Are you an experienced dog owner or a rookie at dog ownership? Do you currently have a dog who needs a friend? Or maybe you haven’t had a dog for years. Maybe you’ve never had one. The decision to add a furry friend to your family is important and exciting! A successful dog-human relationship is a very special recipe. Research and planning can reduce the chance of a mismatch.
What do we mean by a mismatch?
Consider a very active person who runs miles each day followed by a long bike ride. They want a dog who can be by their side and enjoy the exercise, but if they chose a Basset Hound, for example, this would be an exercise capacity mismatch! The exercise enthusiast might be better within the company of a Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Vizsla, or an athletic mixed-breed dog with endurance. Basset Hounds are truly lovable dogs who love to play, but those short legs may be better suited for mellow walks, a game of fetch, or moderate hiking where they can sniff, sniff, sniff!
How will a dog fit into your life?
It’s important to take the time to ask yourself some “lifestyle and preference” questions:
- Where do you live? An apartment? A house with a yard? Acreage?
- Do you have children? If so, how old are they? If not, do you want kids in the next few years?
- What are your hobbies and level of physical activity?
- How long are your workdays?
- Do you have other pets?
- What size of a dog do you want?
- Do you have the time and energy for a puppy or is an older dog a better choice?
- Do you mind a dog that sheds?
- What level of grooming maintenance can you commit to?
- Do you want a dog that is more friendly or has more protective qualities?
At the Dog Aging Project, we believe ALL dogs are good dogs. The perfect dog for your family might very well be a mixed-breed or rescue dog. One thing that gives some people pause when considering a mixed-breed dog is that you have less information about what the personality of that dog might be like. Purebred dogs have been bred for predictable physical and personality characteristics that people want.
Even so, all dogs are unique, and even within a breed, there is variation in personality, patience, energy level, and other characteristics. Most animal rescues do a good job of trying to assess dog personalities so that they can facilitate good matches, but if what you want is a purebred dog, then understanding the needs of each breed can be helpful.
How do you find the perfect match for you?
Let’s say you live in an apartment with no yard. You need a companion who is up for city walks. A few super options are a Boston Terrier, Pug, Bichon Frise, Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, or a Lhasa Apso.
But what if you also have a 4-year-old child? You might reconsider the Scotty or the Lhasa. These are breeds that are less likely to appreciate the level of activity and attention four-year-olds can provide. On the other hand, maybe you’re not interested in taking a dog to the groomer every few weeks. A Bichon or Lhasa will need routine spa days, so maybe the Boston, Westie, or Scottie will be the pups “barking up the right tree” for you!
Or perhaps you are not interested in a dog that needs a lot of exercise, but you do want a larger dog… Voila! The Greyhound may be perfect for you. This breed is a speed demon on the racetrack but really enjoys couch time and a relaxed walk.
If you have a house with a yard and are happy to partake in some canine play, there are many fabulous options! If you lean more toward easy-going than protective, consider a German Shorthair Pointer, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Weimaraner, Standard Poodle, Boxer, or Border Collie. A few options of small to medium dogs that appreciate some room for romping would be a Corgi, Rat Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, and a Beagle.
Are you interested in a dog that barks less than most? A Basenji or Shiba Inu would be considered examples of the “quiet church mice” of the woofy world! Do you live in a very cold state or region? Consider a Siberian Husky or an Alaskan Malamute. These two are also examples of dogs that appreciate activity and having a “job.” Does a loveable, fun pooch best handled with gentle hands speak to your heart? Italian Greyhounds, Yorkies, Pomeranians, Japanese Chins, Papillons, and once again, the flexible Chihuahuas, fit this bill!
If you feel the need for your tail-wagger to also have a law enforcement badge under that coat, consider a German Shepherd, Doberman, Mastiff, Giant Schnauzer, or even a Chihuahua! Protective breeds like these are well-paired with more experienced dog owners who can give them the training and socialization they need to be their best selves.
How do you find your new best friend?
Whether you are looking for a marathon training companion, a lapdog, or a tennis ball junkie, there are hundreds and hundreds of FANTASTIC dogs to choose from–both mixed breed and purebred. Finding the right fit for your lifestyle and environment is the key. So do some research. Read up about breeds online. Talk to a veterinarian. Develop a realistic sense of what you need in a canine companion, and above all, visit dog parks and ask people about their dogs.
Once you’ve focused on the dog characteristics that will fit best in your family, it’s time to find YOUR dog! If you’re not wedded to a specific breed, connect with your local animal shelter. If you have a specific picture of exactly what your next four-legged family member needs to be, keep in mind that beyond going to a responsible breeder there are many breed-specific rescues out there with dogs eagerly waiting for someone just like YOU!