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Picking a breed

If you are not sure which breed will best suit your lifestyle and your family, it's well worth doing your homework: after all, there are more than 400 breeds to choose from.

Try the HillsPet.com Dog Breed Catalog: This is an excellent place to start, and it's easy to use.

Search the Internet: There are dozens of websites dedicated to specific breeds of dogs.

Consider your family and lifestyle: If you have young children, you will want a sturdy, sociable and even-tempered breed. If your family enjoys an outdoor lifestyle, you should consider a breed that will thrive on this and be part of your active life. On the other hand, if you prefer the quiet life, or have a small yard, consider a breed that needs less exercise, and would be happy relaxing with you indoors.

It's also important to bear in mind how big your dog will be when he reaches adulthood; you've got room for the puppy right now, but what about later on? Also consider how much time you are willing to devote to grooming and brushing your pet, as some long-haired breeds may require daily maintenance.

Ask the right questions: Once you have a breed in mind, talk to people who already own the breed and ask them about their experiences, specifically in the areas of training, aggression and health. A local vet will also be able to give you advice and let you know which breeds have a tendency to inherit certain health-related conditions. For example, large-breed dogs should have their hips and elbows checked for dysplasia. If you plan to breed your pet, ask your veterinarian about how to get your pet's hips and elbows certified.

Some breeds, for example collies, Labradors and Irish setters, should have specific eye tests. Some breeds should have blood tests for specific conditions, for example, von Willebrand's Disease in dobermans. After you've found your perfect dog, be sure to choose the right nutrition to meet your dog's special needs.


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