Dogs can be very beneficial for families, but choosing the right one can be a tough and challenging journey. You have to get the right fit. Every dog is different and has certain needs. Research the dog you want and be sure to consider the whole family; choose one that every member can help take care of. We often hear the phrase "Dogs are like their owners," and it's true-people tend to look for a personality in their dog that's similar to their own.
Different lifestyle, different needs
Dogs have certain lifestyles so they can stay happy and healthy; take that away and it'll be rough. If you aren't going to be home half the time, then most breeds probably aren't a good fit. Think from a dog's perspective: If you were a large dog stuck in a tiny apartment, would you be happy? Think of the things you could get into and how obese you'd become from no exercise.
Make sure the dog's lifestyle will mirror your own. Research the breed's activity level to make sure you can keep up with them. If you live in an apartment, small dogs tend to be best fit. Just make sure they get their daily exercise.
The sky's the limit when it comes to picking out a breed. This is where research comes into play. Research different breeds' size, grooming, exercise, activity level, skill as guard dogs, protectiveness, loyalty, skill with hunting, etc. There are breeds to match your hobbies, work, you name it. There are dogs also used as service dogs, who help people with disabilities such as blindness, hearing problems and even anxiety.
Here are a few breeds that are great with kids:
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers
- Golden Retrievers
- Siberian Huskies
- Shiba Inu
Check size and energy
Size and energy are a big deal with dogs. If you live in a small place with a large dog and add high energy, then you can bet that sometimes it'll get a bit destructive. Dogs get bored too, so they need things to do and a way to let their energy out. That's why walks and exercise are important. Small dogs are fragile, but they can still be great family pets as long as kids aren't too rough.
If you like going on walks or runs and need a companion, get a dog that can keep up! You don't want to mix the wrong breed with your lifestyle, as this can be harmful for the dog. Yes, all dogs need exercise, but some can't handle excessive amounts. There are dogs bred for numerous activities and could keep up. If you're a high-energy, active bunch, then check out some large, high-energy dogs. They'll love it and may even end up challenging you to a sprint!
If you're someone who likes staying home or lives in an apartment, check out dogs that match you. There are some good, small guard dogs out there, so don't let their size fool you. Small dogs also make great cuddle buddies who like to stay at home.
Tiny dogs and their needs
Small dogs can usually hold their own when they need to. They're tough little things, but still fragile. If you have toddlers, this is really something to think about, as young kids don't always know to be careful with dogs. Dogs that weigh from 7 to 30 pounds are very easy to hurt. They take a lot of care and attention to ensure that they stay healthy. Especially with breeds like tea cups, you have to watch your step and where you sit or this can become dangerous.
Shelter dogs need love, too
Rescue dogs need love and care just like any other dog. A lot of people write shelter dogs off because they think that they'll be a lot of work and have high vet bills, but this isn't always the case. Previous owners may have gotten a dog that they couldn't handle or didn't have time for, so they had to give them up. It happens. Adopting from shelters is a good idea because those dogs have usually already been fixed and most are trained. Shelters will have you do paperwork to make sure that you can take proper care of them and will be a good fit for each other.
This option is very beneficial for both dogs and owner. They get a great new home and you've helped to give them the life they deserve. Shelters are there for dogs who've been abandoned, neglected and forgotten. They're still trainable. Ask staffers how the dog's behavior is and any other questions you have.
You'll definitely want to check out a dog's temperament. Make sure they're good-tempered and patient if you have kids. Dogs can have short attention spans during training and will get aggravated from constant training, but if you stay consistent this will soon go away. Some dogs need lots of attention and get irritated when ignored, so be ready to give some attention.
Certain dogs love to do certain things. Take that away and you'll have a lot to handle. If you have kids, get a medium-to-highly-active dog that can keep them busy but is also loyal, patient and protective. Some dogs need a lot of outdoor exercise to keep them healthy, robust and not destructive. Always keep up with training. Dogs need to know who is in charge, or their mindset and temperament change to them thinking they're in charge.
All breeds carry dander, but some have less. Non-allergenic dogs either don't shed or don't have an undercoat so they shed very little. This makes them great for families who have allergies or asthma. They need to be given regular maintenance because their fur picks up other dander and pollen, which are brought into the house. Keeping them brushed and groomed will keep them and your family healthy.
Great breeds for allergies:
- Poodles; non-shedding, sizes: toy, miniature, standard, great athletes
- Shih Tzu: Enjoys people, sensitive to heat
- Maltese: active, loves indoors
- Chinese Crested: hairless or powder puff (very short hair) has separation anxiety, loves kids
- Bichon Frise: needs intense grooming, skin issues, loves people, dogs and cats
- Havanese: playful, smart, affectionate