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Before choosing a pet, consider your situation

After hearing pleas from your children hundreds of times, you may finally be considering adding a furry friend to your family portrait. But matching the right dog or cat to your family can be confusing. There are 167 American Kennel Club-recognized dogs breeds and 40 Cat Fanciers' Association-recognized cat breeds barking and meowing for attention. "Before selecting a pet, research different breeds, talk to breeders, vets and consult dog-and cat-owning friends to get a clear picture of what the commitment requires," says Gina DiNardo, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club. There are many suitable options for families of all ages and activity levels. You just have to know what questions to ask. StatePoint

What kind of family are you?

If you are extremely active and enjoy running, then a border collie or Abyssinian cat would make a wonderful pet. The border collie is very athletic, energetic and thrives on outdoor work. The Abyssinian cat, meanwhile, is busy, active, agenda-driven and friendly.

Does your family like the outdoors? Then the Labrador retriever — the most popular dog breed in America according to AKC registration statistics — may be right for you. Labs are playful, loving and hardworking, and do best in an active family. Cats are basically indoor creatures, but the Cornish rex is active, racy and affectionate, and even will play fetch with you indoors.

Do your kids prefer to stay inside and play? A dog or cat that enjoys the shelter of home and constant companionship would be best, such as a bulldog, pug, laperm or ragdoll.

Good news for allergy sufferers

Allergy sufferers still can have pets. There are breeds with coats that don't shed and produce less dander. Some examples of dogs for allergy sufferers are the Portuguese water dog, poodle and Maltese. Cats that would be best for allergy sufferers include the Oriental, colorpoint shorthair and sphynx. The colorpoint shorthair cats are especially good because they have little dander, while the sphynx is mostly hairless.

Fitting your living space

Consider the size of your home. Do you live in a duplex or small apartment or a large house?

If you have limited space, a toy dog breed or exotic cat might be best. The Yorkshire terrier is a big personality in a small dog that requires limited exercise due to its small size. The exotic cat is playful, easygoing and has a quiet, endearing nature.

If your home is spacious, you might consider a sporting dog breed, such as a golden retriever, or a Russian blue cat. Goldens are intelligent, active and energetic, requiring daily exercise. Russian blue cats are intelligent and affectionate, and have even been reported to open doors and teach their owners to fetch.

To get information on selecting a pet for your family and to "meet" and learn about the more than 200 dog and cat breeds, play fun games, and watch dog and cat videos, visit www.meetthebreeds.com.

Before choosing a pet, consider your situation 02/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 7, 2011 4:35pm]

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