Bringing a dog into your house is a long-term commitment. Your new pet is entirely dependent on you for food, proper training, healthcare and love. Before buying or adopting a new best friend, it’s important to know how your lifestyle, household and location affect your pet choices.
Location and Size
How much dog do you want, and do you have enough room? You may love the size and temperament of a Newfoundland, but a giant breed won’t be happy in a two-bedroom apartment. A smaller breed might be quite happy in an apartment setting, but too vulnerable to injury or cold temperatures to thrive as an outdoor dog in a rural setting.
Small Children, Pets and Dogs
Some breeds of dogs, while they make great companions for adults, may be temperamental or domineering, making them a better choice for a home without small children or other pets. Size doesn’t factor into this — some small dogs can be very scrappy and feisty, while some larger breeds, despite their intimidating size, are very docile.
Bernese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers tend to get along well with both children and other pets. Other child-friendly breeds include Beagles, Collies, Boxers, Poodles, Pugs and Newfoundlands. King Charles Spaniels, Irish Setters and Havanese are examples of pet-friendly breeds.
Be aware that any recommendation for child- or pet-friendly dogs assumes the animal receives proper obedience training. Training is important for any dog, but becomes vital in any circumstance in which children are around.
To know which breeds are best for you, you need to be honest about yourself. Are you an avid hiker and runner, or is your idea of exercise a slow stroll through the park? Are you looking for an energetic playmate or a laid-back snuggle-buddy? Do you picture yourself playing fetch and tossing balls with your dog or watching television together?
All dogs need exercise, but some require more than others. If you’re looking for a high-energy dog who’s always up for a run or game, consider more active breeds such as Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, Airedale Terriers or Miniature Pinschers.
More laidback breeds include Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Clumber Spaniels, Pekinese, Pugs and Shih Tzus. While these breeds still enjoy a good walk or playtime, they’re also happy to engage in more sedate activity.
Purebred or Mixed?
Do you want a specific breed, or would you prefer a mixed breed? With purebred dogs, you get consistent appearance and size. Breeds often share the same temperament, which is important if you’re looking for child-friendly dogs or dogs with particular energy needs. A reputable breeder also acts as a valuable resource and should be willing to answer any questions you have before and after you bring your new dog home.
You can also adopt purebred dogs from rescue organizations. This option is best for people with some dog experience. Rescue dogs may have lived in abusive homes or experienced traumatic events. They can be nervous or fearful, requiring a consistent, lovingly firm owner.
Mixed breed dogs can make wonderful pets as well, and they cost less to adopt or buy than purebreds. Mixed breeds often have fewer hereditary health complications than purebreds, simply because their mixed ancestry gives them a broader genetic background.
While most mixed breeds make great pets, you’re never quite sure what you’re getting, especially if you adopt one as a puppy. Size, energy levels and temperament can surprise you as a mixed breed puppy grows.
Whether you choose a purebred or a mixed breed, spend some time with the dog before making your final decision. Interacting with the animal gives you a sense of his personality and energy level that no amount of research and picture-browsing can provide.
The right dog is out there for you — you just have to find him.