Animal Behavior, Thoughts On Choosing A Breed To Raise

Animal Behavior, Thoughts On Choosing A Breed To Raise


Animal behavior is an interesting thing. One breed of the same species can act totally different from another.

The natural behavior is something that you really need should think about before you decide what breed you’d like to raise whether it is a family pet or an animal you are looking to use for production on your hobby farm.


Some Key Behaviors

Choosing a breed of animal to raise is an important decision that should be based on several factors. Here are some thoughts to consider when selecting a breed:

1. Purpose

Determine the purpose for raising the animal. Are you looking for a pet, a working animal, or a specific product like milk, eggs, or wool? Different breeds are suited for different purposes, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your goals.

  • Pets: If you're looking for a companion animal, consider breeds known for their friendly and sociable nature. Research breeds that are typically good with children or have a calm temperament suitable for a family environment. Some breeds may require more exercise and stimulation, while others are content with less activity.
  • Working Animals: Different breeds have been selectively bred for specific tasks or work. For example, herding dogs like Border Collies excel at rounding up livestock, while certain dog breeds are adept at guarding or protecting properties. Understanding the natural instincts and behaviors associated with specific breeds can help you choose one that aligns with the intended work.
  • Livestock Production: If you plan to raise animals for milk, eggs, meat, or fiber, select breeds that are known for their productivity in those areas. Look for breeds with desirable genetic traits, such as high milk production in dairy cows or good egg-laying ability in chickens. Consider factors like disease resistance, adaptability to different climates, and overall hardiness.
  • Show or Exhibition: If you're interested in participating in animal shows or exhibitions, research breeds that conform to the breed standards and have a history of success in such events. Breeds that possess distinctive physical characteristics or exhibit specific behaviors associated with their breed standard are often favored in these competitions.
  • Conservation or Preservation: Some breeds are considered rare or endangered, and raising them can contribute to their conservation and preservation. If you're passionate about protecting biodiversity and heritage breeds, choose breeds that are recognized as being at risk and actively supported by conservation organizations.
  • Personal Interest or Hobby: Your personal interest or hobby can influence the breed you choose. Whether it's an affinity for a particular species, an interest in a specific behavior or trait, or a desire to learn about a certain breed's history, select a breed that aligns with your interests and can provide a rewarding experience.


2. Temperament

When considering the temperament of a breed, it's important to understand that individual animals within a breed can still exhibit variations in personality. However, breed temperament can provide a general idea of the typical characteristics and behavioral tendencies you might expect. Here are some examples:

  • Active and energetic: Certain breeds, such as Border Collies or Jack Russell Terriers, are known for their high energy levels and need for mental and physical stimulation. These breeds often require plenty of exercise and mental engagement to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.
  • Calm and laid-back: Some breeds, like the Basset Hound or the British Shorthair cat, tend to have a more relaxed and easygoing temperament. They may enjoy a quieter lifestyle and require less intense exercise or mental stimulation.
  • Intelligent and trainable: Breeds like the Labrador Retriever or the German Shepherd are often praised for their intelligence and trainability. They can quickly grasp commands and are eager to learn, making them suitable for various training activities and tasks.
  • Affectionate and friendly: Many breeds, including Golden Retrievers and Ragdoll cats, are known for their friendly and affectionate nature. They enjoy being around people, are often good with children, and tend to get along well with other animals.
  • Independent and reserved: Some breeds, such as the Akita or the Norwegian Forest Cat, may exhibit a more independent and reserved temperament. They may not seek constant attention or affection and may prefer their own space at times.
  • Protective and loyal: Breeds like the Rottweiler or the Doberman Pinscher are often known for their protective instincts and loyalty to their owners. They can make excellent guard dogs and are typically devoted to their families.


3. Exercise and activity needs

Exercise and activity needs vary among different breeds of animals. Here are some general considerations regarding exercise and activity requirements when choosing a breed to raise:

  • Dogs: Dogs have varying exercise needs depending on their breed, size, and energy level. High-energy breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, or Huskies require more vigorous exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and potential behavior problems. On the other hand, smaller or less active breeds may require shorter walks or play sessions. Consider your own lifestyle and the time you can dedicate to exercising and engaging with your dog when choosing a breed.
  • Cats: Cats are generally more independent than dogs and can be self-exercising. Providing opportunities for play, such as interactive toys, scratching posts, and climbing structures, can help keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Some breeds, like Bengals or Abyssinians, tend to be more active and may benefit from additional playtime or access to outdoor enclosures.
  • Horses: Horses are large animals that require regular exercise and turnout. The amount of exercise needed depends on factors like breed, age, and intended use. Horses used for leisure riding typically benefit from several hours of turnout in a pasture each day, along with regular riding or training sessions. Sport or working horses may require more intense and structured exercise routines.
  • Poultry: Chickens and other poultry generally have lower exercise needs compared to larger animals. They will naturally roam and scratch for food within their designated areas. However, providing ample space for them to move around, forage, and engage in natural behaviors is important for their well-being.
  • Other Animals: Different animals have different exercise requirements. For example, rabbits should have daily access to a secure area for hopping and running, while goats benefit from access to a pasture or an area where they can climb and explore. It's essential to research the specific needs of the animal you intend to raise and provide an appropriate environment that allows for adequate exercise and activity.


4. Lifestyle and Environment: 

  • Space: Assess the amount of space available to accommodate the breed you're considering. Some animals require larger areas to roam and exercise, while others are better suited for smaller living spaces. For example, a large backyard might be ideal for a breed of dog that loves to run and play, while a smaller apartment might be better suited for a smaller or more low-energy breed.
  • Activity Level: Consider your own activity level and how it aligns with the breed you're interested in. If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy outdoor activities, a high-energy breed that requires regular exercise and engagement might be a good fit. On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxed and low-maintenance routine, a breed with lo wer exercise requirements might be more suitable.
  • Time Commitment: Evaluate the amount of time you can dedicate to the animal. Some breeds require more attention, training, and socialization than others. Puppies, for example, need significant time and effort for housebreaking, obedience training, and early socialization. If you have limited time available, a breed that is more independent or requires less training might be a better match.
  • Climate and Environment: Consider the climate and weather conditions in your area. Certain breeds are better adapted to specific climates. For example, cold-weather breeds like Huskies have thick coats to protect them from low temperatures, while some breeds are more heat-sensitive and require adequate shelter and cooling measures in hot climates.
  • Noise Tolerance: Evaluate your tolerance for noise and the noise regulations in your living area. Some breeds, such as certain types of dogs or birds, are known for their vocalizations, which may not be suitable for noise-sensitive environments or close living quarters.
  • Allergies: Take into account any allergies you or your family members may have. Some breeds produce less dander or have hypoallergenic qualities, making them more suitable for individuals with allergies. Consider researching breeds that are known to be hypoallergenic if allergies are a concern.
  • Commitment Level: Think about the long-term commitment required to raise and care for the breed you're considering. Some breeds have longer lifespans and may require more extensive veterinary care or specialized needs as they age. Ensure you're prepared to provide the necessary care and commitment throughout the animal's life.


5. Trainability

Breeds vary in their trainability. If you're a first-time pet owner or prefer a dog or cat that is easier to train, look for breeds known for their intelligence and willingness to learn. These breeds can adapt well to training and commands.

  • Breed Characteristics: Different breeds have varying levels of trainability based on their inherent traits and tendencies. Some breeds are known for their intelligence, eagerness to please, and quick learning ability, making them highly trainable. For example, Border Collies and German Shepherds are often recognized for their trainability and excel in obedience and working tasks. Other breeds may be more independent or have specific instincts that require specialized training approaches.
  • Socialization: Consider how well a breed tends to get along with other animals and people. Some breeds are naturally more sociable and friendly, while others may be more reserved or prone to aggression. If you have other pets or young children, you'll want to choose a breed that is known to be tolerant and sociable.
  • Training Methods and Consistency: Regardless of breed, the effectiveness of training also depends on the methods used and the consistency of training. Positive reinforcement-based techniques, such as rewarding desired behaviors with treats or praise, are generally considered effective and promote a stronger bond between you and your animal. Consistency in training sessions, clear communication, and patience are key to achieving desired results.
  • Professional Help: If you have limited experience in training animals or if you're considering a breed known for its specific training challenges, seeking professional help from a qualified trainer or behaviorist can be highly beneficial. They can provide guidance, expertise, and customized training plans tailored to the breed and individual animal's needs.


6. Grooming needs

  • Coat Type: Different breeds have different coat types, which can affect their grooming requirements. Some breeds have long, dense coats that require regular brushing and occasional trimming to prevent matting and tangling. Examples include Afghan Hounds or Persians. Breeds with shorter coats may require less frequent brushing but still benefit from regular grooming to maintain a healthy coat and remove loose hair.
  • Shedding: Consider the shedding characteristics of the breed. Some animals shed minimally throughout the year, while others undergo heavy shedding seasons. Breeds with heavy shedding, such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds, may require more frequent brushing and grooming to manage loose hair. This is especially important if you or your family members have allergies.
  • Bathing: Determine how frequently the breed should be bathed. Some breeds require regular bathing to keep their coat and skin clean, while others may only need occasional bathing. Over-bathing can strip the coat of natural oils, so it's important to follow recommended guidelines for the specific breed.
  • Ear Cleaning: Certain breeds, particularly those with long ears or floppy ears, may require regular ear cleaning to prevent infections. Breeds like Basset Hounds or Cocker Spaniels may need more attention in this area. Be prepared to clean the ears regularly and learn the proper technique to avoid any discomfort or injury to the animal.
  • Nail Care: Regular nail trimming is essential for the comfort and health of your animal. Breeds that have fast-growing nails or do not naturally wear them down may require more frequent trimming. If you're not confident in trimming nails yourself, it's advisable to have a professional groomer or veterinarian perform this task.
  • Professional Grooming: Consider whether the breed requires professional grooming services. Some breeds, such as Poodles or certain terrier breeds, have specific grooming needs that may require the skills of a professional groomer. These needs can include haircuts, specialized coat maintenance, or specific grooming styles associated with breed standards.
  • Dental Care: Dental hygiene is important for the overall health of your animal. Regular teeth brushing, dental chews, or professional dental cleanings may be necessary for some breeds to maintain oral health.


7. Health considerations

  • Breed-Specific Health Issues: Different breeds may have specific health issues that are more prevalent within their genetic makeup. For example, large dog breeds may be prone to hip dysplasia or certain types of cancer, while brachycephalic breeds (short-faced breeds) may be prone to respiratory problems. It's important to research the breed's common health issues and understand the potential risks associated with them.
  • Genetic Testing and Health Certifications: Responsible breeders often perform genetic testing on their breeding animals to screen for known genetic health conditions. They may also obtain health certifications from veterinary professionals to ensure the breeding stock is free from certain diseases or conditions. Consider working with reputable breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their animals and provide proper documentation.
  • Lifespan: Different breeds have varying lifespans. Some breeds tend to live longer, while others may have shorter lifespans. Understanding the average lifespan of the breed you're considering can give you an idea of the commitment and potential healthcare needs over the animal's lifetime.
  • Exercise and Weight Management: Certain breeds are more prone to weight gain and associated health issues such as obesity, joint problems, and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding the exercise and dietary requirements of the breed can help you provide proper weight management and prevent health problems related to obesity.
  • Veterinary Care: Consider the potential veterinary care needs of the breed. Some breeds may require more frequent check-ups, vaccinations, or specialized care due to their specific health vulnerabilities. Be prepared for regular veterinary visits and associated healthcare costs.
  • Longevity of the Breed: Consider the long-term viability of the breed. Some breeds may have a history of declining health or reduced longevity due to extensive breeding for specific traits or popular demand. Evaluate the overall health trends of the breed to ensure you're choosing a breed with a sustainable and healthy future.


8. Size and living space

  • Space Availability: Evaluate the amount of space you have available for the breed you're considering. Larger breeds typically require more room to move around and exercise compared to smaller breeds. If you have a spacious backyard or live in a rural area with ample outdoor space, you may have more flexibility in accommodating larger breeds. On the other hand, if you live in an apartment or have limited indoor or outdoor space, smaller breeds or those with lower exercise requirements may be more suitable.
  • Exercise Needs: Consider the exercise needs of the breed. Larger breeds often have higher energy levels and require more physical activity to stay healthy and mentally stimulated. This may include regular walks, playtime, and access to a secure outdoor area for running and exploring. Smaller breeds may still require exercise, but their needs may be met with shorter walks or indoor play sessions.
  • Indoor vs. Outdoor Living: Some breeds are better suited to indoor living, while others thrive in outdoor environments. Breeds with shorter noses, such as Bulldogs or Pugs, may have difficulty regulating their body temperature in hot or humid conditions and may be better suited for indoor living. Breeds with thicker coats, such as Huskies or Malamutes, may be more comfortable in cooler climates or with access to shaded outdoor areas. Consider the climate and environmental factors that will impact the breed's well-being.
  • Exercise Alternatives: If you have limited living space, consider alternative ways to meet the exercise needs of the breed. This may include taking your dog to local parks, engaging in interactive play indoors, or utilizing doggy daycare or dog-walking services to ensure they get regular exercise and socialization.
  • Adaptability: Some breeds are more adaptable to different living situations and can adjust well to smaller living spaces, such as apartments or urban environments. Breeds that are known for their adaptability, lower exercise requirements, and calm temperaments may be more suitable for limited living spaces. However, it's important to note that all animals need mental and physical stimulation, regardless of their size or living environment.
  • Noise and Disturbance: Consider the potential impact of the breed on your neighbors or household members. Some breeds, particularly those with a tendency to bark or make loud noises, may not be suitable for apartments or shared living spaces with noise restrictions. Breeds that are known for being quieter or having a lower tendency to bark may be more appropriate for these environments.


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