How to Choose a Dog: Picking the Perfect Canine to Share Your Life

A dog is not an impulse purchase. If you decide to invite a dog to join your family, you are choosing to share many years of your life with this animal. During that time you are responsible for training him, feeding him, grooming him and keeping him safe. You must do your homework before you make such a monumental commitment and a potentially huge change to your lifestyle.

To give your dog the best possible life, you need to invest time and money in him. The amount of both of these resources varies with the breed of dog you choose. Let’s look at some of the issues you need to consider before choosing your four legged best friend.


This is a very practical consideration. If you live in a small apartment, you may find a Great Dane will move through your home like a tornado, knocking over everything in his path. Under these circumstances, a middle sized or smaller breed of dog will mean you don’t need to spend as much of your time picking things off the floor. Similarly, if you live on the top floor of your apartment block, a Newfoundland may not enjoy having to walk up and down the stairs every time you want to take him out for a stroll.

Those with a detached home and a large backyard have the luxury of choosing any sized breed, but there are still other factors that come into play before you make your decision.

Your Budget

The purchase price of your dog is the least of your financial concerns. Dogs need to be fed, and they need regular routine care such as vaccinations and parasite control. There is always the chance of an unexpected emergency and its associated veterinary costs. You need to be prepared for this. It’s logical that larger dogs eat more, and they need a larger dose of worming tablets and antibiotics. Surgical procedures such as neutering are also more expensive; because bigger dogs use up more anesthetic and post-operative pain relief medication.

Don’t just look at your present budget, but consider what may be around the corner for you. Are you planning on starting a family? If so, your income may drop and you may no longer be able to afford to care for your huge St Bernard. Do you hope to buy a house? Mortgage payments use up a big chunk of your monthly income, and there may not be as much left over for dog care.

When you are choosing a breed of dog, look into the potential health problems of each breed. For example, British Bulldogs are beautiful dogs, but they can suffer from respiratory problems, skin problems and eye problems. They’re not an ideal choice if you don’t have very good means, because their veterinary expenses can drain your bank account very quickly.

Exercise Needs

All dogs need some exercise, but the amount varies between breeds. Working breeds such as Border Collies need a lot of physical activity, or they become bored. A bored dog is like a naughty preschooler; they create their own entertainment which can include digging up your garden, pulling laundry off the line and barking at the birds in the trees. If you’re a runner, or a hiker, a working breed would be a great companion for you on your outings. They’ll take as much exercise as you can give them, and will thrive on the activity.

On the other hand, if your idea of exercise is getting up from the couch during the ad break to grab some more cheese and crackers, these working dogs are definitely not for you. They will be miserable, and you’ll not be happy with your choice of dog. Instead, consider a fellow couch potato – Whippets and Greyhounds will happily snuggle next to you for hours, and will be content with a half hour walk every day.

Training Needs

Some dog breeds are known for their intelligence, and they are easy to train. These animals will be quick to learn good manners, so they can fit into your lifestyle with barely a ripple. For example, German Shepherds are known to be quick learners. On the other hand, Beagles are charming companions, but unless they are asked to sniff out a trail, they aren’t as easy to train. If you take on this breed, you need to be prepared to spend longer on basic training.

When we talk about training, we are also talking about the need for mental stimulation. Intelligent working dogs must have something to do with their brain, or they will not be happy. This means that you will need to spend time on such activities as trick training, obedience and agility so your dog can expend his excess physical and mental energy.

Keep in mind also that puppies usually need a greater investment of time than an adult dog. Potty training will need weeks or months of vigilance on your part, and you’ll also need to take them out and about to socialize them. If this sounds like a lot of work, then perhaps an adult dog that is already toilet trained and well socialized is a better choice for you.

Grooming Needs

Dogs, like people, have different grooming needs and preferences. If you don’t like to spend much time doing your own hair, you may not want to invest too much time and energy tidying up your dog’s tresses. A short coated dog with a low maintenance coat is the right choice for you.

Some people are quite happy to spend their time trimming, tidying, clipping and combing their dog’s coat. If this describes you, you’ll enjoy owning a long coated breed that needs a little more grooming. Again, plan for all eventualities. If for any reason you can’t care for your dog’s coat for a while, you’ll need to arrange for a groomer to do it for you. Otherwise his coat may become matted and knotted, which is very uncomfortable.

Conclusion for How to Choose a Dog: Picking the Perfect Canine to Share Your Life

It’s not fair to welcome a dog into your home, then decide you can’t afford to care for him, or you don’t have time to exercise him. Dogs develop close bonds with their human family, and it is stressful for them to have to change homes, or spend time in a shelter because their owners can no longer care for them.

You need to spend enough time thinking about your budget and lifestyle, and researching your preferred breed, to ensure you end up with the perfect breed for you. By doing this, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of good times with a loving and loyal canine companion.


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