(Before you get started, this is LONG. But worth reading! So put on your reading glasses and get started!) You weren't really looking for a dog, but you passed the pet shop window and that cute little furball just gave you that look, and you couldn't resist. Or, you grew up with a Boxer, and he was great. So now, you want one. Or, you like a breed for no real reason, they're just pretty and neat dogs. Or maybe, the kids wanted one and you couldn't say no. Well, that logic is what puts millions of dogs in shelters and pounds. Just because your Boxer growing up was awesome doesn't mean you can handle one now. And even though the kids really want an Air Bud, you hate having to brush your own hair, much less a whole big dog covered in it. If you are a couch potato, an Australian Shepherd isn't the way to go. I don't care how much you love Lassie, a Collie is not a good fit for your tiny apartment. On the other hand, if you're a fitness buff who jogs 10-15 miles a day, a English Bulldog doesn't really want to accompany you for that long. A Border Collie, however, would love to join your fitness routine. High energy dogs are not intended to be yard ornaments, and they will let you know this by chewing, digging, becoming aggressive, or a variety of other "bad behaviors." Here's an example. When 101 Dalmatians was released, the Dallie population exploded. Dalmatian numbers were at an all-time high....and at the same time, shelters saw more Dallies than they had perhaps ever seen of any one breed. Millions of people came to the conclusion that Dalmatians were unpredictable, uncontrollable, aggressive beasts who couldn't be trusted with children. As a former Dallie owner and still a lover of the breed, naturally my response was... WHAT?!?! Dalmatians are an extremely sensitive, high-energy breed. Without exercise, they very quickly develop behavior problems, including aggression, that escalade at an amazing rate. This is not the fault of the dog. These dogs were bought to sit in the backyard and play with the kids once in a while, without the owners knowing that these dogs can't function normally without mental and physical stimulation. Pit bulls? Same situation. Overbreeding and owner ignorance have given this dog the reputation it has today. Like the Dalmatian, these dogs are sensitive and high-energy. Without careful training and exercise, these dogs can create a lot of problems. How about small dogs? Why do they have the nickname "ankle-biters?" Little dog does NOT mean little exercise, my friends. Toddlers are small, does this mean they don't need exercise and don't need to learn anything? Absolutely not. And yet, seeing a small dog on a walk with his owner happens less frequently than Bart Simpson earns a B on a test. Small breeds need exercise too. So don't assume that a Jack Russell Terrier is a great apartment dog to sit and watch TV with. They aren't. By researching breeds BEFORE finding a new family member, you can have some insight as to what you're getting into and what breed best fits your family's lifestyle. When you don't, you're almost sure to end up with problems. I can't count on my hands AND feet how many times I've had Border Collie owners tell me, "She's just CRAZY all the time! She never slows down. She drives us nuts! Is yours this HYPER???" And my answer is always, "Well...yes! That's a BORDER COLLIE! She'll be that way all her life, and without exercise and training she's going to keep driving you crazy." The response is usually a terrified and sheepish expression, and you can tell they're thinking, 'Oh my gosh, she's going to be like this FOREVER?!?!?! What did I get myself into????' Had they researched the breed first, they'd be prepared for their always-on-the-go workaholic, and they'd still have a mint condition leather sofa, and the full set of Friends Season 2 DVDs(without the holes and teeth marks in the cases). Energy level is not the only thing to look for in your potential new family member. If you aren't willing to groom the dog DAILY, then do not get a Sheltie or a Poodle. If you don't plan on spending any time caring for the dog's coat, or the money to send her to a groomer regularly, then do the dog a favor and DON'T BRING HER HOME. It doesn't take very long for mats to form in an ungroomed coat, and they HURT. I used to work in a grooming salon. We once had a Lhasa Apso who had probably never been brushed. There was no way to salvage his coat, and when we shaved him down he had one HUGE mat the length and width of his body. The owner told us that they were out of town for a weekend, and his petsitter didn't brush him. Newsflash: the groomers aren't stupid. The dog can't get that matted in a weekend. So don't bother lying to the groomer. Another example: we had a family who had a Shih Tzu and a Poodle. Both were very sweet dogs(initially), but neither was ever brushed, and the owners didn't want them shaved. When the Poodle first came in, she was just a young pup but did have quite a few knots. Her fur wasn't long enough yet to mat, but she still needed brushed. Each time they brought her in, she was severely matted. She quickly became very aggressive, because every time she came to the groomers, she was going to get hurt. Brushing out mats HURTS, severely. She became a snarling, vicious little dog. After the first 2 visits, we thought maybe they just needed advice. So we showed them the appropriate brush, and how and when to brush her. The next time, she was matted. After about 9-10 months of brushing mats out of this dog every time she came, the manager had had enough. She shaved her down, as well as the Shih Tzu and told them not to come back. We couldn't continue hurting these dogs, especially since the Poodle was going to get more and more aggressive. IF YOU AREN'T WILLING TO GROOM A LONG-HAIRED DOG, DON'T GET ONE. So, if you love to vaccuum, walk daily, and really love all things baby, a Rottweiler may just be the perfect match for you. Are you obsessed with fitness? Were/are you an all-star pitcher? Like to play frisbee with your friends? Then a Border Collie might be a good fit. (Don't worry, if you aren't an all-star pitcher, your Border Collie can teach you.) Not into the whole "exercise thing?" A Bichon Frise might be right up your alley--just brush while you're watching TV! Not really sure what you want? How about a pure, 100% M.I.X.? (Millions of Interesting CROSSES!) More often than not, mutts are SMARTER, MORE TRAINABLE, AND LESS PRONE TO HEALTH PROBLEMS! Along with all those benefits, they are also SUPER EASY TO FIND! Just head on down to your local shelter, or check out Petfinder.com. Many of these dogs have been abandoned, lost, or never had a family at all. Don't want to deal with puppy raising? Adopt an adult dog! Some of them may have came from a family who couldn't keep them anymore for one reason or another. They may just have all their housetraining, kid-proofing, and basic manners out of the way! Still have your heart set on a purebred? Shelters have these too! Don't fall into the line of thinking that adult dogs are "set in their ways." Old dogs CAN learn new tricks! Plus, you'll feel great about rescuing a dog instead of buying from a pet store(where the puppies almost always come from puppy mills, and could have health problems). Take the Breed Quiz to find out what breeds might be right for you!