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What is the Right Dog for Me?


Since you are reading this I suspect that you have decided now is the best time to bring a dog into your life.

At this point you might be asking “What is the right dog for me?”

Only you can answer this question, so we have laid out a series of questions you should ask yourself to help you decide which type of dog best fits your lifestyle.

Deciding Which Type of Dog Is Right For You

Your next step in this journey is to narrow down the type of dog you are looking for. Is it very important that you find a dog that fits you and your lifestyle.

To do this you need to take a realistic look at your life and your financial constraints.  Just because you fell in love with the dog from the movie Beethoven when you were a kid (as I did), doesn’t mean a 100 pound St. Bernard is going to love living in your tiny city apartment. Just like humans, dogs have needs that must be considered.

1. Do you want a puppy or an older dog?

Deciding on whether to get a puppy or adult dog can be hard. Let’s face it. Puppies are cute, but puppy-hood doesn’t last forever. Besides, there are a lot a benefits to bringing home an older dog.  Here are some of the pros and cons to each choice.


Puppies are not only undeniable cute and cuddly but also require the greatest amount of training, attention and cost, particularly during the first six months.

It takes a lot of time and dedication to housebreak and train a new puppy.  Be prepared for many accidents in the house and for your new puppy to decide that your grandmothers antique chairs is the best chew toy in town.

Although these problems will gradually fade as the puppy matures and it is trained on proper dog manners, you will need a great deal of patience during this time. Also remember that if you adopted a mixed breed or a designer dog, your puppy may look very different than what you imagined.

Adult Dogs

For many people adult dogs are an excellent choice, especially if are looking for a dog that is already house trained and has basic doggy manners. You also get a better idea of what their energy level, attitude, and temperament are before bringing them home.

However, just because it is an adult, it does not guarantee that the dog is trained the way you want or even trained at all.   You should still expect to do some training so that you and your new companion know all the rules.


Adorable and cuddlyNot house-trained
Stronger bondCompletely untrained
Puppy stage is funHigh energy
Train the way you wantNeeds more attention
1st year more expensive: 
vaccines, setting up costs

Adult  Dog

May be house-trainedMiss puppy stage
House-training is quickerLower energy levels
May have doggy mannersPossible higher vet bills if older
More independentPossible behaviorally issues
Can be left alone for 
longer periods of time
Lower energy levels

2. What kind of breed should you consider?

There are many factors you need to consider when deciding on which dog fits best into your life.

Evaluate your lifestyle

When deciding on which breed or breeds to consider it is important to examine your current lifestyle.

Think about what adjustments you will need to make for a particular breed and if you are willing to make them. Look at your job and determine how many hours you will be home to be with your new friend.

Some dogs like Bassett Hounds that have low energy levels are ok spending 8 hours alone as long as they get adequate exercise and attention before you leave and after you come home.

However breeds like terriers need to be in contact with people most of the day or they become lonely.

Look at the needs of your family, especially if you have children or other pets. Do you want a high energy dog to match your high energy children or do you want a dog that likes to hangout. Are your children old enough to properly handle a dog?

Families with a young child may want to stay away from small dogs because the dog can be hurt if not handled properly. The opposite is true for big dogs.  Big high energy dogs may unwittingly hurt a small child. 

Does anyone in your family have allergies, or prefer a low-shedding dog?  If so, a hypoallergenic dog breed might be right for you. 

Tip: Hypoallergenic does not mean the allergy suffer will not be allergic to the dog, just that there is a chance they will be able to tolerate the dog better.  Make sure to spend time around the dog you are considering, before bringing it home. For more information on hypoallergenic dogs What Are The Best Hypoallergenic Dogs For People With Allergies?

3. How big should you go?

When deciding on what size dog to choose think about what purpose you want the dog to serve.  Do you want a little lap dog that you can carry around or do you want a large dog that will scare away potential thieves? If you are not sure maybe a medium sized dog will fit your needs. As I mentioned earlier all dogs were bred to serve a purpose.   Decide on your main purpose and select a bred that matches it.

Think about how much space you can give a dog.  Small dogs can generally live in a smaller apartment, where larger dogs need more space to move around and lay down to rest or sleep.   The first dog my husband and I had together was a very large Golden Retriever rescue who when lying down took up more than half the floor in our small kitchen making it difficult to move around.

Don’t forget to check your lease or homeowners association to see if there are any restrictions on the size or breed of dogs allowed.

You should also think about the needs of the dog. Some small dogs are delicate and need to be handled with care.  Being stepped on or handled to roughly by a young child can cause serious injury. Also, small dogs tend to be more sensitive to colder temperatures so you need a plan to keep them warm. Some small dogs can also develop “tough dog” attitudes to compensate for their small size. Be sure you are prepared for this possibility.

Another consideration in determining what size is the expenses: the larger the dog, the more expensive things like dog food, dog supplies, grooming and medical treatments become.

4. How much energy can you handle?

When thinking about how much energy you want your dog to have you should consider what you want to do with your dog.  Do you want a dog that requires very little exercise and is content to just cuddle with you while you watch TV or do you want a dog that can take long runs with you during the week and go hiking on the weekends?

As you probably realize by now the energy level of a breed matches the requirements of the breed’s purpose. So a dog that was bred to be in the fields chasing and retrieving prey will have a much higher energy level then a dog that was bred to guard your home. Even among hunting dogs you can see a difference.

Dogs like blood hounds that use their keen sense of smell to track down prey have a much lower energy level then dogs that hunt by sight like a greyhound.

In addition to physical exercise requirements many dogs need mental exercise too.   Herding dogs like the popular Australian Sheepdog need an activity that satisfies their need to work otherwise they may start to herd your children. Obedience training or trick training works well.

Even within the same breed you may find that dogs have different energy levels.  Make sure to spend time with your possible new friend to evaluate their energy level.

It is very important to remember that regardless of the breed every dog needs routine exercise, so make sure you can provide this or you will end up with behavioral problems.

5. How much upkeep are you prepared for?

As you might guess a dogs appearance will have a lot to do with how much maintenance they require.

Although all dogs need basic grooming, dogs with longer fur, or non-shedding dogs with hair that continually grows will require much more time and money to keep them healthy.

On the contrary most short-haired dogs are major shedders.  Some dogs can fall into both categories.  Our Golden Retriever needed to be brushed often to keep his long hair from knotting, and he also shed. A lot. Ear types also affect how much maintenance a dog needs.  Dogs with long, floppy ears require frequent thorough ear cleanings or they may get ear infections.

Confirming your choice

After deciding which breed you think best fits your lifestyle, take the time to meet with breeders and owners of that breed.  This can be accomplished by going to dog shows or just looking around your neighborhood.

Reputable breeders tend to be very passionate about their preferred breed and will be happy to answer your questions.

Going to a dog park can also be a great way to get a firsthand look at how the breed interacts with their owner, others and their surroundings.  Most owners are generally open to answering questions about their experiences.

Next step is deciding where you should go to get your new companion.

John Gritman

Sunday 28th of November 2021

I've had a number of dogs, beginning at age nine: A cross between a pedigreed German Spitz and a Beagle. My father brought him home, literally dumped him my lap and said "Take care of him". I did for eight years. To exercise him, I would take him for walks in the woods - off lease or use a sling shot to shoot rocks into the woods and say "Well, go get it.". He would even if it took 90 minutes. I left my parents' house on a full scholarship to study languages in Germany. I came home for two months, got my things together and then it was off to the university. I was on my own dime so it took six years. Then I traveled a lot and got married at 26 so I was dog less for a fair number of years before moving. We moved from CT to OH and my oldest daughter insisted we get a dog so we got a Bichon Frise. Fritz bonded to the family and I trained him my way - all hand signs except tp get him to look at me. Bichons love water and we had a drainage ditch by the side of he house. Fritz looked at me as I was weeding the garden and I just said "OK". He jumped across the ditch a few times but the last time he didn't quite make it. I laughed so hard, but my daughter gave him a bath and then he came over to me and washed my face. He slept with her until she went to University. He was crate trained and I put him there at night but never locked the door. One night my hand was hanging off the side of the bed and he licked it. I let him out to pee and we both went back to bed - he to his crate without a word. Then my daughter brought home a Lhasa Poo x Sheetz Zhu a stray and very well fed and groomed. The two did not get along very well so I gave him away - a long story. But Fritz lived 15+ years before I had to put him down at the vet's direction. Dog less again so the same daughter got me a Sammy that was ring trained for the cost of having him neutered. Phenomenal dog but the breeder failed to tell me that he was on a strict raw chicken diet - big problem as was his size - 94 lbs. and 29" at the shoulders. He followed his old routine and would just step up on our king size bed, cuddle with me for about 5 minutes, roll over and do the same with my wife then stand up and step off the bed. He went back to the breeder. My daughter came to visit with baby and husband and their four dogs. Three Sammy's and her lab. We put the baby on the floor on a blanket. The dogs made a tight knit circle around him and kept moving closer to keep him warm. One of the dogs was a foster and went back to the breeder. The other three died of old age. The lab was 19, one of the Sammy's was well over 20 and the last was a stray of unknown age. Now she has two Australian Stock dogs and one lab. At evening the healers will herd the chickens into the pen and block the opening until grandson comes to close the gate. No more coyotes or foxes on their 20 acres. Now I am going to get another Bichon - rescue. Wish me luck as I hope to get two. Should not be too hard, just have to call my daughter and my niece who is a Vet and has her own clinic.


Monday 29th of November 2021

Hi John,

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us! Looks like you are a very experienced dog owner.

Wishing you the best of luck with finding your new pups.


Dana Wilkinson

Monday 25th of January 2021

I have had so much trouble choosing the right dog for me, and I've had bad experiences with the person selling them. I have lost a lot of money, and I've had a lot of heartbreak along the way. I wish that I would have learned so much more before I did anything at all!


Monday 25th of January 2021

Hi Dana,

I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. Finding the right dog and breeder can be hard. This is one of the reasons I started this site. I also had a hard time trying to find the right dog for us. To help others, I created a post about finding a reputable breeder based on my own research and experiences. In the end we adopted our puppy from a humane society shelter.

I wish you the best, Bonnie