Picking The Right Dog for Your Family

Getting a new animal is a very exciting time for everyone, but it can be difficult to know what sort of dog would suit you and your family best. There are so many different options when it comes to getting a dog. Small breed vs large breed, reputable breeder or rescue? Although exciting, it can also be a bit overwhelming with all the different options available. Getting a dog that isn’t the right fit for your family can be very stressful, and can even lead to the dog having to be rehomed down the line.

Considerations for Selecting a Dog

There are so many different types of dogs out there and so many families with different lifestyles. Some things to consider include lifestyle, size, living situation, activity level, grooming, temperament and budget.

Lifestyle and Activity Level

Every family has a different lifestyle and way of living. All dogs need physical activity and time outside, but some dogs require more activity than others. Certain dogs require just a nice stroll on a leash a few times a day, while others require upwards of an hour or more of physical activity such as jogging, herding, agility or obedience. If your family doesn’t enjoy spending a lot of time outside (even when it’s raining or snowing!) than a less active dog may be better suited to you.

Allergies and Temperament

Another thing to consider is that some members of your family may have pet allergies. Certain breeds such as Portuguese water dogs and Shih Tzus may be less likely to cause allergic reactions. Certain breeds are known for certain temperaments and this should be taken into account when bringing a new pet home. If you choose a dog with a high energy level and your family doesn’t have the time or resources to exercise it then it may develop behaviour issues out of boredom. If you purchase a laid-back dog with an extremely active family it may not be happy to go with you on all of your adventures.

Living Situation and Climate Considerations

Your living situation also should impact your decision on what dog to welcome into your family. Larger dogs need more room and ideally should have a yard with lots of space in it. Even some medium and small breeds are very active, such as certain terriers, border collies, Shetland sheepdogs, etc. A lot of landlords also have strict rules based on what pets you can have, particularly for apartment living. Where you live climate wise is also important as some dogs are better suited to cold weather while others are more tolerant of heat. The flatter faced dogs such as bulldogs and pugs tend to be more at risk for heat stroke. Breeds such as huskies and malamutes enjoy snow.

Grooming Needs

Certain breeds require more time and effort for grooming, which can also cause financial strain if you are unable to do it yourself. All dogs require a certain level of care such as nail trims, and occasional brushing. Dogs with long or thick coats require a large amount of grooming, which in turn requires a large time commitment. Dogs will also frequently need their ears cleaned, and teeth brushed.

The True Cost of Dog Ownership

The cost of purchasing or adopting a dog is a lot less than the actual cost of maintaining a dogs’ quality of life. Things like grooming, dog food, dog treats, collars, leashes, beds, training, daycare, boarding, and proper veterinary care all add up. Flea and tick products, internal parasite dewormer and heartworm protection will add to your dogs yearly cost. As a general rule of thumb the larger the dog the more expensive it will be. Larger breeds (such as shepherds, labs, Newfoundlands, mastiffs) require a lot more food than a small breed dog, particularly if the dog ends up having health issues, which require a special diet.

Making the Right Choice

Not only will a large breed dog have a higher grocery bill than a small breed dog, medications will be more expensive for it as well as they require a much larger dose. That being said, small breed dogs also have their own set of issues leading to cost. A lot of smaller breeds are known for having dental issues starting at a young age and thus requiring multiple dental procedures throughout their lives. Breeds like Shetland sheepdogs, Pomeranians and Bichon Frise frequently require a lot of dental work. A lot of smaller dogs also need regular haircuts and grooming at a professional groomer. Any dog can come with its own set of issues that will require work and potentially a financial strain.

Conclusion: Research and Adoption Tips

There are so many dog breeds out there and they are all wonderful. If you are thinking of adding a new addition to your family, I encourage you to check out the Canadian Kennel Club website. They have an entire section based on choosing a dog, as well as information on different dog breeds. Make sure to do your research so that both you and your new addition will be happy. If you are adopting a dog from a shelter the shelter staff will be able to help you determine if the dog will be a good fit for your family. Whether it is from a rescue or a breeder you should ask as many questions as you can and disclose your living situation and lifestyle in order for them to match you with the right animal. We love to see our patients and their owners happy together and enjoying life.

Written by Mikaila Cariou, RVT