Category: Ratings and Reviews

Find the Right Dog for You!

When adopting a dog, it’s very important to choose a breed that will fit your lifestyle and environment.  For example, a breed with a strong “prey instinct” would not be a good choice if you have small children or other pets.  A dog with a dense, fluffy coat would not be a good choice if you live in a very hot climate.  A breed that requires a lot of attention will be a problem if you need to leave him alone during the day.

My own dog, Cooper, is an Australian Shepherd with a very strong herding instinct.  When we go to the dog park, he immediately goes to work, trying to herd the other dogs into a corner.  Usually one or two will bolt away, and he proceeds to run after them to round them up again.  Cooper is not at all dog-aggressive, so the whole thing turns into a big game that all the dogs seem to enjoy.

However, sometimes people bring small children to the dog park, and when they do I immediately call Cooper to my side, because parents usually don’t appreciate having their kids “herded.”

The key point is that it’s important to understand your dog’s breed and make sure you can accommodate their instincts and breeding into your life.

To help find the right breed, there are a number of dog breed selectors, which ask you a series of questions and then recommend appropriate breeds.

In the reviews below and the table at the end of this article, I’ve compared a number of the top dog breed selectors.


The American Kennel Club breed selector asks just seven questions.  It doesn’t include any questions about the preferred size, and almost nothing about the activities you plan to share with your dog.

The selector returns just three recommendations; there is a very basic side-by-side comparison of six attributes of each of the three recommended breeds.

The AKC site has very good pictures and profiles, but the information for is spread over several pages.

Overall Grade:  D

With just seven questions and three recommendations, this selector isn’t much help in finding the best dog for you.

Animal Planet

With ten questions, and 12-15 recommendations, the Animal Planet breed selector does a credible job of finding the best dog for you, but it is not as nearly as powerful as the leaders, DogSpotters and Dogtime (reviewed below).

The breed descriptions are very good, and they include health problems that affect certain breeds.

Also, the site features great videos and slideshows, with multiple high-quality photos of each breed.

Overall Grade:  C+


This venerable selector was originally published on CD-ROM as part of Telemark’s Guide to Dogs, where it sold over 45,000 copies.  For over a decade it was a major feature of the website.  It has recently been updated and republished on the DogSpotters website.

It has a simple, single page form with 34 questions, including a wide range of activities that you might want to share with your dog.  It returns 30 recommendations, ranked by percentage match.

There are excellent profiles of each breed, but there is only one photo of each dog type, and most of the photos are taken in dog show settings.  Profiles include links to breed standards, breeders, rescue organizations, and books about each breed.

The site also features a dog breed comparator which allows you to compare up to four dogs side-by-side, showing 42 different attributes for each dog.

The site does not allow you to find dogs by a particular attribute, like DogTime (reviewed below), but is does have a number of special lists, such as breeds that shed the least, dogs that are good with kids, or dogs that don’t bark much.

Bonus features include a “guess the dog breed” game and “guess the puppy breed” game.

Overall Grade:  A


This selector has a fun, single page form with 20 questions, including several that relate to the owner’s personality.  It returns 15 recommendations.

There are excellent profiles of each breed, but there is only one photo of each dog type.  The profiles include links to rescue organizations for each breed.

There is a unique feature that allows you to view dogs by attribute – such as all breeds that are easy to groom, or all breeds that are highly intelligent.

Overall Grade:  B


The IAMS breed selector asks fourteen questions.  The selector doesn’t allow you to select multiple answers for many of the questions.  For example, you must pick a single size of dog…  you can’t pick multiple sizes that might be OK. It also doesn’t include any questions about the activities you plan to share with your dog.

The selector returns nine recommendations, with a photo and short profile for each.  There’s no way to see a side-by-side comparison of the breed recommendations..

We were unable to find a library of breed profiles, so you can only see information on the breeds that the selector recommends.

On the plus side, the selector is very attractive and fun!

Overall Grade:  C

The limited questions and the fact that you can only select a single answer make this a weak tool for researching the best breeds for you.


This selector has 17 questions, spread over several pages.  None of the questions allows you to select multiple options:  you cannot say you’d like a “medium or large” dog, or a “medium or long” coat.  The selector returns 8 recommendations.

The profiles are very short compared to other selectors.

There is a link to find adoptable dogs in your area.

Overall Grade:  C

Pedigree also produces a wide range of premium dog foods.


AKC AnimalPlanet DogSpotters DogTime IAMS Pedigree
Number of Questions 6 10 34 20 14 17
Help on Questions N N Y Y N N
Side-by-Side Comparison Y N Y N N N
Number of Results Returned 3 12+ 30 15 9 8
Dog Breeds A-Z Y Y Y Y N N
Dog Breeds by AKC Group Y Y Y N N N
Breed Profiles Very Good Excellent Excellent Excellent OK Poor
Breed Slideshows N Y N N N N
Breed Videos N Y N N N N
Find by Attribute N N Several Lists Y N N


Our top rating goes to the DogSpotters breed selector, based on its excellent 34-question selector, side-by-side breed comparer, thorough breed profiles, and bonus features on the site.

Our second place pick is the DogTime breed selector, which has a fun, easy to use selector with 20 questions.  It also allows you to search breeds by particular attributes, such as short coats or good with other pets.

Honorable mention goes to AnimalPlanet.  Although the selector isn’t nearly as powerful as the winners, the video and photos are great!

Small businesses have always known the importance of word of mouth. Many successful businesses have been built on word of mouth referrals, and many have been killed by bad word of mouth.

But now the landscape is changing, making word of mouth more important than ever – only now, that word of mouth is being communicated on the Internet.

People – your customers – are turning to the Internet as their primary source of information on products and services. Instead of opening the yellow pages of their phone book, they turn to Yahoo or Google. And in addition to websites and listings for local businesses, they are finding ratings and reviews!

Sites like and ePinions pioneered product rating systems. In some categories, these ratings have become essential to a product’s success: more than 60% of consumer electronics purchasers report that they consult online ratings before making a purchase decision!

Ratings have also become common is a few other business categories, such as restaurants and hotels.

But the online ratings explosion is just starting; Internet entrepreneurs are demonstrating that virtually anything can be rated online., launched in 1999, allows college students to rate – well, professors. The site has accumulated over 3 million ratings, and has spun off another site,, aimed at high school and elementary students. has the most comprehensive database of apartment ratings, with almost 250,000 reviews. was formed to allow patients to rate their doctors., allows patrons to rate nightclubs and bars (perhaps while recovering from hangovers?)

Rating sites are even risking the wrath of the legal profession: provides attorney ratings and reviews.

All of these sites feature a fair share of rants and raves. Many of the comments are semi-coherent ramblings, often typed with CAPS LOCK down. But surprisingly, over time and with enough ratings, a fairly accurate picture emerges. Some reviewers provide well-thought reviews and useful information. And the sites are being visited and read!

The ratings phenomena may not have reached your industry or your community, but it probably will. So what can you do about it?

First, be aware of ratings sites. Use a search engine to look for rating sites in your area and business. (Search for things like landscaper ratings in Pittsburgh or hair salon reviews in Sacramento.) You may find that your business is already listed on a rating site. If it is, make sure that the basic listing information (business name, location, website) is correct, and if not, contact the site operator. If your business is not listed, see if there is a way to add your listing. Do not pay for this service! Legitimate rating sites are not supported by the businesses being rated! (However, a few sites offer enhanced “listings” for a small fee. Consider paying for this if the site seems to be well run and has a lot of traffic.)

Check the rating sites regularly. You might actually get some good information on how customers see your business, and where you need to make improvements.

Encourage your patrons to rate your business. Satisfied customers will give you good ratings. (Don’t try to “flood” a rating site with bogus reviews; many of these sites use algorithms to detect the source of ratings, and may even remove businesses that try to cheat.)

If you get a bad review, there’s probably not much you can do about it. The rating and review sites are on solid legal ground, and most will not remove bad reviews. However, some sites have a mechanism for responding to a review, so be sure to ask about this. If nothing else, you can submit your own review and calmly refute the complaints of other reviewers. Be careful to stay calm and professional, and not get into online debates that can damage your credibility.

In the end, business success is still based on word of mouth – but now more people are listening.

For a great list of business and professional rating sites, visit The Ratingz Network at

For more information about rating and review websites, visit the Rating and Review Professional Association at

I’ve recently spent quite a bit of time looking at online reviews on the many online rating sites. I’ve noticed some interesting patterns.

First, the ratings don’t follow a “normal” distribution, in which most of the ratings fall in the middle. Instead, there tend to be clusters of high ratings and low ratings… often for the same product or service. This really isn’t surprising: people are most likely to write a review if they feel very strongly about something.

The high ratings generally extol the features or services provided, often at a low price. Stepping back, it really is remarkable how good products have become. It’s clear from the reviews that most people are very happy with most of their purchases.

But things get very interesting when we read the negative reviews. Some are complaints about features or product quality… but a large number are complaints about service. If a product breaks or fails in some way, the purchaser is unhappy. But if the manufacturer or seller does not provide prompt, courteous, and satisfactory service, the buyer becomes really angry – and that’s when the very negative reviews get written.

This carries over to the offline world as well. Very few people go out of their way to tell their acquaintances about a product that wasn’t very good. But if someone has a bad experience getting the product fixed, they will go to great lengths to tell everyone they can about the terrible service they received.

The lesson here is simple: take customer service seriously! When a customer has a complaint about a product, he is already unhappy. You as a business have an opportunity to turn him into a happy (or at least satisfied) customer, or into a very angry ex-customer.

Four simple things will head off becoming a “bad service” story:

  1. Respond quickly
  2. Respond courteously
  3. Work with the customer. It’s true that customers are sometimes unreasonable, and you can’t always give the customer what he would like. But be very clear that you are willing to work with the customer to arrive at a fair solution.
  4. Follow up to be sure that customer’s problem is resolved.

Providing reasonable service is pretty simple – it’s amazing more companies don’t do it.

Learn more at the Rating and Review Professional Association.