Finding the Perfect Dog Breed for Your Family
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on December 16, 2017
Posted in Dog
Adding a new four-legged family member is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Different breeds are known for some fairly strong traits that you’ll want to mesh with your family’s unique personalities in order to make the addition the best fit for everyone involved.
Some dog breeds have dominant personalities, which can create challenges for training and might not make them ideal for homes with other pets or small children. Other dogs have boundless energy and are highly social, which is great for families who are constantly moving but can be an issue for those who live in a small apartments or aren’t home for long stretches of the day.
If you want a happy, healthy pet and the best possible environment inside of your home, you need to consider elements beyond the surface. Things like appearance and size of a breed do matter, but it’s the way the dog’s behaviors and traits mesh with your own that has the biggest impact on the success of the relationship.
Not every generalization holds true for each breed, but let’s take a look at some of the common personality traits of popular breeds to help you narrow down what type of dog might be the best addition to your family:
Family’s Best Friend
All dogs like to be around their owners, but some breeds need love and affection more than others. If you want a dog that can’t get enough contact and loves petting and attention from the entire family, you might want to look to breeds like Beagles, Boxers and Irish Setters. These breeds love to play and are great with children. They will always be eager and excited to see you when you arrive home from the office.
Best Workout Partner
If you spend all of your free time out on the trail, at the local park or trying to improve your 5K time, you might do better with a high energy breed as opposed to one of the more laid back breeds. Labrador Retrievers, English Setters, Border Collies and German Shepherds are happiest when they get plenty of activity. These breeds love long daily walks and will likely be able to easily keep up with you, if not best you when it comes time for your daily run.
Looking for a dog to help you make friends, explore the community and meet and greet your neighbors? Golden Retrievers and King Charles Cavalier are docile and gentle breeds that do very well in social situations. They enjoy attention and affection but don’t tend to be very demanding. These breeds have a very even temperament and usually get along with friendly people, which makes them a hit in small or large crowds.
Strong, Independent Dogs
It’s great to have a pet that loves your time together but if you work long days and there are long stretches of time when nobody’s home, you might needs to consider a more independent breed. Bulldogs, Akitas and Chow Chows are known for getting along just fine without constant attention and while these breeds do need exercise to stay healthy, they are generally considered to be lower maintenance than many other popular breeds.
A mixed breed or “mutt” may not be as glamorous as a purebred dog but there are some potential benefits of a pet with the qualities of multiple breeds. While every case is different, mixed breeds tend to be less prone to the health issues that can plague their purebred counterparts. Mutts can be just as loving, loyal and active as purebred pups but without the potential heredity issues that can stem from breeding to their final days.
A dog is not a short-term companion. Bringing a new family member into your home is a 10-12 year commitment in most cases, sometimes longer. If you want those years to be the happiest and healthiest for you, your family and your four-legged friend, make sure you take your schedule, space and your personality traits (as well as dog breeds) into consideration before making a decision.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan