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Man and dog hiking in the mountains

Right-sized dogs: How to choose the best breed for you

Dog ownership should be a joy for both you and your pet. It is important to choose carefully when selecting the dog breed that’s best for you, your home, your family, and your budget. 

Whether you already have an image of your ideal dog in mind or whether you’re just beginning your search, there are some important factors to consider when selecting the most compatible breed for your lifestyle. Here we’ll share a few essential factors you’ll want to consider in your dog selection process.

Size

Perhaps the most obvious consideration when selecting a dog breed is the physical environment you will share with your pet. Your beloved childhood pet may have been an English Mastiff, but if you live in a one-bedroom apartment in the city, a dog of that size might not be practical. Consider the space you’ll be sharing with your pet, keeping in mind both the animal’s comfort and your own: Do you have a yard your pet can access?  How long will your dog be left home alone each day? Where will your pet sleep, eat, and play? All these are factors worth considering when choosing a dog breed.

Exercise and Activity

Another important factor is the amount of exercise your dog will receive. If you lead an active lifestyle and enjoy hiking, running, climbing, or swimming, you may want to consider a breed that enjoys romping outdoors—such as a Labrador, German Short-Haired Pointer, Weimaraner, or Jack Russell. If you have a more sedate lifestyle, more compatible breeds might include a Bulldog or Pug. Remember, however, that to maintain good health, even the most docile dog breeds need daily exercise and a proper diet.

Grooming and Hygiene 

One of the responsibilities of dog ownership is proper grooming and hygiene. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time caring for your dog’s coat (or just don’t want a lot of dog hair on the furniture), you may want to consider a short-haired breed like a Miniature Pinscher or Rottweiler. Also, consider the bathing regimen: Will you bath the dog in the bathtub, in the backyard, or at a professional groomer’s? Remember that the larger long-haired breeds--like Newfoundlands and Bernese Mountain Dogs—require a regular time commitment for careful grooming. 

Temperament

A third element to consider is the temperament of your dog. If you share your home with children or other pets, be sure you select a breed with an affable and patient temperament. Much of canine temperament is not breed specific, and you will of course have to assess the personality of the individual animal you consider. If you have kids, involve them in the process. Remember that the dog you select will be not just a pet but part of the family. 

Healthcare and Budget

To maintain good health, every dog will require proper diet and veterinary care. The total first-year costs for a dog are estimated at $565, and ongoing yearly costs can total more than $1000. Plan to budget about $100 per month on pet care for your animal and be sure to consider the total cost of pet ownership into your research. 

If you are considering pet insurance, here is a handy calculator for determining the cost of healthcare with and without coverage. There are also organizations and programs that can help with the costs of vaccinations and low-cost spay-neuter programs.  

Conclusion

Choosing the right dog is a process that should be taken seriously. We hope that with these tips in mind you’ll be able to make an informed selection that will be enriching to you, your family, and of course your new dog.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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