Deciding to adopt a new dog is a big step for your family. So, what breed will they be? A fun-loving Lab? A lap-dwelling shih tzu? A trusty beagle? Before falling in love with the first fluff ball to cover your face in puppy kisses, do your research to determine the breed that will be a good fit for your crew. You are essentially adding a new family member for the next 10 to 15 years, and you want a successful arrangement for everyone involved. Choosing the right dog will help you find your long-term companion and a loving pup find their forever home. Our WesVet Animal Hospital team shares five questions to help you choose your perfect family dog.

#1: What age dog is best for your family?

Most people envision adopting a cuddly puppy, but puppies require a lot of work. A new pup at home is much like your first weeks with a newborn baby—you can expect sleepless nights, frequent potty breaks, accidents, and ruined furniture. It will be months until your puppy no longer has accidents on the floor, sleeps quietly in their crate, and obeys basic commands. While training a young puppy allows you to teach them rules important to you, you may not have the time, energy, or patience to invest in that long process. An adult dog who is calmer and already potty trained can be the perfect solution for a busy family, rather than taking on more than you can handle, and ending up with an untrained, poorly mannered dog.

#2: What size dog can you accommodate?

You may love Great Danes, but this is not the ideal breed if you live in a small apartment. Large dogs, and their extra-sized crate, bowls, and beds, require space, and are better suited for larger homes. If your home is smaller, choose a small or medium-sized breed dog who can curl up in the corner and not take over your bed. Beagles, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and bichon frises are good family dogs who won’t take up much space. However, if you have a spacious home, a Great Dane, Labrador retriever, or golden retriever may be the perfect fit for your family.

#3: Will your dog have human siblings?

An outgoing, good-natured dog, such as  golden retriever, Lab, or poodle, is a good bet if you have kids, or plan to add to your family. Not all dog breeds are kid-friendly—do your research and stay away from breeds known to be nippy, skittish, or stubborn. Dachshunds, for example, can make wonderful pets for adults and older children, but often do not do well around small children. And, you should not only choose a kid-friendly pup, but also teach small children the proper way to handle a pet. Practice on stuffed animals before bringing home a new family pet so your kids understand the importance of gentle petting and respecting the dog’s space. 

#4: Can you provide adequate exercise for a high-energy dog?

All dogs need regular exercise, but some are happy with a daily walk, while others require hours of high-intensity activity to settle down. If you are looking for a new running partner, a high-energy breed, such as a border collie or labradoodle, can be a perfect companion. But, if you do not exercise your active border collie enough, they may become bored and destructive, and release their energy chewing on your furniture and tearing apart couch cushions. If your family is constantly on the go, and won’t have time for hour-long play sessions, choose a lower-energy breed, such as a pug or Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

#5: What medical issues is your chosen breed prone to developing?

Many dogs have medical conditions genetically linked to their breed. Although adopting a particular breed does not guarantee your dog will develop that medical condition, be aware of issues specific to that breed, and decide whether you could properly care for a dog with that problem. For example, Labs are wonderful family dogs, but they often develop hip dysplasia, and while mild cases can be managed with medications, severe cases often require expensive surgery for a dog to have a good quality of life. Boxers are known for a number of health problems, including skin issues, heart disease, and cancer development. Although no breed is free of disease risk, ensure you are equipped to care for that breed throughout their life, despite problems that may develop. 

We know that adopting a new dog is a big commitment, and our WesVet Animal Hospital team wants to help set you up for success. Schedule a visit for your new pal to ensure you start them on the path to good health and happiness. And, ensure you follow our entire blog series dedicated to new puppies and covering topics from vaccines and deworming, to behavior training and pet insurance, to ensure your new family member becomes your life-long companion.