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What Type of Dog Would be a Good Fit for your Home?


While many people believe a dog is just a dog, this theory simply isn’t true.  Certain dog breeds will make better companions than others in particular situations.  Finding the right fit for your home will increase your – and your dog’s – happiness, while minimizing the risk of potentially having to re-home a pet.  Here, common situations that pet owners face, including the right dogs for each scenario, will be discussed.

You Don’t Have a Lot of Space

Many people believe that owning a dog requires a large home.  However, there are many types of dogs that thrive in small dwellings like apartments, and even prefer them.  Some of the best dogs for living in small spaces are quite unexpected.  These include Great Danes, Greyhounds, and American Bulldogs.  Other common apartment breeds include toy-sized dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Toy Poodles.  In general, companion dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds do best with limited space, while dogs that were bred for working or hunting require more room.

You Have Young Children

When children are part of a household, the breed of dog you choose is especially important.  Certain dog breeds are not recommended around children.  These include Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Alaskan Malamutes, and Shiba Inus, among others.  However, there are plenty of dogs that get along quite well with kids.  In general, these include Beagles, Golden Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs, and spaniels.  However, it should be noted that all dogs should be supervised around children, and that young kids must be taught proper behavior around dogs.  Even the most patient, mild mannered animals can react aggressive when poked, prodded, or otherwise aggravated. You should always introduce dogs to new baby’s slowly.


You Like to Be Active

Nothing beats a canine exercise partner, particularly one that enjoys being active as much as you.  Dogs that do best with activity are from the working or sporting groups, and have a lot of energy to burn.  Look for long legs, a long snout, and a slim build.  Great examples of active dogs include German Shorthaired Pointers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Australian Shepherds, among others.  If you have your heart set on a constant exercise companion, it is best to avoid breeds that do not handle heat and exercise well, such as brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, Bull Mastiffs, Chow Chows, Chihuahuas, and Shih Tzus.


You Prefer Dogs that Act Like Cats

Dogs are fun for a lot of reasons:  they greet you at the door when you return home, they can be taught numerous tricks, and they are affectionate.  However, a number of breeds are especially attention-seeking, which can be frustrating for pet owners.  The dog breeds that are most likely to have individual, aloof personalities include Afghan Hounds, Shiba Inus, Basenjis, Salukis, and Chow Chows.  If you would prefer a dog that wants constant attention, consider a German Shorthaired Pointer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Golden Retriever, or Labrador Retriever instead.


You Live in a Warm Climate

Dogs that have thick, double coats are not naturally suited to warm climates.  The same is true for dogs that have short noses, as they are unable to cool themselves as efficiently as canines with a longer respiratory tract.  Short-haired dogs and animals that are originally from warm climates do best in these regions of the world.  Additionally, dogs that require a lot of outdoor exercise may not be best for a warm environment, due to the dangers of overheating.  If you live in the south or somewhere that is prone to humid weather, consider a short-haired dog or one that is content to spend most of its time indoors.  These breeds include Chinese Crested Dogs, Coonhounds, Australian Shepherds, Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, Dalmatians, Beagles, and Whippets.


You Are Gone Most of the Day

Many people assume that being away from home is unfair for dogs.  However, with proper exercise, mental stimulation, appropriate potty breaks, and finding the right breed, this arrangement can be achieved.  In fact, a number of dog breeds can easily tolerate being alone for extended periods of time.  Dogs that were bred for working independently from their owners tend to do best in this situation.  These breeds include Chow Chows, Basenjis, Chinese Shar-Peis, English Foxhounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Otterhounds, and Shiba Inus.

An additional option is to adopt a senior dog from a shelter.  Many older dogs have plenty of love to give without the same exercise demands as younger animals.  In fact, a senior dog would love nothing more than to spend time with you while you are home, and sleeping while you are away.

You Work from Home

On the other hand there are many dog breeds that are not suited to spending long amounts of time alone.  These breeds tend to be ones that were bred for companionship or working closely with humans.  Indeed, the vast majority of dogs greatly prefer spending time with humans or other animals, particularly because they have evolved to rely so strongly on humans for companionship and protection.  The breeds that will be happiest (and least destructive) with constant supervision include Siberian Huskies, German Shorthaired Pointers, Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Bullmastiffs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, Poodles, Pugs, Weimaraners, and Yorkshire Terriers, among many others.

Humans that work from home are also great candidates for bringing home a new puppy or young dog.  Potty training goes much more smoothly for dogs that can be constantly supervised!


You Live on a Farm

Just as some dogs do best with small spaces, others truly need room to roam.  If you have a lot of (fenced in) property, consider a breed that does well with a lot of exercise and exploration.  These breeds include Siberian Huskies (just make sure your fence can’t be dug under or climbed over!), Bloodhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, American Staffordshire Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Jack Russell Terriers, Springer Spaniels, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds.  Many of these breeds also enjoy water, so be sure your dog knows how to swim, or else any natural streams or ponds are sufficiently out of your dog’s reach.


You Want Your Dog to Help You Meet New People

Dogs are great conversation starters to help you meet new people.  Whether you are on a walk or have taken your pet to a dog-friendly brewery, someone is sure to stop and ask to pet your dog.  Certain breeds are better for meeting new people than others, however.  In general, friendly-looking dogs or interesting mixes garner the most attention.  A shelter animal is a great companion for starting conversations, as many people will inquire what type of dog you have, and from where it was adopted.  Other breeds that are friendly to new humans and are also adorable include Beagles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, German Shorthaired Pointers, Labradoodles, Golden Doodles, Boston Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Pugs, and Welsh Corgis.


You Want a Dog with a Long Lifespan

Of course everyone would like to bring home a healthy dog, but unfortunately certain breeds are simply healthier than others.  In general, giant dog breeds have the shortest lifespans, ranging 6 – 9 years.  These include Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Saint Bernards.  Toy-sized breeds typically have the longest lifespans at 16 – 20 years.  These breeds include Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodles, Jack Russell Terriers, Cockapoos, and Shih Tzus.  Additionally, mixed breed dogs tend to be healthier and live longer than their purebred counterparts due to enhanced genetic diversity.

You are a First Time Dog Owner

There is certainly a learning curve when it comes to owning a dog, and a first time pet owner should look for a breed of dog that is more forgiving to mistakes.  Any breed that is easy to train, naturally friendly, has a low tendency towards dog or human aggression, is good with kids, and just wants to be loved is best.

For these reasons, adopting a middle-aged or senior dog from the shelter is a great option.  Senior dogs are usually already housebroken and know basic commands, and their personality is already established (as opposed to a puppy, whose adult personality is unknown).  Other great options for first time dog owners include the Brittany, Cocker Spaniel, Boston Terrier, Beagle, Maltese, Toy Poodle, Golden Retriever, Bichon Frise, and Yorkshire Terrier.

You Aren’t Sure a Dog is Right for You

Bringing home a dog is a long term commitment, one that should not be taken lightly.  There are many considerations that must be made, such as work schedule, exercise requirements, budget, and general compatibility.  An often under-looked option is dog fostering.

A dog foster is a person that temporarily houses an animal for a dog rescue or shelter.  Foster parents are most typically used when shelters are too full and the animal may otherwise be euthanized, or when the animal is recovering from surgery or illness and the shelter is too chaotic for the recuperating pet.  The benefits of fostering are that all of the dog’s expenses are covered by the rescue/shelter, and there is no long-term commitment.  This arrangement is perfect for people who are unsure whether a dog is right for them.  In the end, many people become “foster failures” and outright adopt the pet!


You Have a Lot of Love to Give

If you have a huge heart, a lot of love to give to an animal, and a little bit of extra money in your budget, consider adopting a senior dog.  Many shelters and rescues euthanize older dogs because they are difficult to find adopters for, and they do not tolerate the chaotic shelter environment well.  These dogs are either given up by families because they are no longer as playful or active as they once were, or they are relinquished to shelters when aging owners must move into assisted living or hospice care.  Even though time spent with a senior dog may be short and medical bills can be higher than when bringing home a younger dog, senior dog adopters share uniquely special bonds with their pets.

You Have Dogs, Cats, or Other Small Animals 

If you have other pets at home but would like to add a dog to your household, there are certain rules you should follow.  If you have small animals or cats, avoid a dog that has a prey-drive, meaning that it has been bred to hunt or track animals.  Dogs that get along best with small animals and cats include Great Danes, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Collies, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Pugs.

When choosing a dog as a companion to your current dog, bear in mind that some animals are predisposed to dog-on-dog aggression.  These include Chihuahuas, some terriers, Alaskan Malamutes, Shiba Inus, and Chow Chows.   Additionally, certain breeds do best with specific genders.  For instance, two female pit bulls are unlikely to get along, while two males or a male and a female are generally okay.

It is important to note that all dogs should be treated as individuals.  Typically, the younger the dog, the better the chances of him or her developing the socialization skills necessary for getting along well with other animals.


Quick Guide to Popular Dog Breeds

Are you confused with all the information provided here?  While one dog might be best for people with kids, it also might not be a good choice for active individuals or vice versa.  Listed here are the ten most popular dog breeds in the United States according to the American Kennel Club, as well as a “cheat sheet” of their characteristics.

Labrador Retriever

  • Best for:  active families that have a lot of space and are frequently home.
  • Not for:  people who are gone most of the day and cannot provide adequate training or exercise.

More Specific Breed Information

German Shepherd Dog

  • Best for:  active families that have a lot of space and are frequently home; individuals looking for a loyal and protective companion.
  • Not for:  people who are gone most of the day and cannot provide adequate training or exercise; first time dog owners

More Specific Breed Information

Golden Retrievers

  • Best for:  moderately active families with other pets that have a adequate space and are frequently home; first time dog owners
  • Not for:  people who are gone most of the day

More Specific Breed Information


  • Best for:  families with small children who live in cooler climates and are not very active.
  • Not for:  people who cannot afford the medical needs of a short-nosed dog; people looking for an exercise companion; people looking for a dog with a long life span

More Specific Breed Information


  • Best for:  active families with small children who are frequently home; first time dog owners
  • Not for:  people who are gone most of the day, people with cats or small animals, people that want an off-leash dog

More Specific Breed Information

 French Bulldogs

  • Best for:  families that are not overly active and live in small dwellings; first time dog owners
  • Not for:  people looking for an exercise companion or who are frequently away from home

More Specific Breed Information

Standard Poodles

  • Best for:  families with older children; experienced dog owners
  • Not for:  people who cannot provide appropriate exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and training

More Specific Breed Information


  • Best for:  families wanting a loyal guard dog that is aloof with strangers
  • Not for:  extremely social individuals; inexperienced dog owners

More Specific Breed Information

Yorkshire Terriers

  • Best for:  apartment-dwelling families;  inexperienced dog owners; people with other pets
  • Not for:  people who are gone most of the day

More Specific Breed Information

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Anna Weber

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