By: Sara Hogle DVM

There are several important factors to consider when choosing a specific dog breed or mixed breed individual for your family. In general, you will want to consider your own lifestyle, personality, and specific desires for dog behavior, personality, and maintenance characteristics. Selecting your canine friend is an important long term decision for you and your family so it pays to spend some time researching to ensure you come to the right decision.

When you imagine the type of dog you picture yourself living with for the next 10-20 years the dog’s breed will play an important role in this decision, but many other factors are important to consider. A particular breed will ensure certain qualities in your dog (coat length and grooming requirements, size, often energy level, trainability, protectiveness, temperature/climate tolerance, and  predisposition to certain medical problems) but does not automatically ensure that you will end up with the “perfect dog” for you. Spending some time researching the history of your dog’s family line, training and socializing your dog, and investing in your dog’s preventative care and medical needs through your veterinarian will provide you both with the best opportunity for a long happy, fulfilling life together.


A list of important factors to consider when selecting a canine companion:

  1. Size
  2. Energy level (some dogs are non-stop sprinters vs. more of a couch potato)
  3. How much time will you be able to spend exercising your dog each day?
  4. How often will you be able to play with your dog?
  5. How affectionate (“clingy”) do you want your dog to be?
  6. Do you have any other pets in the household that your dog will need to get along with?
  7. How trainable do you want your new dog to be?
    1. Some easier to train dog breeds- Australian shepherds, Border collie, Lab, Golden retriever, Poodles, Papillion
  8. How protective do you want your new dog to be?
  9. How much maintenance/grooming can you provide and how much shedding can you tolerate?
  10. Does your dog need to be able to tolerate cold, hot, or variable temperatures/climates based on where you live?
  11. Is it important that your dog be good with children?
  12. Is affordability an issue for you? E.g. initial cost of purchase, food, grooming costs, potential for health care/medical issues in the future.
    1. For example some breed predilections for hip dysplasia include German shepherds, Rottweiler,Labradorretrievers, Golden retrievers
  13. Will your dog be kept inside, outside, or a bit of both? (certain breeds just don’t tolerate exposure outside well at all).
  14. What is your level of experience with dogs? (certain breeds are not recommended for 1st time dog owners).
  15. What was the breed originally bred for? (some of those instincts may remain; for example some breeds were bred for digging/rooting out rodents and will likely do so in your flower garden as well).
  16. Do you have any allergies to dogs?  Some “hypoallergenic breeds” include: poodles, Bichon Frise, etc.
  17. How vocal of a dog do you prefer? Some are more talkative including: Beagles, Huskies, German Shepherd dogs.