Unlike some other pets, choosing a dog requires a great deal of consideration and research before you come to a decision. There are many different types of dogs to choose from and they have different levels of needs and attention. Dogs are not like cats, hamsters, goldfish, or just any other critter where you can leave them with some food and water and they’ll be able to care for themselves. The average lifespan of a dog is between 10 and 13 years, so when choosing a dog, you must remind yourself that you will be making a long-term commitment. It can be tempting to go out and get one a whim or because your friend or family member got one and you just love it so much you want one of your own. However, if you don’t do your research, you may end up with more than you can handle.
The Most Popular Breeds
Retrievers (Golden or Labrador). A retriever dog often comes with the mildest of tempers and will play catch with you for hours, hence its “retriever” name. Retrievers also love water and they will go swimming with you or play games where you throw toys into the water and they will go get them. The only downside of these dogs is that you must watch their diets carefully, as they can tend to overeat. These types of dogs are great for families with small kids and they are not likely to bite hard unless they have food in their mouth. Another downside is that some retrievers are very hairy and shed easily, so you may need to groom them often. Golden retrievers have long hair.
German Shepherds. German shepherds are big dogs that can come off with a tough demeanor, best known for being guard dogs, but they can be sweet and loving as well. When trained, these types of dogs can get along well with all ages. It is very important to consider how much time you can dedicate to training a German shepherd, because if not trained it can become aggressive and uncontrollable. Due to their big size and energy levels, German shepherds require a good amount of exercise and living space. In terms of health, these dogs are inclined to hip dysplasia, digestive problems, or skin problems. They can also make good guard dogs, as I vividly remember as a child when I would zoom by the house with the scary German shepherd in it, who would always love to run out to the edge of his chain and bark at me.
Beagle. Beagles are adorable, wonderful, medium-sized dogs that are world-renowned for their ability to track scents, making them excellent hunting dogs. They come in a variety of colors, but their most common color scheme is tri-colored (brown, white, and black). Beagles make great friends and their hair is short, so they don’t need to be brushed too often. They are also very energetic, leading to their #1 drawback—their sense of smell. Once a beagle gets a whiff of something it likes, that is all that it will focus on. This can be especially evident at the dinner table. Their powerful sense of smell also makes it difficult to train beagles as they sometimes will run away due to their curiosity and hunting instincts. They also tend to bark and howl a lot. However, beagles are good with children and can be extremely friendly.
Yorkshire Terrier. Yorkshire Terriers are little dogs that you might often see in someone’s lap. They make good companions as they love to snuggle up with you as you engage in something that is non-active, such as watching tv, reading, or napping. These shy dogs are loyal to those who they are familiar with and can often feel timid around other dogs. One downside of having a Yorkshire terrier is that they like to “yap” constantly, which may be problematic if you have close neighbors. While these dogs should be allowed to roam around the house, they do not require extensive exercise, making them good options for senior citizens who are in need of a pal.
Bulldog. Bulldogs give off an intimidating demeanor but they can actually be sweet and loyal to their owners. The unfortunate part about bulldogs is that they are more inclined to suffer from a slew of health issues, bringing their lifespan down from 10 to 6 years. Nearly 90% of bulldogs develop hip dysplasia as well as suffer from depression. If you are considering getting a bulldog as a pet, you should consult with your vet to learn more about how you can provide it with the best care.
Border Collie. Border collies are smart, loving dogs that come packed with an insane amount of energy. Due to their high energy levels, it is important that anyone who considers getting a border collie calculate how much space and exercise they can provide for it. If you do not allow a border collie to release its energy, it could, in turn, begin to tear up your house. On the flip side, research shows that border collies are easily trainable due to their high levels of intelligence. Border collies also come with their share of basic health issues but overall rank as pretty durable.
Poodle. Poodles are incredibly smart dogs that are very easy to train and teach tricks. They come in 3 different sizes—large, miniature and toy, which gives you some options compared to the size of your home. Their coats are pretty thin and they don’t shed as much, which makes them good pets for those who have allergies or who don’t want fur all over the house. Out of all purebred dogs, Poodles are the least likely to have health problems. In addition to being smart, they are also very energetic and require a good deal of exercise. The only real drawback to a Poodle is that they are geared more towards women than men due to their stereotypical “girlish” appearance. However, there is a guy in my neighborhood who loves walking around with his beautiful black and white poodles all the time.
Dachshund. Dachshunds are friendly, curious dogs that are famously known for their “hot dog” shape. Their energy levels are medium but it is important to keep a dachshund busy, as it likes to explore and can sometimes get into trouble. Their coats can either be smooth, wiry, or long. On the downside, dachshunds can be a little harder to train due to their stubborn nature.
Rottweiler. Rottweilers are probably best known for their tough, aggressive and intimidating demeanor. While they may be regarded as dangerous dogs, they tend to only act aggressively when not well-trained. With the right kind of training, a Rottweiler can make a great all-around dog. If you do consider choosing a Rottweiler as your dog, it is important to take its strength and temperament into mind. Rottweilers can get nervous around strangers, so if you have a lot of people coming in and out of your house, you may want to rethink getting a Rottweiler as a pet. On the bright side, Rottweilers do not tend to have as many health issues as other dogs.
Doberman Pinscher. Doberman Pinschers are medium to large -sized dogs that pack a fearless, alert personality. They are best known for being strong and powerful companions who can make good watch dogs. One of the best things about this type of dog is that it is very easy to train and its coat is smooth, making it easy to maintain. Since Doberman pinschers are so strong and powerful, it is vital that you be able to exercise them regularly. My friend in college had a big Doberman Pinscher named “Duke.” He never actually bit anyone, but boy could he be scary when he wanted to be! After my first encounter with him all alone, I went to the pet store to get him some treats for the next time we met! Later on I had great fun going on my runs with him around the neighborhood.
Siberian Husky. Siberian Huskies are medium-sized, friendly, gentle dogs who were originally bred to work in packs. Though they can come off as intimidating, they are actually very warm dogs who will get along well with children. In terms of their coat, these types of dogs require weekly brushing at the minimum due to their thick, double coat. On the plus side, Siberian huskies do not have that “dog” smell like other dogs do, so you will not have to worry about any odors.
German Pointer. German shorthaired pointers are big dogs with a scary demeanor, but under that is a sweet, gentle soul. These types of dogs grow to be very large and thus come with a lot of energy. It is very important that you be able to provide a German shorthaired pointer with plenty of exercise and love, otherwise it is more likely to develop anxiety problems. In terms of health, these dogs tend to be healthier than other breeds.
Shih Tzu. Shih Tzu’s are toy dogs that tend to be friendly, extroverted and affectionate. They get along good with their owners as well as those who they are not as familiar with, making them a great family pet. Shih Tzu’s grow to be about 10 inches long, making them good dogs for small homes. Shih Tzu’s also have long ears and curly little tails, making them very cute and adorable. Their coats are thick and silk-like. One drawback of getting a Shih Tzu is that its thick fur requires constant brushing. Shih Tzu’s are also more inclined to have health problems such as dysplasia, breathing problems and liver issues.
Great Dane. Great Danes are large dogs that are strong, friendly and noble. Though they are not usually aggressive, they still make great watch dogs due to their large size and demeanor. Their coats are short and do not require extensive grooming. Furthermore, this type of dog gets along well with children and adults of all ages. The only drawback is that you must closely watch their health due to their large size and appetite.
Boxer. Some people choose a boxer as an alternative to a Rottweiler because they are similar in size and demeanor but much friendlier and less anxious. Boxers share the Rottweiler’s bonus of being healthy; however, boxers can be a little more challenging to train. It is best to start training a boxer from a puppy to ensure leadership. Finally, a boxer requires a large amount of space. Another great thing about boxers is their short hair, which doesn’t tend to shed all over. Finally, boxers will be protective of younger kids, which is fine as long as they do not think the children are in harm’s way—otherwise, a boxer may act out aggressively.
Greyhound. Greyhounds are large, gentle and mildly energetic dogs that make great house dogs. Though they do enjoy a little bit of run time, Greyhounds are mostly mellow. They can be fairly difficult to train but it is doable. Their short, smooth coats only require occasional brushing. Overall, the Greyhound is a noble dog that can make a great pet.
Chihuahua. Chihuahuas are small dogs who have the tendency to either be extremely loyal or extremely aggressive. I am sure you can think to a time where you’ve seen someone’s Chihuahua go crazy or you may have seen one’s temperament depicted on TV. Due to their unpredictable behavior, this type of dog may not be a good option if you have small kids. On the other hand, it might be a great fit for an older adult who has no other companions. The only drawbacks to getting a Chihuahua are its health issues, which can include seizures or hypoglycemia. They can also tend to bark a lot.
Pug. Pugs are similar to bulldogs in that they also share a slew of health issues. Most significantly, pugs tend to have breathing issues due to the shape of their face, leading many owners to actually have to pay to get their pugs’ faces reconstructed just so they can get more air. On the bright side, pugs can be very cute and there are breeders who are working on ways to re-breed them to avoid breathing issues.
Boston Terrier. Boston terriers are small dogs that are friendly, trainable and very adaptable. These types of dogs are best known for being able to live in any type of setting, especially large cities. Their coats are short and sleek, making the Boston terrier a dog that is easy to maintain. Their energy levels tend to be medium. Boston terriers love to go on walks and they are always up for play time. They are good family dogs.
Mastiff. The Mastiff is a large dog that can come off as strong and courageous, but with a gentle demeanor on the inside. Their coats are short and smooth which does not require extensive grooming but it is important that you keep the wrinkles on their head clean. Their energy levels are medium and they often enjoy a good, long walk. These types of dogs make good family pets. In terms of health issues, it is important to watch their weight, as these dogs can tend to overeat.
Dalmatian. Dalmatians, best known for being firehouse dogs and the stars of major movies, are medium-sized dogs that are loyal, intelligent and affectionate. Despite their cute nature, these dogs are bred with a great stamina, making them good partners for those who are really active. They can become anxious around strangers, but all in all they make good family pets. Their coats are short and sleek and only require occasional brushing and combing.
Jack Russell Terrier. Jack Russell Terriers are energetic, curious, and friendly dogs who need a good amount of exercise and playtime. These types of dogs make good pets for those who have a very active lifestyle. Their coats are often smooth or rough and only require occasional grooming. Overall, they are confident dogs that make good pets all around.
Maltese. Maltese dogs are little, charming and best known for their long, white hair. Due to their long hair, these types of dogs do require extensive grooming. Maltese dogs have a medium energy level and enjoy walks and playtime but they also make good lap dogs. Overall, these dogs are friendly and fairly easy to train. They can also make a good watch dog with their powerful, determined bark.
Cocker Spaniel. Cocker spaniels are small to medium-sized dogs that are very friendly to nearly everyone. Though they are loved for their friendly nature, there are a few downsides to getting a cocker spaniel. First and foremost, they are more challenging to train. They are also prone to many health issues, such as ear and eye problems. On the bright side, cocker spaniels have very soft, beautiful fur that is perfect for petting and snuggling. These types of dogs can make good lap dogs.
Welsh Corgi. Welsh Corgis are small dogs that are friendly, energetic, and bold. They are known as herding dogs as many farmers use them to herd cattle. Welsh Corgis make good lap dogs but they require extensive brushing due to their thick fur. They are fairly easy to train and often make good guard dogs due to their strong bark.
There are many more great types of dogs that you can consider. If I listed them all, I would need to write two books! Check out justdogbreed.com to see a complete list of the most popular breeds and dogbreedinfo.com for a complete list of all breeds. There are many different breeds to choose from, so it is very important to do as much research as possible to find the right dog for you and/or your family.
Things To Research and Consider
In addition to picking a breed, there are some other factors that you should consider when picking out a new dog or puppy.
Costs. Costs are one of the most important things to think about when you’re looking at getting a dog. You will need to put out money for vet bills, food, toys, and anything else your dog may need (bedding, leashes, dog houses, etc.). Consider the difference between purebreds and mutts. With a purebred, you are bound to experience more health issues which can add up in costs.
Energy Levels. As you have learned, the majority of dogs have high to medium energy levels which require regular exercise or play time. This is an important factor to consider for yourself. What is your physical condition like? Do you exercise regularly? Ask yourself questions related to whether you could support your dog’s energy requirements. If you are not in good health or able to keep up with an energetic dog or if you don’t have a big backyard, you might want to consider getting a smaller dog.
The Size of the Dog. One of the most important factors that you must consider is size. You may really want a large dog, but if you live in an apartment or small house, that wouldn’t be fair to the dog or yourself. On the same note, you may really want a small dog, but if you live on a property that has acres and acres of land, you may easily lose track of that dog. The ideal size of your dog should depend on your living situation. It is also a good idea to consider whether you will be moving within the next couple of years to ensure that you will be able to take your dog with you.
Age. What is the ideal age of a dog to you? Do you want a puppy, a middle-aged dog or a senior dog? A good way to decide this is to ask yourself how much time you want to commit. If you get a puppy, you will need to have enough time to dedicate to training and playing with it. On the other hand, if you adopt a middle-aged dog, you may not have to go through the training process. If you adopt an older dog, are you prepared to keep up with any health issues it may have?
Your Commitments. Do you work a lot or are you a “stay-at-home” person? Depending on how much time you’ll be spending at home is important to consider when picking a dog. If you work a lot, you should consider not getting a dog that is high maintenance or clingy. If you absolutely must, you should also consider hiring help to take care of the dog while you are not at home.