Choosing the Best Breed of Dog for Your Family
Picking the best breed of dog for you and/or your family is a tough decision. There are so many breeds to choose from and many factors that should influence your decision.
When picking the right breed of dog, here are some important things to consider:
- Your activity level
- Presence of children and ages of children
- Your home
- What you want
Let’s look at these considerations individually.
Best Dog Breeds by Activity Level
Your personal activity level is very important when picking the right breed. If you want a dog to go jogging, hiking and rollerblading with you- where do you live? Is your average climate cool or warm?
Dogs with undercoats thrive in cooler temperatures and will tolerate outdoor activities in cold weather much more easily than slick coated dogs. Of course, you can always buy your flat coated companion a coat if needed. However, thick coated dogs and exercise can be dangerous if the temperature is too hot.
Large dogs are able to enjoy many types of exercise like jogging and hiking. Their long legs allow them to maintain the pace we set without any trouble but small breeds would never last and probably be begging to be carried after a few hundred feet.
Maybe you have a very active lifestyle but just want to relax with your best friend when you get home at night. Choose a breed that is laid back and will not require steady exercise. Keep in mind, it’s far easier to determine the temperament and activity level in an adult dog. Puppies, like toddlers, will need plenty of exercise to stay out of trouble.
My recommendation for an active pet parent would be a Boxer, Australian Shepherd, Border Collie or Labrador. For the pet owner that just wants to chill out at night, check out Golden Retrievers, mature Labradors, Basset Hounds, Bull dogs or Mastiffs.
Best Dog Breeds for Children
Do you have kids or plan to have kids? One of the most common mistakes I see at my clinic is a parent with small children that choose a small breed dog as a companion for their family or worse has children and decides to re-home their dog. Many small breeds do not enjoy children, can be harmed by the children, and ALL dogs will resort to biting if their other warnings are ignored.
A dog that your child can dress up and push around in their plastic doll stroller should not be your goal if safety is your priority. Though some dogs tolerate this behavior, none enjoy it. Large breed dogs tend to be the best fit for small children but nothing replaces the importance of teaching your kids proper pet safety. If you need a refresher on the do’s and do not’s of pet safety, click here.
Large breed dogs are usually gentle giants and quite tolerant of child play but also known historically to be great nannies. Almost any dog raised with children will appoint themselves as a personal protector but some are better than others. Be sure to train your dog appropriately. Jumping on the kids is a no-no. Pitbulls, Labs, Great Pyrenees, Collies and Golden Retrievers are excellent choices for families that have small children.
If a large breed dog is out of the question, a medium size would be fine as well. Beagles, bulldogs, and setters rank well with children. If you have to go for a small breed dog, do not choose a tiny, delicate toy breed that can be easily injured by roughhousing or feel defenseless in the presence of the children and resort to biting. Find a more sturdy, hearty small breed dog to bring home like a pug, boston terrier, or cocker spaniel.
Best Dog Breeds by Home Size
Let’s talk about your home. Do you live in an apartment or in the country with lots of land? Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own a large dog but be prepared to exercise your BFF regularly and thoroughly. I wouldn’t recommend a Great Dane for a small apartment but many medium and large breed dogs would be suitable with proper exercise. Small breed dogs are a wonderful fit for apartment living and laid back lifestyles.
To groom or not to groom- many small breed dogs will require regular visits to the groomer. This is not negotiable. Allowing your shihtzu or schnauzer to become matted is not only painful but can lead to serious skin infections. If bathing and brushing aren’t on your to-do list, consider a short haired Dachshund or Chihuahua.
Choosing the Best Dog Breed for You
What do YOU want? When you dream of your life with your new dog, what’s it look like? Are you the girl with the poodle in her purse or the outdoor enthusiast with matching backpacks for you and your dog? Do you want a dog that sheds or one that has to be groomed? Do you want to feel protected or own a dog that would invite a stranger in for a belly rub? Do you want to raise a puppy or jump right in with an adult dog that is potty trained and not chewing?
Pick a breed that fits your vision and then put in the time. Great dogs aren’t born. They are created through training and socialization but you can help tip the scales in your favor by picking the right breed.
Once you have your magic wand scenario figured out, do a google search for those traits and talk to other pet owners and get real-world feedback. PLEASE, no matter what you do, ADOPT! Rescues and Shelters generally know their dogs and can take the guesswork out of temperament and behavior for you. Many of these dogs are already potty trained, crate trained, and leash trained.
Just for fun, here is a very short list of common breeds and well-known traits. Take your time when picking the perfect breed and remember a pet is a lifelong commitment.
Dogs that like water: Retrievers, New Foundlands, Standard Poodles
Dogs that like to sleep: Pugs, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs
Dogs that don’t shed: Poodles, Yorkies, Schnauzers
Dogs that can’t swim: Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese
Dogs that love exercise: Border Collies, Huskies, Boston Terriers,
Dogs that love tricks: Border Collies, German Shepherds, Dobermans
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