Step One: Take a look at your lifestyle.
First, and probably most importantly, take a realistic look at your lifestyle. Determining your hours away from home as well as the type of activities you enjoy will greatly determine the type of dog that is best suited for your family. Questions you can ask yourself include: Do I work long hours? Travel a lot? Spend a lot of time outside hiking or running? Enjoy relaxing couch time? There are different dogs that can fit into each of these categories.
For those who travel: Small dogs are a great addition to families who aren’t often home and want to take their pooches with them. Small dogs and their belongings take up less space in the car and can often travel on a plane.
For the outdoorsy type: If you spend a great amount of time in nature, hunting and breeding dogs are high energy, agile and need a lot of exercise. These dogs are great for active people looking for four-legged companions to join them on long hikes and runs.
For home bodies: Senior dogs, large breeds like Great Danes and Greyhounds, and small breeds such as Lhasa Apsos and Shitzus make excellent dogs for those who enjoy short walks and lounging around the house.
Keep in mind that a dog’s age will be another factor to any breed you choose. Puppies have a lot of energy and require a great deal of care; senior dogs tend to need less exercise but may have more medical expenses. Remember that looks can be deceiving: size does not equal energy! Jack Russell Terriers have seemingly endless amounts of energy while Greyhounds make a couple laps in the yard, go for a walk and want nothing more than to lounge.
Step Two: Do your research before you adopt.
You think a Golden Retriever is the best fit for your family, but how do you know for sure? There are many different ways to research what kind of dog will best fit your lifestyle. Start on the Internet and read breed-specific websites and blogs. There are even websites that allow you to plug in answers to various questions to allow you to narrow down your search to a few different breeds that may be right for you. After you’ve done your research, do the reality test: talk to people who own your desired breed to find out their experience. Ask your local veterinarian, pet shop and dog daycare about the dogs they have met and weigh the pros and cons. These real-life stories are invaluable in trying to gauge the breed that may fit best into your life.
Step Three: Time to adopt, but from where?
Once you’ve done your research and have decided on a breed, there are many places to meet your new family member. If you’re looking for a purebred dog, seek out local breeders, watch your local animal shelter or find rescue organizations that are breed-specific. Most cities have multiple types of shelters or rescues that have adoptable dogs in need of good homes. There are even organizations dedicated to adopting out dogs nationwide. For those who aren’t sure they’re ready to fully commit to a specific breed, become a foster parent. Fostering is a great way to help dogs in need and interact with different breeds. You never know, that perfect companion may just end up finding you!
Keep in mind, that just like humans, all dogs are different – even within a specific breed! Just because you’ve chosen a breed for a specific personality doesn’t mean your dog will exhibit those exact traits. Every dog is loveable and unique in its own way. Remember, there are no guarantees, so make sure you are willing to make the commitment to love your dog for better or worse for the rest of his or her life.