Choosing Your New Dog

Whether you are getting a new puppy or adopting a puppy or dog from a shelter, your criteria for choosing your new member of the family must by more than “he/she is so cute!”

The American Kennel Club recognizes 193 different breeds of dogs. Some are big, some small, some in between. There are very energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise, and other breeds that are more laid back. Some dogs are good with families, and in particular, children; others thrive with adults only.

It is imperative you know into which category the dog you pick falls. There are far too many cases where people discover that the breed they are interested in is too big, too energetic or just plain too much for their family and needs, but only after they’ve tried to integrate that animal into their lives.

To that end, in the next few months we’ll be exploring the seven different groups of dogs, as identified by the AKC: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terriers, Herding, Non-sporting and Toy. We’ll list some of the different breeds included in the grouping, their characteristics and pros and cons. Obviously, the information is general in tone, and good breeding is always paramount when picking a purebred dog.

Finally, there are many wonderful animals who are of mixed breeds, and in our last installment we’ll discuss how to select a dog that is perfect for you and your family. Hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you’ll pick a pooch that will be your best friend for many years to come.

If you’re looking for an exercise partner, the Sporting Dogs might be a good choice. Some of the breeds in the sporting group include the ever-popular Labrador retriever, the German shorthaired pointer, the English springer spaniel, the Golden retriever and the Weimaraner. The AKC describes the Sporting Dogs as “calm inside the home, but exuberant in the field, sweet-natured, fun-loving, devoted and affectionate.” These dogs are generally eager to please, highly trainable, friendly, intelligent and energetic. They need room to run, as they are generally medium to larger dogs, and they need a lot of exercise.

Obviously, by nature of their breeding, they can be excellent hunting dogs. Within the grouping there are spaniels, pointers, retrievers and setters, each with their own specialty in the field.

Whether you’re looking for a hunting partner, a family dog or both, do a bit of research if you think a member of this grouping fits your lifestyle and needs. The AKC website includes a plethora of information, and their dog breed selector site is especially helpful. Find it at

And remember, no matter what breed you choose, your dog will need training, care and most of all, love.

Next month: The Hound group