Match maker: What to look for in a breed

by Kira Garrett | November 20, 2013

Deciding on a dog to bring home can be very difficult process. Your dog will be with your family through thick and thin, for a lifetime. While it’s easy to fall in love with an adorable face, not every breed will be suited to your lifestyle. Although there is no formula for picking out the right dog for you, there are a few characteristics to consider when making your decision, whether your are picking out a new pupy from a holistic breeder or rescuing a pup from your local shelter.

·       Activity Level. Before selecting a dog, consider the level of energy the breed has and how much time you can devote to exercising him. If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy being outdoors, a Vizsla or Border Collie may be right for you. But if you won’t be taking your dog for long hikes or runs every day, choose a breed with lower energy levels like a Pug/Beagle mix or a Pomeranian.

·       Temperament. Some breeds, like Rottweilers and German Shepherds, are extremely loyal to their families and have historically made good guard dogs; others, like Labrador Retrievers, are friendly with everyone they meet. Certain breeds require a lot of attention while others are more independent. When you think you’ve settled on a breed choice, research it thoroughly to ensure that it will be a good fit.

·       Grooming. From shedding to grooming, there is a lot to consider when it comes to caring for a dog’s coat. Breeds with longer coats, like a Maltese, require frequent brushing to prevent mats from forming, but dogs with shorter coats, like Boxers, require less maintenance. Poodles, Bichon Frises and Poodle mixes are also a good choice for minimal shedding.

·       Size. When choosing a breed, it is important to consider your living space. A small breed like a Shih Tzu will be fine in an apartment, but larger breeds like Bernese Mountain dogs need more space. If you live in a small apartment with no yard, you should also consider a low energy breed, but remember that a dog’s size does not always determine its energy level – Greyhounds, for example, are big but are notorious couch potatoes.

The American Kennel Club recognizes over 160 different breeds of dog, on top of the endless possibilities of mixed breeds, each with its own unique qualities. It’s likely best for you and/or your family if you don’t choose based solely on appearance. All dogs are adorable, but some characteristics may not be the best fit for your lifestyle. There are many breed selector tools that can help you choose the right breed, but the best tool is your gut, and it will tell you if you’ve found the perfect pup.