Deciding On A Dog (A Howl-To Guide)
Deciding On A Dog (A Howl-To Guide)
Selecting a dog that’s right for you can be a tough task, especially when there are a whopping 175 breeds recognized in Canada! And it’s a decision that should never be flippant or taken lightly; dog ownership demands a tremendous amount of responsibility and dedication. That said, the relationship between owner and dog can be incredibly rewarding.
Growing up, our family had a Beagle named Halo, which was ironic because he could be such a little devil sometimes. The majority of my favourite childhood memories involve Halo in some way, shape or form, and I still miss him dearly to this day. Anyone that’s owned a dog can tell you that the companionship and love they provide is immeasurable, and the experiences shared will last a lifetime.
That’s why I’m here to help with some tips and suggestions on how to find the four-legged friend that’s right for you.
One of the first considerations you should make when deciding on a dog that’s right for you is to recognize how a new dog will fit in your home. Are you in a townhouse in the suburbs? A ranch-style house in the country? A condo in the middle of the city? While you may have your heart set on a certain dog, your domicile can often dictate what’s best for you.
If you live in a one-bedroom bachelor condo on the 33rd floor, you need to keep in mind that at least twice a day you’ll be taking the long elevator ride down to take your new best friend out for walks and to go to the bathroom. And if you have your heart set on a big dog, you need to realize that your living space will very much become a shared space if your square footage is under 1000 feet. In other words, if you have your heart set on a Great Dane, and there’s barely enough room for you and your significant other, you may want to reconsider your options. Keep in mind that most large dogs need room to roam, and will be aching to get outside at every opportunity.
One of the most popular dogs for downtown residents is the Bulldog (of both the British and French variety). Bulldogs are low maintenance and don’t require a ton of walking. They’re also ideal for apartment dwellers because of their disposition; they don’t bark very often and are highly unlikely to inspire noise complaints from the neighbours. Other dogs of their ilk and temperament include the happy-go-lucky Pomeranian and the fun-loving Boston Terrier.
If you live in a house, your options are obviously enhanced with a larger living space, allowing more room for larger dogs to live comfortably, and quick access outside for bathroom breaks and trips around the block. But you also need to consider who else is living in the home, which brings us to my next point…
Although you may be the one who purchases the dog, insures it, feeds it and walks it daily, the reality is that you’ll have to consider the wants and needs of the other people in your household. If you’re single, you can pretty much skip this section — but if you’re not, there’s a few things you need to think about before adding a furry friend to your home.
Does anyone in your family have allergies to dogs? Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a roadblock in your search for a pooch. Although the hypoallergenic dog is in fact a myth (that’s because skin and saliva proteins, not just hair, trigger allergy symptoms), there are still many well-tempered, low-shedding dogs available that can be suitable for people with allergies. Many terriers like the Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier, Schnauzers, the three variations of Poodles Wheaton and Kerry Blue are popular options for those with allergies, as are others like the Bichon Frise and Maltese.
Have kids? Helping to take care of a dog can be a great way to instill a sense of responsibility in young children and teens. That said, if you’re a new mother or have toddlers, there are certain breeds to avoid. One in particular is the Yorkshire Terrier. The Yorkie can be a lovable and playful pooch, but they are also very possessive; they’re not great for small children as they often see their equally sized human counterparts as competition for affection from Mommy and Daddy. They also like to see themselves as guard dogs, and will bark at anything that comes within five feet of the front door. So if you’ve just put your nine-month-old down for a nap, a little Yorkie can quickly undo all of that peace and quiet.
Lifestyle And Personality
Although living situation and family status are two key factors to consider when taking the plunge for a puppy, one of the most important factors is a consideration of your lifestyle and how it can be enhanced with the addition of a dog. There’s a dog for virtually every disposition, so it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you.
Are you an obsessive marathoner looking for a running partner? Then a Bernese Mountain Dog can help you traverse both physical and hypothetical mountains. Not only will the Bernese be able to keep pace while you run, they’ll provide you with endless encouragement in the form of playful nudges and licks to the face. They need a ton of exercise, and they’re not ideal for small spaces like condos or apartments. But if you have a yard, live in the country or near a big park, your love of the great outdoors will only be enhanced with a Bernese by your side. Other great dogs to accommodate active lifestyles are German Shorthaired Pointers, Vizsla and the Jack Russel Terrier, among others.
If you’re more of the laid-back, homebody type with a penchant for snuggling, then you’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug with a Pug. Pugs have a great personality and temperament, and require the bare minimum when it comes to daily exercise. Another great option is the tiny-in-size but big on smiles Chihuahua, which is perfect for small living spaces and those that lead more of a relaxed lifestyle.
Top 5 Dogs In Canada
Another helpful resource is the list of the Top 5 breeds in Canada as compiled by the Canadian Kennel Club — the primary registry for purebred dogs in Canada:
1. Labrador Retriever
The dynasty continues for the ever-popular Labrador Retriever, who has nabbed the top spot for the 20th consecutive year. Originating in Newfoundland and Labrador (hence the name), Labs are known to be incredibly smart and adaptable, and can be easily trained for a variety of uses. It’s no surprise why they’re used by police departments and service industries like the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. And if you have a family and/or small children, few dogs are as loving, affectionate and obedient as the Lab. And melt my heart, Labrador puppies have to be the cutest things on the planet — but buyer beware, they more than double in size when they become adults!
2. German Shepherd Dog
You can’t throw a stick or turn on a TV show or movie these days without seeing a German Shepherd Dog front and centre, ready for his close-up. They’re incredibly smart and loyal, and like the Lab they can be trained for virtually any role whether it be in front of the camera, or behind the scenes for search and rescue or police enforcement. And despite their size, German Shepherds are incredibly gentle with young children and make an ideal family pet.
3. Golden Retriever
I’ve never met a Golden Retriever that didn’t appear to be smiling ear to ear, and their happiness is incredibly infectious. Another intelligent dog, like Labs, Goldens also make for fantastic family pets — especially if you have a pool or cottage. That’s right, Goldens might as well have gills for how much they love the water. And true to their name, the game of fetch was practically invented for Retrievers (just make sure you have an hour to spare).
Often portrayed in the media as being pretentious and prissy, Poodles are actually quite down to earth, lovable and come in three sizes. They’re also brilliant dogs that are perfect for any personality, especially if you have an eye for fashion; no dog looks better than a poodle when they’re primped and clipped. And if you’re worried about dog hair, the Poodle’s non-shed coat will leave your vacuum virtually unused — yet another in a long line of great dogs for those with allergies.
5. Shetland Sheepdog
Snuggable? Check. Loyal? Check. Eager to please, intelligent AND friendly? Check, check, check. Did I mention snuggable? The Shetland Sheepdog (or Sheltie for short) is the ultimate sidekick, companion and partner in crime. And unlike most other dogs that need a lot of exercise, the Sheltie only needs a daily walk to meet their exercise requirements — which isn’t to say they aren’t a ton of fun to run and play with in the park on a beautiful day, topped off with a Sheltie selfie of course.
Remember, just because your preferred breed doesn’t fall in the top five doesn’t mean there aren’t a TON of wonderful and loving dogs out there that can suit your needs perfectly. After all, it’s a dog’s world — we just live in it.
For more information on the Canadian Kennel Club and all dog breeds including those listed above, click here.