Breeds of Dogs -- How Do You Find the Right One for You?
Dogs are full of personality, as are their owners! Here's how to find a dog breed that matches your temperament and lifestyle.
Breeds of dogs each have their own distinctive personalities and energy levels, just like their human counterparts, so how do you pick your new pooch pal? Even if you've always dreamed of owning an English bulldog, it might not be the right choice if you like to go on long hikes every weekend.
Likewise, if you spend your evenings bineg watching Netflix, a boxer might not be the pup for you. So how do you find the breeds of dogs that may be a good match for you and your lifestyle?
Brandi Hunter, director of public relations for the American Kennel Club (AKC), recommends that you take into consideration everything about your lifestyle. "Do you have kids? How many hours a day are you home? How big of a living space do you have? What type of climate do you live in? -- those are all the types of things you should take into consideration," says Hunter. "You need to pick a dog that you can make sure will receive the care it needs to be happy, healthy and socialized."
How Do You Pick the Right Dog for You?
One way to narrow it down is to take the AKC's assessment for finding a match, which takes into consideration everything from your location to how tidy you are before offering breed suggestions that might be a fit for you. Once you've narrowed down your choices, talk to breeders and watch the puppies carefully before choosing one to take home.
Ask to see a parent of the dogs, Hunter suggests. "You want to see how the puppy interacts -- maybe it's the shy one in the group. Maybe it's the one who always gets to the food bowl first," she says. "A good breeder will know the dog's personality so you can decide if it's a good match for you."
It's important to know the animal as well as possible because while breeds can give a good idea of a dog's personality, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Labs, for instance, are described by the AKC are high-energy dogs, "but there's plenty of labs who are just lumps, who have a really chill personality," says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and author of several dog care books. "You have to talk to the breeder to get an idea of what dog they have that might make a good fit."
Also, consider adopting adult dogs, Morgan suggests. Adult dogs are a good choice for people who don't have the time to train a puppy, and senior dogs are a great choice for elderly people who need companionship, she says. "Adult dogs from rescue groups, shelters and in foster care situations can be among the best companions," she notes.
Here are 10 of the most popular breeds of dogs that you may want to check out:
- Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are medium energy, devoted, friendly and intelligent, according to the AKC. They are a good breed for families because they're gentle, cheerful and friendly. They require regular exercise, but don't need to run miles every day.
- German Shepherd
German shepherds are highly energetic and extremely loyal. The breed can be fond of children once a relationship is established, according to the AKC. But they also can be aggressive. German shepherds were listed as the third breed of dog responsible for fatal dog attacks between 1979 and 1998 in the latest study available from the Centers for Disease Control (after pit bulls and Rottweilers). A German shepherd needs a lot of exercise, so someone who loves the outdoors and is dedicated to training is a good choice as an owner.
- Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire terriers are a sprightly, tomboyish and affectionate breed, according to the AKC. However, they can feel overwhelmed by roughhousing, so a home without young children might be best. A good lapdog, the Yorkie is a great choice for an older or single person.
- French Bulldog
French bulldogs are a funny breed, sure to make you laugh. These dogs don't do well with heat and should have air conditioning in warm weather. Frenchies love being with people, so they make a great family dog -- particularly for families who are often home during the day to give affection.
- Labrador Retriever
The most popular breed of dog, according to the AKC, are Labrador retrievers. They're popular with families because of their easygoing nature. While the AKC describes the breed as energetic, Morgan says by watching puppies at play and questioning breeders, you can find a Lab that is more laid back and requires less stimulation if that's what you prefer.
Boxers' most notable characteristic is a desire for human affection, especially from children, says the AKC. That makes this breed a good family dog. But take note that boxers can be aggressive, especially toward other animals, if not socialized at a young age.
They certainly won't beg to be walked, but bulldogs should get regular exercise to stay healthy. Bulldog puppies are high-energy (just like any puppy), but this breed is a good choice for a city dweller and working people because they are happy to spend a good part of their day curled up napping.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a trustworthy dog who loves to be part of a family and is friendly and easy to train. This is Morgan's favorite choice for a family dog, she says. This breed needs a fenced-in yard because it loves to run and chase and can be destructive if lonely.
- Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a gentle and happy dog breed that loves to run, play and cuddle, according to the AKC. The Bichon is not aggressive, so is a good choice as a family pet. Some Bichons like to bark, so close neighbors might not be a good idea.
Brave, playful and fearless, the Maltese has long, silky white hair. Like the Bichon, it is a gentle breed, but loves to run and play, making it a good pet for families.
Which of these breeds appeals to you?
For more ideas, check out these 10 Great Dog Breeds for Children.
Kara Murphy is a freelance writer in Erie, Pennsylvania. She has a 16-year-old Shih Tzu named Kaley.
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