Choosing The Right Dog Breed

Were you aware that there are literally hundreds of distinct dog breeds? When you decide to get a dog, choosing the right dog breed for you and your family is essential.

There are about 339 breeds of dogs which are divided into 7 different groups:








They all have different purposes and based on uses and characteristics, these different groups are used as a way to identify dogs.

Herding Dogs: 
The Herding group was created in 1983 and is the newest group that was classified by the American Kennel Club.  Before this group was created, the dogs that are in this group currently were previously a part of the Working group.  A Herding dog is described as a dog that is easily trained to help with herding purposes.  Some of the dog breeds that fit under this category would be the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Old English Sheepdogs among others.  These dogs are great for herding for farm purposes among others, but require lots of space to run around and exercise.

Sporting Dogs: 
Dogs in the Sporting group are often used for hunting, fishing, and other field/outdoor activities.  They have great instincts and are able to use their talents for activities like tracking.  The dogs in this group also require a ton of exercise because they are regularly very active.  Some dog breeds in this group include Brittanys, English Setters, Golden Retrievers, and Pointers. 

Non-Sporting Dogs: 
Non-Sporting dogs are commonly known as dogs developed for purposes other than sports.  These dogs range in size, appearance, and definitely personality wise.  Some of the breeds in this group include the American Eskimo Dog, Dalmation, Poodle, and the French Bulldog.

Working Dogs: 
Working dogs are bred in order to assist humans with different tasks such as pulling sleds, protecting/guarding property, and even police and rescue work.  Some breeds in the working class include St. Bernards, Siberian Huskys, Mastiffs, Akitas, Boxers, and Great Danes.  Because of their large size and the considerable amount of space they need along with their great strength, many of the breeds in this class are not desirable for many families of pets.

Hounds are most typically used for tracking because they have a fantastic sense of smell.  They also have great stamina.  Some breeds that would fall under the Hound category would be the Beagle, Basset Hound, Greyhound, and the Norwegian Elkhound.

Most Terriers are very energetic and have very little patience and tolerence for other dogs.  There are 25 different breeds in the Terrier class that are recognized breeds by the AKC.  Terriers are dogs that dig into the ground to capture their prey.  Some of the breeds that fit into the Terrier group include Irish Terriers, Australian Terriers, and Bull Terriers.

Toy Breeds: 
Dogs that fit into the Toy breed class are those that typically weigh between 4 and 16 pounds.  They tend to live longer lives and are easier to keep in a smaller area because of their size.  Pugs, Poodles, and Pomeranians all fit into the Toy Breed group. Herding

With so many different dog breeds available, this can become a very daunting task. Luckily, there are ways in which you can narrow down your options somewhat, making the whole thing a lot easier.

Following factors should be considered in Dog Breed selection:

  1. Purpose 
For what purpose are you planning to bring in a dog.

  1. Availability of time. 
Puppies are about 20x more difficult for the first 1-2 years. If you don't spend the time, you'll pay in other ways (shoes, noise complaints, aggressive behavior, etc).  Spending the time (hours each day) to train & exercise your puppy will really pay off in the long run and will shape the nature & attitude of the dog for his entire life. (You know those really cool dogs that wait outside of stores without a leash... or sit quietly at a outside restaurant even when other dogs are present? That didn't happen by accident). You need to devote a lot of time with your dog, at least in the first 3–4 months. If you are not often at home/ or you do not have that much time to be around you dog, you should go for Indoor dog breeds like - Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Boston Terrier etc. Or if you think that you have plenty of time to put extra efforts behind the dog then you can go for dog breeds like - Boxer, Beagle, Labrador, Golden retriever, Pomeranian, & so on.

  1. Availability of space. How much space do you have? 
If you live in an apartment there is little point in getting a large dog that takes up a lot of room and may also need a lot of exercising. For living areas with limited space, consider the Toy group of dogs such as the Terrier Group or Miniature Pinscher.

  1. Cost of keeping the dog. 
Very large dogs may eat significant amounts of food whereas smaller dogs will eat very little in comparison. Try doing a rough calculation of cost for several different dog breeds over a twelve month period. Take into consideration food and regular visits to the vet for inoculation, worming etc. You will see that larger dogs are very often much more expensive to keep.

     5. Amount of patience in you.

A dog will learn a lot of things, but it won't happen in a jiffy. You will need to be very patient & cool about it. It's a lot of work, a lot of repetition to teach a dog anything. Normally it takes upto 4 to 6 months for a puppy to get house trained properly.

  1. If you have children, then select a dog breed that would suit them. 
Children can be quite heavy handed with pets sometimes; getting a Chihuahua for example may not be such a good idea as they are delicate animals. Similarly, having a Great Dane or Saint Bernard marauding around the house could be dangerous for a child. The age and number of children you have should definitely be considered as this will affect what type of dog would best suit your circumstances.

         7. Amount of exercise you can offer the dog.

If you have a reasonable sized yard, fencing it off will provide a good space for your dog to exercise itself. If you live in an apartment, consider getting a dog that requires very little exercise. An excitable Border collie would be a poor choice for an apartment life. Also, how much exercise can YOU put up with? There is no point getting a dog that requires lots of exercise such as a Hunting or Sporting dog breed if you cannot keep up the exercise regime. Try and get a dog that suits your lifestyle.

         8. Grooming requirements of the dog.

If you do not have a lot of spare time in your life try to avoid dog breeds like the Standard Poodle which will need very regular grooming sessions. The short haired Terriers or Whippets make a good choice for somebody who has little time to sit and groom for hours at a time. Conversely if you have a lot of free time, regular grooming sessions with your dog will provide you both with a lot of quality time that you will both enjoy.

        9. Trainablility

Certain breeds and breed mixes are either very dumb or very stubborn.

        10. Barking

If you are in a communal residence especially, no one would like to have a barking dog next door.

        11. Health of the dog

Some breeds are not healthy and their caring cost is too high.

        12. Readiness to handle separation anxiety.

Dogs suffer from separation anxiety a lot. If you leave them for long & extended periods they will feel lonely. To tell you the truth, I as well feel very anxious when I have to leave my dogs alone for a few days. I put them in hostels, good ones but still I worry about their well being & constantly badger the hostel owners by calling them multiple times a day.

When choosing your dog, take a look at the bigger picture. Try to resist the temptation to go for the cutest, cuddliest, adorable dog you can find. Consider your lifestyle, your home, your family and try to find a dog breed that fits best with your life. After all, your new dog will be sharing your life with you for many years to come so making sure that you are both happy is an important thing to consider.


“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”


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