There are hundreds of dog breeds in the world, with different breeds recognized by different organizations. Choosing which breed to get is one of the biggest questions dog owners will have to answer. With so many different breeds, it’s possible to get stuck in option paralysis.
Whether you’re considering a purebred such as a French Bulldog or a hybrid, knowing the different factors to take into consideration is important when choosing the breed you’re going to bring home. Dogs are adaptable animals, but ideally, your dog should fit with your personality and your lifestyle from the start.
How to Pick a Dog Breed
You have to start with an evaluation of your lifestyle and living situation. Getting a dog is a lifetime commitment, so you have to know whether you can fulfill all of the dog’s needs and wants.
Keep the following factors in mind, and be honest about them:
1. Your housing and available space
Some dogs require more space than others. As a general rule, bigger dogs will have more energy and need more open areas in which to exercise. Dogs that can’t expend their energy productively tend to become depressed and moody, which isn’t fun for the dog or their owner.
Some dogs are fine with living in an apartment, while others prefer a big yard or even acres of farmland. Are you thinking of moving or are you open to the idea of moving so that you can get the dog breed that you want?
2. Funds for the dog
Dogs aren’t the most expensive animal to keep, but they do require food, entertainment, medicines if needed when they get older, and all sorts of other accessories. A dog is a lifetime companion and they can easily live 10 years or longer. Think of how much you’ll spend each year on feeding the dog, vet visits, toys and bedding, and any other miscellaneous expense.
For most dog owners, that’s around $2000 per year times the average lifespan of a dog. You can easily spend $20,000 to $30,000 over the course of your dog’s lifetime. That’s not even counting travelling with the dog, or emergency medical care, which can be very expensive depending on the procedure.
3. Your free time
How much time can you spend with your dog every day? All dogs are social animals and need attention and care from their owners. Mental and physical stimulation are a must, and your dog won’t get much of them when they’re alone, even with the increasingly smart dog toys being produced these days.
If you have a demanding job or other responsibilities that require you to be out of the house for most of the time, it may be best to choose a breed that is more independent and doesn’t require much exercise. There is also the option of hiring a dog walker to take your dog out a couple of times a day.
4. Family and other household members
How many other people share your house? If you have a big family and lots of young children, a calmer breed that does well with kids might be what you need. Large dogs have the potential to injure children even when they’re just playing, so they will need to be trained to play nicely. Weigh this against your ability to train a dog and the time commitment that requires.
If you have other pets, you’ll also have to take their wellbeing into consideration. Small animals such as birds and rodents are prey animals to dogs, so hunting dogs may not be the best choice if you have a pet budgie. Cats are known for being the dog’s natural adversary, but with some training and the right introduction, they can learn to love your new pooch. In both these situations, the key is to get a dog with the right temperament for a multi-animal household.
5. Cleanliness and grooming
If you need or want a spotlessly clean house due to allergies or other medical conditions, then it may be best to choose a dog that doesn’t shed or is hypoallergenic. Maybe a black Cavoodle would be best to match your minimalist interior design without getting fur everywhere.
Just keep in mind that all dogs, no matter the breed, shed some fur. All dogs will also drool a little bit, especially when they’re excited or tired. Some breeds simply do it less than others.
6. Training ability
Are you an experienced dog trainer or a first-timer? Some breeds are easy to train while others are more challenging. Do you have the patience and the consistency needed to bring a more self-assured and independent dog into line? There is the option of hiring a trainer to work with you, but that’s another cost you’ll have to pay. And good trainers are in high demand, making them even more expensive.
Now that you have a better idea of what kind of traits you need your dog to have, you can narrow it down even further. There are lots of online quizzes to help you select the right breed, or you can browse breed lists and pick out which traits will be right for you.
The main things to think about when choosing a dog breed are:
— Breed size
— Energy levels
— Intelligence and trainability
— Grooming requirements