Books for help in choosing a breed

Choosing the wrong breed can cause problems

Eenie, meenie, miney mo When choosing a dog there are things to know. . . .

Selection of a breed or type of dog is the critical first step in building a bond that will last a lifetime. A thoughtful choice can open the door to joy; mistakes can lead to disappointment and frustration - and to surrender of the dog to an animal shelter.

The following books supplement the DOG articles on wise selection of a breed with thumbnail profiles of more than 150 breeds and a variety of other information that helps prospective dog owners select a pet or working breed.

The Perfect Match

Chris Walkowicz's breezy style and long experience as a breeder and educator about dogs makes The Perfect Match a must-read for prospective dog owners. Along with brief descriptions of each breed's physical and temperament characteristics and health problems, her one- or two-paragraph narratives about the breeds provide information critical to understanding breed benefits and drawbacks.

Thinking about a Dachshund? Walkowicz says: "Dachshunds are as much terriers as hounds, feisty, scrappy, and able to go to ground after vermin, including the tough badger. Owners might find exploratory tunnels after a solo sojourn in the yard."

Like the looks of a Golden Retriever? According to Walkowicz: "Goldens tackle everything with a passion. This is a mega-dog, 'lots of hair, lots of energy, lots of love."

How about a Newfoundland? "Described as benevolent and dignified when mature, Newfs are good family pets. Buyers should realize, however, the cuddly little panda or bear cub quickly grows into a giant, hulking dog that drools and sheds."

The profiles also note that the breed is "best with" or "not for" particular types of families, i.e., the Kuvasz is best with confident owners and is not for novice owners or neatniks.

The Perfect Match opens with a chapter on making the decision to acquire any dog and another on choosing a breeder before diving into 163 breed profiles. The breeds are divided into the seven AKC groups and an eighth group of rare breeds. Each section opens with a brief look at the group as a whole.

The Perfect Match : A Dog Buyer's Guide

Your Purebred Puppy: A Buyer's Guide

Another must-read for families looking for a dog, Michele Lowell's Your Purebred Puppy complements A Perfect Match with several chapters on making the decision, choosing the breeder, and selecting a puppy from the litter as well as more than 160 breed profiles.

Lowell takes a different approach to breed profiles. She lists the dog's suitability for novice or experienced dog owners and families with children, it's general size, and its coat type, then follows with a chart that indicates the amount of exercise needed, grooming, ease of training, and sociability. She also includes a bit about breed history and more details on physical features than A Perfect Match.

Considering an English Setter? Lowell describes the breed as follows: "He is the mildest-mannered of the three setters. Although quiet and gentle in the house, he's lively outdoors and needs enough running exercise that he belongs in the suburbs or country."

How about a Shiba Inu? "He is fine with other dogs and cats if raised with them, but this agile, quick breed should be watched around very small pets like birds, rabbits, or rodents."

Or a Rottweiler? "Ongoing socialization exercise, companionship, and obedience training are necessities with the Rottweiler."

Your Purebred Puppy : A Buyers Guide

New edition

The second Revised edition will be published in paperback in May 2000 by Henry Holt. You may order it now and Amazon will ship it to you when it arrives.

Your Purebred Puppy : A Buyer's Guide (revised edition)


The American Kennel Club Complete Dog Book

The American Kennel Club recognizes more than 150 breeds and varieties of dogs and adds one or two breeds each year. The book that describes these breeds through historical vignettes and the breed standards is The Complete Dog Book, the Official Publication of the American Kennel Club.

The meat of the book is its seven sections describing the breeds in their groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. Prospective puppy buyers find it helpful for learning more about several breeds after the field has been narrowed. Families find it a useful reference book, for the history of the dogs is often bound to the history of the people in the country of breed origin, and dogs make fascinating subjects for school projects and reports.

Breed histories include information about the dog's purpose; standards tell how the dog should look and pinpoint the differences between similar breeds. Familiarity with the breed standard helps in choosing a breeder and a puppy; if buyers understand the qualities and characteristics that differentiate a Samoyed from an American Eskimo or a Collie from a Shetland Sheepdog, they can not only make a more informed breed choice, they can judge whether the adult dogs at a kennel are likely to produce puppies that look and act like the breed they want.

In addition to breed histories and standards, The Complete Dog Book features chapters about dog sports and health, and includes a glossary of terms used to describe canine body parts, characteristics, and movement.

The Complete Dog Book (19th Ed)
Norma Bennett Woolf

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