Q: I hope that you can help me with choosing my new dog. I’m looking for a protective, active and easy to train dog. My friends suggest that I get a Labrador retriever but I had thought about a German Shepherd. What do you suggest?

A: Both breeds are excellent choices for a family dog. In my experience, Labradors are generally “softer” but much livelier in their formative years, speaking from a behavioral and temperament point of view. In other words, Shepherds usually settle down sooner than Labs. That being said, temperament really has more to do with an individual dog rather than the breed.

It is critical to first “do your homework.” This means if you are adopting your dog from a breeder, visit the breeder and see what the facility looks like. Ask specific questions as to the socialization program they use for their puppies. Meet the puppy’s mother and father and see for yourself what kind of dogs they are. Make sure you know what the return policy is. Most good breeders will also ask you questions and want to know what kind of home the puppy will be going to.

Of course shelters and rescues across the country are jammed with absolutely wonderful dogs looking for homes. There are breed-specific rescue organizations, too. Please consider adopting a dog from a rescue.

I do not work with or recommend protection training. My philosophy is that we are here to protect our dogs.