7 Jan 2012
How to choose the best breed for you and your lifestyle.
What is your budget?
The rewards of dog ownership may be priceless but, between veterinarian bills and dog food, dogs are not an insubstantial expenditure. Generally, the larger the dog, the more expensive it will be to feed and care for.
What is your internal and external living space?
Like children, a bored and inactive dog will act out, while an engaged and exercised dog will do what it is told. Naturally, if you have a small apartment, you are not going to want to get a Great Dane (for both of your sakes). If you have a house and a great big yard, you may be tempted to get a Vizsla so it can run all day and play. But, if planning to leave your dog outside for much of the day, think about the climate: you may need to build some shelter and make sure that the yard is properly enclosed. Basically, you will want to know the characteristics of your breed and plan accordingly, while keeping in mind your lifestyle and schedule.
What is your age/fitness ability to exercise a dog, and how much time will you have to do so?
Not all small dogs are lap dogs. For example, Corgies are actually very speedy herding dogs. They will want to run in fields and nip at the heels of whoever it chases. Herding dogs may not want to play fetch with a tennis ball; however, they will chase you or another dog (or your infant - so watch out). Hunting dogs, such as many pointers and hounds, are bred to run. There is, however, such a thing as a lap dog; consider a Bolognese or a Chihuahua if you want a dog that requires little to no exercise. Even so, if you are not ready to spend at least a half hour a day exercising with your dog (or pay someone to do so), you may want to reconsider your decision to own a dog. Dog's require more time and attention then a cat or goldfish would, and if you are not able or willing to give it the time it needs, both you and your dog will not be happy.
How much time do you spend at home?
Dogs are meant to be companions. If there is no one at home to be with your dog for at least a portion of the day, it will be very difficult for your dog to be happy. This makes sense: if a dog's purpose is to be a compnanion, yet there is no one around to be a companion to, the dog's life purpose is frustrated. The feeling that life lacks purpose is called depression. A depressed dog will chew up your furniture and pee all over your house in order to create a purpose for its life. Some dogs are better than others at being left alone, such as the German Shepherd.
Dogs will track all types of things into your house: pollen, dirt, and their own allergy causing dander. If you know that you are highly susceptible to allergies, you may choose a breed whose traits mitigate allergen accumulation in your house. Short haired dogs will track in less dirt and are easier to clean. Dogs that do not shed may produce less dander in your home as well. However, dogs that do shed may require grooming, which is expensive and, if done yourself, is counterproductive to staying healthy.