“Happiness is a warm puppy,” according to Peanuts creator Charles Schultz. They fill your life with love, companionship and a reason to go for a walk every day. The hard part is deciding which breed is right for you.
With 167 breeds recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) and 340 in the world according to the FCI (the world governing body of dog breeds), that’s a lot to choose from—and those are just the purebreds.
- Where to start?
There are very basic but critical questions to ask yourself, regardless of whether you want a purebred, “designer” dog or mutt. Let your lifestyle, environment, and reasons for getting a dog be your guide. To find the best breed for you, choose a dog that will fit into your life, not the other way around. Yes puppies are adorable, but they always grow up.
- What’s your lifestyle?
The most important factor is time. A dog is a lifetime commitment and can bring so much joy, but you must be willing and able to provide them with everything they need to be happy and healthy—most of all time with you.
- How active are you?
This is the biggest challenge for pet owners who don’t properly gauge the energy level of a breed. Dogs can have extremely different personalities and energy levels, and theirs should match yours. Are you a runner or looking for a furry friend to take on big adventures? Try an active dog like the Siberian Husky, Jack Russell Terrier, or a Retriever. More laid back at home curled up with a good book? The Maltese, Basset Hound, English Bulldog, or Great Dane might be just your speed.
- How much space do you have?
Another big (pun intended) consideration is how much space you have, as they come in all sizes. That Great Dane? It can grow up to 200 pounds. While a Teacup Chihuahua usually tips the scales around 3. Are you specifically looking for a lapdog, a more imposing dog for protection or any size will do?
- Anyone have allergies?
Dogs have coats that range from curly to smooth, fluffy or wiry, to dreadlocks and literal hair. Be sure to know your tolerance not only for shedding and pet hair around the house but if anyone in your household has allergies. If so, there are lots of hypoallergenic breeds like Poodles, Bichon Frise, Havanese, Schnauzers, and Yorkies.
- Learn everything you can about the breed.
Aside from the basics, do your research to understand the nature of each breed you are considering. While not a guarantee, each breed will have an inherent level of different traits to look for. Start with a list:
- Prey drive
- Inherited health conditions
- Agreeable with kids and other pets
- Easy to train
- Emotional support
- Service dog
Your dog is out there. And they are just waiting for you to find them and bring them to a loving home. Ask the right questions about both you and the breed to find the perfect match—and a loving and loyal companion for years to come.