Mum's Pack

fur, flesh, chaos

How To Choose The Right Breed

Everybody nowadays is so particular when it comes to relationships with other people, especially intimate or romantic relationships, but when it comes to dogs they look at what’s cute.

When Thomas and I were deciding on what breed to get next, before we had chosen the Ridgeback, we saw a Doberman at the dog park.  I asked him, “What about that one?”  “Nope, legs are too skinny, it looks frail, blah blah blah.”  But that changed when we had a Doberman named Cash come and board with us for two weeks.  Cash was only 8 months old but he was BIG, and muscular and he was anything but frail.  He had a bark that sounded so tough, you would never know he was one of the most loving dogs that we’ve ever had stay with us.

If you don’t want to sweep or vacuum up dog hair everyday, or take the time to brush your dog or spend the money to have it groomed, maybe don’t get a Husky or a Newfoundland.

The kind of effort you put into deciding what you want in the person you’re going to share your life with, is the same amount of effort you should be putting into picking the type of dog you’re going to have for the next 6-20 years (yeah, some of them live that long!)

If you’re looking for a great apartment dog, stick to the smaller breeds.

A lot of people stray away from the smaller breeds because they think that they can’t do the same things with them that they can with big dogs, but that’s not true!

Here’s a great example, the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel!  I personally have lived with one, when I was living with my friend Ally.  Ally got Rory when the pup was only 3, and she had her for 10 years before she sadly passed away.  In Rory’s life, she did agility for 5 years, (she could have continued, but her mom prefers Denny’s over athletics,) and even at 12 years old, deaf with cataracts, Rory was keeping up with my at the time, 2 year old Border Collie at the dog park.

Another great one is the Japanese Chin, smaller than the KC Cavalier, but just as much energy and doesn’t have the size to disrupt the neighbours.  My parents have one, Lily, and she’s the definition of psychosis.  They’re smart too!  If she goes poop and you don’t give her a soda cracker, you are dead to her, and she won’t fail to remind you.


Maybe you don’t appreciate the look of those two small breeds, but there are hundreds out there, with energy levels suitable for apartment living, and often times you can find toy or miniature versions of the larger low-mid energy breeds.


How’s your climate where you live?  Is it hot and humid or cold and dry?

Alaskan Malamutes, Bernese Mountain Dog, and the Shiba Inu are all great cold weather dogs.  They’re built with that double fluff that keeps them nice and toasty, with markings and colours that protect them from the winter sunlight.  So if you enjoy snowshoeing or hikes in the mountains, these guys will be right along side you, loving every minute of it.

Or do you enjoy hikes in the sunshine, finding yourself sweating so you take a dip in a nice summer pond?  The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Australian Cattle Dog, or a German Shorthaired Pointer are going to do much better with that type of weather.  With their shorter coats and their love of water, they are bred to have the endurance to keep going, even in the heat.

Is this your first pet, and you have no experience?  Or have you been doing this your whole life, and want a challenge?

If this is your first pet, you may want to look into dog breeds for beginners, and a couple of obedience classes in your area.  Some of the breeds that would love to take that class with you would be the Maltese, Poodle or a Labrador Retriever.  They all have great temperaments, and are extremely gentle, and are smart so they aren’t difficult to train.

Getting another dog and you want to step it up a notch?  American English Coonhound, Australian Shepherd, Bouvier des Flandres, or the German Shepherd are going to give you and your skills a run for your money!

Are you an avid groomer, or would you be clueless if handed a shedding blade?

Great low maintenance breeds are ones like the Dachshund, French Bulldog, or the West Highland White Terrier, whereas some furrier friends may be the Afghan Hound, or the Barbet, which require daily grooming!

Another thing to really think about is lifespan.  Do you want a breed that will stay in the house as long as your kids do?  Or are you looking for a smaller commitment?

If you’re looking for a breed that isn’t going to outlive the warranty on your fridge, probably keep away from Jack Russel Terriers (16 year avg.), Beagle (15 year avg.) or the Border Collie (17-20 year avg.).


Instead, you’ll probably be more likely to find a friend in the Great Dane (6-8 year avg.), Leonberger (8-9 year avg.), or the Irish Wolfhound (6-10 year avg.).

Most importantly, do your research!  Every breed has different grooming needs, health concerns, energy levels, and trainability.  Think about the best characteristics that would fit into your lifestyle, skills, and financial capabilities (big dogs eat more, so food costs more!), before heading over to the shelter, breeder or pet store.  This decision is important and it will change an animal’s life, so make sure you’re giving that dog the best possible home!

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