budget, a large car to transport them and have larger vet bills.

A Dog's Height. Keep in mind that the tallest dogs can counter surf... on top of your refrigerator. When large dogs are on all fours, their tails may be at the perfect height to sweep items off tables or knock over small children.

A Dog's Weight. A massive dog can be difficult to control. If you're five feet tall and weigh 90 pounds, you might have trouble controlling a 150 pound dog unless it is well trained. If you're looking for a dog for kids, make sure it's small enough for the kids can control.

How Much a Breed Sheds. Shedding and allergies may be serious concerns for a family. Only a few breeds are tolerable to people with severe dog allergies. When this need is combined with other traits you also require, you may find that you're limited to only a few breeds.

The so-called "hypoallergenic" dogs lose very little fur compared to other dogs, and typically have dander that allergy sufferers better tolerate. Allergy sufferers should spend some time with any dog being considered to find out if they have an adverse reaction to the animal.

Hypoallergenic only refers to a dog that sheds less dander, or whose dander is generally tolerable to dog allergy sufferers. People who are allergic to something other than dog hair, skin, or dander, such as a dog's saliva, will find they receive no benefit from a supposedly hypoallergenic dog. Dog allergy sufferers who react to these other allergens may find that they cannot live with any dog- even one that is supposed to be hypoallergenic.

From the perspective of cleanliness, shedding leaves fur throughout your house. This is especially true of the dogs that lose a great deal of fur either continuously or during seasonal shedding. If you don't want to devote time vacuuming dog fur or don't want to live in a house with the occasional wisp of fur on the furniture and your clothes, you should consider a low-shedding breed. But keep in mind many of these dogs require the additional expense of professional grooming.

How Much Grooming a Breed Needs. Different dog breeds have different grooming requirements. Some dogs must be brushed every day, have their coats trimmed once a month, or have other specific, time-intensive grooming requirements. Other dogs may require only an occasional wipe-down, a rare bath, and occasional, or even no brushing. Think about the time and effort you are willing to dedicate to this task.

You can frequently reduce the grooming requirements of a dog by trimming their coat to a shortened length. However, this is usually done by a professional groomer at an additional cost.

How Heat Tolerant the Breed Is. Dogs with dark, thick, dense coats or pushed in faces like a Bulldog do not do as well in warm climates. If you live someplace with a very warm humid climate, beware of dogs that aren't heat tolerant or be ready to make sure they are kept cool through the use of air conditioning when temperatures start to climb.

How Cold Tolerant the Breed Is. Conversely, dogs that have thick coats are usually great in cold climates. If you live in a region where the temperature is below freezing for part of the year, you may want to consider a dog breed that is well-suited for cold temperatures. Most small dogs must be protected from the cold as do hairless breeds. With some dogs, you will need to consider investing in a dog sweater to extend a dog's tolerance to cold weather.