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Choosing A Canine Companion
February 1, 2024

Are you thinking about adopting a dog? Congratulations! Of course, picking Fido can be a tough decision. With so many adorable pups in need of homes, how do you pick the right one? 

Here is some advice from a Kerrville, TX veterinarian:

Do Some Breed Research

Even if you aren’t necessarily looking for a purebred, you may find the AKC website a great reference. Start by checking out the groups. Just finding out what breed group a dog belongs to can give you insight about his temperament. Each breed was designed originally to serve a specific purpose. 

The Sporting Dogs

Sporting dogs were originally enlisted and developed to assist their humans with hunting. These origins are still quite apparent today. Labrador Retrievers, for example, love swimming and fetching. This is very much in line with their original line of work: retrieving waterfowl from ponds and lakes. This group of Very Good Boys includes retrievers, setters, and spaniels.

The Herding Dogs

The dogs in the herding group were primarily responsible for herding and protecting livestock and cattle. Those tasks involved a lot of thought and calculation, so it’s no wonder that there are many highly intelligent and active dogs in this category. German Shepherds, Collies, and Sheepdogs all fall into this group. The Corgi may be known as a cute cuddly pet, but this charming pooch is also a herding dog.

The Hound Dogs

Hounds were originally tasked with helping their humans track game. There are different categories of hounds. Sight hounds, such as the Greyhound, track by using sight, while scent hounds, such as the Bloodhound, use their noses. Hounds are often cute and lovable, but a bit stubborn at times. They can also be vocal.

The Terriers

The pooches in the terrier group share a determination for chasing prey. Smaller terriers were often tasked with chasing rodents, sometimes through underground burrows. That calls for stubbornness and a bit of bravado. Therefore, Fido is playful, high energy, and plucky, but he isn’t always a good match for homes that also have kitties.

The Working Dogs

Working dogs excelled at many specific tasks, such as guarding livestock, protecting people and dwellings, and pulling carts. Among these dogs are watchdogs like the Rottweiler and Doberman Pinscher; sled dogs, like the husky; and livestock guard dogs, like the Great Pyrenees.

Toy Breeds

Unlike most of the other groups, the toy breeds did not really have any specific jobs, aside from being adorable. Due to their small size, toy breeds make great apartment dogs. This group includes several super cute lap dogs, such as the Chihuahua, Maltese, Pekinese, Pug, Pomeranian, and Yorkie. 

The Non-Sporting Dogs

The non-sporting group is sort of an ‘other’ category. It includes a wide variety of pups that may not fit into other categories. Dalmatians, for example, are known for their remarkable aptitude for being companions to horses, which Fido into his long career as a fire house dog. The group also includes the French Poodle, a former circus star, and the French Bulldog, with its endearing face and bat ears.

What Is the Best Dog Breed for You?

After narrowing things down a bit and eliminating certain breeds or groups, you’ll want to look more closely at the remaining contenders. The AKC site is a good resource here as well. Every breed has its own profile. These outline key characteristics, and cover most–or all–of the things people should look for when seeking their next canine pal.

Some of these include size, weight, lifespan, how affectionate Fido is with family, if he’s good with young children and/or other dogs, shedding level, coat grooming frequency, drooling level, coat type, coat length, openness to strangers, playfulness level, watchdog/protective nature, adaptability level, trainability, energy level, barking level, and mental stimulation needs.

This is where you can really hone in on the right match. We recommend taking all of these traits into consideration. A dog that barks at everything may cause friction if you live in an apartment or have neighbors nearby, while one that needs a lot of exercise could be a mismatch for someone who likes to stay home and read or watch movies. And while we generally advise keeping dogs leashed at all times, we do understand that sometimes people have room to roam, or like to take their pups hiking. If you want a dog you can trust off-leash, you’ll want a very obedient canine, not one that will be distracted by every squirrel you come across.

Consider Mutts And Rescues

Mixed breeds often offer the best of both—or several—worlds. Rescue dogs are also a great option. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of pups in shelters are mixed breeds. It can be a beautiful experience giving a pup a second chance!

You still want to do some digging. Many rescues and shelters do have specific breeds or breed mixes. However, history also comes into play here. It’s true that shelters often do not have much information about Fido. However, sometimes they actually do know quite a  bit. If Fido has been fostered, the fosters may have gotten to know him pretty well. Shelters even offer foster-to-adopt, a way of trying things out before adopting.

Don’t Forget To Consider Fido’s Age

Age is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a canine companion. Many opt for a puppy. We know, little Fido is impossibly cute. Additionally, there are benefits to raising a dog from a young age. However, it’s important to note that young dogs require a lot of attention and training. This includes dealing with the “terrible twos” phase,  which we also call the “terrible chews.” Puppies also need plenty of toys and playtime. That being said, for active individuals seeking an adventure buddy, a puppy or young adult dog may be the ideal candidate.

if you prefer quieter activities such as reading, crafting, or watching movies inside, an older dog may be more compatible with you. Adopting a senior dog has numerous advantages. These guys are usually calm and sociable, have usually outgrown destructive behaviors like chewing, and require less exercise and stimulation. (They’re also super cute.)

Figure Out What Your Dealbreakers Are

It’s also important to think about what you don’t want. If you want chickens, you probably don’t want a dog with a strong prey drive. If you suffer from allergies, a high shedder may not be the right match. And if you’re renting, a giant breed is probably not your best bet.

Do A Meet And Greet

If possible, spend some time with Fido, and get to know him a little bit. Checklists and research are important in narrowing down what kind of dog you want, but making that personal connection is also important.

Make sure you are ready, willing, and able to commit, regardless of how carefully you research and make lists. Adoption is a lifelong commitment!

Reach Out To your Kerrville TX Veterinary Clinic

One of the first things you’ll need to do is contact your Kerrville TX veterinarian. Fido will need a thorough exam. This is also a good time to ask for specific care tips. We’re always happy to answer questions! 

As your Kerrville TX pet hospital, we’re here if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health. Please contact us for all of your dog’s veterinary care needs.