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Adopting a pet: the importance of breed

A new pet is a fabulous addition to your home, but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Different pets suit different homes, lifestyles and circumstances, and it is important for both you and the pet that you choose the right one. However, even once you have decided that you really want a dog or can’t wait to bring home a cat, there is still the question of breed. Resulting in different sizes and temperaments, the importance of choosing the right breed for your circumstances cannot be underestimated.

How to decide

Having decided what pet you want to adopt, research thoroughly the different breeds to learn about their needs and features. Giving a pet a new home is a wonderful thing to do, and the best place to find such a pet is at a shelter that takes care in matching a pet with the right owner. If you are within easy reach of New York, a good place to start your hunt for a new pet is at the Humane Society of New York. They will be able to give you plenty of advice on the different breeds they have available for adoption and will also consider the animal’s individual temperament to make sure you and the pet are suited.


Different breeds of pets can be more prone to certain health conditions, and it is important that you know what these are, to spot the symptoms more easily. If you are adopting a Great Dane dog, for example, they will be more prone to Addison’s disease, while pugs are more likely to develop breathing difficulties. Cats too can have varying conditions. Persians have a flat face and so, like the pug, are more prone to breathing difficulties and Bengals are prone to eye problems such as glaucoma and cataracts.


The purpose a pet was bred for is something to be particularly aware of in dogs. A herding dog, for example, is likely to have different behavior to a retriever. Knowing the purpose of a breed will make it easier to train, as you will know what is likely to work best and is also likely to be more enjoyable for the dog. By giving the dog outlets for their natural behavior instincts, they are less likely to become a nuisance.

When training them, knowing their purpose can help you respond appropriately to problems. Biting, of course, is never acceptable. But an animal that has been bred for protection, such as a Pit Bull, Doberman or German Shepherd will need different handling if it displays aggressive behavior compared to a Labrador, which is not typically a biter.

Their purpose is also important when considering other pets that you may have. It would not be a good idea to have a dog bred for hunting, such as a greyhound, if you also keep rabbits. While all dogs are descendent from that pack animal, the wolf, some breeds have retained their pack instinct more than others. Huskies are an example of a dog that have retained their pack instinct and will do well in a home with other dogs.


Different breeds have very different appearances and, while it goes without saying that all are beautiful, their appearance should be carefully considered before adoption to make sure you can meet their needs. Maine Coons are very beautiful, long-haired cats, but it will take some effort to keep them looking that way. If you do not have time to keep them properly groomed or the budget to take them to a groomer, you would be better off considering a short-haired breed.


All dogs need exercise and if you do not have the time or ability to exercise a dog, this is not the pet for you. However, different breeds do have different requirements and if you can manage at least thirty minutes a day, there will be a breed that suits. Toy breeds and brachycephalic (short nosed, flat faced) dogs will need less exercise, preferably in short bursts, while at the other end of the scale, sporting and herding dogs need longer and more vigorous walks.

The size of your home and garden should also be considered as if you only have a small apartment, a huge breed such as a Great Dane or Saint Bernard is probably not the best idea!

Mixed breeds

Mixed breeds can inherit their temperaments and needs from either side of their family tree. If you are adopting a mixed breed, it is important to check the traits and health concerns of all the breeds in its makeup and be prepared for any of them to make an appearance.

Choosing your pet

Time spent researching your pet and the different breeds is time well spent. It will enable you to be fully prepared for everything this wonderful new addition to your family will bring.