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Choosing Your Canine Companion
February 1, 2024

Are you looking to adopt a dog? Congratulations! This can be a tough decision. With so many adorable pups out there in need of homes, how do you choose the right one? A Western Orange County, FL vet offers some advice below.

Choosing A Dog Breed

We would probably recommend starting with the AKC. Even if you are not looking for a purebred, you may find the AKC website a great reference. Look over the groups. Each breed was developed initially to serve a particular purpose. It is actually possible to tell quite a lot about a dog’s temperament just by finding out what group he’s in.

Herding Dogs

As the name suggests, the main focus for the dogs in the herding group was herding and protecting livestock and cattle. This involved a lot of thinking and calculation, so it’s no wonder this group contains some of our most intelligent and active canines. German Shepherds, Collies, and Sheepdogs are included in this category.

Sporting Group

The original purpose of Sporting Dogs was to assist humans with hunting. Those origins are still very prevalent today. For instance, it is no coincidence that Labrador Retrievers love swimming and fetching, as they used to retrieve waterfowl as their first job. Retrievers, setters and spaniels are in this group.


Hounds were tasked with helping their humans track game. There are different categories of hounds. Sight hounds, such as Greyhounds, track by sight. Scenthounds, like the Bloodhound, use their noses for tracking. Hounds are often super cute and lovable, if a bit stubborn. Many hound pups are quite vocal: several in this group bay.

Working Dogs

Working dog breeds were developed to perform specific tasks, which range from guarding livestock to protection to pulling carts. These dogs are often extremely intelligent and strong. In addition to watchdogs like the Doberman Pinscher and Rottweiler, livestock guard dogs like the Great Pyrenees, and sled dogs like the husky are also included in this group.


The pooches in the Terrier Group share a determination for chasing prey. Smaller terriers were often tasked with chasing rodents, sometimes through underground burrows. That called for stubbornness and a bit of bravado. Although all of the pups in this group are of course terriers, their sizes, coats, and appearance differ widely. They do tend to be a bit plucky, and sometimes a little stubborn. 

Toy Dogs

Unlike most of the other groups, the toys didn’t really have any specific jobs. Or, perhaps we should say that their job is to be cute. These little dogs are cute companion dogs that charm and comfort their humans most of the time. Toy breeds include the Chihuahua, Maltese, Pekinese, Pug, Pomeranian, and Yorkie. Toy breeds are ideal for apartment dwellers because of their small size.

Non-Sporting Group

Finally, let’s take a look at the non-sporting group, where you’ll find a diverse range of pups that may not fit into other categories. But don’t be fooled – these dogs have their own unique talents. Take the Dalmatian, for example, known for its remarkable abilities as a companion to horses and a firehouse dog. Or the Poodle, once a star in the circus world. And who can forget the French Bulldog, with its endearing face and signature bat ears.

How Do You Decide Which Dog Breed Is Right for You?

When you have narrowed things down a bit, start looking more closely at the remaining contenders. The AKC site is a good resource here. Each official breed has its own profile that breaks down the characteristics people should consider before getting a puppy.

Here are some of the things you’ll see on the site:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Average Lifespan
  • Shedding Level
  • Coat 
  • Grooming Needs
  • Drooling Level
  • Health Issues
  • Openness To Strangers
  • Playfulness Level
  • Affectionate With Family
  • Gets Along With Young Children
  • Gets Along With Other Dogs
  • Watchdog/Protective Nature
  • Adaptability Level
  • Trainability Level
  • Energy Level
  • Barking Level
  • Mental Stimulation Needs

It’s important to consider all of these factors. If you live in an apartment, or have nearby neighbors, a dog that barks at everything may cause friction.

Don’t Overlook Mutts And Rescues

We can’t forget mixed breeds, which offer the best of both—or several—worlds. In fact, the vast majority of pups in shelters are mixes. rescue dogs are also a great option. 

Sometimes shelters don’t have much information about Fido. However, in some cases, you can still learn quite a bit. If your pup has been fostered, the fosters may have learned a lot about him. Some shelters even offer foster-to-adopt, a way of trying things out before adopting.

Consider Fido’s Age

Age is also a big thing to consider. Many people go for puppies. That’s understandable: they’re adorable. Plus, there is a lot to be said for getting Fido when he is still a very young puppy and raising him yourself. However, young dogs do require a lot of work and training. There’s the terrible twos, or, as we sometimes call it, the terrible chews. They’re messier than adults, especially during the housebreaking phase, and they need a lot of toys and playtime. That said, for those who enjoy an active lifestyle and seek a furry companion to join them on outdoor adventures and hikes, a younger dog would likely be a suitable choice. 

On the other hand, if you prefer quieter activities, such as reading, crafting, or watching movies indoors, an older dog may be more compatible. In fact, there are numerous advantages to adopting a senior dog: they are typically calm and sociable, have usually outgrown destructive behaviors like chewing, and require less exercise or stimulation. (They’re also really cute.)

Make A List Of Your Deal Breakers

As well as looking for what you want in a dog, it’s important to think about what you don’t want. For example, if you want chickens, you probably don’t want a dog with a strong prey drive. If you have kids or are planning to have kids soon, look for a pup that will make a good family pet. (Tip: You may want to pick one that can withstand toddler roughhousing.) Have allergies? It would be best to find a pup with fur that won’t cause strong reactions, such as a Poodle.

Do you hope to trust Fido off leash? You’ll want a pooch that is obedient and won’t get distracted by every squirrel.

Spend Time With Your Potential Pet 

Getting closer? The next step is to spend some time with Fido, making that personal connection. 

It’s important to leave room to follow your heart, no matter how carefully you research and make lists. Take the time to get to know your potential pet. Also, make sure you’re ready, willing, and able to commit. Adoption is forever!

Contact Your Western Orange County, FL Veterinarian

When adopting a dog, the first thing you’ll want to do is set up an appointment with your Western Orange County, FL veterinarian. Fido will need a thorough exam. This is also a great time to ask for specific care tips!

Have you recently adopted a new dog? Contact us today! As your Western Orange County, FL pet hospital, we’re here to help if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s care.