Considering getting a new dog?

by Linda Sorensen, DVM


"We're getting a new pet, and are considering a (breed name here). What do you think?"

Wow. We really wish we heard this more often than we do. For some reason, veterinarians (and veterinary nursing staff) are infrequently queried when people are interested in adding new pets to their households. We can offer a lot of very useful information, from behavioral and personality profiles to possible genetic/inherited issues you may end up having to deal with now (or in the future) with your new family member.


A lot of people are familiar with some well-known breed / disease associations, including (but not limited to):

  • Boxers and Cavaliers / heart disease
  • Doberman Pinschers / von Willebrand's disease (similar to hemophilia)
  • Westies / allergies that result in chronic skin disease
  • Persians and Siamese / upper respiratory infections
  • Labradors / hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Schnauzers / bowel and pancreatic inflammation
  • German Shepherds / bloat



The list is endless, and pretty much any breed will have an increase of some problem or disease process over the average truly mixed-breed Heinz 57 pooch.

Selection of a breed should also take into account your family and lifestyle, as well as the personality and temprement of your new family member so that you have the best potential for a long, happy, healthy relationship. Our clinic staff are pretty familiar with the personalities of most of the breeds out there, and can advise you on many points that might be important in your selection, including:

  • How much exercise with this breed likely need?
  • How large will he/she get?
  • How much shedding or grooming is likely?
  • Will my new pet get along well with other family members, including other pets and young children?
  • How easy is this breed to train?


Obviously, there may be many more factors that could influence your personal decision about which dog might be best for you. Remember that certain breeds do have personality tendencies, but every pet will also be strongly influenced by the home environment that is provided. Thus, an "intelligent" breed will not be trainable unless the time is put into training.

Here is a helpful link that may assist you in selecting a breed for your lifestyle and family:

The following site is useful if you have specific criteria in mind (such as size or activity level), as it classifies breeds according to such things as:

  • Breeds that do well with children
  • Small dogs suitable for indoor or flat living
  • Hypoallergenic or non-shedding dogs
  • Dogs that might be suited to long periods alone (all family members working)


Scroll about half-way down the page to find a listing of these criteria.

If you click on a specific breed on the above site (the column down the right-hand side), you will get a description of the breed, as well as a ranking on the following traits:

  • Size/weight
  • Grooming required
  • Exercise required
  • Living space needs
  • Training required
  • Tolerance for small children
  • Tolerance for strangers


Obviously the dog's environment will shape its personality as well, but it does make sense (for instance) to start with a breed that will be suited for children and strangers if your goal is to take them into classrooms.

While these links provide a lot of information, we still encourage you to contact us regarding your new addition so we can provide you with up-to-date details and advice on your chosen breed.


Please feel free to call or drop in and chat with us if you are considering a specific breed for adoption so we can help make sure you get the right fit for your lifestyle and family.


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