Determine if size matters to you, and think of how it will affect other aspects of your household. Do you live in an apartment that can accommodate a large dog? Do you have means for transporting a large dog? Do you have a large or small yard? Do you have an easily escapable yard that a small dog can maneuver out of?
Physical size may make less of a difference than energy level depending on the breed. For example, a Greyhound’s docile nature is suited just fine in a small yard, while a smaller, more active dog may require a larger yard or home.
2. How much of an issue is shedding?
Almost all dogs shed, but depending on your tolerance for shedding, you may want to stay away from double-coated breeds such as Golden Retrievers. Pugs and Dalmatians also have a reputation for shedding. If you are going to keep your dog indoors, ask yourself: are you are willing to pay extra for grooming, spend more time vacuuming, and scare away allergy-ridden visitors?
3. Does my dog need to be good with children?
Even if you don’t have small children yourself, do you take care of children or have small children that frequent your house? If so, you will want to consider breeds that are best for children. Labradors and Golden Retrievers are common family dogs, but remember that any untrained, abused, boisterous, or temperamental dog—regardless of breed—is not a good option for households with children.
4. What energy level is appropriate?
Don’t adopt a dog for the energy level you aspire to have, adopt a dog that matches your current lifestyle. If you run miles everyday, a good canine match will probably look a lot different than someone who prefers to stay indoors. Also, consider the weather in your region. If the weather keeps you inside during winter or summer months, you may want a less active dog that can stand long days indoors.
5. How often am I away from home?
If you work away from home over long stretches of hours or days, this is a huge consideration. Some dogs have severe separation anxiety such as Chihuahuas and Golden Retrievers. These dogs get bored easily and may get into a lot of trouble if left alone for long periods of time.
Whatever dog you decide on, remember that good training, education, and patience are key to a successful dog-human relationship. Some dogs are more difficult to train than others, and are not recommended for first time dog owners. Do your research carefully and decide ahead of time which characteristics are most important to you in selecting a canine.