Choosing to bring home a new family member is a big deal! Are you bringing home the right fit for your family’s lifestyle? Here we will talk about a few key things to consider when going to select your new furry friend.

Activity Level

How active is your family? Do you want an energetic dog that is constantly on the move? Are you more laid back and want a dog that will just laze around on the couch with you? Do you want a breed somewhere in the middle? Make sure you are honest with yourself as to how much activity you are willing to provide for your new pet. Falling in love with a specific breed is great, but only if you are willing to put in the effort that they require. We have dogs on our wish list that will likely never be part of our family for exactly the fact of exercise.

Below is a table of popular breeds and what kind of energy level they have. 3 stars, on average, is your laziest breeds. 5 stars is your high energy, go all day breeds. All information and pictures were sourced from https://dogtime.com

3 Stars

English Bulldog
Shih Tzu
Dachshund
Cocker Spaniel
Havanese

4 Stars

Bernese
Mastiff
Shetland Sheepdog
French Bulldog
King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

5 Stars

Aussie
Husky
German Shepherd
Yorkshire Terrier
Boston Terrier

If you are looking for a rescue dog to adopt, make sure you talk with the home that has been working with them. They are likely to know what kind of energy level the dog has. Be honest on your adoption applications about how much exercise you are likely able to give the dog. Adopting a dog with too much energy is setting everyone up to fail and the chances of you having to return the dog will be high.

Size

What size of dog will your lifestyle accommodate? Look at the here and now, not the future. Below are recommendations of what we figure would do well in common living situations. Obviously, if you live in an apartment or condo but are out all the time being active, a dog with a higher energy level would be a good fit. Most of the time, apartment and condo living is best suited for smaller dogs with less energy to burn. On the other end of the spectrum, having a home with lots of land available doesn’t mean you can’t have a small dog, but you may need to watch out for them more because of large birds of prey and other predators.

Appartment/CondoTownhome/House with yardAcreage/Farm
Small to Medium
Easy going energy
Small, Medium, Large
Easy going to moderate energy
Medium to Large
Any energy level

Who will look after the dog?

Kids want a dog? They have proven that they can look after the dog? That’s wonderful! Please take into consideration if you will want your kids walking the dog and what size of dog they can physically handle. Asking a 10-year-old to walk a pulling, high energy large dog is not a safe scenario. Training your new family member is always recommended, but looking at the worst case scenario will help you choose a dog that will be manageable for all those involved. Always keep in mind that the dog will ultimately be the responsibility of the adults in the household, and if anything were to ever happen while a child was walking them, you will be held responsible.

Genetic Health Issues

If you are getting a dog from a breeder, knowing what health issues are common to the breed will prepare you for any surprises down the road. Obviously, when rescuing a dog you are less likely to know what mix of breeds they are. Visual identification of the breeds in your mutt is a very accurate way to predict what health issues may crop up. Do your research on what breeds have what genetic likelihoods before you start looking for a furry friend so that you kind of know what you are able to financially take on the potential burden of. Just a few genetic conditions are listed below to give you an idea of common health issues that may affect your chosen breed.

Information below was taken in part from PetMD

Brachycephalic

Dogs that are classed as Brachycephalic are dogs that generally have the shorter noses and their nostrils are not as open as dogs that don’t have this condition. Often times dogs that are brachycephalic will need to have surgery to open their airways so that they can breathe better. These dogs are at a higher risk for overheating when exercising, especially during the warmer months.

Dogs that are prone to brachycephalia include boxers, bulldogs, boston terriers, pugs, shih tzus, bull mastiffs, chow chows and lhasa apsos.

Prone breed list taken from Oakhill Veterinary Centre

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is when the dog’s hip joint doesn’t work properly for one reason or another and causes your dog pain when they walk, go up and down stairs, jump or simply get up from laying down.

Dogs that are prone to dysplasia include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Retrievers.

Heart Disease

There are multiple types of heart diseases and each one will affect your pup in a slightly different way. Some of the common heart diseases are Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), Myxomatous valve disease and Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). Below you will find a few breeds potentially affected by each of these types of heart disease

Myxomatous valve disease: cavalier king charles spaniels and Dachshunds

DCM: doberman, great dane, boxer

ARVC: boxers, bulldogs


A lot of different factors go into picking a dog that will mesh well with your family. Picking a dog based on looks alone can get you into trouble if you aren’t prepared to put the work or money in to have your dog be happy and healthy.