Pets are family. No matter how big or how small. And just as for the rest of the family, we strive to provide our pets with the best care possible. Before adding any pet to our family, we must decide that we can dedicate our time to them and love them unconditionally.
If you’ve been longing for a companion to fill your heart and your home, perhaps you’re now at the stage that you know you want a dog. But you’ve been wondering – what kind of dog should I get? There are many breeds and it can get confusing. This article will help you sort out through the noise to find the right dog breed for you.
Dog Breed Sizes
When looking for a suitable dog breed, the very first question you should be able to answer is “What size of a dog can my home accommodate?”
Generally speaking, apartments are only suitable for small dogs. A small home with a small yard will satisfy small, medium, and the exceptional few large breeds that are less active. In contrast, a large home, and a large yard – the choice is yours.
To give you a bit of an idea of what is considered a small, medium, and large dog breed, here are some example:
Small dog breeds (suitable for apartments) include Chinese Crested, Whippet, Japanese Chin. They range from 5 to 20 pounds.
Medium size dog breeds include Basset Hound, Bulldog, Dalmatian, Collie. They range from 20 to 50 pounds.
Large breeds include Cane Corse, Borzoi, and Afghan Hound. 50 to 150+ pounds.
Establishing an amount of time that you can devote to your dog every, single, day is a very substantial part of making the right choice. Be realistic. Some dog breeds require an extraordinary amount of time, while others are extremely laid back.
The time per day required will depend on the size and breed of your dog. Some of the most energetic dogs require 2 hours of solid exercise per day while the most laid back one requires as little as 30 minutes per day. Mind you this does not include time spent with your dog or training him/her. This is pure exercise time.
If you add bonding time and exercise, an energetic dog requires at least 4 hours of your day. That’s a substantial commitment and a luxury only a few people can afford.
It is important to make sure the breed you choose gets enough exercise according to their traits. A bored dog is a destructive dog that can develop behavioral problems very quickly.
Time for Puppies
When it comes to puppies, completely different rules apply. A good rule of thumb is five minutes of exercise per month of age and up to twice a day until they are at least 1 year old. In other words, a 3-month-old puppy will need 15 minutes of exercise while a 4-month-old will need 20 minutes.
Smaller breeds puppies may only require 5 minutes of exercise per day until the age of 1. That being said, this is a rough guideline and each breed varies slightly. Exercising puppies too much before their bones stop growing could impact their growth and impede their development. This is especially true for the larger dog breeds such as the Great Dane.
The very first 2-3 months
In the very first 2-3 months of ownership, you should not leave your dog alone at all. To leave a dog alone, you have to train it to be alone. This is a slow process.
If your puppy learns how to be alone at a young age, it will avoid having to deal with separation anxiety issues in the future. Almost all dogs that are surrendered to an animal shelter have separation anxiety and need to work on being left alone. Whether you are getting a puppy or an adult, this is something that you will likely need to work on with your pet.
Once the puppy has reached 2-3 months old, then you can begin with separation training. It is best to start slow. Leaving your dog alone for 10 to 40 minutes and gradually increasing the time to 3-5 hours. It is crucial to be patient here. It could take some time.
Most laid back dogs
Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Chihuahua, Great Danes, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Most high energy dogs
Huskies, Australian Shepard, Cocker Spaniel, Border Collie, Jack Russel Terrier, Dalmatians, and Yorkshire Terrier
Deciding whether you want to raise a puppy or to jump right in and get an older dog is not always an easy choice. Both have pros and cons. Puppies will require constant supervision for 3-6 weeks.
Puppies need to potty every two hours. They need frequent feeding and socialization training so they can properly associate with people and other pets.
An older dog generally requires less intensive care than a puppy. That is, if they have been properly trained. Most will be confident enough to be left alone for periods of time and can be quite content spending the day napping. Depending on the breed and age, they might also just be happy with a nice walk each day or some cuddle time on the couch.
Another aspect to consider is that certain breeds do not live very long. Breeds with the shortest lifespans include Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Dogue de Bordeaux, Irish Wolfhound, Saint Bernard, and Blood Hounds.
These breeds have an approximate lifespan of 5-8 years. In contrast, Poodles have a life expectancy of 15.5 years.
Some breeds are prone to medical conditions that can be very costly.
Breeds that are most prone to medical conditions include:
Bulldog: Respiratory Problems
Great Dane: Bloat (fatal if not treated quickly)
Pug: Eye Problems, respiratory issues
German Shepherd: Hip Dysplasia
Dachshund: Back Problems ( 1 in 4 will have spinal issues)
Doberman: Heart Condition
Cocker Spaniel: Ear Infections
Chihuahua: Collapsing Trachea (common in toy breeds)
Each individual dog is different and characteristics between breeds vary a great deal. You want to consider what general characteristic you want to have in your dog.
Think for a second and reflect on which of these is most important to you: Guard dog, affectionate, independent, hunting companion, a dog you can travel with, a cuddle friend who doesn’t need tons of exercise, sporty and high-energy dog, family-friendly dog, and a loyal companion.
Dogs come in many different coats. There is long hair, short hair, no hair, wire hair, curly hair, smooth hair, double coat, and silky hair.
If the thought of having hair everywhere makes you cringe, perhaps a hairless dog such as an American Hairless Terrier is a good option.
Remember all dogs shed, even short-haired dogs, some more than others but they all shed.
Some dogs are said to be hypoallergenic such as Shih Tzu, Havanese, and Chinese crested. Although really the dirty secret between all experienced dog breeders is that there is really no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed.
If daily grooming sessions with your dog are a thought that brings you joy look no further than a Poodle, Afghan Hound or a Bichon Frise.
Some dogs bark at the drop of a hat while others rarely make a peep. Some owners may consider a loud bark a good trait, while others not so much.
If you’re looking for a guard dog, you want a dog that can bark. If you live in an apartment and are going to be out at the office for good parts of the day, not so much.
Certain dog breeds are quite and are too friendly to care. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an example. Some breeds don’t bark at all – they have a different form of vocalization such as howling, “yodelling”, and other unusual sounds.
Generally speaking hounds and toy dogs have a tendency to be more vocal. American Foxhound, Dachshund, Pomeranian, and Chihuahuas are some of the loudest.
However, the biggest factor in how much a dog barks – even more than its breed – is how much the dog is trained and exercised. Despite some breeds being known to be frequent barkers, it may not ring true for your dog. Each dog is an individual and it will mostly depend on how you train them.
Matching the natural predispositions of a dog to your lifestyle will undoubtedly fortify a special bond. Owning a dog is challenging but also very rewarding.
Now that you have enough information you can narrow it down to which dog breed you want and which breed you should get. If you’re looking for more information about different dog breeds you can check out this website.