How to choose a dog breed that’s right for you
Getting a dog is a big life decision for you and your family. You need to consider your lifestyle and what you need your dog to be able to do with you.
Some questions to ask yourself before getting a dog include:
1) How active is my lifestyle?
2) How often will I travel and will I take my dog with me?
3) How many hours will I be away from home on a regular basis?
These are important factors to consider, because choosing a breed that doesn’t align with your lifestyle and needs can make dog ownership difficult.
Question 1, how active is my lifestyle?
You’ll want to consider a dog’s activity level. If you are a big hiker, walker, or adventurer and you want to take your dog with you, you’ll want to consider a stable, medium to large size dog, like a Lab, Pit Bull, Standard Poodle, or Shepherd mix.
Small dogs may have trouble keeping up for long amounts of time. Conversely, if you are not active and don’t plan on taking many walks, you’ll want to get a dog that prefers home time. Great Danes are large, but they love to curl up and cuddle and home.
Other dogs that prefer a more sedentary lifestyle include Chihuahuas, Terriers, Dashunds, Bulldogs, or Cavaliers. Keep in mind, you still need to walk these guys for their health.
Question 2, How often will I travel and take my dog?
Most airplanes let you travel with a dog in cabin if they are under 25 pounds. Dogs over 25 pounds will need to go in cargo. Putting your dog in cargo is always a risk, and there is no guarantee that they will travel safely. It’s not recommended to put your dog in cargo unless absolutely necessary.
Until recently, many dogs travelled in the cabin as ESA dogs. Now, most airlines have changed their rules, allowing owners to bring their dog as a pet for a fee (under 25lbs) or as a service animal for free. Service Dogs are specially trained to perform a task that helps with a disability.
If you’re choosing a dog that will make a good travel companion, Yorkies, Toy Poodles, Havanese, and Bichons, and Maltese are easy to transport. Keep in mind that Bulldog breeds and Pugs have small flat noses and can have more difficulty breathing on planes and in small carriers.
Big dogs can make great travel companions in the car on road trips. Some hotels are pet friendly, and most will make exceptions if your dog is a service animal or registered as an emotional support animal.
Question 3, How many hours will I be away?
If you have a family with many people coming and going, this question isn’t as important. But if you are single, or you and your partner work and plan on leaving the dog for 8-10 hours a day, you need to really consider the experience of the dog.
Some dogs are very happy to be home alone and will curl up on the couch or dog bed. Other dogs will suffer from separation anxiety or isolation anxiety when left alone.
Breeds that do better home alone include, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Bullmastiff, and Chow Chows. Keep in mind, all dogs are social animals and are meant to live with a pack. Without other dogs, your dog thinks of you as their pack so it can be very stressful when they are alone.
Poodles, German Shepherds, Border Collies, and other highly intelligent dogs do not do well home alone. The more aware and alert the dog, the more difficult it will be for them to be on their own. All dogs can be trained to do better on their own. The book, I’ll Be Home Soon, is an excellent resource for anyone looking to help their dog adjust to being home for longer amounts of time.
You should also consider rescuing a dog. Dog breeds are only indicators of what a dog’s temperament might be like, but there are no guarantees. How you train your dog and treat them is much more important than their breed.
A dog’s age will also impact their preferences and behaviors. Young dogs need more attention, activities, and walks to keep them on their best behavior. Older dogs will do better alone and with less activity. Older dogs may also have more difficulty traveling and keeping up with you if you’re busy. If you work a lot, consider adopting an older dog for some company without the need to change your lifestyle too much.
The most important thing about choosing a dog breed, is realizing that there are no take-backs. Bringing a dog into your home means bringing a dog into your family. Your dog is depending on you for love and safety. Consistency is key to good behavior, trust and comfort.
Make sure you are ready to take on this life changing commitment.