Learn how to pick a dog - get the right dog breed, and the best type of dog for you and your family!
With so many different types of dogs and dog breeds available, it can be hard to choose which types would be best for your family. The rewards of a relationship with a dog are like no other, but that is just one part of the equation. The other is a commitment to the life long happiness and well being of your dog companion.
The right dog must fit with your lifestyle, your family, and your budget. You must provide the right home for the dog, a place where it is cherished, loved, and well cared for. Bring these ingredients together and you will have years of fun, love, and loyal companionship.
The task of picking the best dog can seem daunting, but not if you know where to start. Rather than buying that cute little puppy on impulse spend some time in thoughtful consideration. Time spent in the beginning will spare you and your family from the discontent and heartbreak an unfortunate, spur-of-the-moment decision could result in.
Analyze the type of person you are, where you live, and the activities you enjoy. Then look at the the types of dogs there are, and consider the different dog breeds. Finding where these elements meet will point you to the most suitable type of dog. Follow these simple steps on how to pick a dog to find the best dog for you and your family
How to Pick a Dog
- What type of person are you?
First look at where your home and the area where you live. Then consider your lifestyle, how much time you can devote to your pet, your budget, and how much you are willing to spend. Finally determine what expectations you and your family have of a companion dog.
- What type of dog fits you and your lifestyle?
Do a thoughtful analysis of each type of dog. Dog breeds come in a wider variety of sizes, shapes, and temperaments than any other single species on the planet. They run the gamut from 2 pounds to 200 hundred pounds, short, squat and round to long, lean and lithe, friendly and social to wary, cautious and protective, and everything in between.
Take a careful look at each dog breed's characteristics and what you envision doing with your dog. Determine a set of criteria to use during the selection process. Include what size of dog you want, breed type, amount of exercise needed, grooming requirements, health concerns, and your level of experience with dogs.
- Putting the two together
Combine your lifestyle, accommodations, temperaments, and tastes to what each type of dog has to offer. Once you have a good overview by type of dog, narrow this down until you have determined which dog breed is the best fit. Selecting a dog with this approach will result in both you and your dog being happy and content for years to come.
- The element of surprise!
You may decide a particular breed of dog is the best choice, or perhaps a mixed breed that combines the qualities of more than one breed may be more appropriate. No matter what you decide, you'll still need to be somewhat flexible in allowing for your dog's individual traits.
Each breed of dog has a set of characteristics, but all dogs within that breed may not exhibit those characteristics to the same magnitude. And with mixed breed dogs, trying to guess the various attributes that will develop can be even more difficult. That is because there is no way to know in advance which trait or characteristic will dominate. So be prepared for an element of surprise!
You've decided you are ready for a cat, so now comes the fun part... What type of cat do you want! Check out the dogs types, see the 10 most popular dog breeds and others, review dog breed health concerns and more below, then pick the best dog for you!
Types of Dogs
Dogs types are organized into several groups, and each group contains a number of dog breeds. Each member of a group may share a number of similar characteristics. These can be things like dog backgrounds and ancestry, physical appearance, and temperament. One of the most important aspects of these groups, is based on what function the dogs were bred for.
Breed registries differ somewhat in how they categorize types of dogs into groups. In each of these registries, characteristics like small dog breeds, large dog breeds, miniature dogs, types of terriers, hunting dogs, guard dogs, and companion dogs, can cross from one class to another. The dog types we group them into follow the groupings as set by American Kennel Club (AKC), and are as follows:
- Herding Dogs:
Herding dog breeds were primarily used on farms to guard livestock and move livestock between fields. These dogs are noted for intelligence and trainability. They are not aggressive and make loyal and affectionate dogs. Being very energetic, they will need to be kept busy. If not given a job they may very well find their own activities which may be chewing your slippers or digging in the yard.
See Herding Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Hound Dogs
Hound dog breeds were primarily used for hunting, either by sight or sound, but all have one trait in common, stamina. Many hounds make exceptional pets, but they are instinctual hunting dogs. Nothing makes them happier than sniffing out or sighting a varmint, and they pursuing it to the end. Most are best kept on a leash or securely fenced.
See Hound Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Sporting Dogs
Sporting Dog breeds excel in strong water and nature instincts. This group includes pointers, setters, retrievers, and spaniels.
These dogs are the embodiment of what constitutes a good companion dog. They are loyal, friendly, active and affectionate. Many will fit well into an active family life and enjoy children. Most get along well with other pets, though there are a few with a strong prey instinct that can't be trusted around small pets. They do need a good deal of exercise
See Sporting Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Non-Sporting Dogs
Non-Sporting Dog breeds often serve as companion dogs but are very diverse in backgrounds. They were bred for many uses from hunting dogs, herding dogs and guard dogs, to affectionate lap dogs.
This wide variety of dogs hail from all across the globe and includes small dog breeds and large. They also vary in coat, personality, and overall appearance from the northern dogs, the popular bulldogs, and the rather rare Tibetan Spaniel and Terrier, to the only spotted breed dog, the Dalmatian.
See Non-Sporting Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Terrier Dogs
Terrier dog breeds include the traditional terriers that were originally developed to hunt and kill vermin, dig out prey or burrow into dens. They are noted for peppiness and tenacity, but are not known to have a lot of tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Terriers include the bulldogs and require owners that can match their determined characters and high energy.
See Terrier Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Toy Dogs
Toy dog breeds were bred as house pets and have served as companions for hundreds, even thousands of years. A lot of small dog breeds were once the prize possessions of members of the ruling class, and many are a scaled down version of another breed.
Toy dogs make excellent house pets, and their small size makes them great for apartment living. Though small in stature, miniature dogs are big in attitude and quite tough. They often have courage disproportionate to their size. They require owners that can provide them with love, but also structure.
See Toy Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Working Dogs
Working dog breeds are large and strong dogs. They were bred to watch over people, their property, and their livestock. They have been used to help guard estates and livestock, pull carts and sleds, as rescue dogs, and to serve in war.
Working dogs that were bred for human companionship tend to be gentle with friends and family, but they are protective and can be reserved with strangers. They can also be fierce when provoked. These dogs must be properly trained.
See Working Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
- Mixed Dogs
Mixed dog breeds are crossbreeds; they consist of hybrids, 'designer' dogs, and the mutt. This is a huge variety of dogs, including those with known parentage to those with unknown backgrounds. They come in all sizes, shapes, with all sorts of traits and characteristics. Mixed dogs will very often make exceptional and well-rounded family pets.
See Mixed dog Dog Information for a more in depth discussion on this type of dog.
Ten Most Popular Dog Breeds and More
Breed characteristics provide an understanding of how active, attentive, and trainable a particular dog type may be. These character traits also give you an idea what the different types of dog's need, and most importantly, what will be required to keep them as happy, healthy pets.
Here is a list of the top ten popular types of dogs as per the American Kennel Club (AKC), and how well they are suited to a family.
Top 10 Dog Breeds
Type of Dog
Great for active families. Boundless energy and natural protective instincts. Loyal and devoted
||Excellent for active families. Even-tempered, highly intelligent and trainable. Natural protective instincts. Can be wary of strangers, but warms up quickly.
||Do well in apartments. Get along well with older children. Very smart but can be stubborn, needing firm authority.
Active breed. Fits in well with very active families. Loyal and loves to play.
||Excellent choice for families that enjoy outdoor activities
|Excellent family pet. Lovable, gentle and protective. Tend to form strong bonds with children.
||Active breed. Fits in well with active families
||Lively and outgoing, an entertaining companion dog. Does well in a small space.
Intelligent, friendly and crave human companionship. Likes to run and play, Low shed
||Small dog breed, an indoor dog. Spunky, loyal, and friendly but can be very vocal.
The second ten most popular types in line for 2010 are the Rottweiler, Miniature Schnauzer, Chihuahua, Doberman Pinscher, Pomeranian, German Shorthair Pointer, Great Dane, Siberian Husky, Shetland Sheepdog, and Boston Terrier. These comprise only a short list of the different types of dogs available, there are many others that are also popular.
Go to the Dog Breeds main page or each dog type page to find a links to information for each type of dog.
Dog breed health concerns and more
When choosing the perfect breed of dog, everyone has their own set of criteria that they use during the selection process. Dog professionals suggest selecting a dog to match your lifestyle, as opposed to selecting a dog and matching your lifestyle to theirs.
Breed and dog type are important starting points when thinking about how to pick a dog, but there are a few more criteria you don't want to miss. When reviewing each breed your are considering, be sure to look closely at these traits for any dog you are considering:
How big a dog you get needs to match the amount of space you have available for it. If you have a large home with a big yard, any size dog is ideal. But if you live in an apartment or town house a small to medium size dog will be more appropriate, and a studio apartment is best suited for a miniature to small dog. Keep in mind that a cute little puppy can be misleading about its ultimate size, large dogs start out quite small and then grow fast.
- Activity/exercise level
The level of exercise needed is unique to every dog breed, and may not correspond to its size. Surprisingly, some small and medium size dogs are very high energy and need lots of activity. While on the other hand there are large dogs that can be quite docile and sedentary, requiring little exercise. Every dog breed has a unique level of exercise, which may not be based on its size. Some small to medium breeds, for example, require a lot of exercise. While on the other hand, some larger breeds can be calm and tranquil, requiring little exercise.
- Dog breed health concerns
With just about every dog breed their are some inherent health issues, and some breeds have more than others. Be sure to consider all dog breed health concerns that affect each type of dog you are interested in before commiting to a decision. Many health issues can be eliminated when when you purchase from a trustworthy breeder, but some health conditions may also occur inherently within the breed.
The level of maintenance needed is unique to every dog breed, with longhair breeds often needing a regular grooming schedule. Be sure to review the grooming requirements in for the type of dog your pick.
- Dog experience
Dog breeds that are dominant, headstrong and stubborn will probably do better with experienced dog owners. Researching each specific breed as well as speaking to breeders and breed associations, can help you in finding a dog that is easier or more challenging to train and acclimate, according to your experience.
- Child friendly
Many types of dogs are excellent with children, but not all. There are some breeds that simply love being around children more than others. Selecting the wrong breed may not be a good match for your home if have children, or are planning to have them.
For basic dog care and some great dog care tips for all types of dogs, see Dog Care Information.
Choosing a dog breed
You will find many wonderful family and companion dogs in each of the types of dog breeds. But not all types of dogs make good family pets. A family dog needs to be tolerant enough to allow for some child play, such as tail and ear tugging. And dogs living with children need to have enough energy to withstand hours of play!
Many types of dogs can work well with children and there are some characteristics you can look for in a family dog to help ensure a good experience. When choosing a dog breed, It is important to remember that there are good and bad dogs in every breed. Individual dogs within breeds can demonstrate their own unique personality traits. No matter what breed you choose, make sure to be very careful about the safety of both your children and the dog. It's not a good idea to leave them together unsupervised unless you are very familiar and comfortable with how each will behave.
- American Kennel Club, The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition (Complete Dog Book) , Ballantine Books, 2006
- Kristin Mehus-Roe, The Original Dog Bible: The Definitive Source to All Things Dog, BowTie Press, 2005
- D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D, Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds , Lorenz Books, 2003
- American Kennel Club