So you have just decided to get a new dog. But now, you might be faced with the question of how to choose the right dog for your lifestyle.
Picking the right breed of dog for adoption is THE most important step in dog parenting.
Many new dog parents (and a few experienced ones) make the mistake of choosing dog breeds without much consideration. This, however, makes everyone's lives difficult later.
Choosing a new dog to welcome into your family is easier said than done. But, it does not have to be too difficult.
In this post, we will go through things you should consider about your new dog (and yourself!) before you get one. We will also have some breed recommendations for you to consider.
By the time you reach the end of this post, you will be well-equipped to make one of the most important decisions in your dog parenting journey.
7 Tips to Choose the Right Dog for Your Lifestyle
Age is an essential factor to consider when choosing the right dog for you and your needs. While most people new to dog parenting start with a puppy, some might prefer older dogs.
Choosing a puppy or an older dog comes with their own requirements.
A puppy might need more care than an older dog. They may also require more time and training to bring them up to speed with your lifestyle.
On the other hand, older dogs might require less training or getting used to their surroundings and new habits.
2. Size and Shape
The size and shape of your choice of dog breed might affect a lot of your life with them. Therefore, it is imperative that you pay attention to the size of the dog you’re adopting.
If you are getting a puppy, research how big it can or will get in the future.
However, if you’re adopting an older dog, you will already have an idea of how big they are and whether they fit your idea of an ideal-sized pet.
You should consider the size of your living space, the availability of playing space, and the breed-specific needs of the dog you want to add to your life before choosing one.
The dog’s size will also determine future health problems it might face.
For example, big dogs like Great Danes tend to be more prone to bone and joint-related issues than smaller dogs.
Conversely, smaller dogs are more susceptible to physical accidents and temperature-related issues.
3. Energy Level
Every dog breed is different when it comes to its energy levels. Finding a dog that complements your activity level should be your goal.
Generally speaking, working, herding, sporting, and terrier breeds of dogs have higher energy levels than non-sporting, hound, and toy dog breeds.
4. Intelligence and Trainability
Dogs are intelligent creatures, but some breeds are more intelligent than others. This is because people have bred dogs for various purposes.
In general, working and herding dogs tend to be more intelligent than other breeds and, thus, are more trainable.
Border Collie, one of the most intelligent working dog breeds.
A 2015 study (via Inverse) also showed that this breed of dogs also displayed a greater interest in playing with humans, was less fearful of strangers, and demonstrated greater attachments to people.
So, if you are determined to get a dog that will obey commands easily and is comfortable with strangers, you might be better off getting a working breed of dog.
But remember that this means you have to dedicate time to training them, which we will come on to in the next point.
5. Training Requirements
Training requirements vary from dog to dog and also depend on how old the pooch is. However, as a rule of thumb, working and herding breeds of dogs require more training than other breeds.
If you’re adopting a puppy, you might have to train them rigorously and for longer as they have a lot of energy.
Older dogs also require exercise, especially if they are rescues and have a bad history (which we will talk about in the next point). But mostly not as much as the young ones.
The history of the dog you are thinking of getting, especially if they are rescues, is very important.
If you plan to get your puppy from an ethical dog breeder, you will have little trouble knowing their past. However, difficulties come when you’re adopting from an animal shelter.
Many dogs in animal shelters tend to have murky histories — they could have been abused or abandoned.
History affects a dog’s personality and behavior. A pooch that has gone through abuse and abandonment might display behavioral issues like trust issues and anxiety.
This does not mean that a shelter dog cannot be the perfect dog for you. But, it does mean that you have to put in extra effort in training and treating them right.
7. Purebred or of Unknown Pedigree
Like a dog’s history, its breed also affects its behavior greatly.
Purebred dogs’ behavior patterns and training requirements are fairly easy to predict. This makes the dog and their future parents’ lives much easier.
On the other hand, dogs of unknown pedigree — those from shelters or mixed breeds — give vets and their parents a relatively tricky time predicting behaviors.
Purebreds and mixed-breed dogs also pose different challenges regarding their health, size and weight, and breed-specific diseases.
5 Things to Consider on Your Side
1. Size and Layout of Your Home
Do you live in a small apartment or have a big house with a lot of room to move around? Does your home have a decent-sized backyard or only a balcony? Does it have easy access to the outdoors, or will your dog have to climb up and down flights of stairs each time it wants to go out?
All these questions, and a few more, like whether you have children and their age, should be atop your mind while choosing a dog breed to bring home.
If you have a smaller space, you might do well with a toy dog. Likewise, people with more open household space could go with larger breeds like Retrievers or Shepherds.
2. Family Members and Their Preferences
If you live with your family, like your wife or kids, or even your parents, it is vital to ask them about their breed preferences. Not everyone has the same vision about dogs and you do not want a conflict later on.
Also, ask everyone how willing they are to engage in training and grooming activities with the dog. Finally, get their opinions and understand their desires about having a dog.
Involve everyone in the process and come to a consensus about the breed you want.
3. Your Lifestyle
Getting a dog will dramatically change some aspects of your life. Things like your expenses, time management, physical activity levels, and social life will all take a hit in one way or another.
Having a dog will increase your expenses. If you live on a limited budget, consider getting a breed that will cost as little to care for as possible. You might be better off talking to an experienced vet regarding this.
Your sleep cycles, activity levels, and free time, too, will change after getting a dog, especially in the initial days. Therefore, be ready to face those changes head on.
If you are not that physically active, consider a breed that requires just the bare minimum of physical activity. Similarly, if you go out frequently or have people over often, look for a breed that is independent, not afraid of changing environments and strangers.
4. Your Expectations
People tend to have a lot of expectations about how their lives might change after getting a dog. However, not many think about how one breed of dog might not fulfill all their expectations.
You might want a dog that’s both willing to spend time with you on your couch as well as go out on runs with you. Or, you might want a dog that’s both socially friendly and protective of you and your family members.
While things like these might be possible on some level, it is best not to expect all the traits from a one dog.
Instead, you have to decide which traits you want the most and make compromises. This helps avoid future disappointments and issues, both for you and your dog.
5. Your Experience with Dogs and Other Pets
Experience with pets is of great significance while choosing a dog breed to adopt. If you are a new dog parent, you might want to go with a breed that’s relatively low-maintenance and obedient, like a Golden Retriever, or a toy breed like a Chihuahua.
Chihuahua, a toy breed, licking ice cream
However, if you are an experienced dog owner or someone who wants to try a breed that’s more challenging than your last one, you might go with a hunting or working breed of dog.
It’s not only the dogs that you need to consider, though. If you have other pets, like cats, rabbits, mice, or even birds, you might want to look at dog breeds that are friendlier with other animals.
Breed Guide According to Your Preference
In general, working and herding breeds of dogs are more independent than others. Environmental factors, like whether you live in a city or rural area, how often you are around them, and how well they are trained, factor into their independence.
Some of the dog breeds that fall into independent category are:
- Shiba Inus
- German Shepherds
- Border Collies
- Boston Terriers
Toy dogs and highly sociable breeds tend to be the most family-friendly dogs. However, as they require human companionship and a lot of attention, they tend to be more susceptible to separation anxiety and depression.
Family-friendly breeds of dogs include:
- Maltese dogs
- Shih Tzus
- Golden Retrievers
Dogs with Lower Destructive Behavior
Unfortunately, no dog is safe from anxiety and destructive behavior — destructive behavior is only the outcome of separation anxiety and other behavioral issues.
Therefore, regardless of the breed you choose to adopt, you need to train them well. Even though certain dogs are more comfortable being alone than others, that comfort comes with training, socialization, and experience.
Alongside training, you can also provide your dog with a chew toy or edible yak cheese dog chews (like our all-natural Tibetan Dog Chew) they can gnaw on in the hours you are away. These, too, might help alleviate some anxiety.
Dogs Suitable for People with Allergies
If you are allergic to dog fur but still want to get a dog, you have a few choices. While no dog is 100% hypoallergenic, there are a lot of breeds that pose less threat of allergies than others.
This is because they have less shedding, which means less dander. Dander is the prime cause of allergies in people.
Some hypoallergenic dogs are:
- Afghan Hound
- American Hairless Terrier
- Bedlington Terrier
- Bichon Frise
- Giant Schnauzer
- Poodle (Miniature, Standard, Toy)
- Yorkshire Terrier, etc.
Choosing what kind of dog to welcome into your family is a huge decision. Many things need serious consideration before you go through your canine adoption.
We hope this post helps you make better decisions about what breed of dog you want to adopt. If you are unclear about the subjects discussed within this blog, please consult a vet for better clarity.
If you liked this post, consider sharing it with prospective dog parents.