Every year the AKC comes out with statistics on the most popular breeds. For several years the Labrador has reigned supreme (Much to the chagrin of Labrador people in both the show and working divide) as the most commonly registered dog in the United States.
Unsurprisingly, these statistics have very little to do with the realistic ownership pool, (e.g. people who really can handle the best and worst traits of the breed responsibly, provide adequate exercise and training, and not just let their dog run amok and terrorize the neighborhood).
Every asshole we know with a dog they can’t or won’t manage put very little thought into their decision to own a dog let alone select an appropriate type, so we’re here to help. Before you get your dog, consider these factors, or we’ll mock you via inappropriate stick figure dramas.
1) Do you actually want a dog or do you want Lassie?
We want you to brace yourselves. This may come as a shock. Dogs have individual personalities! We know. It surprised us too (It didn’t). While we’re glad your neighbors German Shepherd rescued a family of ducklings from being eaten by Kanye, and your childhood Collie didn’t eat your homework, but rather he did it better than you were able to, we can pretty much guarantee you that the puppy you picked from the litter is not that dog. Don’t get us wrong, there are certainly one in a million dogs (Heart dogs, usually) who know us better than we know ourselves. These dogs are made, and not born despite what everyone with their magic dog tells you.
2) What is your current energy level?
Are you a couch potato? A runner? Pro-tip, don’t get a dog made for who you are not. There is no shame in wanting to stay home and nap. If you want to sit in the house and do cross-words, get a Pug. A Border Collie will only bring you misery and bring the dog fatness and bad behavior.
3) Have you ever trained a dog before? To what level? No, be serious, what have you actually done?
Saying you want a high-drive full-speed dog is all well and good but if your current pets don’t even have manners, it’s like demanding to do a heart transplant after completing that 6th grade unit on “the human body”. It’s just a dumb idea. Some breeds are ‘trainers’ breeds and some breeds are ‘pet breeds’ and most breeds fall somewhere in the middle, and even individuals of breeds can be more or less intense. Aim for what you know you can handle now, not what you’d like to handle in the future.
4) Why do you want this breed?
If “because it’s cute” is your reasoning, just go away. Really, walk away. If you can’t give a comprehensive list including the potential (Or extremely likely, depending on how carefully you pick your dog) negatives, you’ve not done your research and you need to go back to the drawing board.
5) How many have you met in person? How many breeders have you talked to?
If your answer is “Less than one” you don’t need to get that breed. If your answer is “One”, you need to try harder. A reasonable sample size is more than three and talking to 3-5 breeders or breed enthusiasts. Posting a lone question online doesn’t count, neither do breed message boards or Facebook. Make a phone-call, write an email, or just get out and head to a dog show. It’s not that hard.
If you have to ask yahoo answers, you can’t have one.
6) How much time (or money) are you willing to put toward grooming?
So you think you want a Puli? Malamute? Afghan Hound? How much money do you have to groom it? None? Go away. Really. If you don’t have a good cost estimate from a local groomer, you don’t have a clue.
7) Once again, why do you really want this breed?
8) Are you on drugs?
Some breeds seem to require it as a prerequisite to ownership.
9) Did someone laugh at you when you said you wanted said breed?
If experienced dog owners laugh when you just mention the breed name… it’s time to walk away. In the dog world, it’s safe to assume you know nothing compared to people that have lived with the breed for years.
10) Do you want this dog because it’s novel?
Sometimes breeds are rare for good reason. Imagine a world with Presa Canarios roaming city sidewalks on the end of flexi-leashes? Yeah. We don’t want to think about it either. If you insist on being a Rare Breed Braggart, at least look into a dog that you can manage using the above criteria.
If you made it through our list without running away crying and you think you may actually still want one, you… still need to do a shit ton of research. No, watching Dogs 101 doesn’t count, neither does reading the wikipedia article. Talk to breeders, talk to owners, read the literature on the breed and then, if you still think you want one, pray to the flying spaghetti monster that the breeder is willing to let you have one. Pro tip: If the breeder tries to give you one on your first visit… walk away. A good breeder of a difficult breed is just as difficult as the dogs themselves. You have to work for it.