It's easy to get overwhelmed when choosing a new puppy or adult dog. There are so many factors to consider! One of those factors is how well that animal will fit into your lifestyle. You need to match your needs with the right pet. Some pets are better suited for city living while others thrive in rural areas.
If you have allergies, then you should choose an animal that doesn't shed fur (like a purebred). Or maybe you want a companion who'll enjoy being left alone all day, in which case you should select a less active breed like a Labradoodle.
The best way to determine what kind of lifestyle you lead is by asking yourself these questions: Will I live in an urban area or in a rural setting? Do you prefer working animals or sport/show animals? How much time do you spend interacting with your dog each week?
Are you interested in breeding your own dog or adopting from a shelter?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you want a healthier option than say, a Labrador Retriever. To find out about five breeds that are generally considered to be the most healthy, we spoke to Dr. Michele Auger, DVM, director of clinical services at Animal Medical Center in New York City, and also co-author of "Small Dog Behavior & Health Care." Here are her top picks for the healthiest breeds of dogs.
The Importance of Genetics
The first thing to keep in mind is genetics. For example, if you know somebody whose mother had hip problems as a senior citizen, don't expect your golden retriever to share the same fate. Just because someone else's parents were ill does not mean their offspring will be prone to the same conditions.
It depends on various factors such as diet, exercise regimen, age and gender, among other things. "People tend to think 'Oh, this breed is just going to be great with kids.' But that's not necessarily true," says Auger. "Some breeds are more predisposed to certain health issues than others."
So, before you buy a puppy or adult dog, take note of its pedigree. Don't assume that just because a breeder tells you that a particular dog is perfect for children that they actually are. Again, just because a child interacts with an animal doesn't automatically mean he or she is going to develop a healthy relationship with it.
Here are five breeds that are generally recognized as having the healthiest dispositions.
Beagles are known as gentle giants. They love people and aren't usually aggressive towards them. This means you can safely leave them unsupervised near small children. In fact, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), this breed makes a wonderful family dog. Their calm nature helps prevent misbehavior in young children, and they won't hurt your toddler either. Despite their big bodies, beagles are very agile and fast runners. And they make excellent watch dogs since they're typically quiet and obedient.
2. Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are popular for both work and play. They are affectionate, friendly, and energetic. However, they are sensitive to cold temperatures. So if you live somewhere where temperatures drop below freezing, you might want to avoid owning one.
Also, they sometimes suffer from breathing difficulties, especially during heavy exertion. That said, this is only a problem if you happen to have a long coat like they do. According to the AKC, golden retrievers are ideal for families with older children.
Pugs are cute little ball of fluff. They are very playful and intelligent. They are also very sensitive to changes in temperature. So, if you live in a place like Florida, where summers are hot, you'll probably want to avoid getting a pug. They also have poor vision, so you might want to put away the tennis racket.
Boxers are athletic, strong, and loyal. They make great companions, but if you live in an apartment building, you might want to reconsider getting one. They also require lots of space to move around freely. And, unlike pugs, they are medium sized. Boxers are good swimmers and they enjoy playing fetch.
5. German shepherds
German shepherds are smart, alert, and protective. They are also known for their obedience training. Since they are bred to herd sheep, they do better around large groups of people rather than individual households. Like golden retrievers, they too often suffer from breathing difficulties. They also have a tendency to bite. Therefore, if you have guests over frequently, you might want to avoid owning one.
According to Dr. Auger, the healthiest dogs are mixed breeds. She explains that people who mix two different breeds together create a hybrid dog. These dogs have the best traits of both parent breeds. For instance, if you mix a boxer and a chihuahua, you end up with something akin to a chihuahua with the strength and stamina of a boxer.
In addition to knowing what type of life style a specific breed prefers, it's important to understand that every dog requires regular veterinary care. You should never let your beloved friend go without routine checkups.
You've narrowed down your choices, now you must decide whether you want a puppy or an adult. Puppies come with plenty of advantages, including fun games and cuddling. On the downside, puppies may become sick more easily. Adult dogs, however, are less likely to contract diseases. Plus, you may find that adult dogs grow faster than puppies, making them easier to house train. Finally, adult dogs are cheaper than puppies.
When selecting an adult dog, look for one that is already spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering reduces the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies and decreases the number of stray animals roaming the streets.
Finally, remember that even though you may fall in love with a particular breed, it is still important to consult a veterinarian prior to bringing home a new pet. A vet can evaluate the potential risks involved with a particular breed based upon its history, characteristics and lifestyle. These are some general guidelines that apply to all dogs, regardless of breed.
Dogs have four types of teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Incisor teeth are located on the inside front of the mouth. Canine teeth are on the outside front. Premolar teeth are on the side of the mouth opposite the canine teeth. Molar teeth are on the backside of the mouth. When eating food, always use a soft toothbrush. Never try to clean a dog's teeth with human teeth. Human teeth can cause gum irritation.
Feed your dog high quality food. Cheap dog foods contain lots of preservatives that can harm your dog's digestion system. Make sure that the ingredients list includes meat, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Avoid canned products; they contain unhealthy sodium and additives.
Keep your yard free of harmful chemicals. Your backyard could potentially harbor parasites, bacteria, ticks, fleas, and worms. Keep grass clippings and mulch off of your lawn. Store gasoline containers far away from your yard.
Never give your dog table scraps. Raw meat and bones can splinter and become lodged in your dog's throat, causing choking hazards. Wash your hands after handling your dog. Dirty hands can transfer germs between dogs. Use soap and water to wash your hands thoroughly.
Clean up after your dog relieves himself outdoors. Do not flush used litter boxes down toilets. Only flush them away from homes and public places. Watch for signs of bloat, ear infections, skin irritations, eye discharge and limping. Consult a veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Your veterinarian can recommend a variety of tests to confirm suspicions of illness. Bloodwork and x-rays can detect bone fractures, cancerous tumors, and kidney stones.
Don't forget to groom your dog regularly. Brushing his hair stimulates blood flow and prevents tangles. Bathe him using mild shampoo and warm water. Remove loose hairs with tweezers. Trim nails regularly to reduce scratching.
Take your dog to see a vet once a year. Vets perform annual wellness exams to screen for common illnesses and rule out serious ones.