The Best Dog Breed for Families and Children
Q: My child has allergies. Are there truly hypoallergenic dogs?
A: There are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs, but there are dogs that shed less. Those dogs produce less dander, so people with allergies tend to tolerate them better. Those are breeds like the Bichon, the Portuguese water dog, the Kerry blue terrier, the Maltese, poodles.
I’d also suggest you spend time with the individual dog you’re thinking about bringing home. Even in the hypoallergenic breeds, you may have a sensitivity to one particular dog more than another. You also can be sensitive to their saliva, so let them lick your hand or kiss your face just to be sure that doesn’t cause a reaction.
Q: How can I be sure our new pet will match my family’s energy level?
A: Look at what the dogs were bred to do. If you want a quiet, mellow dog, don’t get a dog that was bred for hunting. If you want a high-energy dog, look at the sporting breeds, the herding breeds, and a lot of the working breeds. These are dogs that were bred to work outside all day long, so they’re going to have a lot of energy. But keep in mind that dogs bred to work usually need both physical and mental exercise or they’re going to be unhappy. And an unhappy dog can be a destructive dog.
The best way to be sure a breed will match your family is to talk to the breeders and find out what that breed requires, what it’s like, then decide if you’re willing to meet that dog’s needs on a daily basis. It’s really important that you’re honest with yourself and evaluate how much time you want to spend on your new dog. There are a lot of dogs that don’t require a lot of exercise, but there are a whole host of others that do.
Q: Where’s the best place to buy my new puppy? A pet store? Online? At a dog show?
A: Go to a reputable breeder. You can find them through the AKC or a parent club, like Golden Retriever Club of America. Or you can find breeder ads online. The key is to do your research and interview the person you’re considering getting your puppy from to determine if they are reputable. Here are some key questions to help you do that:
- Are they aware of any health problems in the breed, and do they do health testing on their litters for those problems?
- Do they socialize their puppies?
- Do they guarantee for the life of the dog that if there’s a problem they’ll take the dog back?
- Will they work with you to help you raise your puppy, or do they just want to take your money and run?