Dos and Don'ts of Getting a Family Dog

Dos and Don'ts 5-8

  • Do watch out for tiny dogs. Small children and small dogs don't always mix. Breeds like Chihuahuas, miniature pinschers, and Pekingeses are very delicate, especially as puppies, and can easily be injured if your child is at all rough with them. However, toy breeds are great for families living in apartments if your children are responsible enough to treat a dog gently. Terriers are sturdier than most other small dogs, so consider a cairn terrier, Norwich terrier, Norfolk terrier, smooth fox terrier, soft-coated wheaten terrier, or a West Highland white terrier.
  • Do choose a hardy mixed breed. Purebred dogs are often susceptible to genetic diseases, while mixed breeds are less likely to have these health problems and tend to be hardier. One caveat: It can be difficult to predict the size, temperament, and personality of a mixed breed, even if you know the parents' breeds.
  • Don't discount "designer dogs." These dogs are a combination of two different breeds. Poodle mixes are in vogue nowadays because of their good temperament and nice coat. The cockapoo (cocker spaniel and poodle), yorkipoo (yorkie and poodle), and labradoodle (Labrador retriever and poodle) are all popular options.
  • Do consider a career-change dog. Ever wonder what happens to dogs that are raised to help the blind but that don't work out? Two-year-old dogs that don't graduate from guide-dog school are put up for adoption, and there are waiting lists where you can be matched with one of these well-trained pooches, usually Labs, golden retrievers, and German shepherds. This is a great option if you don't have the time or resources to train a puppy. Contact guide-dog schools in your area to find out how to apply.

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