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The Scoop

Choosing the Perfect Dog for Your Family

Choosing the Perfect Dog for Your Family

Spring is here and puppy fever is in the air. Find out how to choose a perfect match!

by Samantha Meyers

The weather is getting warmer, the sun is coming out, and what could make that sun shine brighter than adopting a smiling new doggie to join you on your adventures? But before a wagging tail sweeps you up, make sure you are picking a pup that suits your lifestyle and expectations. You’ll both be happier for it.

Whether you pick a pure or mixed breeds here are some key attributes and breeds you should consider!

Dog Size:

Choosing a dog that is the right size is surprisingly important. While there are gentle giants and rambunctious peanuts, size is a practical matter. Aside from the obvious aspects of making sure your dog meets any size restrictions for your living situation (and won’t grow beyond them,) make sure you pick a dog that is a good physical match for you and your family.

Size considerations:

    • If your dog got rambunctious or pulled on the leash how much strength/size would you feel comfortable with your dog having?

    • How much room do you have in your house and car for your dog’s crate, bed and other belongings?

    • If you have small children are you worried about them being knocked over, or them knocking over the dog?

Energy Level:

Energy level is one of them main reasons dog’s get dropped off or returned at shelters. It’s extremely important to choose a dog that matches your energy level and level of activity. A perfectly wonderful dog could feel like a nightmare if it’s not a match.

High-energy dogs can feel like a tornado is constantly going through your house if they are not getting the proper time, exercise and attention. This can lead to problem behaviors and difficulty to train. Usually if a dog is brought to a shelter for being too rambunctious, it wasn’t a match. They simply weren’t getting the exercise and mental stimulation they need and that same dog could be an excellent, well-trained dog in a different home.

On the flipside, a dog who is low in energy won’t fit in well with an active home. They may not be willing to join you on adventures and may not want to play with active kids. Know whether you are looking for a doggie athlete, expert snuggler or something in between and be realistic about your own lifestyle and the time you have to spend with your dog.

Energy Considerations:

    • How much time do you have to spend with your dog each day?

    • How do you picture the time spent with your dog? Hiking, playing, training? Or sitting on the couch, leisurely stroll? Or something between?

    • Are you high-energy, always go-go-go? Or laid back and easy-going?



Similar to energy level, your dog’s intelligence can greatly affect how they fit into your family. A highly intelligent dog such as a Border Collie needs not only physical stimulation, but mental stimulation as well. If not given a job to do, they will find one of their own and you may not like the results. Breeds such as the Bulldog (while still smart) have different priorities and more likely to follow their own agenda. If you picture having an obedience star who looks to your every move, a willing breed is a must if you have the time to train them. If you want a dog who does his own thing and maybe listens to on occasion, or you don’t have any plans to do anything beyond basic obedience, than you might want to consider the class clown over the teacher’s pet.

Intelligence/Willingness Considerations:

    • Do you have the time and interest in training your dog? Would you be open to teaching your dog a sport like agility or obedience?

    • Will you be disappointed if you ask your dog to do something and he walks away?

    • How much time will you be home with your dog?

While all breeds have their exceptions, they also all have their similarities, even mixed breeds. While there is no way to know for sure who your dog will be, you can do research to help start off on the right paw. If you find that your requirements for a dog are very specific, consider adopting an older dog, whose size and personality are already developed. It’s easy to be swept away by a pair of sad puppy dog eyes, but those puppy dog eyes will be much sadder if it doesn’t work out.

Look into breeds you love and those you may not know to much about, take an honest stock of yourself, your home and your family to determine which breed suits you best!