Choosing The Right Family Dog (Ultimate Guide)

Choosing the right dog can be a challenge. In the end, your goal should be to find the dog that is just right for you and your family. Doing so will make sure that you have a friend and companion for life.

If you do not take the time to make an informed decision about which dog is right for you, it can make life difficult for you, and hard for the dog. In most cases, when families end up believing that a particular dog is not suited to them or their lifestyle, they surrender the dog to the nearest shelter. This can be avoided by just taking the time to some research before running out and bringing the new dog or puppy home.

How to choose the right dog

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which dog you want to bring into your family. Some of the main things to consider are:

  • Age
  • Personality (temperament)
  • Breed
  • History
  • Your living arrangements
  • Your lifestyle
  • Other family members

So, this might mean that you have to consider any other pets you may have, whether you are a frequent traveler, and if you have children. You should also consult the other members of your family. Getting a dog is not something you should decide on your own. Although the dog should have a primary caregiver, all members of the family should be on board when it comes to having a dog and providing her with love and attention.

Choosing adult dog guidelines

A dog should…

  • Have a place in your current lifestyle
  • Be friendly around family and friends
  • Behave well around children (especially important if you have children of your own)
  • Be able to get along well with other pets (if you have any)
  • Be in general good health

Choosing a puppy guidlines

A puppy should…

  • Come from a responsible breeder
  • Have healthy parents
  • Come with proper records of all vaccinations and other health issues • come from a clean facility
  • Have siblings who are active
  • Come form a breeder with a health guarantee
  • Have clear eyes

It is up to you whether you decide to adopt an older dog or buy a new puppy. However, you will want to make sure that they meet most, if not all, of the guidelines above. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. It is meant to give you a starting point as you decide how to choose the right dog for you and your family. If there are any other considerations that you would like to add, please feel free to add them in the comments below.

Getting a new pupp

A new dog can be a wonderful companion and a great addition to a family that is prepared to take care of them. Dogs are great at keeping you company and just being there for you. As I write this article, Misha is asleep, curled up right by my feet. How comforting is that?

Earlier tonight, I was watching some television downstairs, and she curled up right next to me in the recliner enjoying the warmth of the fireplace. She is not much of a protector at thirteen pounds, but she does warn us when strangers come to the door. The point is, dogs are wonderful.

Earlier we talked about some of the factors you need to consider when you decide to buy a new puppy. However, another major decision remains to think about – should you get a new puppy or should you consider adopting an older dog. For now, let’s talk about getting a new puppy and later we will continue with considering a grown dog.

Also, I would strongly suggest you read our post which will help you decide whether you are ready for a new puppy or not.

Pros of a new puppy

One advantage of bringing home a puppy is that, as long as you buy your puppy from a reputable breeder, you are generally certain that your puppy is healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. Another advantage is that your puppy will grow up with you. You will not have to deal with any prior issues such as abuse or neglect by previous owners. You are starting with a blank page, so to speak.

Also, you get to start training your puppy from a very early age. Training your dog is a very important part of dog ownership. Puppies are usually energetic, entertaining, and adorable balls of joy. Both adults and children will agree that puppies are just plain fun to be around. Additionally, puppies are great at adapting to a new environment and will usually settle in faster than an adult dog.

Cons of a new puppy

With a new puppy comes a great deal of responsibility, more so than a full grown dog perhaps. As they grow, puppies will change physically, but they may also change emotionally. Your puppy may grow up to act very differently than she did as a little baby.

Here is a short list of just little things to expect from your puppy:

  • an cause damage to furniture, shoes, socks, and other valuables when they are teething
  • They are little balls of energy and may knock things over as they run around the house
  • They need to be house-broken which requires time, effort, and patience

Make a decision

Although most people see a puppy as cute and cuddly you need to realize that they come with responsibility. You are responsible for raising them to be well-behaved adult dogs. So decide carefully.

Tip: You should also know that puppies should be at least eight weeks old before you bring them home. Bringing a puppy home before they are fully weaned from their mother can be a disadvantage to the puppy.

Getting an adult dog

There are many reason why you may want to consider getting a grown dog over getting a new puppy. For instance:

  • You can tell almost immediately what type of personality and temperament that particular dog has. They pretty much have established behaviors that can help you decide if that dog will be a good fit with your family and lifestyle.
  • You will not give as much of your time and attention to an older dog as a young puppy would require.
  • You will not have to make as many trips to the vet. Remember, a young puppy will require all her shots during her first year.
  • Adult dogs will usually be housebroken already. They will also have passed through the teething and chewing stage. And unless the grown dog has some behavior problems that need to be worked on, they will be less destructive than a new puppy.
  • An adult dog will not change physically and emotionally. What you see is pretty much what you are getting.
  • A grown dog can adjust to any other household pet you may have.

Things to consider

On the other hand, depending on the dog’s background and history, it may take a good deal of time and energy to make them feel comfortable and get used to their new owner. When you meet any new dog that you want to consider for adoption, observe their behaviors as much as you can. Take note of any mood swings, little quirks, or bad habits. Ask for any information about their personality and temperament. And be sure to ask if there are any known behavioral issues that you should be aware of.

If possible, in fact, make it a point to get input from all family members. You want to make sure that your new dog has the highest chance of remaining with her new family.

Get a grown dog – you decide

So we talked about why you may want to get a new puppy as well as why grown dogs may be an excellent choice. But in the end, it is up to you to decide and choose the right dog for your family.

Everyone adores a cute little puppy, but they can be a lot of work when you first get them home and as they grow up. And the truth is, most people will choose a young puppy over an adult dog. But that is the way the world works. Just make sure that you are committed to providing that new puppy with a home, with care, and with love for the rest of its life.

And if you can find it in your heart to adopt an older dog, then that is a wonderful act of kindness and I tip my hat to you. Because a grown dog needs a home too.

Choosing a dog that suits your lifestyle

An important thing to keep in mind when choosing puppies, or any dog, is the living space you have available. You need to be certain that your living arrangements will be able to accommodate the type of puppy or dog you select.

If you are adopting an older dog then you will already be certain of her size. But if you are buying a puppy then you not only have to consider where you live now but also where you think you will be living in the future.

So, are you living in an apartment or a condo? Or are you living in a house? Do you live in a busy city, or do you live in a countryside with lots of space for your dog to run free?

Pay attention

  • Size restrictions imposed by your landlord or by your homeowner’s association.
  • Consider the amount of barking that is typically associated with a particular breed you are considering, and think about how close you live to neighbors.
  • Ask yourself if your lifestyle suits the activity level of your dog and if you will have the time to provide her with sufficient exercise.

A common misconception

One mistake that potential dog owners often make is to think that only small dogs are suitable to live in an apartment and that large dogs require a house in the country to be happy.

The reality is that in many cases you do not have to own a large backyard to own a large dog, and some small dogs are not very good at life in an apartment. On the contrary, many large dogs do well in an apartment, and some small dogs are better off living in the country with lots of space to run, explore, and dig.

For example, if you are considering rescuing a retired Greyhound, you do not have to live in the country or own a huge backyard to own this wonderful dog. The Greyhound dog breed is a sprinter, not a long distance runner. And although she loves to jog with her owner, she would be just as happy with a good fifteen to twenty minute brisk walk in the morning and at night. Greyhounds are not loud barkers. This makes them ideal for living in an apartment or a condo.

The main concern for people living in an apartment or condo is their ability to take their dogs up and down any stairs if the dog cannot make it on her own. This is usually due to old age or an injury.

On the other hand, you may think that most small terriers would be perfect for apartment life. However, some terriers, like the Jack Russell Terrier, can bark almost none stop. This may not sit too well with the neighbors in your apartment building. On top, many small breeds bark so much and have such high energy levels, that they are not ideal for living in an apartment.

So, when choosing puppies, or a grown dog for that matter, it is important to consider the noise level of the breed, and how much exercise you will able to give them, and not just how big they will get.

Male or female dog?

When deciding between male or female dogs, my personal preference has always been biased towards female dogs. Perhaps it has something to do with not having a daughter and wanting a little girl – I don’t know. I think that’s why I almost always refer to dogs as “her” and “she”. Please just indulge me when that happens – no offense to all the male dogs out there.

In the end, though, it shouldn’t matter really. After all, if you care more about a dog’s personality, character, and how the dog will fit into your lifestyle, then gender should be irrelevant. If you are buying a new puppy or getting a grown dog your decision will be mostly based on how the puppy or dog behaves and acts towards you, your family, and other people.

However, there are definite differences, and you can choose whether male or female dogs will suit you best.

Female dogs

In general…

  • Female dogs are smaller in size
  • They are often believed to be more intelligent – this is debatable, but in a household with both male and female dogs, the females tend to run the show
  • They tend to be more independent
  • They tend to be more mature as well
  • A bit more aloof

Male dogs

Generally speaking…

  • Males dogs are very affectionate
  • They can be less complicated than female dogs
  • Can have problems if not neutered
  • Can be territorial over property
  • Tend to display territorial urination

Male or female dogs – the truth

The truth is that these short-lists are really just generalizations, and for every bullet point there is probably a male and a female dog that can be described that way. There are, however, some additional observations that can be addressed. For example, intact males can develop behaviors based on sexual interest. Stories of dogs jumping or climbing over a fence just to get to a neighborhood female who is in heat are not unheard of. Also, intact males are more likely to mark the house with their urine. Having your dog neutered can help in alleviating these behaviors.

As with male dogs, females can also be distracted and exhibit certain behaviors associated with sexual interest if they are not spayed. However, it tends to be less of a problem since females only come into a heat cycle once or twice a year. Again, spaying can help with some of these issues. (We will discuss the benefits and criticisms of spaying and neutering later on.)

As another example, many female dogs seem to take to training more easily than their male friends. They can be very focused and intent at getting it right. In classes with both male and female dogs, the females seem to learn faster in the beginning. The males usually catch up, and some will even excel, but the girls usually get ahead to start.

In the end, both male or female dogs make excellent pets. Every dog is different no matter what their gender. There is nothing wrong with having a preference for one over the other, but if you are not sure which one would be better for your family, here is a bit of advice – go with your heart. Do your research so you can make an informed decision about what type of dog would be best suited to you and your family and then forget about what sex the dog is.

As I wrote this article, I couldn’t help but think that many of these things are what my wife says makes women better than men, more intelligence, more mature, you get the picture. I said, “those are just generalizations based on some observations”. But seriously, what do you think? Do you have a preference for male or female dogs? Feel free to leave a comment.

Considering a large dog breed?

Several of the most popular dog breeds are actually large dogs. Consider the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, the German Shepherd, and the Boxer – all large dogs. Even the Rottweiler is pretty popular, and guess what, a large dog.

But a large family dog is not for everyone. There are some factors that you need to consider when deciding if a large dog breed is a good fit for your family.

Pros of a large family dog

In general, large breed puppies cost less than small and cute little toy breed puppies. I am not quite certain of the reasons behind this, but that is the way it is. Puppies from the large breeds are not as delicate as their smaller cousins. They are usually ready to go to their new homes around eight weeks old. Puppies from the toy breeds and most small breeds may need to wait until they are at least twelve weeks old before their new families can take them home.

Because of their size, many large breed puppies make excellent family dogs. They can tolerate more roughhousing without getting hurt too easily. Of course, that is not to say that children should be allowed to be left alone with the dog, especially when they are playing. Rough playing can quickly get out of hand without proper supervision. However, for children who understand how to interact with a dog, a large family dog can be a great companion.

Despite their intimidating size, many large dogs are very gentle and have a quiet, laid-back personality. Depending on the breed, some large dogs don’t require a whole lot of exercise. In fact, there are many small dog breeds who require a great deal more exercise than some of the larger dogs. There are many large dogs who are contented to simply nap all day. Many people mistakenly believe that to own a large dog you must have a large backyard. This is not always the case.

And finally, this may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a watch-dog or a protector, you will want to choose a large dog breed. After all, face it, most dogs no matter their size, will alert you to an intruder. But realistically, people will respect a quiet Rottweiler much more than they would a yapping Yorkie.

Cons of a large family dog

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to owning a large dog.

First of all, you should expect to spend more money on a large dog. They eat a lot more so you will spend more money on food. Their routine health care is usually more costly as well. If you use heartworm medication and flea treatment on your dog, these cost more for larger dogs too. Other things cost more. Dog crates for large dogs are more expensive. If you plan on taking your dog on an airplane you will pay more for a larger dog.

But perhaps the biggest drawback of having a large family dog is their shorter lifespan. Now, this is a generalization because there are many factors affecting the average life expectancy of a dog. In general, however, a toy breed dog or a small dog breed may live up to about fifteen years. Large dog breeds have a typical lifespan of about ten to fourteen years.

In the end, it really comes down to what kind of dog you feel would be most suitable to your lifestyle. If you are considering a large family dog, there are many great reason why you should get one. The most important thing to remember is to do your research to make sure you can provide your dog with the love and care she deserves for the rest of her life.

Mixed breed dogs or a purebred?

There are generally two categories of dogs, the purebred dog and mixed breed dogs (also known as the mutt). The only true difference between the two is that the purebred dog came from a long line of dogs from the same breed. On the other hand, the mixed breed dog came from a cross of two or more different dog breeds.

All the dogs I had growing up were mutts. They held no pedigrees, no registration papers, but they were my dogs and they held a special place in my heart.

Mixed breed dogs – healthier and smarter?

Whether the mixed breed dog is healthier or more intelligent than their purebred cousins is certainly up for debate. But the mutt definitely suffers her share of illnesses and diseases that are common among all dogs.

However, there are some who claim that mixed breed dogs are generally healthier. The belief is that when dog breeds are mixed or crossed, their offspring will be less likely to exhibit extreme characteristics. For example, extreme characteristics such as the snub nose of an English Bulldog, or the long, narrow heads and bulging eyes of some other dog breeds, are lessened in mixed breed offspring.

Others point out that when you are crossing two purebred dogs, the offspring has the possibility of developing any characteristics, conditions, or disease that is common to either parent. According to Wikipedia (link) – “the theory of hybrid vigor suggests that as a group, dogs of varied ancestry will be healthier than their purebred counterparts”.

Mixed breed dogs are one of a kind

There are some people whose preference is to own a purebred dog, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, for those who just love their family mutt, remember that your dog is one of kind. Even from the same litter, many of the pups will look differentely since they can inherit characteristics from any of the breeds they are mixed with. I think that makes a mixed breed dog truly special and unique.

Another thing to consider is that there are so many excellent mutts or mixed breed dogs just waiting for a home at your local animal shelter. They will love you no less than a purebred would, I promise. So, does it really matter? I think not. As always, it comes down to doing your research and making sure that whatever dog you decide on you are prepared to love them, care for them, train them, for the duration of their lifetime.

Purebred puppies come with price

The price you end up paying for purebred puppies depends on several factors. One of the main factors is basic economics – supply and demand. If you are looking to purchase a very popular dog breed then chances are that you will pay a lot for your new puppy. The price to get a new puppy can also vary depending on where you live, and what time of the year you are looking for a new puppy. If you are shopping for a new dog during the holiday season, the price can actually be higher than purchasing a dog at other times of the year – because there is an increase in demand around the holidays.

It will also depend on whether you are getting a pet quality pup or a show quality dog. The price difference can be as much as $500 for an eight-week old pet quality puppy, to around $3000 for a show dog prospect of the same breed. The higher price tag is usually because that puppy came from a line of pedigree dogs and probably has a history of champions as well. If you are considering a more mature puppy, about eight months to a year old, then the price can be significantly higher than $3000. Of course, these figures are for illustration only to show the huge difference between pets and show dogs – at least when it comes to price.

Are smaller purebred puppies less expensive?

The price of a puppy really has nothing to do with its size. Many small breeds and toy breeds are quite expensive, usually because they are popular and in high demand. In many cases, because a breed is so popular, you have to put your name on a waiting list to reserve a puppy. Sometimes, a breeder has sold all their puppies before the litter is even born.

Male vs female purebred puppies

In general, female puppies are less expensive than their male siblings. Unless she exhibits the potential to be a great show dog – then sorry brothers. This is because such a female puppy would be used as foundation stock for future breeding.

Many people mistakenly stay away from female dogs because they feel that they would have to deal with potential of caring for a litter of new born puppies. Growing up, that is the way my parents felt about dogs. As I grew older and started doing my own research, I realized this was simply not the case.

Since I advocate spaying and neutering as a part of responsible dog ownership, this is not a problem at all. So all my dogs have been females. As far as being good pets and companions, there is really no difference between male or female dogs.

Unscrupulous breeders of purebred puppies

No matter what business you think of, there will always be people who are in it only to make money. Nothing else matters, and they will make money at all costs. The world of dog breeding is no different. These are the people you want to stay away from. In deciding which type of puppy you want to purchase, take your time and do your research. Find a reputable breeder, and even then, do not rush and buy the first puppy you fall in love with. Remember, you are buying a dog who will hopefully spend the rest of her life with you.

And please do not forget about the mixed breed dogs out there. Especially those in shelters, just waiting for someone to take them home and love them. There is nothing wrong with purebred puppy if you are getting one for all the right reasons. But if adopting a mutt is in your future, hey, you will be saving some nice change

A dog breed to suit your lifestyle

Dog breeds great with children

If you have children in your family, you will want to make sure that you get a dog that gets along with them. These dogs are known to love children:

  • Beagle
  • Basset Hound
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Poodle

Dog breeds that require less grooming

All dogs need to be groomed. Their coats need to be brushed, their nails need to be trimmed, teeth brushed, and they all need an occasional bath. But in general, these dogs are considered low maintenance when it comes to grooming:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • French Bulldog
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Pug

A list of great lapdogs

If you are looking for a dog that loves to cuddle, and be snuggled, here are a few to consider:

  • Dachshund
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Maltese
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Shih Tzu

Energetic dogs

You are an an athletic person and are looking for a dog who can join you for a hike on the trail or a long distance jog. Consider these breeds:

  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • English Springer Spaniel
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Athletic dogs

These dogs are considered active, agile, vigorous, and strong:

Best dogs to train obedience

If you are looking for a dog who listens, and is willing to please, check out these breeds:

  • Border Collie
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Shetland Sheepdog

Dog And Puppy Training Tips For A Happy Family Home

Learn About Your Dog Breed

Did you know your puppy is the product of many generations of domestication and breeding in order to make the puppy you have today? Learning about the specific dog breed you want is the best move you can make.

Depending on whether you are looking at getting a purebred or mixed-breed dog you will want to tailor your training efforts to that particular breed of dog. So if you have a herding dog, for example, you may have to find ways to help your puppy or dog release that extra energy working dogs tend to have.

Try Making Puppy Training Fun

Usually, puppies want to make their master happy so make the training fun and they will learn much faster because they feel they are pleasing us. To make this work you can use the things your dog or puppy likes. This would include favourite toys, games, and lots of positive attention.

If you don’t know what you’re doing it would be a smart move on your part to find a good dog training course, as I think people should learn to train their own dogs and not just send them to a professional.

It’s important to start addressing inappropriate behavior immediately. Start working on potty training, destructive chewing and separation anxiety right from day one so they don’t become a problem down the road.

If you don’t know what you’re doing it would be a smart move on your part to find a good dog training course, as I think people should learn to train their own dogs and not just send them to a professional.

It’s important to start addressing inappropriate behavior immediately. Start working on potty training, destructive chewing and separation anxiety right from day one so they don’t become a problem down the road.

Never Reinforce Negative Behaviour

It’s easy to see something our new puppy does that makes up want to laugh but if it’s not appropriate behavior then we should laugh. Puppy thinks we are being pleased and may also think this is a good way to make you happy in the future and a bad habit is started, just like with human babies.

It’s important to have your dog obey commands without repeating them over and over. If this is what’s happening you need to change it or maybe you should get professional help training your dog before bad habits are reinforced.

Try to anticipate problems before they happen so you are in control. Example: When I am putting Honey outside I always look to see that there are no cats in view as she really likes to chase cats. She doesn’t necessarily want to eat them or hurt them but we aren’t in a hurry to find out so I watch for those situations.

Watch Body Language

Over time, if you pay attention, you will learn your dog’s body language which will help you understand what she might be asking you or if she’s happy or sad or bothered. Example: when Honey encounter her first fleas we had no idea what was wrong but we immediately knew something was wrong and started figuring it out.

Know your puppy as he/she grows up with your family and you will soon start picking out different behavior which gives you control of things, perhaps even before they happen. Just do it all with love.

I’ve been to houses where dogs are not well trained and when I looked back at how well trained our dogs have been I am so happy we invested the time needed for quality training.