10 Key Pointers to Sniff Out the Best Dog Breed for You

June 04, 2019

10 Key Pointers to Sniff Out the Best Dog Breed for You

Maltese Terrier or Mastiff: What is the right dog breed for you?

From the 3kg Maltese to a 100kg Mastiff, dogs come in all shapes and sizes. But to find your perfect dog breed goes deeper than just appearance and size.

You need to consider the part the dog will play in your life. For example, just as a sports car is hopeless for off-roading, neither is a pug great for an active person to participate in Canicros.

To find the breed of your new best buddy, consider these 10 key pointers :

  1. Apartment or mansion?
  2. City or country?
  3. First time owner or old-hand?
  4. Family factors
  5. Lone pet or part of a pack?
  6. Preferred doggy paws-onality
  7. Activity levels
  8. Home alone and for how long
  9. Coat care
  10. Canine costs

Answer each point honestly and you’ll create a blueprint for your ideal dog breed.

#1: Apartment or Mansion?

dog outside house

Size matters…of your home that is! Some dogs need more living space than others. For example, take that wonderfully waggy Labrador tail, in a small apartment that it will rip through ornaments at wag height causing constant destruction. A dog with a happy tail like this needs plenty of room to move around.

Small dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahua, and Pekinese are well-suited to apartment life. But don’t disregard some of their medium-sized canine cousins. Charming fellows such as Bichon Frise, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, or even Bulldogs, do well in smaller spaces.

Ironically, some large dogs do cope in less than impressive surroundings. Do you know the Great Dane is a great apartment dog despite their size? Although most Great Danes grow up to 30 to 34 inches tall and weigh up to 100 to 200 lbs, they take up less space than other breeds. They are also well-behaved, and easy to train.

But be aware some dog breeds, when deprived of adequate living space, may develop bad habits such as barking, chewing, or aggressiveness. These are active fur-friends that need room to roam and include the Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Wiemaranar, Hungarian Visla, Dalmatian, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Siberian Husky.

Want to simplify your options? Check out our recommendation for the best dog breeds well-suited for apartment dwellers in this infographic.

best-dog-breeds-for-apartment living

#2: City or Country?

girl petting dog

To be truly happy, your fur-friend needs to have an outlet for natural doggy behaviors. These vary depending on the breed’s heritage. For example, dogs with a working background need space to sniff, explore, and run around. These include the Springer Spaniel, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Jack Russell Terrier, Border Terrier, and Border Collie.

Be mindful of how you’ll meet the needs of such an active breed. If you live in a city consider if there are sufficient parks and open land to let the dog run off leash for daily exercise. If the answer is “No,” then consider a less active breed, such as a Bassett Hound, Chow Chow, Bulldog, and Greyhound. Or a snuggle bug such as the Pug, who aspires to cuddle on the sofa all day watching Netflix.

Also, for city dwellers consider how prone the breed is to barking. It’s unlikely your neighbors will welcome the baying of a Beagle each time someone walks past the window, or reactive barking of a Dachshund, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, West Highland White Terrier, or Yorkshire Terrier.

If barking is an issue then chose a ‘silent’ breed such as the Basenji, Greyhound, Whippet, Borzoi, Bulldog, or Scottish Deerhound.

#3: First Time Owner or Old-hand?

Girl petting her dog

Dogs are clever, some more than others. Indeed, some breeds, such as certain terriers, were bred to think for themselves. This trait is fine for a working Jack Russell out hunting rats, but not so good for the first-time dog owner struggling to control a strong-willed dog.

The inexperienced owner does best with a more forgiving canine character, such as Shih Tzu, Golden Retriever, Cavalier King Charles, Newfoundland, or Havanese. These easy-going four-leggers are obliging and keen to please, which makes training a breeze.

Also, some breeds are delightful but just not suited to first-time owners. These include guarding breeds such as the Rottweiler and Dobermann, but also arguably smaller breeds such as the Chihuahua and Dachshund. The difference being that whereas an out of control Rottweiler could kill a child, a badly behaved Chihuahua is not a threat to life.

#4: Family Factors

child sleeping with dog

All dogs are individuals, but certain breeds have characteristic traits. The trick is to find a dog breed to fit your circumstances.

For example, the small size of a Chihuahua or Pomeranian makes them unsuited to life around toddlers. The clumsy approach of a small child may be threatening to such a small dog who may then snap to protect themselves. Contrast this with the more robust Labrador who is likely to roll over and ask the child for a belly rub.

Factors to weigh up include:

  • Lone companion or family dog: Does the dog need to rub along with other pets?
  • May your personal circumstances change in the future: Might children arrive in future years?
  • Do you have children and what are their ages: Not all breeds are suitable for very young children.

Breeds with a gentle, calm disposition are best suited to family life. But even then, you should not leave a dog unsupervised around youngsters.

Family-friendly breeds to consider include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Shih Tzu, and Cavalier King Charles. And if you want an active dog to wear the kids out, consider a Beagle, Border Terrier, or Boxer.

#5: Lone Pet or Part of a Pack?

cat looking at dog

Do you already have fur-family members such as cats, rabbits, or other dogs?

Be aware that some dog breeds have a high prey drive and will chase cats or other small furries, making their life a misery. As a rule of thumb, terrier breeds were bred to hunt and don’t mix well with other species.

Also, some breeds prefer human company to that of the canine kind. They may get on with other dogs but are much happier as a long pet being center of attention. Examples of these breeds include the Shetland Sheepdog, Italian Greyhound, Great Dane, Australian Cattledog, and the Corgi.

Alternatively, dogs that thrive in the company of other canines include the hounds, such as the Beagle, Bassett hound, and Foxhound.

#6: Preferred Doggy Paws-onality

puppy near a food bowl

Like trying to put a square peg in a round hole, some dogs fit better in some homes than others. This is down to matching the dog’s paws-onality to its owner.  

For example, a bundle of furry mischiefs such as the Beagle, Boxer, or Pitbull Terrier may become bored as the lone dog of a quiet-living senior, whereas a Cavalier King Charles would be in their element snuggling and cuddling on demand.

Some small dogs with big personalities, such as the Dachshund or Chihuahua may turn snappy in a busy household teaming with young children. However, our Beagle friend would lap up the chaos and even add to it a little.

Be thorough with your research, especially if the dog is to live with children. Ask yourself “How would the dog react to having their ears or tail pulled?”  A breed such as the Labrador or Golden Retriever is immensely patient and forgiving, but this can’t be said of all breeds, such as the Shibu Inu, Westie, or Dachshund.

#7: Activity Levels

dog and owner playing

What activities would your ideal dog breed take part in?

Someone wanting a running companion whilst training for a marathon needs a breed that can run alongside such as a Dalmatian, Pointer, Hungarian Visla, or Weirmaranar. However, a housebound person looking for a loving companion would do well with a Pug, Shih Tzu, Whippet, or Pekinese.

For all-around robustness for those family hikes then a Labrador, Beagle, Standard Poodle, or Border Collie are a good fit.

Also, bear in mind that the flat-faced breeds such as Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Pekes, will struggle to exercise in hot weather. If you live in a warm climate and want an active pup, then look for a dog with a classic medium to long lengthened snouts such as a Cocker Spaniel, Poodle, Border Collie, Belgian Shepherd, Dobermann, German Shepherd, or Labrador.  

#8: Home Alone and for How Long?

Dog waiting for the front door to be opened

For most people spending part of the day away from home is an inevitability. But how will the dog cope in your absence? The answer is “Some breeds do better than others.” Of course, this doesn’t mean the working owner can’t own an active breed, but you would need to employ a dog walker to exercise them during the day.

Conversely, those canines content to chill and amuse themselves with a snooze include Whippets, Greyhounds, Shah Pei, Havanese, Maltese Terrier, French Bulldogs, and perhaps most surprising of all, the Bullmastiff.

However, be aware that long periods left alone can lead to boredom, even for the most angelic dog. It is a wise owner who uses strategies such as puzzle feeders and appealing chew toys to keep their dog occupied in their absence.

#9: Coat Care

Dog in a jumper

How much do you love dog hair on the sofa? Indeed, how house proud are you?

Some breeds shed heavily, either at certain seasons or all year round. If the idea of dog hair on the sofa fills you will dread, look for a low shedding breed. These include Poodles and their mixes, Bichon Frise, Schnauzers, Chinese Crested, Portuguese Water Dog, and Yorkshire Terriers.

Those heavy shedding breeds to avoid include the German Shepherd, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Husky, Akita, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, and Chow Chow.

Of course, there is a compromise, which is a daily brushing for a heavy shedder. This collects the hair on the brush and restricts the amount on your soft furnishings. Which also raises the question of How much time you can dedicate to grooming the dog? If you are time poor, then look for a short coated breed such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Beagle, Pug, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, or Boxer.

And last but not least, be aware of the cost of parlor visits for some dog breeds. For those that require stripping or regular clipping, this can quickly mount up. Examples of high coat maintenance breeds include the Afghan, American Cocker Spaniel, Poodles, and their crosses, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese Terrier, and Bearded Collie.

#10: Canine Costs

A pug looking sick

Being a responsible owner means providing for all the dog’s needs including a good diet, vaccination, deworming, and veterinary attention when they are sick.

The bigger the dog, the deeper your pocket must be. Owning a giant breed such as a Newfoundland, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, or a Mastiff is costly. Remember, even routine deworming treatments can be expensive as the cost increases with the dosage. Also, there are hidden add-on expenses for giant breeds, such as a vehicle with reinforced suspension.

Some purebred dogs are more likely to suffer certain health problems than others. It is a sad fact that gorgeous dogs such as the Labrador and German Shepherd are over-represented when it comes to hip and elbow dysplasia. This could mean the need for lifelong pain-relief medication, which again adds to the cost.

Do research the health of your chosen breed. For example, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a veritable saint amongst dogs, with a faultless personality and sunny disposition. However, around 75% of English Cavaliers develop heart disease, which can shorten life expectancy. This could literally be heart-breaking for children who have grown to love and cherish their precious fur friend.

When all’s said and done, even healthy dogs have accidents, so consider pet insurance so you don’t need to worry about treatment costs should the worst does happen.

Have you discovered your ideal dog breed?

Now you have a great idea of what breed is a match made in heaven. But bear in mind that how the puppy is raised makes a big impact on their future mental well-being.

No matter what breed you go for, always avoid puppy mills. These dogs are bred inhumanely and the mental damage to the pups may never be undone. Always look for a responsible breeder who raises litters with welfare as their main consideration.

So now you know the ideal breed, you just have to decide on whether that new fur-friend is going to be a boy or girl…

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