Recently, I have been watching my two parents, who are in their late fifties, try to find a dog to adopt. One day my mom wants a German Shepard, the next she wants a minature poodle. This lead me to tell them they need to narrow their parameters. It took me six months to find the perfect dog. Most importantly, it was the perfect dog for me.
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One of the most important things to start with is the size of the dog. There are so many breeds and mixes that in order to find what traits you want in a dog, you need to know what size full grown you can handle. If you live in a shoebox apartment a Great Dane is not the perfect dog for you. Half of your apartment would be filled with food for the dog. Once you have decided on the size of the dog that works best for you, you can move onto the next characteristic.
Now this next one is a yes or no question. Are you okay with a dog that sheds? If you are not willing to brush at least three times a week, a dog with fur may not be the perfect dog for you. There are many mixes, mutts and purebreds that have hair instead of fur. Hair also has its disadvantages. Hair has to be groomed, either you can learn to groom it yourself, or get it done professionally. I had a professional groomer teach me how to groom my cavachon. Every 2 to 3 months he gets a haircut by me for free. One huge plus for a dog with hair is that it sheds less danger which holds allergens. Most dogs with hair will not bother people with average dog allergies.
Now that size and hair type have been chosen, look at the traits in a dog you want. Playful, hunting, lap etc. once you come up with what you want your dog for, then look into what types of breeds have these qualities. Dogs have been breed to do a specific task. Retrievers to retrieve, Shepards to herd, Shit Zhus sit on your lap. Looking at what job the breed has breed to do, choose what job you want a dog to do. While the best trainers can make Austrailian Shepards lap dogs, it is a lot of work. Try to choose a breed that does the job you want a dog for. Avoid picking a job for a dog when they were breed for a different job. This will making training easier.
Lastly, it is hard to fight the temptation of getting any dog because it is cute. However, if you are able to fight this urge, and take the time you will be able to find your family the perfect dog.