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Choosing a dog from an animal shelter

Know what you want

Choosing the right dog generally means identifying the type of animal who matches your lifestyle and wants. If you live alone in a small apartment, adopting a large, active Golden retriever-mix or Labrador retriever might not be the best choice. However, if you have a family of four, medium or large size backyard and are looking for a companion to match your active lifestyle, an active Golden retriever-mix or Labrador retriever may be perfect. A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children should all figure into your decision.

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Learn about Different Breeds and Mixes

Learn about various dog breeds, visit with animals at the shelter, and speak with an adoption counselor for guidance. Some dogs need more attention than others. Everyone loves puppies, but they are very active. An older dog who is trained might be better for you.

Purebred and Mix Breed Dogs

Most animal shelters have plenty purebred and mix breed dogs. The most significant difference between the two is that with purebreds, you have a good chance of knowing about how big the dog will get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics it will have. However, purebred dogs may have more health problems than mix breed dogs.

Mixed breed dogs are simply combinations of different breeds. Mixed breeds offer several advantages over purebreds. When you adopt a mixed breed, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog who is less likely to have genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. Mixed breeds, in fact, are often considered the more "natural" dog. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a unique companion.

Visit with Shelter Animals

While you're visiting an animal shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. A dog's true colors may not show until he's away from other animals and the shelter environment. If you walk past a kennel with a dog who isn't vying for your attention, don't count him out. He may just be a little scared or lonely.

Questions to ask a counselor:

  • How old is the dog?
  • How shy or assertive is the dog? An active, bouncy dog might catch your eye, however, a quieter or more reserved dog might be a better match if you don't have a particularly active lifestyle.
  • How good is the animal with children? In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise is a dog who will probably thrive in a house full of kids.

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