How to Find the Right Breed for You
Currently, there are over 150 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. Needless to say, not all breeds are appropriate for all individuals. Breeds are man-made, each developed for a purpose, and the attributes found in each breed are appropriate for the job the breed was meant to do. Trying to shoehorn an inappropriate breed into your current lifestyle because of the way it looks or the message it sends is a recipe for disaster. The best choice, leading to the most satisfactory relationship between pet and owner, is the one that matches the personality and unique life-style of the owners with the temperamental characteristics of the breed. Given the diversity of human personality and lifestyle and the difference in temperament and appearance of various breeds of dogs, it stands to reason that one can find a unique match between person and pet. It just takes patience and a bit of fortitude.
It helps to first assess your own lifestyle. Some of the aspects you should consider are:
Urban, rural, or suburban; condo, apartment, or house; size of available exercise area; neighborhood requirements or restrictions; climate.
Ages of children if applicable, presence of other pets, past experience with dogs, financial and time commitment of family members, general activity level of household.
Playmate for children; companion; watchdog; herder; hunter; lap dog.
After you assess your own lifestyle, explore the characteristics that make each breed unique. These qualities are most often directly related to the purpose for which the breed was originally developed. They can be roughly divided into these categories:
These attributes include weight, height, strength, coat color and texture, tendency to shed, tendency to drool, ears natural or cropped, tails long, short or docked, health issues, life span, and food requirements.
These characteristics include indoor and outdoor activity level, emotional stability, sociability, training potential and watchdog/guard-dog ability. In addition, it is helpful to know the history of each breed, its background and relative popularity. With a little bit of homework, you should be able to narrow down your selection to the right dog for you, your family and your lifestyle.
The most obvious resources for breed information are breeders. However, there are also a good number of sources in the library or bookstore, on the internet, and at the Detroit Kennel Club dog shows.
Books & Publications
There are many books that honestly list the characteristics of purebred dogs, often supplying a quiz or questionnaire to test your appropriateness for a particular breed. Beware of material in which all of the dogs are described in glowing terms. It is important to understand the negatives as well as the positives of each breed.
Some suggested books are:
The Right Dog for You by Daniel F. Tortora, Ph. D.
Your Purebred Puppy: A Buyer’s Guide by Michelle Welton
Dogs edited by Roger Caras or Roger Caras Dog Book
National Breed Clubs
Most national breed clubs have information packets or handbooks available to those interested in their breed. Many regional clubs have handouts and pamphlets as well. To find the contact for a particular national breed club, check out the American Kennel Club site at www.akc.org The American Kennel Club also provides a brief description of each breed on their website.
While the Detroit Kennel Club dog shows are the only events in which dogs remain on the show grounds for the entire day, there are many unbenched dog shows held throughout the year that will provide you with the opportunity to meet dogs up close and personal. At unbenched dog shows, the dogs leave after the breed competition ends, so it is important to arrive at the show before the posted judging time in order to see the dogs and arrange to talk with owners and breeders after the competition has ended. The best time to talk to an exhibitor is after he or she has taken the dog into the ring. Most breeders and owners love to talk about their dogs but may be nervous or preoccupied before the competition begins. Shows and showtimes can be found on the show superintendent site. Most of the Michigan dog shows are run by MB-F.
Each year at the Detroit Kennel Club, four breeds are selected each day for our Breed Seminars. Dscussions will be held by breed experts, who will answer your questions and will have a few of their own dogs for you to meet.