Most families at one point in time will be faced with the decision of choosing a pet for their family. A vast majority of families opt for a dog as their family pet of choice and my family is no exception.

Prior to choosing a pet, I did some research and looked at pets that displayed the characteristics that I felt would meet the needs of our growing family. In doing so, my husband and I made a choice that we have stuck with.

We opted for a Shih Tzu based on the characteristics that fit our needs, and here we are 8 years later and we are still breed loyal.

After our first Shih Tzu had to be put down, he made such a positive lasting impression on us and everyone that knew him, the choice was obvious. We sought out to find another Shih Tzu puppy when we were ready to adopt another pet.

Now we are the proud owners of 3 Shih Tzu’s: Sugar, Precious, and Brute. They all have their own special characteristics that make them unique and I would have a hard time parting with any of them. My daughter adores them and they all offer different things to our family.

Brute is the playful antagonist and the baby, but you would hardly know to look at him as he is massive for a Shih Tzu, with big furry paws.

Sugar is our rather lazy momma dog, who has given the kids the opportunity to help raise her puppies, she has not once ever even considered biting, growling, or even glaring at any of the children after 6 years in our family, and she has secured her place in our family.

Then we have Precious our little rescue dog. She is just a tiny little thing, that was neglected by her originally owner, she was very skid-dish and jumpy originally and she tends to get spooked a bit easier than the other dogs, but she has come a long way since we brought her home and the kids love to sleep with her because she is just so tiny and gentle.

Deciding on a breed is not as simply as seeing one and saying that is the one you want. You really need to take the time to investigate the breed and find out what positive and negative attributes it may have that could provide a challenge for your family.

By taking the time to learn about the breeds and what breeds fits your family’s needs, you eliminate the risk of having to find the dog a new home if he or she does not mix well with your family.

It is hardly fair to take a dog into your home only to find it was not the right breed for your family and then you are faced with the daunting task of finding the dog a new home.

Sadly, some dogs are not lucky enough to find new homes, or at least not good homes and that is where careful consideration and research could have paid off. I have compiled a listing of characteristics/attributes to consider prior to beginning your search for the new family dog, and I hope they can help you find the best dog for your family.

1) Size – You need to figure out the space you have available for your new furry friend, and if you can accommodate the needs of your dog in your home or kennel, depending upon where you plan to house your family pet.

If you live in a smaller home or apartment, a smaller breed may be the best choice. If you have a large home and a large yard, you have more flexibility in the size of the dog you can accommodate.

2) Shedding – Many breeds of dogs do shed, if you plan on having a dog in the house, this may be a huge negative and looking for a non-shedding breed may be best.

Some non-shedding breeds are considered hypo-allergenic, meaning they do not produce the dander that can flare up allergies which can really affect the type of breed you get if allergies are a factor.

But most non-shedding dogs do require regular grooming and haircuts. You may have to deal with the grooming to eliminate dealing with shedding, dependent upon your needs.

3) Aggression – Determining if you want an aggressive dog that is intended to scare people or detour them or if you want a dog with little to no aggressive tendencies are an important choice to make, especially if you have young children that may not understand that a certain breed can be aggressive.

If you have children and still want a dog that can ward off intruders a bigger breed that is not as aggressive may be a great option.

Even though they may tend to be less aggressive, dogs are loyal creatures and if push came to shove, many breeds would do what they needed to do in order to protect the kids that love them, and that is where a larger breed could be more helpful.

4) Sociability – Finding a breed that socializes with people well or with other dogs well could play a factor in your decision, especially if you have a growing family and have many children coming and going in and out of your home.

If you have other dogs, you need to ensure that they are compatible and able to get along. Some breeds are very territorial and do not take well to other dogs crowding in on their territory.

I know with our own dogs, the oldest was not the most receptive to having new dogs in the home initially, but she has adjusted, it just took some time. But when you see my male dog, he is the social butterfly guy of the group. He will play with anyone and any dog, he loves to be interactive.

5) Needs – The needs of the breed and what you can offer the dog are vital. If the dog needs to run freely and you plan on keeping him cooped up inside all day, you may need to rethink your choice.

If you want a dog to go running with you and to go in the woods with you and your kids, choosing a small dog that may tire easily would not be the best choice either.

6) Medical Needs – Some breeds are naturally prone to certain medical problems. Being aware of these potential problems can help you determine if you would be willing and able to assist in the medical care of your pet if a medical condition specific to the breed were to occur.

Some things such as eye problems, tooth problems, hip problems, etc. are just some of the problems that can arise from certain breeds. If you are unwilling to deal with these issues and unwilling to watch for the signs of problems, then perhaps you should choose another breed.

We had considered getting a pug prior to out Shih Tzu’s but we knew we wanted our dogs to have puppies at least once, so our kids could be part of the process, but when I read that many pugs could have difficulty with delivery and require a C-section delivery due to narrow hips, I decided we would stick with our original choice of the Shih Tzu.

7) Train-ability – Certain breeds can be more difficult to train than other breeds, knowing what will be involved in training your dog will help you be patient if it takes longer than you had anticipated.

Whereas there are other breeds that just seem to pick up on things like nothing, knowing what you will have to contend with when training your new pet is the best way to plan ahead.

I hope these pointers will help any prospective dog owners in their quest for the right pet. You may have a preconceived idea of wanting a particular breed, and that is fine, but just make sure you are fully aware of all the work that you will be investing into that breed before you go out and start checking out those adorable little puppies with the big brown eyes and the soft puppy dog kisses.

Because once one of them melts your heart, it will be very difficult to turn that little fur baby down. But if you know what you are getting into you can make an informed decision and still fall in love with the little bundle of fuzz it will make for a happy and healthy puppy filled home.

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