Welcoming a four-legged friend into your family will undoubtedly bring an abundance of joy and countless new adventures; however, it’s important to consider your lifestyle, living space, short-term and long-term goals, and the special needs of each breed before beginning your search for a canine.
Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments, and let’s face it: some are more high-maintenance than others. Luckily, there’s a breed for virtually every lifestyle, from lively families to busy businesspeople.
Active folks who plan to make daily trips to the dog park, or frequent pet-friendly road trips, should check out higher-energy breeds. Conversely, people who work long hours, and those who prefer partying over quiet evenings, should opt for a low-energy pup who’s content with plenty of solo time. Rest assured that canines who are less active and/or less social will still crave affection and lap up your attention when you get home.
It’s incredibly common for prospective dog owners to fall in love with a pooch before properly researching its breed. We recommend narrowing the field to a few breeds before starting your hunt to avoid unnecessary heartache and ensure you choose the perfect dog for you and your family.
Below, we dig into everything future pet parents should ponder before picking a puppy or dog.
Take time to research each breed you’re considering, and ask yourself the following questions:
1. How Much Space Do You Have?
In this section, we’ll help you choose a breed that’s appropriate for your living space.
Consider Each Breeds’ Energy Level
High-energy breeds need room to roam and play both indoors and out, or they tend to become agitated and even destructive. Apartment dwellers may want to steer clear of energetic canine breeds, with the exception of folks who can commit to taking their pups out for regular exercise.
If you have your heart set on a breed that’s known for its high energy level but your living space is small, consider adopting an older dog that won’t require as p\uch physical activity.
Consider Each Breeds’ Full-Grown Weight and Size
In addition to energy level, it’s important to research the average weight and size of each breed you’re considering, so you’re not caught off-guard when your pooch outgrows your home. Check out the American Kennel Club (AKC) website for a comprehensive list of breeds and the average weights for full-grown males and females.
Best Dog Breeds for Small Living Spaces
According to dogtime.com, canines that do best in confined spaces include:
- Bassett Hounds
- Cocker Spaniels
- Shih Tzu
- Yorkshire Terriers
Considering a mixed-breed puppy? Check with the shelter or rescue group for an educated guess regarding the dog’s full-grown weight and size. If possible, research both breeds for approximate weights to ensure there are no surprises.
2. What Type of Dog Best Suits Your Lifestyle?
If you’d like to take your dog out-and-about, an active, social breed is your best bet. Sporting dogs are ideal for owners who enjoy outdoor activities, like hunting and fishing. Some folks select a four-legged companion who is content with cuddling up on the couch, while others opt for a guard dog for safety, protection, and peace of mind.
Best Dog Breeds for Active Folks
If you’re an active person, you may want to choose an equally active dog. Options include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Jack Russell Terriers
Best Dog Breeds for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Sporting dogs love nothing more than to venture outdoors with their owners. These breeds include:
- Bassett Hounds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
Best Dog Breeds for Protection
There’s no better way to protect your home than with a dog who is always on guard. Excellent guard dogs include:
- German Shepherds
Cuddliest Dog Breeds
Cuddly dogs are ideal for less-active folks and those who want a snuggle buddy. Sure, these pups will need exercise, but the highlight of their day is relaxing by their owners’ side. Cuddle-friendly dogs include:
- Bassett Hounds
- English Mastiffs
- Great Danes
- Skye Terriers
3. What Are Your Family’s Needs?
It’s important to consider the needs and safety of everyone in your household before deciding on a dog breed. This includes all adults, children, potential future children, and any current pets.
Some breeds have a reputation for behaving badly around kids, such as Chihuahuas, which have been known to be aggressive and even bite when they feel threatened. Rottweilers and Pitbulls aren’t the most child-friendly pups either, according to an article published on Vocal Media’s website. Aggressive dogs may also terrorize other household pets.
Best Child-Friendly Dog Breeds
There are plenty of breeds to choose from if you prefer a gentle, family-friendly dog. An informative article by PetMD lists the top ten dogs for households with children, including the following breeds:
- Irish Setters
- Labrador Retrievers
- Golden Retrievers
If you and/or someone in your household has allergies, you may want to opt for a less-allergenic breed. A protein found in canines’ saliva and urine is the cause of most pet allergies in humans. Some dogs shed very little, so humans have limited contact with this protein, which adheres to pups’ flaking skin.
Best Dogs for Allergy-Prone People
Contrary to popular belief, no dog is completely hypoallergenic, according to the Mayo Clinic. For a list of less-allergenic pups, visit the AKC website. Our top picks include:
- Bichon Frises
- Irish Water Spaniels
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Spanish Water Dogs
4. How Much Time Do You Have to Devote to Training, Grooming, Etc.?
Some dog breeds require much more training than other breeds. Sure, there are outliers, but there are several breeds that have proven doggone difficult to train. They include:
- Bassett Hounds – Housebreaking these hounds can be a handful. They’re known being resistant to house-training and for following their sniffers at inopportune times. If you’d love to own a Bassett, you’ll have to practice patience and prepare for plenty of training time.
- Beagles – Although they’re undeniably adorable, beagles struggle to follow commands due to their active nature. Simply getting them to listen can be a major feat, making Beagles best for folks with lots of patience.
- Bulldogs – They may be irresistibly cute, but bulldogs are incredibly stubborn. They aren’t known for their listening skills, which can make them difficult to train. Still, bulldogs are loving and fairly low-maintenance when it comes to daily activity, so for many folks, the longer training phase is worth the payoff.
While dogs of every breed require initial and ongoing training, some breeds require extra time for regular medications and/or vet visits, surgeries, etc.
Any dog can develop a medical condition that requires daily medication and/or frequent visits to a veterinarian; however, the following breeds are often diagnosed with serious health problems:
- Bulldogs – Heartbreakingly, Bulldogs only live an average of 8-10 years. If this breed is on your list of favorites, be sure to consider the hip and respiratory problems that may involve frequent vet visits and a lofty financial investment.
- Golden Retrievers – Over the past several decades, the lifespan of Golden Retrievers has plummeted from 16-17 years to 10-12 years, according to pawster.com. Many adult dogs die from cancer, and this playful, intelligent breed is certainly no exception. In fact, around 61% of Golden Retrievers lose their lives to this pervasive disease.
- Rottweilers – With a lifespan of just 8-10 years, many Rottweilers develop cancer or hip dysplasia. Treatment for both conditions tends to be pricey and is not guaranteed to prolong a pup’s life.
Dogs with beautifully long coats require lots of upkeep and extra care. Daily brushings are typically required, along with regular trips to a groomer. Many dog owners love to pamper their pups, but the following canines’ long locks make them relatively high maintenance:
- Afghan Hound – With their eye-catching long and silky coat, Afghan Hounds are certainly easy on the eye. These confident canines need brushed daily, as well as frequent grooming, typically by a professional groomer. There’s no doubt why these regal-looking hounds turn heads, but their beauty routine will keep you busier than other breeds.
- Bichon Frises – This popular breed’s coat isn’t made from fur, but actual hair. Bichons require frequent brushing, bathing, and trimming.
- Pulis – Known for their loyalty and long, luxurious cord-like locks, Pulis’ coats are irrefutably high-maintenance and require daily attention.
A Note to Busy Prospective Dog Owners
While all of the above-mentioned canine breeds often need additional time and energy from their humans for one reason or another, we’re the first to admit that the time we spend with our pets is never wasted.
Before starting your search for a pup, make sure you can devote the necessary time to a canine. For folks with limited time, it’s best to avoid breeds that are known for their high-maintenance nature. We recommend checking out CertaPet’s article, “25 Most Difficult Dogs to Raise,” which is a great resource for prospective dog owners who can’t devote endless hours to training, raising, and dealing with common health complications associated with specific breeds.
Meet & Greet: The Importance of Making a Connection
No matter what breed you opt for, it’s essential for you and everyone in your household to get on board with bringing a dog into your home. If possible, schedule a meet and greet, so everyone in your family can be properly introduced before making an ultimate decision.
Be sure to let every family member weigh in, and pay close attention to how the dog behaves around any children, and vice versa. If your kids are terrified of larger breeds, it’s important to take their feelings and fears into consideration.
Before the initial meeting, encourage your family members to write down a list of questions for the shelter, rescue group, or breeder. Take notes, so you and your fam can discuss the information later.
Most importantly, don’t start the adoption process immediately. Everyone in your household should weigh the pros and cons of the particular breed and dog before deciding if the pup should become part of your family. Take the necessary time to find your doggy soulmate, who will bring immeasurable joy into your hearts and home.
As author Dean Koontz once said, “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished.”