Whether you are adopting a dog from a shelter or from a breeder, there are several things you must keep in mind before you begin to look for the right dog for you and your family.
First, is your family on the go all the time? Do you have the time to spend training and working with a dog? Or will this dog be alone most of the time because your family is away a lot? If you plan on being home and working with the dog, or even using it as a jogging partner, then a high energy breed such as a Golden Retriever, Dalmatian or German Short-haired Pointer would work out great for you and your family. Each of these breeds are very high energy and need a 'job' or something to do, such as agility or running to keep them busy. They are not the type to sit about the house and wait for you to return.
If you live in an apartment or just want a smaller dog that you can keep small and walk when it's convenient to your schedule or on the weekends, perhaps the 'toy' breeds such as Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers and other Terriers such as the Jack Russell or Rat Terriers would make good pets for you and your family. They can be calmer than the larger dogs, yet some may require a lot of attention.
You can not always judge a dog by its breed. You have to look at the individual dogs and if you can, its parents before you decide if this is the dog for you and your family.
In the case of the shelter dogs, it is impossible to know what their parents are like and sometimes impossible to know what the dog or puppy itself will be like once you bring it home and away from the shelters kennels. Here you have to trust your instincts and gut feeling about the dog and decide for yourself what will be best for both you and the dog. The rule of the breed is usually correct in shelter situations more often than not. And a quick trip to the veterinarians will tell you if the dog is healthy or not and if he or she is in good condition.
Temperament is something you must find out once you bring the new dog or puppy home, especially if you have other animals like a cat or another dog in the house. A lot of times, if the shelter dog has been in foster care, they will be able to tell you if the dog or puppy gets along with other pets.
If you have another dog and want to bring home a new dog or puppy, you might want to introduce them before bringing the new pet home. All breeders and shelters will allow you to bring your dog to their facility to meet the new dog or puppy to make sure they interact well and can tolerate one another for at least a short period of time before bringing the new pet home.
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