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How to choose the right dog for you and your family

What is the best breed of dog? That’s one of the most frequently asked questions on social media, not only because it gets so many likes and replies, but because everyone has an opinion.

Fortunately for those of us who love dogs, there is no single answer that is right for everyone. With over 400 different breeds around the world and countless mixes and crosses of those breeds, there is a “best” dog for everyone.

However, we can narrow down the options based on personality and lifestyle, and what we are looking for in a dog. Are you active or relaxed? An athlete or a couch potato? A traveler or a homebody? Do you work, work, work, or balance the workday with hobbies, activities, or downtime? Do you want a dog that is playful? Protective? Intelligent? Funny? Do you love to snuggle? Those traits don’t necessarily all come in the same canine package.

To find the perfect dog, make two lists. In the first, write traits that describe your personality and lifestyle, the type of house you live in (stairs or single story, patio or no patio, apartment or house, city/suburb/rural), if you have children and how old they are and how much time a day you could or would spend with a dog.

On the second list, write down everything you’re looking for in a dog: size, coat type or length, activity level, and ways you’d like to interact with the dog: jogging, playing fetch, dog sports, boating , swimming, hiking, napping on the couch, teaching tricks… you name it.

To match your two lists, find one of the many dog ​​selection sites that offer suggestions based on your input. Pet food companies, including Purina and Pedigree, often have such questionnaires on their websites.

When I used the one from Purina, inputting the traits I’m considering for a future dog, the suggested breed was a toy fox terrier, one that’s on my list. Pedigree gave me a choice of eight breeds, including the one I already own, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, plus three others I’ve considered over the years: American Water Spaniel, Japanese Chin, and Papillon. matched me up with a rat terrier and a cocker spaniel, both breeds I might consider. Spruce Pets recommended several different spaniel breeds, all of which are among my favorites.

Using several different breed selectors can help you cover all the bases and narrow down your selection. If you’ve got your eye on a rare or foreign breed, mongrel (also known as a “designer dog”) or mongrel, try’s breed selector. And the websites of pet health insurance companies, such as Embrace and Trupanion, often have extensive breed and crossbreed profiles, but no questionnaires.

I also noticed that none of the dog selection tools took health into account. It’s a good idea to think about how much you could spend annually on veterinary care and whether the breed or mix you have in mind is prone to costly health problems. Within breed profiles, pet health insurance companies sometimes include a dog’s risks for certain conditions, as well as the range of costs to treat them.

Once you have a few breeds in mind, get to know them. Watch YouTube and Animal Planet videos featuring breeds that interest you. Find videos of puppies and adults being trained or groomed, doing tricks or dog sports, playing games, or just hanging out in the house. Then start looking for reputable breeders, at dog shows or online at the breed club’s website. (You can also see more here:

If you can’t find the “right” dog? You may just be a cat person.

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