I frequently get calls and emails from people who want to know what breed of dog is right for their family. There are plenty of “breed selector” sites on the internet but, having tried out a few to see how well they match people with breeds, I’m unimpressed. One site said my “perfect match” was a Parson Russell Terrier. Another matched me with a Norwich Terrier. Neither of these breeds would be one I’d choose given the real variables. Asking “What breed is right for me” involves more than how much exercise a dog needs and how often someone can groom their new dog.
It’s not as easy as clicking a few boxes
A quick look at some of our Joyful Dogs.
You won’t find the right breed if you rush
Finding the right breed is something that no prospective owner should rush into. And online selectors may be fun but I’d strongly recommend not choosing a dog based on one or two (or more) of these programs. This dog should be with you for its entire life. With certain breeds that can be 15 or 16 years! You want to be sure to select a dog you can live with for that long!
Shelters are filled with dogs that looked cute in pictures and were little fuzzybutt puppies who later grew into slobbering, expensive to feed adult dogs. The puppy who slept for hours and hours when he was 9 weeks old may grow into a dog who requires hours and hours of activity every day. Through no fault of their own, these dogs often end up being euthanized because their families chose the wrong breed.
This is your life
Everything about your life plays a part in choosing a breed. Consider your family makeup and lifestyle. Are there small children in the home? Does your elderly parent or grandparent live with you? Is yours a quiet home or a very active one with a lot of people in and out all day?
If you work 12 hours a day and just want to crash when you get home a Border Collie, although intelligent and attractive isn’t the right dog for you! If you love to jog then a couch potato like the Bullmastiff or a Havanese might be right up your alley. Size differences aside, these guys would rather binge watch Netflix with you than go for a long run.
It’s not just your home life
Ask yourself about all the aspects of your life. If you love camping and swimming you may want to avoid dogs that hate the water and would end up a filthy, matted mess if your campsite got wet. Dogs that don’t do well in the heat might also be a bad choice for the outdoorsy family. A brachiocephalic dog (one like a pug with a short, pushed in nose) would have a hard time dealing with excessive heat in a tent overnight.
If you are like me and your idea of rustic camping means slow room service, you may want to consider that many hotels have size restrictions on their canine guests. Most want dogs 25 lbs. and under.
And, yes, you can still go on vacation without your dog. It’ll cost you to board your pup unless you have a willing family member or friend. But having your furry family member with you is part of the fun of having a dog! Last summer Marty and I took our two dogs on our Lake Erie vacation. They dogs stayed in our cabin, waded in the lake, and even went on our fishing charter! Now that’s including everyone in the family fun!
We all hate to talk about money but dogs can be expensive! There’s the initial cost which can run from as little as a couple of hundred dollars for a rescue to over $3,000 (or more) for a purebred. So from the very start your dog is reducing your bank account.
There’s the cost of equipment. An extra-large dog crate costs considerably more than one for a mini breed. Toys for large dogs are more expensive and if you choose a breed that’s a power chewer, you’ll end up spending even more.
Veterinary bills are higher for large dogs. Medications cost more. Heartworm preventative and flea and tick treatments are more expensive. Don’t forget that even routine veterinary care is going to drain some of your cash no matter what the size of the dog.
Food can also add up depending on the breed. Naturally large dogs eat more. But some dogs have breed penchants for needing special foods. And any supplements will also cost you depending on size of the dog.
What Breed is right for me means right for the entire family
When asking “What breed is right for me” you’re really asking what breed work for my family. Every member of the household needs to be considered. I’m not saying to totally discount a breed because it’s not an exact match for every consideration for everyone in the house. I’m just saying don’t forget important aspects of choosing the right breed.
I’ve mentioned size quite a bit and it’s an important consideration. I love the giant breeds. Some of my clients wouldn’t dream of owning a dog over 15 pounds! However, it’s not just personal preference that matters.
If you have a toddler, small children, or elderly people in your home you need to consider that a large dog may accidentally knock them down. A very small breed may trip them because the dog is less likely to be noticed underfoot. Little dogs can move very quickly and large dogs can sometimes use their bodies to push someone out of the way. You need to think about everyone before deciding which breed is right for you!
What breed is right for me?
That’s the ultimate question but you should also ask yourself, and your family, a lot of questions before choosing a dog breed. Remember, the dog may be with you for 15 years. You must consider all the aspects of your life; family, space, time, money, and much more! Take your time deciding what breed is best for you. You won’t regret the effort!