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Dogs are as much a part of the American landscape as baseball and apple pies. But any decision to add a dog companion to the family must be carefully researched before a successful adoption can occur.

Dog Facts.

Scientific Name Canis lupus familiaris Average Adult Size depends on breed Average Life Span 6 to 16 years with proper care, depending on breed Diet omnivore.

Before deciding to purchase a dog, consider adoption. Your local Petco store partners will be able to provide you with additional information.

A well-balanced dog diet consists of:

Dogs will do well on an advanced, natural or essential dog food. Match food to size and life stage. Treats should not exceed 10% of total diet. Table scraps are not recommended. Clean, fresh, chlorine-free water changed daily.


Things to remember when feeding your dog:

Feed puppies 3 to 5 times daily, adult dogs 1 to 2 times daily. Follow recommendations on manufacturer’s label as a guideline and discuss your pet’s individual needs with your veterinarian. Feed large, deep-chested dogs 2 to 3 smaller meals a day to help avoid Gastric Dilitation and Volvulus Syndrome, commonly known as bloat, a serious condition that causes food to be trapped in the stomach.


Dogs enjoy the company of their human family members. Try to spend as much time training and playing with your dog as possible. Choose a dog that matches your housing constraints. Large, active dogs are not suited for apartment living. Provide an indoor crate and properly train your dog to use a crate. Leaving dogs outdoors unsupervised is not recommended; an appropriately sized fenced yard, weather-appropriate shelter, food and water are a must if a dog must be kept outdoors. Tie-outs should only be used for temporary arrangements and a tethered dog should not be left unattended.

Normal Behavior.

Dogs are very social. Ideally, puppies should be socialized from a young age. Some dogs must be kept mentally busy as well as physically active. Other breeds have been developed almost exclusively as companions. These dogs will not be stars in the obedience ring, but will happily hang out with their family. Most breeds fall somewhere between these extremes.

General Group.

These are generalizations only; please research your chosen breed carefully.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) divides all recognized breeds into groups according to the job for which they were originally developed.

Here is a brief overview of each group:

Sporting dogs – Includes Labrador and Golden Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels – bred to help hunters find, flush and retrieve birds. Tendency toward independent thought, high energy.

Hounds – Includes Afghans, Beagles, Dachshunds and Greyhounds – also bred for hunting. Use scent or sight to track and chase prey. Independent, very focused when tracking.

Working dogs – Includes Boxers, Dobermans and Rottweilers – bred to work, many excel at police and protection work; others originally used to hunt large prey such as wolves and lions. A well-bred and well socialized working dog can make a wonderful, loving companion.

Terriers – Includes Scottish, West Highland White and Bull Terriers – bred to chase animals into the burrow and flush them out. Work independently, can be quite stubborn for training.

Toys – Includes Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas and Pekingnese – bred primarily to be wonderful companions and watchdogs. Can be rather vocal.

Non-sporting – Includes Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Dalmations and Poodles – miscellaneous group, with a large variety of personalities. Research each breed individually.

Herding dogs – Includes Collies, German Shepherds Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Shetland Sheepdogs – Bred for working closely with humans to herd and protect livestock. Very trainable. Need lots of exercise and a clearly defined job to keep their minds busy.

Grooming & Hygiene.

For information about bathing, brushing, nail clipping and toothbrushing reference the “Grooming Your Dog” Care Sheet.

Many Petco locations offer grooming services. Grooming needs vary by breed; ask your Petco stylist about your dog’s needs.


Signs of a Healthy Animal.

Active and responsive Eats and drinks regularly Clean fur Walks normally Clear eyes and nose.

Vaccination Info.

Your puppy requires a number of vaccinations including:

8 weeks First series (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus)

9-11 weeks Second series (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus)

12 weeks.

Final series (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus) Rabies (required at 16 weeks and then annually) Distemper (annually)

Red Flags.

If you notice any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian.

Missing fur Diarrhea or dirty bottom Uneven gait Distressed breathing Eye or nasal discharge Weight loss Lethargic Excessive thirst.

Common Health Issues.

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action Health Issue Diarrhea Symptoms or Causes Loose stools caused by poor diet, stress, unclean housing or other illness. Suggested Action Consult with a veterinarian to determine cause and treatment. Health Issue Mites, fleas, ticks Symptoms or Causes External parasites; cause itching, loss of hair, certain diseases. Suggested Action Use products specially designed for dogs. Consult a veterinarian.

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Ask a store partner about Petco’s library of books on dogs and our many private brand items available for the care and happiness of your pet. All private brand products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all dogs are potential carriers of infectious diseases, always wash your hands before and after handling your dog or your dog’s accessories to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing or adopting a dog or caring for a dog and should consider not having a dog as a pet.

Go to for more information about dogs and disease.

This care sheet can cover the needs of other species.

Note: The information on this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the Sources section or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.

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