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Choosing a Puppy by Breed

Welcome to Part 1 of our series: Getting a Dog

Choosing a puppy in Canada can be a challenge if you do not have the proper resources or know which questions to ask.  Once you make the decision to adopt a puppy and welcome him or her into your home then the next step is to figure out which dog breed would be the most suitable for yourself and your family.  Some questions to ask yourself are:

Where do you currently live or plan to live in the near future? 

If you live in the country and have ample room for your new puppy to run around or you have a yard that is fenced in then you probably could pick any type of dog you wish.  Most dogs can adjust to this kind of life.  Where consideration is necessary is if you have a small living space to share with your new pup.  Not all dogs are fit for apartment living and thought should be given to their exercise requirements and how vocal they tend to be.  Some examples of puppies that do well in small apartments or condominiums are Pugs, Pekinese, Pomeranians, Maltese, Havanese, Dachshunds, Affenpinschers, Lhasa Apsos, Bulldogs, most of the Terrier breeds as well as Toy breeds, Spaniels, and surprisingly Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, Vizslas and Whippets make excellent pets for small apartments since they have low exercise requirements.  There are many other puppy types that could certainly make excellent apartment pets as long as the owner is diligent in providing daily opportunities to get out and run around, perhaps at a dog park or for brisk walks.

Have you thought about the financial impact of adopting a puppy? 

Although the cost of getting a dog is not astronomical, it is worth incorporating into your budget, especially since some breeds can be more expensive than others.  There are initial and continual costs such as nutritious food, municipal licensing, annual or bi-annual vaccinations, spaying or neutering, pet toys and equipment such as food dishes, leash, collar, etc., but there are also other costs that may be higher or lower depending on the chosen breed.  Some purebreds are heartier than others and are not prone to a number of genetic diseases that other breeds are.  Often mixed breed puppies, or ‘mutts’ are healthy dogs because they have more variety in their bloodline and a smaller likelihood of recessive genes combining to express a certain genetic disorder.  Frequent trips to the veterinarian can be costly and may be a consideration for you if you are interested in a certain breed. 

Do you currently have other pets or small children? 

Not all purebred pups are ideal for family life if they will be sharing the home with other animals or young children.  Firstly, some purebreds were developed to hunt small animals and may be very inquisitive if you own a hamster, guinea pig, rat or a bird.  Many terrier and spaniel breeds will pay endless attention to a cage with a small mammal or bird and, given the chance, they may harm or kill the animal.  Other purebreds may have a tendency to become jealous of other animals and may act on impulse if left alone with them.  It is important to spend time socializing your new puppy from a very early age with new animals and people, especially those they are expected to be cohabitating with.  Having certain breeds of dogs with small children may cause an issue in the home if they are not aware of their own strength and accidently injure the pup.  Some purebred puppies can become aggressive out of fear or even retaliation so this combination may not be ideal in a home with small children.  On the other hand, some puppies grow to become very large and strong dogs that are not always aware of their size and strength and can end up knocking over small children or elderly people.

Not all puppies require the same amount of attention, so how much time do you have to spend at home with your puppy? 

With any breed of dog, it is important to spend time training and socializing your puppy in order to ward off undesirable behaviors down the road.  The first twenty weeks are among the most formative when it comes to learning.  Puppies need to be around people, other pets and dogs of all ages, and new things to make sure they are learning and getting used to life at your house and potential encounters in the future.  Some breeds of dogs are more easily house trained, obedient and easy going with other animals.  Certain breeds are independent and don’t mind spending a few hours by themselves while you are working.  It is important to find a breed of dog that allows you to balance their needs with your own.  If you spend a great deal of time at home and you are looking for a companion dog that will be with you at all times, offering you the kind of affection and devotion that you are looking for then there are certainly purebreds that are known for this.  Dogs such as Alaskan Malamutes, Huskies, and others are fairly independent and as long as they are able to get lots of exercise throughout the day, they do not seem to become heartbroken the way other breeds do when their owners are out for a few hours.

Do you, or anyone in your family, suffer from allergies or respiratory problems

Some purebreds are known for their hypoallergenic qualities.  Mainly, dogs with hair do not moult the way dogs with fur do.  Dander and saliva that is often on the fur from licking are the cause of most allergic reactions and since many dogs shed their fur constantly, this can become a real problem.  Purebreds of interest for those who experience allergies are Poodles,  Poodle crossbreeds such as the Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever-Poodle cross), Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel-Poodle cross), Cockapekipoo (Cocker Spaniel-Pekingese-Poodle cross).  Many small breeds of terriers or small toy dog breeds are good choices for allergy or asthma sufferers because even if they do shed, it is not very much due to their small size.   Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Havanese, Irish Water Spaniels, Portuguese Water Dogs, Silky and Skye Terriers, Pulis, Softcoated Wheaten Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Bichon Frises, and Affenpinschers are examples of purebred dogs that do not shed. 

Are you looking for a dog that can perform a certain job, whether in the home or at work

Certain breeds of dogs have been developed over the years to fulfill specific roles around the house, farm, or in the medical field among other places.  Although there is not the need for dogs in many areas of work that there once was, there are still a number of duties that dogs uphold even today.  Some breeds of dogs are extremely easy going, quiet, easy to train and friendly toward everyone, including strangers and as such, have made excellent guide dogs, hearing dogs, and therapy dogs.  If you are interested in purchasing a puppy for the purpose of becoming an Assistance dog then perhaps you may want to look at a few of the following purebred puppy breeds: 

Guide Dog Breeds

Golden Retreiver, Labrador Retreiver, Collies, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and potentially Poodles, Vizslas and Dobermans are good choices for guide dogs since they are very intelligent, obedient and are trained easily.  New breeds and breed mixes, such as the Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever and Poodle mixture) are great Service dogs as well and since they are essentially hypoallergenic people will allergies can tolerate them.

Hearing Dog Breeds

Shetland Sheepdogs, Corgis, Poodles, Spaniels and of course Labrador Retreivers and Golden Retreivers make for great hearing dogs because of their intelligence, obedience, friendliness as well as acute hearing and tendency to bark at unknown (or known) sounds.  These pups can be trained easily to notify their owners of sounds that are designated as ‘important’, such as their owner’s name, smoke detectors, the doorbell or phone ringing, and even the alarm clock.

Security Dog Breeds

If you are looking for a puppy breed that will excel as a security dog for your home or business then perhaps these breeds are of interest.
Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, Bullmastiff, American Bulldog, German Shepherd and Rhodesian Ridgeback are commonly chosen guard dogs in the United States and Canada.  Not only are these dogs intimidating by appearance, and bark, but they are very intelligent, alert and obedient breeds of dogs.  If trained from a puppy they are quick to understand commands and are very loving and protective of their owners.  As per most breeds of dogs, training and socialization accounts for most of their behavior in adulthood and all of these breeds can be warm and friendly family dogs if that is desired.   Other common guard dogs are the Chow Chow, Weirmaraner, Shar Pei, Boxer, Giant Schnauzer, Bull Terrier among many others.

Police Dog Breeds

Many of the breeds of choice for Police Dogs are due to their intelligence, obedience and attack qualities similar to guard dogs.  Dogs that have strong tracking abilities are useful in the force as detection dogs, to sniff out drugs, food, people, bombs or deceased bodies.  Some of these breeds include the German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Boxer or Doberman Pinscher which are used for protection.  Airedale Terriers, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds and Labs have excellent noses and can track scents in the air or land to assist police officers. 

Herding Dog Breeds

If you are among the many farmers who are interested in adopting a puppy who could serve as a friendly family dog as well as a reliable work dog then here is a list of purebred pups you may want read further about on our dog list page.
Many of the Collies, Shepherds, and other sheepdogs are often chosen to assist with cattle, sheep and other animals because of their intelligence, obedience, trainability and natural herding instinct. Some breeds are chosen for their protective characteristics and to assist on the farm as livestock guardian dogs.  Some of popular herding breeds are Border Collie, Collie, German Shepherd, King Shepherd, Kelpie, Pyraneese, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie), Welsh Corgis, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier as well as the Koolie.

Search and Rescue Dog Breeds

There are a number of breeds of dogs who have been used over and over in the past for search and rescue operations because of their high quality sniffing skills, intelligence, obedience and endurance.  If you are looking for a puppy to assist you on your search and rescue team or simply because you respect the qualities of these pups then perhaps you should take a close look at some of the following breeds.
Border Collies, Smooth Collies, German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, Weirmaraners, Australian Shepherds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Labrador Retreivers and Bloodhounds.  Most of us will draw up an image in our minds of a St. Bernard seeking out people trapped in avalanches in Switzerland when asked to think of a Search and Rescue dog.  Newfoundlands are much the same and were actually used to replenish the breed many decades ago when too many Saint Bernards had been caught in the snow and the breed was running thin.  Border Collies have been used for over one hundred years as Search and Rescue dogs and German Shepherds too are simply great all round dogs capable of many different lines of work. Labrador Retreivers and Bloodhounds are highly regarded around their world as having the best noses of all the breeds of dogs. For more information on any of these breeds please look back to our homepage and select the puppy you are interested in.

Sled Dog Breeds

Dogs have been used for years to pull sleighs or carts, whether it be to carry people, food or other goods.  Desirable characteristics of sled dogs are strength to pull the carts, speed when running and overall endurance and high energy.  Today, many sled dogs are used for recreational purposes.  Common purebred sled dogs are the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Samoyed, and the Greenland Dog.  There are many crossbreed dogs that are popularly used as sled dogs, such as the Eurohound (Husky and Pointer), and Northern Inuit Dog (Shepherd, Husky and Alaskan Malamute)

Companion Dog Breeds

Many types of purebred dogs are perfectly suitable as companion dogs.  Some of the toy dog breeds were developed specifically for use as companions, such as the Pomeranian that was once a larger dog that would pull sleds. Many types of dogs can be deemed companionship worthy, the breed does not have had to been bred for this quality.  Work and service dogs make wonderful pets in the home.  A large variety of mixed breed dogs are often used as family dogs.  If you are like most Canadians then you are reading about puppies that you can adopt for your family.  Think about what purpose the dog will be fulfilling.  If you have a young family and there is a chance that your children may not realize they are playing rough with your puppy then perhaps you will want to think about adopting a sturdier breed, such as a Rottweiler, Labrador Retreiver, Golden Retreiver, German Shepherd, Bulldog, Dobermann, or Dalmation, among many others. Other purebred puppies that are ideal companion dogs and lapdogs as well are almost any of the Toy and Miniature breeds of puppies, Terriers, Basset Hound, Dachshund, Spaniels, and many others.

Hunting Dog Breeds

There is a lot to think about when choosing a particular puppy breed to join you on your hunting expeditions. Many factors are relevant when looking at dog characteristics and the type of hunting you most often enjoy or tend to do.  Hunting dogs are categorized by their strongest attribute when it comes to hunting.  For instance, there are a couple of types of Hounds:  Sighthounds, Scenthounds and Lurchers, which are actually a cross between one of the two types of hounds with a strong and capable work dog of another breed.  The difference between Sighthounds and Scenthounds is that Sighthounds use their vision to detect animals and then they stalk them and possibly kill them as well, whereas scenthounds use their highly actute sense of smell to track down an animal and either kill it or simply chase it and pin it in a tree or corner.  These dogs usually travel in packs.  Examples of Sighthounds are Greyhounds, Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, Irish Wolfhounds, Silken Windhounds, Afghan Hounds and Scottish Deerhounds.  Examples of Scenthounds are Bloodhounds, Coonhounds (there are a number), Dachshunds, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Dalmations, Fox Hounds, Otterhounds, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Other broad categories of hunting dogs include Feists, Curs, Terriers and Gundogs.  Gundogs are the largest of all the groups and they encompass many subtypes of hunting dogs such as Pointers, Retreivers, Setters, Water dogs and Spaniels.  If you are a hunter who typically uses a shotgun and hunts small game such as birds and small mammals, then you may be interested in further researching some of these breeds.  For instance, Spaniels are used by hunters to find animals and flush them out their hiding spots.  They are sometimes referred to as ‘flushing Spaniels. Some examples are the Springer Spaniel breeds, Cocker Spaniel breeds, King Charles Spaniel breeds, Papillons or Phalenes, Water Spaniel breeds among other types of Spaniels.

Pointers are used by hunters much in the same way that Spaniels are however instead of flushing the prey themselves they simply stand in a pointing position, giving the direction and location of the animal for the hunter to approach and deal with.  Some examples of Pointers are Vizslas, Weirmaraners, Labs, Brittanys, and many other breeds of Pointer (German Wirehaired Pointer, Portuguese Pointer, Canadian Pointer, etc.).

Setters fulfill the role of gundog similarly to both Pointers and Spaniels.  Not only do they find and point out mammals and birds to the hunters they will also flush them out if prompted by their owner.  Some examples of Setters include the Irish Setter, English Setter, Gordon Setter, Irish Red and White Setter as well as the Black Welsh Setter.
Retrievers are very useful when hunting birds or other upland game because they can go and fetch or ‘retrieve’ the animal. Retrievers typically have very gentle mouths so as to not damage the fallen bird or mammal.  Some Examples are Labs, Goldens, Poodles, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Newfoundland and many other types of dogs that can be taught how to retrieve animals.  Waterdogs, although sometimes thought to be its own category of gundog, are essentially part of the Retriever class of gundogs.  Years ago they were all called ‘Water Spaniels’, but now most refer to these dogs as Retrievers or Waterdogs.  Some examples are the Portuguese Water Dog, Spanish Waterdog, Newfoundland, St. Johns Dog, Standard Poodle, English Water Spaniel and many, many others.

Terriers, another type of gundog, are used by hunters to track down small mammals and rodents hiding underground and in dens.  It is not unusual for a terrier to chase an animal out of its hole by going down underground after it. Some examples of Terriers popularly requested by hunters of small game are Jack Russell Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, and West Highland White Terrier, as well as a few others.

Feists are an interesting style of dog that was developed in the Southern United States from more than one type of purebred to assist hunters by locating animals and vocalizing their find.  Often you will find your Feist barking at squirrels and other vermin that they have discovered.  The Smooth Coated Fox Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Parson Russell Terrier and Rat Terrier are examples of dogs used to create Feists puppies.

Cur dogs are another mixed breed style of dog useful in hunting.  Curs track and chase game much like Terriers do but usually bigger animals.  Since Curs are made up of many combinations of purebred dogs there is an assortment.  Some common Cur dogs used in hunting are the Mountain Cur, Treeing Cur, Mountain View Cur, Catahoula Cur, Blackmouth Cur and the Blue Lacy Cur dog.

Getting a Dog

Which dog is the best?