The kids have been begging for a puppy for years. You've been able to put them off with some fish, maybe a hamster, or even a cat. But this time, only something from the canine family will do.
Although many people are happy getting a mixed breed puppy, others like to know a little more about what that cute little ball of fur will look like in a year. If that’s the case, then you need to look at purebred dogs. But how do you find the best one for your family? Gina DiNardo, assistant vice president of the American Kennel Club and second-generation dog fancier, answers the most commonly asked questions about breeds.
Q: What kind of research should I do when trying to decide which breed is best for my family?
A: You should consult your veterinarian and then look on the AKC web site. Look at each breed you’re interested in and determine the exercise requirements, the grooming requirements, the temperament, and the trainability of each breed. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few breeds, then talk to some experts on those breeds. You can go to a dog show and talk to breeders, or use our web site and call people from the national club.
After you’re sure of the breeds you’re interested in, spend time with each breed, either by going to a dog show or contacting a local breeder. A good breeder will let you interact with their dogs because any dog they place with your family will be with you for life. They want to be sure not only that the dog is right for you but also that your family is right for the dog.
Q: Are some breeds more "kid friendly" than others? Which ones?
A: The highly trainable breeds are great with kids because they’re usually eager to please and are usually more family oriented rather than wanting to attach themselves to one person. Look at the sporting group. These are dogs that were bred to work side by side with humans, taking direction from their owner. They also are some of the most popular family dogs -- your golden retrievers, your Labrador retrievers. Some of the herding breeds, such as German shepherds and collies, also are highly trainable.
Q: Are there some breeds that just shouldn’t be around children?
A: No, all breeds, if socialized properly and brought up with children, will be fine with children.
Q: What about size? Is it OK to get small dogs if you have small children?
A: Usually, I say to get a larger breed if you have smaller children because they’re more durable. If a small child pulls on an ear or steps on the foot of a large dog, that dog is going to tolerate it more. If a child steps on the foot of a miniature pincher or a Chihuahua, the dog could be injured and sometimes that’s how a child gets bitten. The dog reacts to being injured and bites the child. So I always say the larger dogs, the sturdier dogs, are better for small children.