How to Choose a Dog Breed

  • Tips for Picking the Right Dog for You

    Getting a dog or puppy involves more than bringing home a ball of fluff and posting cute photos on Facebook. It means you're adopting a living being into your family—possibly for the next 15 years or more.

    Read on for specific dog breeds that may match your individual needs.

  • Tips for Adopting a Dog

    Do your homework. Check out the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other sites for information about the temperament, care, and behavior of different breeds. Talk to a vet or breeder about what you and your family are hoping for in a pet. The AKC lists specific questions you should ask.

    Go to a reputable source. Seek out a responsible breeder, and avoid even inadvertent support of puppy mills. The AKC offers resources for locating breeders as well as rescue groups, and you can search by breed.

  • Mixed Vs. Pure Bred Dogs

    They both have their pros and cons. A pedigree is no guarantee that your pet will be perfect, but a purebred dog will most likely conform to certain breed standards. If you decide to go for a mixed breed, look to his droopy ears, short body, or long coat for clues about his ancestry and what kind of traits he'll likely have. A mixed breed may also have fewer genetic defects than a pure breed, according to the Humane Society.

  • If You Have Kids

    Forget delicate breeds; you need a dog that's sturdy and active enough for your child to play rough with. Golden and Labrador retrievers, boxers, beagles, Shetland sheepdogs, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards are all considered kid-friendly breeds. Just remember that, ultimately, it's the training—not the breed—that makes a dog safe for your child.

  • If You Have Allergies

    No dogs are completely hypoallergenic, but some dogs seem to cause fewer allergy problems than others. The Obamas chose a Portuguese water dog for the First Family because it produces less dander, which can stir up allergies. Other breeds to consider include poodles, the Bichon Frise, and schnauzers.

  • If You’re a Fitness Nut

    All dogs need exercise, but some more than others. If you want a dog that loves to jog, you may want a medium-to large-sized breed, such as a terrier, German shepherd, Norwegian Buhund, or border collie. Akitas, Airedales, and American Eskimo dogs make good walking companions.

  • If You're a Couch Potato

    Just like people, some pups are less active than others. If you're older or unable to get out much, you may want to consider a dog that requires minimal exercise, such as a bulldog, pug, basset hound, or Shih Tzu.

  • If You Have a Hectic Schedule

    First, make sure your work or travel schedule can accommodate a dog's needs. If you believe it can, choose a more independent breed, such as an Alaskan malamute, Russian wolfhound, Shar-Pei, or Norwegian elkhound.

  • If You Live in an Apartment

    Urban dwellers need dogs that are relatively quiet and don't need a lot of space. An English toy spaniel, bullmastiff, Dandie Dinmont terrier, or Pekingese can all be good choices.

  • If You Have Special Needs

    Animal assistance programs train dogs to help people in all kinds of ways. Here are a few resources:

  • If You Just Want Companionship

    Some breeds thrive on attention—and give plenty of affection in return. Consider a Pomeranian, French bulldog (shown here), toy poodle, or cocker spaniel for a sociable pet that loves to be pampered. They’ll reward you with lifelong puppy love.

  • More Information

    Once you decide which breed works best with your lifestyle and personality, you need to be sure you know how to care for your new friend. Read more about caring for your pets. 

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