How to choose the right dog

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Advice on choosing the breed best suited for you and your family.

There are few things more appealing than a young puppy.

Gangly, awkward and comical, they work their ways into the hearts of young and old alike, bringing joy and love. This is true for most any pup.

Picking the puppy that is right for you will often require some forethought. Avoid impulse buying or adoptions. These can often lead to disappointment and even resent meant towards the pet.

Make a list while thinking about what you want in a dog. If you like peace and quiet, a hyper Pomeranian or Boston Terrier, would not fit in. Perhaps you are athletic and enjoy long walks, jogging or hiking up mountain trails. You would get along great with a Labrador or some other active breed.

Think about medical conditions. Do you suffer from allergies or asthma? If so, you would probably want to avoid long- haired, double coated breeds such as St. Bernards and Collies that shed a large portion of the year.

For the elderly, a small dog such as a Chihuahua can be a blessing. It can also prove to be a hazard. Many dogs like to run around or through their owner's feet. These can often cause falls resulting in broken bones. At the same time, a large dog can provide a great feeling of security but a large puppy can cause the same problems as a small dog.

Another consideration needs to be care. Will you have the time needed to devote to the upkeep of heavy coated breeds such as a Collie? Could spending $30 or more every six to eight weeks to have a professional groomer clip a poodle cause financial hardship? What about veterinary care? A typical annual exam and vaccinations can cost up to $60. This does not include such necessities as heartworm prevention, shampoos and food.

Are there small children in the household? If so, it would be advisable to avoid such dogs as Chows, Pit Bulls, and other, sometimes aggressive breeds. Many areas require liability insurance for owners of so-called vicious breeds.

After considering the pros and cons from every angle, you consider all the breed options available to you and make a rational, non- impulsive purchase of the type of dog that best suits you bringing years of love, companionship and joy to the entire family.