You have decided you want a dog!
Congratulations! Dogs make the very best companions. They are a big responsibility, but the love and friendship they provide are simply unmatched.
Once you’ve decided you want a dog in your life, you might hop on Google or another website to help you locate a perfect match (like Petfinder.com, for example) to begin your search. That’s when you realize… “dog” is a broad term.
Do you want big or small?
What personality traits are you looking for?
What else should you consider when choosing?
There are so many different breeds out there, and it may feel overwhelming to choose the best fit for you. Different breeds tend to have different personality traits (breed traits are more clearly defined by the American Kennel Club, so you can read more about each on their website). There are also mixed breeds to consider and the fact that we don’t know what breed every dog is (like a rescued dog whose origin is not known).
You should also note– every dog is an individual. Choosing a dog based on breed alone does not guarantee they will have the personality traits you read about or not have others.
Your best starting point is to assess your life and what you can offer a dog. From there, consider these factors:
Bigger dogs need… more space. It’s science! All jokes aside, evaluate how much space you have in your home. Do you have a place for a large dog crate? Do you have a yard? Do you live in an apartment (and are there restrictions based on size)? You want your dog to be able to thrive, and you don’t want to feel overwhelmed by how much exercise your new best friend will require (and bigger dogs tend to be more active, although there are some small breeds with big energies too). After some realistic thought, decide which size is just right.
No matter what age your new dog is, there will be an adjustment period as they get to know you, their new home, their new schedule, etc. It’s no secret that a young, energetic puppy may require more rigorous attention than a middle-aged or senior dog. Do you want to potty train a puppy? Would you prefer working with a foster-based rescue to find an older dog who may just need a quick refresher course in housebreaking? Do you want a couch potato or a running partner? Once you decide, consider the age that meets that desire.
If you are getting a dog from a breeder, you are prepared for a puppy and everything that comes along with it. Reputable breeders will be able to give you an idea of how true to the breed their litters’ personalities tend to be, and what you can likely expect. If you are rescuing a dog, you need to determine how much of their personality you need to know before adopting. For example, if you have young children in the home, you may want to know that a dog has been exposed to small children in the past. A foster-based rescue might be your best route. Dogs in foster homes have a chance to show their true personalities, and therefore, can be more successfully placed. You can also visit your local shelter and explore the histories of the dogs in their care. If history is not as relevant to your situation, most any dog there might be a fit! Meet a few and see who you click with.
As you can see, there are many more ingredients for “the perfect fit” than breed alone. With a well-thought-out plan, you are bound to find your most ideal companion.