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The Chow Chow, an all-purpose dog of ancient China, presents the picture of a muscular, deep-chested aristocrat with an air of inscrutable timelessness.

From the Airedale Terrier to the Whippet, AKC Meet the Breeds is an encyclopedic celebration of dogs. The 11th annual event, held on January 25 and 26, 2020, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, will feature more than 100 different booths. Each booth will be dedicated to a different dog breed, from the popular breeds, like the number one ranking Labrador Retriever, to breeds you might never have heard of, like the Cirneco dell’Etna. Not to mention various cat breeds too.

Each booth is decorated in honor of their representative breed’s personality, country of origin, and traditional purpose. The event is perfect if you’re thinking of getting a new dog because you’ll have the opportunity to explore breed options, meet dogs from each breed, and talk to the experts. But how do you get the most out of the experience? Although it’s incredibly fun to explore the booths and pet all the wonderful dogs, a game plan will help you in your research. Read on for questions to ask at AKC Meet the Breeds booths.

1. What Was This Breed Developed to Do?

The first thing to consider is a given breed’s original function, as that can have a huge impact on that breed’s personality, instincts, and behavior. For instance, dogs bred to be companions, like many of the breeds in the Toy Group, are likely to see your lap as the perfect place to nap. They tend to require less exercise than other breeds as well. Whereas dogs from the Herding Group were developed to work all day moving livestock. They will need far more exercise than their lapdog cousins, and their high intelligence can sometimes be a challenge.

Start your research by asking a booth volunteer about their breed’s origin and purpose. But don’t make your own inferences about how that past has influenced the breed. For example, just because a breed used to guard sheep, doesn’t mean it won’t accept strangers into your house. Question the breed representative about how the breed’s past impacts their personality and behavior today.

The small but solid Pug is today adored by his millions of fans around the world. Pugs, which are great with children, live to love and to be loved in return.

2. Is This Breed Good With Children and Other Pets?

Every dog is an individual, but there are breeds that are great with children and others that aren’t. Kids can be loud, unpredictable, and can pull ears and tails. A breed that is tolerant of children is essential if you have children of your own or as regular visitors to your home. Ask the booth volunteer for an honest assessment of their breed’s comfort around kids. These representatives love their chosen breeds and want to see them in appropriate lifelong homes, so they have no reason to sugar coat reality.

If you have other pets, or plan on having other pets in the future, inquire about that aspect of the breed as well. Some pets, like cats or hamsters, can be seen as prey by certain breeds and the mix could be risky. But there are dog breeds that love other pets and enjoy nothing more than curling up with a fellow furry housemate for a nap. Once again, the booth volunteer can give you the scoop on what to expect if you eventually share your home with their chosen breed.

3. What is the Best Part of Living With This Breed?

There are wonderful things about living with any dog, but each breed has its own special merits. It’s a given that the booth expert loves their breed but inquire about specifics. Ask about the best qualities of the breed and the expert’s favorite part of living with them. The answer might surprise you. The volunteer might love having a Velcro dog that follows them everywhere, whereas you might find that too intrusive.

The Berger Picard is a herding dog of strong bone and sturdy build. Early socialization and positive training are necessary to cope with their stubborn streak.

4. What is the Worst Part of Living With This Breed?

Now it’s time to reveal the not so great qualities of a given breed. If a breed drools all the time or sheds endlessly, you want to know. Question the booth representative about the worst part of living with their breed. Again, they want to see their breed in the right forever home, so you can expect honest answers. But remember, negative qualities are just as subjective as positive ones. Your potential new dog must fit into your home and lifestyle. Perhaps a dog’s standoffish personality is a negative to somebody else, but it might be completely acceptable for a person who lives alone.

5. Does This Breed Have Any Special Requirements?

Sure, that fluffy coat looks gorgeous, but it might require daily brushing. Is that more than you’re willing to do? Or is that kind of time commitment well worth it for the beauty. And grooming a dog is just one consideration to ask about. Discuss the time needed to properly care for the breed. How much exercise do you need to provide and how much training? If you’re looking to take up dog sports, time spent with your dog could be a joy. But if you’re looking for a less time-intensive breed, this is the question that will let you know what you’re in for.

Think about extra costs as well. As a rule, the bigger the breed, the more expensive the care. After all, larger dogs eat more and need bigger beds. But there are other factors too. For instance, professional grooming services will add to your financial burden. Special dietary needs or potential health problems can be a money issue as well. Ask the booth expert for a rough estimate of the annual cost of caring for their chosen breed.

Now that you have a strategy for tackling AKC Meet the Breeds, you’re ready to get the most research bang for your buck. You can leave the event armed with the knowledge needed to make the right choice about your future pet. Plus, you will have met a whole lot of interesting people and delightful dogs. Buy your ticket and start prepping!

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