Deciding to choose a family dog is an exciting and rewarding experience. In the United States alone, dogs have captured the hearts of millions. A 2023 pet ownership statistic states they’re the beloved companions of 65.1 million American households.
While almost all dogs are lovable and cute, choosing the right furry friend for your home can be daunting. With countless breeds and individual personalities to consider, finding a dog that fits seamlessly into your family dynamic requires careful thought and consideration.
However, don’t worry; knowing your preferences is a good start. Also, understanding different dog breeds’ characteristics can significantly simplify your dog selection process.
Now, if you’re ready to become a responsible fur parent, here are some valuable considerations to make to help you choose the perfect four-legged addition to your family:
Consider the dog’s size
Size is an important consideration when choosing a family dog. It’s a core factor that may depend on your family’s preferences, your home’s free space, and your budget.
Some families may prefer large breeds for their protective nature and playfulness, like Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. These breeds are often friendlier than most and are great companions for active families.
Meanwhile, others may find small breeds more suitable for small homes and families with young children, as they are often more manageable and less likely to knock them over. Some good choices are Beagles and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
And most families, particularly those living in dog-friendly modern cities with medium- to large-sized homes like Chicago, usually settle for mid-sized breeds. Unlike small and large breeds, medium-sized dogs are more adaptable, trainable, and versatile. However, dogs under these breeds may need to live in neighborhoods with dog-friendly spaces like the ones in Lincoln Park and Jackson Bark.
An excellent example of a mid-sized breed is the German Shepherd. Of course, the characteristics mentioned above are just general traits, so the character predispositions of different types of German Shepherds may slightly deviate a bit.
Understand the dog’s temperament and personality
Every dog has a unique personality, and it’s crucial to find a temperament that matches your family’s expectations and behavior towards pets. Also, consider the energy level, friendliness, and compatibility with children and other pets when selecting a breed.
For instance, ask yourself if you want an outgoing, friendly dog or a calmer, more laid-back companion. If you prefer the former, you may want to adopt a Beagle or Bichon Frise. A Basset Hound or Cavapoo may be ideal for your household if you choose the latter.
To narrow your choices, you may want to research different breeds, visit shelters, and talk to breeders or experienced dog owners. Doing these things can provide valuable insights into the temperaments and personalities of various dog pedigrees, helping you find the perfect fit for your family.
Match the dog’s breed with your lifestyle
Before you adopt a furry companion, evaluate your family’s lifestyle and daily routine. Consider factors such as activity level, available space, and time commitment. Are you an active family who loves outdoor adventures or prefers a more relaxed lifestyle?
If your family enjoys outdoor activities and has ample space, a high-energy and playful breed like a Labrador Retriever or a Border Collie may be ideal for you.
On the other hand, if you have a busy schedule or live in an apartment with limited space, a smaller or lower-energy breed like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a French Bulldog might be more suitable.
Be aware of the dog’s shedding tendency and your allergies
If you or your family members have allergies, opting for hypoallergenic breeds can help minimize allergic reactions. These breeds, such as the Poodle or the Maltese, produce fewer allergens and are often a good choice for allergy sufferers.
However, know there’s no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic dog breed. After all, dogs produce a variety of allergens in their dander (a dog’s dead skin cells), saliva, urine, and feces. These allergens can spread around your home through the fur. To reduce them, routinely groom your dog. If you don’t have much time, you may schedule regular appointments with a professional dog groomer.
So, if you don’t want to deal with these allergens, pick a dog breed with hair that grows continuously instead of shedding, like the Bichon Frise or the Portuguese Water Dog. On the other hand, if massive amounts of swirling dog fur are a non-issue for your family, you’re free to choose heavy shedders like the Labrador Retriever or the German Shepherd.
Know the dog’s lifespan and health considerations
Knowing how dogs can become cherished members of every family, one must consider their lifespan and potential health issues when choosing one.
Note that smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds tend to have longer lifespans, often living well into their teens. On the other hand, larger dog breeds like Great Danes and Bernese Mountain Dogs typically have shorter lifespans, averaging around six to eight years.
Also, you must consider where you live. Know if your state or city is pet-friendly, has a good climate for dogs, and has regulations in place for the welfare of your future family companion. For example, Denver has one of the mildest climates in the country, which is ideal for raising dogs.
Awareness of common health issues associated with specific breeds is crucial. By understanding breed-specific health concerns, you can make an informed decision and take appropriate measures to maintain your dog’s well-being.
Final thoughts on how to choose a family dog
Deciding to choose a family dog requires thoughtful consideration.
By assessing all the considerations mentioned above, you’re on your way to finding the perfect canine companion.
Remember, a well-matched dog will bring joy and love and become integral to your family for years.