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The Life-Changing Beauty of Rescue Dogs: A Breakdown of Breeds

"Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation, and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”

–– Dean Koontz

Droopy brown eyes, chubby paws, and a tail spinning so fast it looks like a fuzzy propeller: one look across a crowded animal shelter is all it takes. A certain wet nose poking through the grate, can cause a swell of heartfelt emotions. Within seconds, you dream of sunset strolls with Snoopy along the beach, cuddling under the covers, and showering him with organic peanut butter biscuits. Even if you’re convinced it’s true love, hold on… Take a deep yogic breath. Getting a dog shouldn’t be done impulsively. It means widening your family, and requires a lifetime commitment.

Practice compassion. It’s not easy, but resist the urge to select an animal solely for superficial reasons. Each year approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters nationwide. Of the lucky ones that find homes, approximately 10% will be rejected within six-months time. So take cuteness off the table. And be mindful to choose a pet as you would a close friend, by level of compatibility and its unique personality. Discover how you interact together, spend as much time with Snoopy as the shelter allows. And be open to different breeds of dogs and combinations thereof. 

Everyone loves a puppy. And even though they’re irresistible, consider adopting an older dog. Older, wizened pooches are much harder to place and can be soulful companions. Plus, they’re hopefully housebroken, often mellower than younger dogs, and have fully developed personalities. A puppy is an adorable handful. It requires time, patience, training, and will go through various stages of physical and emotional growth. Even though its size is estimated, it’s not definitive. If you do choose a pup, know that your dog will evolve into something different later on, possibly larger or smaller than initially envisioned. And its personality is in the process of developing too. So be prepared to fully commit to the little one, however its future unfolds.   

If you’re interested in adopting a certain breed, check out a puppy mill rescue in your area, and/or the local rescue group for the breed. In a traditional shelter, dogs are often a lovely amalgamation of breeds, which can make them healthier and more even-tempered than designer pooches. However, there are approximately 340 different kinds of breeds, and each type, share common traits. knowing more about them can offer additional insight. For a mini breakdown of popular breeds, read on...



Everywhere you turn there’s another something-poo prancing down the street. It’s no wonder poodles are the hottest breed to crossbreed lately... Apricot, sable, or white, they come in a rainbow of colors and weigh anywhere from 3 to 70 pounds. And because they have hair, they don’t shed. They’re super intelligent creatures, easy to train, keen watchdogs, and fantastic jumpers. So keep that in mind, if you don’t want them to play fetch with your precious china. Some smaller poodles are so agile they can walk on two feet and even do a shimmy. They’re also fiercely loyal, bond quickly, and make amazing watchdogs. 


These big cuddly bundles of love, are brainy and super trainable. They thrive best when they’re able to run and go for expansive walks. So be prepared to give them a fair amount of exercise. If neglected, Labs can experience pent up energy and channel their emotions into upset. Frustration may cause them to lash out and do damage to your home. At heart, Labs are deeply caring animals. So if you decide to bring one of these beauties into your home, make sure you have the stamina and patience they require to lead a well-adjusted life. 


Little social butterflies, Chihuahuas enjoy nothing more than to be around people, showered with kisses and affection. Leave them alone for prolonged periods and they may feel sad, lonely and isolated. If you want a pocket-sized companion to accompany you through life, chihuahuas are ideal pals. Their downside? They may possess a bossy streak and attempt to control you. Their strong-willed personas make for natural watch dogs... especially since they can be yippy, which is a good thing when it comes to chasing away intruders.  


It’s no wonder affenpinschers are also known as the “monkey terrier.” These goofy creatures are so animated and adorable, they’re like muppets brought to life. Playful, with a terrific sense of humor, they will bring you boundless joy. Although, they may not be as easy to train as other breeds. Still, their unconditional love makes it worth putting in the time and effort. Shower your affenpinscher with patience and understanding, and you’ll have a sweet-souled companion to keep you laughing, even through the grayest days. 


More than just spunky blondes, Malteses are fun-loving and sharp. They love getting treats while learning new tricks and showing of their talents. Even though they have luxurious hair, there’s little to little to no shedding. Although, they do require regular grooming as their hair can become easily matted. These delicate creatures prefer to be in charge. And because they’re so charming, they often get their way. According Michele Welton, author of the book, Respect Training For Puppies, Malteses are “One of the brightest and gentlest of the toys, the Maltese is exceedingly playful and enjoys clever games of dexterity.” Welton also cautions that “they may experience, “Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much.”


Cocker Spaniel 

Loving and sensitive beings, cocker spaniels can be shy and tentative around strangers. So they aren’t ideal watchdogs. They are a good choice with kids, since they usually get along well with young children and play gently. Cockers are known to be droolers and enjoy hearing themselves bark. Mostly, they are adaptable to life in small spaces and friendly. But they don’t appreciate being left alone for long periods, and look forward to walk-time in nature. Share your life with a spaniel and receive positive vibes from this cuddly loyal friend.   

English Bulldog

English Bulldogs don’t need as much exercise as many other breeds, and are sweet natured beasts. They are known for getting along naturally with children and are gentle. They prefer the company of humans to other dogs, possibly because they believe they’re human themselves. Sometimes they’re good watchdogs, but not always. Each one is unique, and some may be aggressive to other animals. So be mindful if you plan to live with other dogs… Also, English bulldogs are also prone to skin infections… help maintain pet wellness by wiping their facial wrinkles. 

Even though breeds share traits, like humans, each dog is unique. Also, keep in mind that shelter dogs are displaced. Many are afraid and introverted. Naturally, it may take time for them to feel safe enough to reveal their true natures. So be present… Attune to your senses and experience the beauty each animal has to share. 



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