Selecting a Dog Breed

Purebred dogs certainly have temperamental as well as physical traits that are typical of their breeds. After all, breeds were created for specific purposes. Keep the dog’s original job in mind when you watch the dog’s behavior, and don’t be surprised when your new malamute loves to pull.

But you should also remember that every dog is an individual. When books or people say, “Sock retrievers make good hunters” or “Carolina temple dogs are good watchdogs,” they’re talking about the average for the breed, but any individual in a breed may vary widely from that average.

Pick your individual dog carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask the breeder or rescue group or shelter staff lots of questions about your individual dog’s temperament.

No Breed Is “Perfect”

Whatever breed or mix you choose, remember that no breed is perfect. If anyone — whether it’s a book, a breeder, or a someone online — tells you an entire breed has no health or temperament problems, get a second opinion. All breeds have problems, and someone who really cares about the improvement of their breed will be aware of them and tell you what they’re doing to make them go away.

Do lots of research so you can be prepared to ask about the problems specific to your chosen breed. Again, these negatives are not meant to scare you away from a breed, but to let you know what to expect.

Akitas, for instance, are beautiful, noble, dignified animals; but you’d be in for some trouble if you got one without knowing that many of them tend toward aggressiveness and therefore need a great deal of training and careful handling. This doesn’t mean that Akitas can’t be wonderful pets, but only that you have to be prepared to do the work they need and deserve when you get one.

The Importance of Training (Sooner Rather Than Later)

All dogs should be trained — the small ones as well as the big ones.

A puppy kindergarten or basic obedience class will help you socialize your dog and teach her basic manners, it will make her a better companion, and it will help you bond better when you’re first getting to know each other.

Don’t think that getting a dog with a reputation for being smart will get you out of training, either. Highly intelligent dogs usually need more training than the others, because they tend to use their fuzzy brains to get themselves in trouble. All dogs deserve training and some work to do, but the smartest ones will make work for themselves if they aren’t given any, usually at the expense of your house and yard.

A steady, well-behaved, house-trained, quiet, loyal dog doesn’t come out of nowhere, but they can be found in any breed — if you’re willing to work at developing that relationship.

Good luck, be a responsible pet parent, and have fun with your new dog!

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