When choosing a dog from a shelter, go for personality

Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2019


K9 Corner

I had a family visiting me a couple of weeks ago and they met my current dog for the first time. They said, “Oh, you have switched from females to a male, why?” I explained that my current dog was adopted from the Boyle County Humane Society, and at the time he was ten years old.

Email newsletter signup

We continued our discussion, and I said when you are looking for a puppy, you can decide on the gender, but with a shelter dog, I prefer to look at the personality. After all, the animals adopted from a responsible shelter are neutered before being released to the new owner.

When looking for a breed specific puppy remember that males of most breeds are larger and stronger than the females. I remember when I selected my first standard schnauzer, I asked for a male pup. The breeder talked me into buying a female.

Then, I went to my first conformation show and saw the males handled exclusively by husky men. Watching these schnauzers challenge each other, (the technical word is “sparring”) I realized that the breeder was right to persuade me to buy a female. Because standard schnauzers have a size range, you will not always see the larger size “standards,” it just happened at the time I bought my first dog, they were breeding and showing those close to the maximum height.

I now like to check the personality of the dog I am considering adding to my family. The dominant behavior of the males can be traced to the hormone testosterone. Most females will exhibit dominance, or aggression, to a lesser degree. However, personality is individual.

Having a dominant personality does not always mean that the dog is a superior watchdog. In this day of dangerous dog ordinances, it is better to have an alert dog that barks warnings than a strong silent animal that will bite.

Females present the problem with heat cycles. Unless the pet owner is interested in showing and breeding, I recommend early spaying. (I allowed my female pups to go through one heat cycle before spaying.) Most veterinarians recommend spaying before the first heat cycle, around six to eight months, but I have recently read on the Internet (veterinarians’ columns) that allowing the female to have one heat cycle locks in necessary hormones needed for growth. These same authors also say that they are for early spaying to help with overpopulation, and early spaying has been proven to lower the risk of cancer of the reproductive organs.

Neutering the male dog is also recommended in that it lowers the risk of cancer of the prostate. It also helps control roaming if a female in heat comes around.

Another thing to look for when selecting a dog, is intelligence. From the articles I have read, there is no difference in intelligence between the sexes, though there are differences between the various breeds. Intelligence is great, but aim for the personality. If you are an assertive person, select a breed and individual that needs your type of personality. A gentle person needs a gentle natured pet.