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8 tips for choosing the right-sized dog

With so many dog breeds to choose from, trying to find the right fit for your home and family can be overwhelming. Here are tips for finding the right-sized dog for you.

8 tips for choosing the right-sized dog

When it comes to choosing the right size dog for you, it’s important to find a dog that fits your family and lifestyle. An active, big dog and a toddler in an apartment may not be the best idea but if you have a yard and a well-trained dog, no matter the size of the dog, you could have a friend for life.

Before heading out to adopt the first dog you see, consider these tips:

1. Family.Are you single, married, with or without kids? Do your friends and family have kids? When we thought about getting a dog, we considered that we have teenagers but never put much thought into whether the dog was good with small children. According to Pet Finder, small dogs like the Dachshund and Papillon are good with kids. Though they caution that a larger breed like a medium-sized poodle or beagle, or large-sized Labrador Retriever or Boxer may be better suited for active kids and families, as they are less likely to be accidentally hurt by curious hands.

2. Space/Yard.As you’re considering the size dog and your family, also think about the space you have inside and outside. Apartments are good for small dogs as they are often the only size allowed, but larger breeds like Greyhounds are well-suited to apartment living too. Whether you’re in an apartment or house, think about where you would walk a dog and if there are facilities available like doggy daycare and dog parks where your dog could play with other dogs. It’s great for socialization and de-stressing (for you and your dog!); even if you have kids, dogs need their own play time.

3. Personality of the Dog.Don’t let the size of the dog fool you. Smaller dog doesn’t necessarily mean smaller personality and vice versa. I had a dog trainer tell me he wears boots while training because of the small dogs, not the big ones, and when I observed his class, I understood. Big personalities come in all sizes and when choosing the right size dog. Visit with different dogs: Ask to take them for a walk and play with them, so you find one that fits your personality.

4. Lifestyle.When you think about having a dog, what do you want to do with them? Are you wanting a snuggle buddy, a hiking partner, or something in between? Herding breeds like Border Collies require lots of activity, whereas Bulldogs are more laid back, requiring less activity. Having a good idea of your lifestyle and where a dog would fit in is important to choosing the right size dog for you.

Editor’s Note: Are you looking for the perfect companion for travel and other adventures? We match some dog breeds with common activities to help you make the right choice!

5. Puppy vs. Full-grown.Puppies are super cute and lovable, but they also have sharp puppy teeth and nails and aren’t trained yet—not for going potty outside, or sitting when asked, etc. If you’re up for a challenge and have patience, so much patience, then a puppy could be in your future. For everyone else, a full-grown dog might be a better option. Rescues often do behavioral testing and can tell you how trained your prospective pooch is before you even meet them. A dog that knows basic commands like sit and stay has the potential to learn more and be a good boy or girl for you for a long time.

6. Size.The size of the dog doesn’t equate to their personality, trainability, or socialization skills. It’s important to meet a few dogs before adopting because, just like with people, they are all different. My roommate had a yellow Lab mix that we nicknamed Speed Bump because he was so laid back and yet another friend had a purebred Lab that was a crazy barker obsessed with playing fetch. Another friend has small dogs that are challenging to train while another has a pocket pup that goes everywhere with her. Size should be a consideration in conjunction with other factors, not as a standalone.

7. Purebred vs. Mutt.There is great debate between mutt lovers and breeders of which one is better. The mutt lovers believe these dogs are less likely to have health conditions like hip dysplasia, a common problem with purebred Labrador Retrievers, whereas the breeders believe their dogs perform better on socialization and behavioral testing. Neither one has been proven to be right, so the debate continues! Choosing a purebred or mutt is really up to you. Buying a purebred is no guarantee of anything just the same as a mutt, and the mutt can cost a lot less to adopt. (If you’re going the pure bred route, be sure they are licensed with the USDA.)

8. Costs of Dog Ownership.In addition to adoption costs, supplies for larger dogs cost more. An 80-lb, dog eats more than an 8-lb. dog so the costs for food and treats alone can be quite different, in addition to the leash, collar, crate, and other supplies. Vet costs can be different too as it costs more to sedate a larger dog, even for a small procedure like a dental cleaning. Overall, the first-year costs are $1,000-1,200 for any size dog, and $500 per year thereafter.


Making the decision to adopt a dog is exciting but we caution you to take your time in choosing the right dog for you. Consider where you live, your lifestyle, the size and breed, purebred or mutt, and the costs before adopting. It’s a big decision so take your time and enjoy the process!

Editor’s Note: Shelter pets are in need of forever homes year-round. Here are tips and considerations to help guide you in adopting a shelter pet.

Anne McAuley Lopez is a professional blogger and the founder of Blogging Badass. Since 2010, she has worked with clients to create content that tells the story of their business and connects them to their target market. It could be argued that she knows entirely too much about termites, retirement planning, court reporting, Alaskan fishing and mining, and social media—which makes her a great blogger and trivia night partner. When she’s not showing off her mad skillz, Anne can be found spending time with her husband, watching romantic comedies, eating tacos, or walking her dog.

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