Consider breed traits while adopting new dog

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Adopting a dog can be one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. Caring for a dog provides companionship, a reason to get out of the house, and can even help improve a person’s social interactions, according to a release by the American Psychological Association.

While having a canine companion can be beneficial, it is important to research a particular dog’s breed to ensure the animal is a good match for a particular family.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

On its website, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation provides basic things to consider before adopting a new dog, such as living space and family dynamics. However, there are also breed-specific traits to consider, such as dominant personalities and potential medical problems.

Many breeds are more prone to more deadly or debilitating illnesses than others.

“The number of hereditary diseases and genetic predispositions that a dog could potentially be tested for is steadily increasing,” a study by the Public Library of Science states.

According to an American Boxer Club Health and Research Committee article, dogs with boxer heritage, for instance, are more prone to hypothyroidism, aortic valve disease and hip dysplasia. Chihuahuas, on the other hand, often suffer from mitral valve disease and ophthalmic disease, according to a statement by the Chihuahua Club of America. These breed-specific illnesses could become an unexpected financial drain.

Another thing to consider is a breed’s innate behavioral characteristics. Dogs have vastly different personalities depending on their breed. While each dog is unique, their genetics play a large part in their disposition.

According to the American Kennel Club’s website, Siberian huskies are very energetic dogs and require a great deal of daily exercise. They have a friendly temperament, but are fairly independent, making them more difficult to train. In comparison, Shelties, or Shetland sheepdogs, are typically shy and reserved when meeting new people or animals, but are easy to train due to their eagerness to please their owner, the website states.

Picayune SPCA Shelter manager Elizabeth Treadaway said before adopting out a dog, SPCA staff members always perform a brief interview with potential adopters. She said open-ended questions are asked, so staff can assess how well a potential owner might match with the dog they are interested in. For example, if a person is a homebody and likes to spend their free time watching a lot of TV, Treadaway said she would steer them away from more energetic dogs. She said the best way to match a dog with an owner is to pair the dog’s personality with the person’s lifestyle.

In addition to lifestyle, a person’s space and family dynamics have to be taken into consideration as well, Treadaway said. Staff usually ask people wanting to adopt a pit-bull more extensive questions, since the breed typically requires care from a more experienced pet owner. In addition, she said the shelter will usually not adopt adult pit-bulls to families with children, since it is hard to determine the dog’s personality after such a short stay at the shelter.

“Dogs have been selectively bred for generations to exhibit specific physical and behavioral traits,” the AVMA website states.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, the website recommends talking to a veterinarian before taking the final step to adopt.