Dogs bring years of joy and companionship, but they are also a big responsibility. Before you bring a dog into your home, it’s critical to know what to expect. Deciding which breed to get (or mix of breeds) is as important as deciding whether to get a dog in the first place. Being a responsible pet owner requires some serious and careful research to determine which dog is right for you and your family. The American Kennel Club (AKC) provides the following items to consider before choosing a dog.
Temperament – A dog may be with you for as long as 15 years, depending on the breed, so make sure he has a personality you can live with. Is he active, or subdued? Is he easily trained, or strong-willed? Is he friendly to everyone he meets, or aloof toward strangers?
Exercise needs – All dogs need exercise, but some are more active than others. Some dogs need a lot of attention from family members, and regular activity to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. Others are happy to spend the day sleeping on the couch.
Size – All puppies are adorable, but they grow quickly. Ask the shelter, rescue group, or breeder how large your puppy will become before you bring him home. Keep in mind that large dogs require more food and space, and some small dogs need lots of room to run around.
Grooming Needs – All dogs need grooming and most will shed to some degree. Long-coated dogs are beautiful, but require a lot of effort to stay that way. Short-coated dogs are easier to groom, but may still shed, and may require protection in cold weather.
Cost – According to a recent AKC survey, the average pet owner spends up to $1,700 annually on food, vet care, grooming, toys/treats, and training. In addition, pet owners spend up to $1,800 on one-time expenses such as acquiring the dog, spaying/neutering, and start up supplies, including a crate, a dog bed, and leashes and bowls.