How to Select the Right Dog Breed for You

Author: Alasdair Duncan

When choosing a dog, you want to make sure you can offer the optimal setting for them to lead a happy and healthy life by your side. So how do you choose the right dog breed for you?

If you’re wondering how to choose the right dog breed for you and your lifestyle, there are some questions you can ask. These may help you narrow the search down, or guide you in your choice.

  1. How much space do you have?
  2. Do you have children in your household?
  3. How active is your lifestyle?
  4. Do you want a dog that can tolerate being alone?
  5. Do you want a dog that requires little grooming?

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that while it may be possible to select a breed that is known for having the traits you’d like in a companion, each dog has its own personality. So your particular dog may not have the exact traits or temperament expected from its pedigree.

1. How much space do you have?

Whether you live in a house or an apartment should help dictate the kind of dog breed that could be suitable for you. As different breeds require different levels of exercise. Or even just space when hanging about the home.

For example, if you live in a smaller dwelling such as an apartment, without much of a yard, you might consider a small breed. Or, if you have the ability to take your pup for regular walks, or to a nearby dog park to play in, a medium breed may be a suitable choice.

You may also want to consider a breed that doesn’t bark too much, for the sake of your neighbours in an apartment complex.

Dog breeds that can do well in small homes and apartments:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Bichons Frise
  • Boston Terriers
  • Bulldogs, including French Bulldogs
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Corgis
  • Greyhounds
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzus
  • West Highland Terriers

If you live in a house in the suburbs, or in a more rural setting, then your options will be broader. But you need to keep in mind the size of your yard and whether it will be big enough for a dog to play in. You also need to consider how secure the yard is, in case you have a breed of dog that likes to roam.

It’s also worth mentioning that having a suitable yard may give you more space for larger and more active dogs, but it doesn’t forgo the regular walks and exercise certain breeds still require.

2. Do you have children in your household?

If you have children, you will likely want a dog that adapts well to being with families. The good news is that many dogs love being part of a pack, which can include children. When choosing one, though, you will need to go for a dog that will be affectionate and loving and will be able to play gently with children. And, likewise, one that will be able to tolerate the sometimes boisterous nature of children.

Depending on the age of your children, you may also want to avoid particularly large breeds. As even a friendly and loving dog can cause harm simply based on being significantly larger and heavier than a small child.

Dog breeds that can work well with families and children:

  • Border Collies
  • Boxers
  • Fox Terriers
  • Greyhounds
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Pugs and Puggles
  • Schnauzers, including Miniature Schnauzers

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3. How active is your lifestyle?

Your choice of dog may be determined by how active your lifestyle is. For example, if you are active and exercise a lot, you may want a dog that can go for runs with you, or will be happy chasing a ball around for hours or playing on the beach. Conversely, if your lifestyle is less active, or if you simply don’t have time to exercise regularly with your dog, you may prefer a breed that does well without as much exercise. And will be happy with just a walk up and down the block, or a quick lap around the dog park.

Dog breeds that require a lot of exercise:

  • Huntaway
  • Border Collies
  • Boxers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Irish Setters
  • Kelpies
  • Samoyeds

Dog breeds that don’t require a lot of exercise:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Borzois
  • Chow Chows
  • English Toy Spaniels
  • French Bulldogs
  • Maltese Terriers
  • Pekingese
  • Pomeranians
  • Saint Bernards
  • Shih Tzus

4. Do you want a dog that can tolerate being alone?

If you work long hours away from home, you may wish to book your dog into a doggy daycare a few days a week. Or, have a dog walker that can take it out for some afternoon exercise. Some dogs become anxious when left alone, and can chew, bark and cause damage around the house.

You may, however, favour a dog that will be comfortable by itself throughout the day.

Dog breeds that can be comfortable being alone:

  • Chinese Shar Peis
  • Chow Chows
  • English Foxhounds
  • Labradoodles
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Shiba Inus

5. Do you want a dog that requires little grooming?

Some dogs, especially long-haired varieties, require regular bathing, clipping, and grooming, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Breeds like Afghan Hounds, Bichons Frise, Collies, Cocker Spaniels, Pomeranians and Schnauzers can all require this kind of attention.  Some dogs, especially short-haired varieties, do not require this extensive level of grooming and can be more suited to an occasional bath and nail clipping.

Dog breeds that do not require much grooming:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Bulldogs, including French Bulldogs
  • Bull Arabs
  • Bull Terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Great Danes
  • Pugs and Puggles
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • Weimaraners
  • Whippets

Would you rather adopt or purchase a dog?

Once you decide on the kind of dog breed that suits your lifestyle, the next question is whether you wish to adopt or purchase.

If you choose to purchase, prospective buyers are encouraged to do their research. For example, websites such as Dogs New Zealand can help you find recognised NZ pedigree breeders. Or, you can browse forums and read reviews, or join Facebook groups. Make sure to check the genetic history of the puppy before purchasing, and to pay a visit to the breeder if possible, to make sure they are not running a puppy farm.

High demand since the pandemic has seen a rise in prices for dogs, and unethical breeders and sellers have jumped in to take advantage. So now more than ever you need to be extra cautious about who you’re buying from.

On the other hand, adopting a dog is a great way to save a dog in need. It’s also significantly cheaper, as the SPCA charges just a few hundred dollars to adopt (to cover the costs of microchipping, desexing, and general health checks that are already done for you). You might also get a more comprehensive background of the individual dog’s nature, which may help you get a dog more suited to you and your lifestyle.

How much does pet insurance cost for a dog?

There are various different types of pet insurance, from policies that cover only accidents, right through to those that offer comprehensive cover for accidents, illnesses and routine care. So the cost of pet insurance can differ significantly based on the type of policy you decide upon. Not only that, but the breed and age of your dog can play a role, too.

For example, smaller breeds tend to be cheaper to insure, but not always. If it’s a breed that’s known to have health issues it could easily cost more.

As a result, it’s hard to give a general quote. Depending on the above factors, you could expect to pay anywhere from $10-$20 a month, up to well over $100 a month. Your best bet is to get a quote for your specific dog breed and age (or that of the dog you are interested in) from several of the pet insurance providers available here in New Zealand.

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author andrew broadley

About the reviewer of this page

This report was reviewed by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.


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