Finding the Perfect Dog

New Pet Owners  •  Pam Karkow  •  Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Having lost our sweet Golden Retriever in August of last year, we are definitely aching for a four legged friend to complete us. So, when this topic came up, I was eager to research it to find the answer to the question that burns inside of my family’s hearts: How do you know which breed is right for you?

There are many factors that go into deciding on the right type of dog for your family.


This goes for your house and for what you can handle.  If you are living in an apartment or small house, you may wish to choose a small breed.  According to PetMD’s article, Choosing the Right Size Dog for Your Home, the Dachshund, Pug, Chihuahua, Chow Chow, Cockapoo, Poodle, Shi Tzu, Beagle and Jack Russell are considered good apartment dogs.  It is important to consider what size dog you are capable of handling as well.  You will need to be able to comfortably walk your dog, and transport him to the vet, without the risk of being pulled down.


Temperament is your dog’s personality.  It is particularly important to pay attention to the temperament of a dog if you are adopting.  According to Holly Putnam, DVM, “You will want to observe how [the dog] responds to all members of your family.  Some dogs are very social with everyone, while others prefer only adults or one gender.”  The PetMD article, The 10 Best Dogs for Kids and Families, lists the Vizsla, Irish Setter, Poodle, Labrador Retriever, and Golden Retriever as the top five family dogs, especially when it comes to temperament. 

Energy level

It is important to consider the amount of time and attention you can give to your dog during your current stage of life.  Even if you adore the loyal, family friendly sweetness of a golden retriever, if you cannot give him the exercise and playtime he requires, this breed may not be the best fit for you.  Not giving your dog enough exercise and training can lead to behavior problems later.

Family dynamics

Consider your children’s ages and your work schedule.  If you have young children, Dr. Putnam warns, “a large, rambunctious dog may inadvertently knock the children down.”  In the feature, The Vets Will See You Now in the September 2016 issue of Real Simple, veterinarian Mary Gardner recommends a cockapoo for families with small children.  A poodle-cocker spaniel mix, the cockapoo stays calm around little ones and enjoys cuddling.  If you work long hours, an energetic Jack Russell may not be your best bet, but a leisurely Basset Hound may be more your speed.  On the other hand, if you enjoy running with your dog, you may be better off with a Labrador Retriever, a playful dog who needs plenty of exercise. You can always work to make extra time for your pet, but it's important to match your time and energy to that of the pet you choose!

A lifelong commitment

No matter what you decide, make sure you stick to the promises you make to your new furry family member.  All breeds need love, attention and regular exercise.  Whether you choose to pick a puppy from a breeder or adopt a shelter dog, consider enrolling in pet insurance to ensure you can afford the best veterinary care for your pup!

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