A dog’s breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality, all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is the best fit for you. For instance, a slight or shy person could find a large-breed dog—especially one that is boisterous or hyperactive—difficult to control. On the other hand, a timid, little dog may not be a suitable match for an adventuresome, outgoing, or loud person. So with all the choices available, how do you go about selecting the right dog for you?
For You and Your Family
Understanding the Importance of Temperament
Temperament has nothing to do with a dog’s size, breed or upbringing—temperament is something innate in a dog. A dog’s temperament has a lot to do with how easily it can be trained and, while good training can improve certain traits in a dog, training cannot change the dog’s temperament.
There are a variety of temperaments in dogs, and some dogs can have a combination of temperament traits, but generally speaking, dogs have four basic temperament types:
- Nervous – This bottom-of-the-pack dog requires more effort and perseverance on your part to train. An older, nervous dog can act in a variety of ways around strangers. It might bark but then back off, or circle while barking and growling. Another nervous type might settle down when the stranger is seated but bark and possibly try to attack when the visitor gets up to leave. Its fear of strangers makes a nervous dog a challenge to train.
- Timid – Also a bottom-of-the-pack dog, a timid dog will hold its ears back, squirm, put its tail between its legs, or roll onto its back. You can easily train this type of dog once it recognizes you as its leader.
- Dominant – This top-of-the-pack dog requires owners to demonstrate their own leadership through a consistent and committed effort to train the dog, no matter how long it takes. When around strangers, this dog stands its ground and, under some circumstances, attacks. It will not relinquish its leadership position easily and, if you move too quickly with training, it might bite you. With professional help and a lot of determination, even the most dominant dogs can be trained.
- Middle of the Pack – This dog is easy to train because it wants to please its owners out of respect for them as the leaders of the pack. Usually friendly toward strangers and not aggressive toward other dogs, this type of dog is delightful to own.re are a variety of temperaments in dogs, and some dogs can have a combination of
Choosing the Best Breed for Your Personality
In addition to recognizing an individual dog’s temperament, you would do well to investigate the breed that best suits your needs. Listed here are some of the most popular breeds and, how their personalities and characteristics might match the requirements of different types of owners. While some breeds do have tendencies toward a certain temperament, keep in mind that this is not absolute. Use the information as a guide, but I recommend you make your final decision based on background information and observation.
Sociable Dogs with Soft, even temperaments:
These breeds are typically less demanding and more docile, making them perfect for elderly people and families with children. They are loving and respond well to lots of attention, and prefer to not be left alone.
Cavalier King Charles, Golden Retriever, Lhasa Apso and West Highland White Terrier
Generally hardier and less prone to hereditary faults, crossbreeds (or multibreeds) can be pets that are just as good—and sometimes better—than purebreds. Still, some are better than others. As a basic guideline, a pup is likely to inherit its size from its mother, but be slightly smaller than its largest parent.
Dogs that require more discipline:
Often exuberant, many of these breeds require more discipline and exercise—but are great for people with lots of energy. Their loyal, loving natures still make them wonderful family pets.
Boxer, Dachshund, Dalmatian, Bull Terrier, Great Dane, German Shepherd
Protective of their homes and owners, these breeds are perfect for people who live alone. Not in all cases, but these breeds tend to be less suitable for families.
Chow Chow, Maltese, Pekingese, Shih Tzu
Designer breeds, a cross between two purebred dogs, were developed to create a mix of the best characteristics of each breed. For instance, the goldendoodle combines the family-friendly traits of the golden retriever with the non-shedding, hypoallergenic traits of the poodle.
Puggle (Pug/Beagle), Schnoodle (Schnauzer/poodle), Labradoodle (Labrador/Poodle)
Just like people, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. A dog’s breed and temperament, combined with your lifestyle and personality all play an important role in determining what kind of dog is best for you. Do a bit of research first. There is a dog with the perfect temperament for everyone.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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