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How to Choose the Right Breed of Dog for Your Family

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Whether you have your heart set on a particular breed or you’re ready to fall in love with the first dog you see, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right dog breed.


However, you might be overwhelmed by the number of choices you have — Psychology Today says The World Canine Organization recognizes nearly 350 breeds! No matter if you’re buying or adopting, choosing the right breed of dog for your family and lifestyle ultimately comes down to this: Be realistic about your time, exercise habits and expectations.


And once you determine the best breed for your lifestyle and bring your dog home, you can start shopping for fun pet-owner supplies and accessories!


Take Inventory of Your Needs


No one wants to buy or adopt a dog only to return it a few weeks later when they realize he just doesn’t fit their lifestyle. By researching breeds before heading to the shelter, you can avoid heartache down the road. See our Dog Breed Library to help with your choice.


Old English Sheepdogs, for example, have a wonderful temperament and are great with kids, but they require at least five hours of brushing a week and monthly trips to the groomer. Even though they’re adorable and the perfect size for apartments, Shih Tzus can get moody and won’t interact well with young children. That Golden Retriever you dream of owning? Don’t bring him home unless you have up to two hours a day to run and play with him.


On the other hand, while these general breed characteristics can help in the beginning phase of your search, every dog’s personality and temperament will vary based on dozens of factors. If you’ve found a dog and are deciding whether he fits your lifestyle, get a feel for his unique needs without fully boxing him into what you’ve read about his breed.

10 Things to Consider

If you’re considering adopting or buying a dog, you should consider these traits before making a decision:

  • What size you’d like your dog to be
  • How active you’d like the dog to be
  • The amount of time you have to exercise him
  • How often you can play with your dog
  • His level of affection
  • How he’ll get along with other pets
  • How trainable you’d like him to be
  • How protective you’d like him to be
  • How much grooming and maintenance you can provide
  • The climate you live in

About Adoption

The Humane Society has plenty of purebred and mixed breed dogs available for adoption. While purebred dogs have known characteristics and qualities, mixed breed dogs are less likely to suffer from genetic defects due to overbreeding. The choice between purebred and mixed breed is a personal preference — weigh the pros and cons to decide which is right for you and your family.


Adoption can be particularly appealing to pet owners who aren’t excited about the puppy stage. However, when you get a puppy, you know his background and can train him to your particular needs. Adult dogs will come with their own quirks that you might not discover until they get comfortable at home.


Visit your local shelter to see if they have the right dog for you. And don’t be afraid of devoting some time to make the right decision. Owning a dog is a big commitment — he’ll be an integral part of your family for years to come.


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