Dog Breed Characteristics – What You Should Know Before Getting a Dog

Dog Breeds and Their Characteristics

Selecting a dog for yourself or your family is something that should be taken very seriously. You really should do research into the various dog breeds and their characteristics before you select a dog based only on how cute they are–all puppies are cute.  There are hundreds of different dog breeds and when you include all of the mixed breed dogs that number rises to extreme heights.

So much depends on where you live, do you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets?  If this is the case then you will need to hold off until you are living in a place that allows dogs.  Also, some apartments allow dogs but they have size restrictions.  Be sure to find out exactly what the rules are for adding a family pet and follow them precisely.  Most rental properties require substantial security deposits which could force you to choose between where you live and getting a dog.

Look for a Dog that Will Be Compatible with Your Family’s Lifestyle

Another consideration when deciding on the selection of a dog is the determination of the dog breeds and the characteristics of the dog breeds or mixed breeds that you are attracted to. It’s very important to get a dog that fits in with your family’s lifestyle.  For example, if you are all active and love water activities, you should look for an active dog breed, preferably one that loves the water. In the case of mixed-breed dogs, you should try and determine what is the dominant breed in your mixed breed selection. You should also attempt to find out any history you can on the dog — assuming you have access to that information.  You can also find out what breeds are included in your mixed-breed dog of interest by testing the DNA of the dog.  There are places that offer this service.

So before you even start looking for a dog think of your lifestyle or your family’s lifestyle, depending on where the dog will be and who will be the primary caregiver.   If we are talking about a family do they have small children?  Are they an active family, always on the go?  The places that they like to go will they be appropriate places to take a dog?  You need to think of the needs of the dog, while they aren’t extravagant they are very important.  This is like adopting a child so you must think of your home as the dog’s future “forever” home.

Do Plenty of Research on Dog Breeds and Their Characteristics

Some people change dogs like they change their clothes which is very irresponsible and completely incomprehensible to me.  This is why researching the differences and needs of various dog breeds in advance is so important.  By researching the traits common to various dog breeds you can look for dogs that are compatible with your lifestyle. For example, if you and your family are couch potatoes, look for a dog breed that doesn’t require a lot of activity.  Training your pup can eliminate most behavior issues. Research the characteristics of the various dog breeds before adopting a dog or puppy.

Be certain you have the money and time to invest in your new puppyPuppies need socialization, leash training, and housebreaking. Also, be sure you can afford to get at least one physical exam per year (two for senior dogs) in addition to all of the vaccines and shots required. Research how much food is necessary for this dog and how much it will cost to feed a large breed puppy or dog.

On-Going Training For Your Dog

Once you have acquired your new dog, don’t just give up on him because of behavior issues. It’s very likely that some training could take care of behavior issues that might develop.  If it turns out that a family member is allergic to dogs and you didn’t know it so you have to give the dog away, the most responsible thing to do in this case is to turn the dog over to a rescue group or a no-kill shelter.   This is an important reason to do your research before getting a dog. No dog deserves to be killed just because someone is allergic to him or due to some behavior issue.

If for some reason you are not able to keep this dog, then be sure to only take him to a no-kill shelter, a rescue group. or find him a new loving home. Adding a new dog to your home should be like adding a new family member because that is what it amounts to.   Adding a new dog to your family is a lifetime (for the life of the dog) commitment. Be certain that you and your family want to care for this dog throughout all the stages of his life. Please do not go into this without doing your research and preparing yourself and your family.

Facts to Research Before Getting a Dog

Here are a few necessary facts you need to determine before getting a dog:

Be Sure to Watch your New Puppy Closely for any Changes in Appetite or Activity Level

If your puppy starts behaving differently, stops eating doesn’t want to play then these are signals that something is wrong.  You need to be sure that your puppy will be ok by himself in your absence and how long he can remain ok. The best action you can take at this point would be to take your puppy to a vet right away.  You really need to do your homework and take time to look at different dogs and read about dog breed characteristics.  It’s important to choose a dog that matches your lifestyle and is within the size limitations of your living situation.  In addition, do an honest inventory of yourself or your family and your lifestyle.  Do you have an active life and enjoy the outdoors and activities such as running, walking, hiking, hunting, or swimming, or are you a family of couch potatoes or somewhere in-between?

Search for a breed that best matches your family’s lifestyle—your lifestyle currently.  If you get an active breed then he is going to want to be active now, not sometime in the future. Read more to find out about dog breeds that match your family’s lifestyle.

Select a Dog Breed that Matches your Family’s Lifestyle

Some people change dogs like they change their clothes which is very irresponsible and completely incomprehensible to me.  This is why researching the differences and needs of various dog breeds in advance is so important.  Once you have acquired your new dog, don’t just give up on him because of behavior issues. On-going training is very important for your dog. It’s possible that some training could take care of behavior issues that might develop.

Your family should be tested for an allergy to dogs before getting a dog.   It is much better to discover this before getting a dog and then having to re-home the dog.  It is also extremely important to protect your pup from things that may seem quite normal to us but to many dogs, fireworks send them into a frenzy of fear.

Rescue Groups and No-Kill Shelters

[two-thirds-first]If you must re-home your dog, find a reputable rescue group to find a good home for your dog.  Rescue groups are extremely careful about who adopts the pets in their care.  Good quality rescue groups require a home visit so they can see firsthand where the dog will be living.  They also want to verify that the new dog gets along with all current household pets.  If unable to locate a rescue group, look for a reputable no-kill shelter.  Never give up your dog to any person or place until you have thoroughly researched that person or place. Dogs don’t deserve to be stuck in a “shelter” due to their owner’s inability to take care of them. The only responsible choice is to be certain that this dog ends up in a good home, rescue group, or a no-kill shelter.[/two-thirds-first]

Dog Breeds and Their Characteristics -- Australian Cattle Dog (red/blue heeler) herding a head of cattle by nipping at the heels of the cattle
Another herding dog is the Australian Cattle Dog (Red/Blue Heeler) herding a head of cattle by nipping the cattle’s heels.


[two-thirds-first]All of the dogs I have mentioned are either hunting dogs or herding dogs those two dog groups are known for their high activity level and their sweet dispositions. However, some of these dogs, especially the herding dogs, are also known for their excessive barking. For the most part, these breeds are great choices for an active family with kids.[/two-thirds-first]


Dog Breeds and Their Characteristics--Border Collie Herding Sheep
An example of a herding dog is the Border Collie. Border Collies are sheepherders.


Please Adopt a Shelter or Rescue Dog and Avoid the Pet Stores

When you are ready to adopt your new family member please look at shelters first.  So many wonderful dogs are stuck in shelters and waiting to be adopted. Many of the city or county-run shelters do not keep them very long before they euthanize them.  This is such a tragedy and you could prevent this from happening by adopting from a shelter. “Shelters” that kill perfectly healthy dogs and cats should be outlawed.  If you end up finding your perfect dog in a no-kill shelter, or rescue group, these dogs need homes too.   The reputable shelters work at making pets that start out un-adoptable into well-behaved, nonaggressive pets.  Most reputable shelters won’t put a dog up for adoption until the dog has passed several pre-adoption tests. Reputable shelters test by putting the dogs in a variety of situations to see how they react.

One of the situations is trying to remove the dog’s food bowl while he’s eating.  The dog must learn not to growl or bite before he is ready for adoption.  A good, reputable shelter will work to break the dog of this habit before releasing him to a home.  Reputable shelters will spay or neuter the pet before adoption as that is a major cause of pet overpopulation.

Get Your New Pet Into Training Classes as Soon as Possible

Many shelters and rescues do some basic training before they declare the dog to be ready for adoption. However, don’t stop there with the training.  When you bring your new puppy or dog home you should continue with any training your new pup has received.   If your new dog is a puppy, be sure he gets the necessary puppy shots.  After the shots,  sure to get him into puppy socialization classes and obedience training. Train your newly adopted dog or puppy trained as soon as possible.  The more training your pet receives the happier you will all be, including your dog.

Please Don’t Buy Your Puppy at a Pet Store

I would also advise you to avoid pet stores as a source for your new dog.  Many of the puppies in those pet stores come from these horrible “puppy mills”.  A puppy coming from a bad environment could very possibly have an illness or develop one later.  Puppy mills are in the business of breeding dogs to get the most profit possible. Puppies from puppy mills are born and live in filthy conditions so the puppy mill owners can make as much money as possible. Puppy mills breed the mothers over again without any time for recovery.  The people who run these terrible places only care about money.  If you’re looking for a particular breed of dog, don’t go to a pet store. You can still get the breed you are looking for from a reputable breeder or from a breed rescue group.

Breed rescues specialize in rescuing usually one but maybe two particular dog breeds.  But, where ever you decide to get your puppy don’t buy your puppy from a pet store. There is a strong possibility that a pet store puppy came from a puppy mill. Puppies born in puppy mills may also be plagued by health issues throughout their lives.

Prepare Yourself and Your Family Before Bringing Home Your New Family Member

Reputable shelters will spay or neuter all of the dogs or puppies before they are adopted unless the dog is too young.  Most quality shelters will give out a free certificate to have the dog spayed or neutered if the dog is too young for this procedure at the time of adoption. Some shelters will insist that all pets be spayed or neutered before adoption. 

Unfortunately, there are many irresponsible dog owners out there that just don’t care.  They let their dog run loose in the streets which could get him into fights with other dogs or he could get hit by a car. It’s very dangerous to allow your dog to just run freely about the neighborhood. The dog could be a nuisance to your neighbors, by going through their trash cans, and other unpopular behaviors.  The neighbors could get angry and call animal control which could result in the dog being picked up.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Before you bring home your new family member, be sure that you have a fenced yard. Also, be sure the fence is high enough to prevent your dog from jumping over it.  However, if you select a small dog or a puppy, be sure your dog cannot get out under the fence. If you take your time and do your research you will end up with a wonderful companion. Your new best friend will give you years of happiness and unconditional love.  All you need to do is provide a loving home for him if you take good care of him.

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2 thoughts on “Dog Breed Characteristics – What You Should Know Before Getting a Dog”

  1. Wow, this is such an important chunk of information. Recently I went down to the local rescue shelter and brought a puppy home basically on her breed and appearance though I really didn’t research as you emphasize here.

    We’ve had some major jealousy issues that have been extremely tough on our sweet little Malti-Poo of 7 or 8 years.

    I cannot stress enough the importance of reading this article and heeding all of it’s suggestions! Awesome job on putting some great instruction and info in front of us to really consider and use!!!

    • Hi Randy, I’m so happy to hear that you like this post. It’s definitely the longest post I’ve ever written and I’m not quite done yet. I’m doing the Yoast SEO plugin. The SEO part is pretty straight forward but the readability is really picky. Right now I’m trying to change all of my sentences to 20 words or less. I think I will settle on an “ok” rating for readability, or not. Maybe I’ll just do something else for the rest of the evening and work on it some more tomorrow. Thanks so much for your kind words about my article! I hope a lot of people are in agreement with you! Back to work.

      Take care,


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