You have made the decision to get a puppy. You may already have a breed in mind. This is often the first decision: what kind of dog are you going to invite into your home. But is biology destiny? How different is one breed of dog from another?
In looks, dog breeds can be enormously different. Size, color, shape of face, type of coat — all these factors depend on the breed. But dog breeds are also known for certain temperaments and behaviors.
Labrador Retrievers come in color varieties of Golden, Black, and Chocolate. Developed to help hunters recover game, they have become well known for their loyalty and boundless energy, making them excellent family and companion dogs.
Boxers have a very characteristic shape of head, and are playful — even goofy. They’re known for their loyalty and can make excellent watchdogs.
But even the best-known traits of dog breeds depend on training to develop.
Best dogs for children
Factors that will go into deciding which is the right dog for your family with children will include the size of the dog, its energy level, and its personality. If you have small children, you do not want a large, hyper dog that jumps around oblivious to its surroundings because it could easily knock a toddler down. If you have a yard and children filled with energy themselves, you don’t want a docile dog that doesn’t bond with your kids.
Do you want a dog that can play endlessly with the kids in a fenced backyard? Or do you want one that sits quietly by you in the living room while you watch a movie?
A puppy rather than an adult dog is probably best for a family, as the dog hasn’t had time to develop characteristics attached to previous owners. A puppy can grow with the family but will require disciplined training.
Goldendoodles—a mix of Golden Retriever and Poodles—make excellent family dogs, being easily entertained for hours on end retrieving a thrown tennis ball or chasing a Frisbee. Irish Setters are filled with playful energy and will need lots of exercise; however, their long coat will need frequent brushing. Boston Terriers make a good choice for smaller homes or apartments because of their love of people and quiet gentleness. All these traits are brought out with good training.
Best dogs for adults
Dogs make great companions. But each person is going to have different needs met by various breeds. Some senior adults do not have the mobility they once did and probably shouldn’t be paired with a high-energy dog that needs lots of exercise. On the other hand, a quieter dog may not be the best choice for an active person who loves to get outside and jog or hike.
Good breeds for senior adults include the Shih Tzu, which makes an excellent lap dog, and the Pug that likes long naps and doesn’t require much exercise. German Shepherds and Malamutes make excellent cold-weather running companions, while Australian Shepherds are good for trail running with lots of obstacles.
Choosing the right dog for the right family or person is a process and isn’t something to rush into. Take your time and make sure the breed or mixed breed fits the needs of your family.