Type of dog

Choose a purebred for:

  • Size
  • Coat
  • Predictability of what puppy will become
  • Risk: Not all puppies grow up as expected – some may have abnormal characteristics

Choose a designer mixed breed for:

  • Qualities you cannot find in any purebred dog
  • A breeder that you know and trust
  • Risk: mixed breeds are less likely to produce predictable results, so more likely to have a range of characteristics

Choose a rescue dog to:

  • Give a dog another chance
  • See something of what you are getting in the adult dog
  • Risk: a dog may not behave in your home as it did in the foster home or shelter where you met it

Source of dog

Choose a breeder:

  • Who does health screenings on the parents
  • Who applies best practices in socializing puppies and starting house training
  • Risk: even careful precautions cannot prevent the unexpected

Choose a rescue:

  • That is an established 501(c)(3)
  • That is strict about making a good match
  • That does not adopt out dogs that have bitten
  • Risk: even the best operations are understaffed and, although caring, staff are often not very knowledgeable

Age of dog

Choose a puppy under 12 weeks to:

  • Be able to shape the puppy’s world view
  • To put in all the time and effort required to raise a puppy to suit your lifestyle
  • Risk: Early mistakes in training can have life-long consequences

Choose a dog between 16 weeks and 2 years to:

  • Re-train the puppy to suit your lifestyle
  • Enjoy the adolescent dog on the road to becoming who they are going to be
  • Risk: the puppy may come with a world view that cannot adjust easily to your lifestyle

Choose a dog over 2 years to:

  • Get one that has adjusted to life and shows adaptability*
  • Get one that already has some polite behaviors which are compatible with your lifestyle
  • Risk: surprise behaviors that do not show up when you first meet
  • * A dog that does not show adaptability will have a hard time adjusting to life with you.

Choose a dog based on behavior rather than appearance.

Behaviors that show promise for easy training:

  • Approaches you
  • Enjoys being touched
  • Looks at you, especially your face
  • Follows you

Behaviors that indicate issues to overcome:

  • Stays at a distance
  • Startles easily
  • Remains constantly vigilant
  • Nips excessively

Bottom line: there may be many fine dogs out there that would be a poor match for your situation. You and the dog will be happiest if you make a thoughtful, well-informed match.