Choosing a dog breed that's perfect for you is hard work. You don't want a dog that's too big, too small, too expensive, too furry, too annoying, too weak, or too boring for you. Everyone has their own tastes, and owning a dog is a lot of hard work. If you have an idea of what type of dog you want, then this guide will be perfect for you.
If you're coming in without knowing anything, you can still leave this with a lot more information than you had before clicking on this link. Let's begin.
Here are some books that may help you in choosing the right dog for you and your family:
What kind of dog do you want?
This is the first question that you should be asking yourself, and you're going to need to answer quite a few things before you're ready to delve into even more information. Close your eyes, picture taking your brand new dog home for the very first time. What do you see? What does your dog look like?
This is very important because the worst feeling in the world is getting a new dog and feeling like you didn't get the right breed. Follow the guide to a tee, and you should be able to know what type of dog you want precisely by the end.
First Step: Perfect Sized Breed
Okay, the very first thing you should consider is what size do you want your dog to be? Some people prefer their dogs to be little and cute, while others like their dogs to be huge and strong, like watchdogs.
Depending on if you have a family or not (see the best family dog breeds below), and how much you're going to be willing to spend on food, your opinions may change.
Small dogs are very tiny compared to humans, and there are a lot of stereotypes that come attached to them. While not all of the following pros and cons are true for all small dog breeds, most of these are very dependable.
Let's talk about the pros of owning a small dog:
- They're typically not very violent and won't hurt your kids (this makes them the perfect family pet to have).
- They're good watchdogs for your home because they're always barking (also a con).
- Small dogs are great travel companions (think about the Purse Chihuahuas).
- Many people choose small dogs just because they're cute.
- Small dogs (mainly the lapdogs) are usually very close to their owners and love to always be up against your side, and they're very loyal.
Now that we've talked about all of the good parts about owning a small dog, we have to get to the bad parts, let's begin the cons of owning a small dog:
- They tend to shed more than larger dogs. You can still get non-shedding small dogs, but they're usually fluffier and are more likely to drop hair everywhere.
- They tend to bark a lot. If you've ever heard of little man syndrome, then you should be familiar with the science behind why they think they're so tough.
If you're looking to buy a small dog, the best breeds for small dogs you can get are:
- Shih Tzu's
- Bichon Frise's
- Yorkshire Terriers
These aren't the only small dog breeds that exist, but these five certainly make up some of the better known small dogs you can get, and they're very well known.
Each of them has different traits about them. For example, the Bichon Frise's usually have very fluffy fur to them and are more likely to shed, but their hair gets stuck in their coat so be sure to groom them, whereas a long-haired Chihuahua doesn't have much fur at all and is feisty (so they may not be great for families).
Now that we've talked a little bit about small dogs, we can move on to bigger dogs. We're not going to discuss medium-sized breeds because they tend to be right in the middle of small and large dogs regarding the pros and cons, and aren't always as predictable.
Let's discuss the pros of owning a large dog:
- These dogs are usually very loyal and protective.
- They're also excellent watchdogs and are great at scaring away potential burglaries (or anything worse).
- They're strong and perfect for guys.
- Large dogs tend to live longer than small dogs, which gives you more years with your dog.
- These dogs are usually non-shedding, which is excellent for people that get annoyed with finding loose hair and fur everywhere.
Large dogs also have their faults, now we can discuss some of the cons of owning a large dog:
- These dogs might not always be perfect for families (with obvious exceptions) because even if they don't mean to, they could injure a small kid by accident.
- Large dogs eat a lot. You're going to be buying food regularly and will end up paying a lot of money for them.
- Large dogs tend to pass gas. Seriously, all dogs do this, but when big dogs do this, it seems to be about ten times worse.
Now that we've talked a little bit about large dog breeds, we can tell you a little bit about some of the best large dogs you can get:
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Great Danes
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
These are also some of the best known large dogs you can get, with most of them being great for families if they come from a good upbringing. As said before, you should know that owning a large dog isn't always better, especially when you're paying for the food bill for him.
Do You Care About Shedding?
If shedding bothers you, then you might want to verify that the type of dog you're getting won't shed. You'll need to do some research about whether or not these dogs will always be leaving tracks of hair and fur across your home, and if you have a clean house, you're going to want to stay away from these types of dogs.
The good news is that some of these dogs are explicitly bred so that they won't shed. Obviously, with dogs like Chihuahuas, you won't be finding loose hair everywhere because these dogs don't have much fur on them anyways.
Be sure that you do your research before getting a dog, and make sure you fully understand how much that specific dog breed will shed. Some of the most common shedding dogs are:
- Bichon Frise's
- Terriers (Most types)
- Bearded Collies
If you're someone who likes a clean house and doesn't want the fur to be everywhere at all times, then you should try your best to stay away from these breeds, because they'll leave a trail of fur and hair behind in your house no matter what you do to prevent the shedding from happening!
One of the most annoying side effects of having a shedding dog is having fur attached to your shirt every day (trust me on that).
Price Of Dogs
The prices of dogs vary dramatically. Typically, a good rule of thumb is to think about whether the dog you want is a pure breed, a mixed breed, or a mutt.
If you find that the dog you want is a pure breed, then you'll need to expect a high price tag associated with these dogs. Some of these dogs can go over a thousand dollars, while other, less expensive pure breeds can go for less than $500.
Mixed breeds are dogs that have been bred with two pure breeds as their parents. Many mixed breeds are show dogs, and some even have been bred for specific reasons such as herding sheep, and being lapdogs so that they can be sold to people who want to cuddle with their dog a lot.
Mixed breeds vary a lot in price as well. Some mixed breeds sell for a lot of money, while others are relatively inexpensive dogs.
Mutts are dogs that have no distinct breeding to them, they've had ancestors of different breeds, and there's no sure way to detect what these dogs are. Most mutts are very inexpensive, and you can typically get these dogs for less than a couple hundred dollars because not many people seek out to get a mutt.
However, you might find that your mutt was the best dog you've ever had, but understand that it's tough to research mutt breeds due to the varieties of mutts that exist.
The average price of a dog in the USA is $xxx, which is relatively expensive. Make sure that if you're going to be getting a dog that you have the money to pay for it. When you get a new dog, there's a lot of things that you're going to need to buy. Expect to pay for this when getting a new dog:
- The Dog - This is obviously the biggest expense itself. Dogs range a lot but expect to pay a solid amount for your dog.
- Vaccinations – When paying for vaccines, you might spend less than $100 on this. This is very important to make sure that your dog stays healthy for as long as possible, and it's good to get all of your bases cleared when getting a new dog and getting the vaccines done as soon as possible.
- Toys, Treats – Every dog loves playing with toys, especially when they're puppies. You can buy a good set of toys for your dog for around $20, and this is a good investment to make sure that your dog doesn't get bored.
- Bed, Food, Necessities – There are a lot of necessary items to get for your dog. You'll need a crate (or cage), a bed, you'll need some initial food to start your dog off right, and anything else that you think is necessary, such as brushes, scissors for cutting their hair, or nail grinders to keep your dog's nails looking nice.
Hunting Dogs: What to Know
If you're a hunter, then you might be looking at getting a hunting dog. Hunting dogs are some of the smartest dogs in the world, and even if you don't plan on using him for hunting, you'll be sure to get a dog that'll make sure you're safe and protected at all times.
Some of the best hunting dog breeds you can get are:
- Golden Retrievers
- English Setter
These animals are not only useful for tracking down deer and rabbits, but they're also slightly skilled at herding other animals like sheep. If you're a hunter and want a best friend, then some of these hunting dogs could be perfect for you.
There aren't many hunting dogs, but although your search will be limited, you'll find that each dog (regardless of breed) will have its own personality attached to them, and you should make sure that you get a hunting dog that you can connect with emotionally and get along with.
Best Family Dog
Most people who get dogs are looking for a dog that will be good for the family. Family dogs are typically very loyal and good with kids. You don't want to put your children in danger by getting a crazy dog when you could play it safe and get a well-known family dog.
Some of the very best family dogs are types that are purebred and expensive, but that's not always the case! Some of the best family dogs are:
- Golden Retrievers (look at any sitcom showing a family, or watch the Air Bud movies)
These are just the best five family dogs that you can get, but there are a lot more options out there for you who are picky and want the perfect dog.
You should also consider the barking level if you live in a neighborhood with neighbors who wouldn't want to put up with it. You'll want to make sure that your neighbors won't report you for some slight barking. You'll want to verify that the area you live in allows dogs (many suburbs have strict laws on dog ownership).
Something essential for you to consider when looking at family dogs is the life that the dog was coming from previously. I'm assuming that you have small children in the house if you're looking for a family dog. You should know not to look for family dogs from shelters of abused animals because animals that have been abused are more likely to lash out and hurt someone.
Lifespan of the Dog
The lifespan of your dog is a vital thing to consider when looking to buy a long-term pet. You're going to want your dog to live as long as possible because nobody wants to get close to a dog and then see them die at age 7.
The average dog lives from 10-13 years, and this is a good minimum number that you should shoot for when researching the types of dogs that you're thinking about getting. This is especially important to consider if you're someone with kids. If you've never owned a dog before, then you should watch the movie Marley & Me to see what it's like to lose a pet that you've lived with your whole life.
If you live in a suburb, or if you get annoyed easily or are prone to headaches, you should probably avoid getting a dog breed that always barks.
The only people that really can't get away from this are the people that want hunting dogs, and due to their barking nature. You're probably not going to find one that's laid back enough not to bark when they see the mailman come up to the door.
If you're someone who already has a dog with really high barking levels, then try some alternatives to getting rid of the dog's barking.
Some options include giving your dog anxiety medication (which can be very expensive), or a muzzle. You could also use some of the newest methods of quieting your dogs down by implementing new training techniques, rewarding your dog for staying quiet.
Something you should know is that every dog barks, and you're very unlikely to come across a dog that will never bark. It's their nature to bark, and that's one of the reasons that they, as a species, have lasted so long.
You shouldn't punish your dog for barking, but instead, reward them for staying quiet because getting penalized for something instinctual is very wrong. If you're someone who can't handle any noise coming from your animal, either get their voice box removed or get a cat.
Inside vs Outside Dogs
There are quite a few perks to both inside and outside dogs. The choice is entirely up to you for what type of dog you want.
Do you want a little dog who will stay with you at all times, with rare occasions of going outside (such as the bathroom)? Or do you want a dog that will always be out with you, going on walks, doing activities, and running down the beach?
Everyone has their vision for what type of dog they want, and you should weigh the benefits of each breed before choosing.
Inside Dog Benefits
Inside dogs make for perfect apartment dogs, and they're usually small dogs who can still get a lot of their daily exercise in the confines of your home. A lot of dogs don't even enjoy going outside, and you should be careful to choose a breed that doesn't mind staying inside for most of the day.
Here are some benefits to owning an inside dog:
- Your house will stay much cleaner (much less mud and grime tracked inside of your house)
- You won't have to bathe your dog as much.
- Your dog will live longer without being subject to sicknesses and dirt from the outside, this is great for family pets.
- Inside dogs usually don't bark as much as outside dogs (at least the ones meant to stay inside).
Outside Dog Benefits
Outside dogs are the ones that you see in movies that are swimming, running, and hunting with their owners. I'd be willing to bet that the bulk of dogs are meant to be outside, and you'll be able to choose from a much wider variety if you're eager to take your dog out.
Here are some of the best benefits to owning an outside dog:
- You can take them on car rides without them freaking out.
- They're usually more athletic and talented, and will be more fun for people who like fitness!
- Outside dogs tend to be happier than inside dogs, and you might be happier as well with a dog that you can go places with.
- No matter where you live (House, farm, country, and city) other than an apartment on a top floor you're going to be able to have an outside dog easily.
Overview: What Dog Is Best For You
Best tips you could use when looking for a dog is to make a spreadsheet or document with all of the useful information about each breed. Then, you could create a weighted system where you'll choose what means more to you.
After doing all of this, you can weigh out the pros and cons and figure out exactly which dog breed is the best for you.
Give an attempt to figure out from a scale of 1-10 what each of the following means to you:
- Size of the dog (small, medium, large)
- Price of the dog
- Family Dog
- Hunting Dog
- Barking Levels of the dog
- Inside vs outside dog
- Lifespan of the dog
By the end of configuring all of this, with using the help of other pet websites, you should be able to figure out exactly what type of dog you want.
What's your favorite dog breed? Let me know in the comments below.