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How to Pick a Dog Breed

    Dogs bring so much light and joy to our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about their amazing companionship that we often forget the most important part of owning a dog: making sure they’re the right fit for our lifestyle and family.

    There are many ways to choose a dog breed. Some of us were born into living with certain breeds, while others find our heart breeds later in our lives.

    If you’re searching for how to pick a dog breed, we hope you’ll spend some time going through this article and ensuring that you make the right decision. You’ll be living with this dog for their entire life, so it’s not a decision to make on a whim or lightly.

    Let’s look into how to find the right dog breed for you in this article!

    Think About Your Lifestyle

    The first step to finding the right dog breed for you is to be honest with yourself about your lifestyle. If you’re not an active person, you don’t want to get a high drive dog like a Belgian Malinois as your pet. It would not be fulfilling for you or your dog in this case.

    A breed that doesn’t require as much exercise and doesn’t have as much drive would be a much better fit.

    You have to think about many aspects of your life when choosing the right dog breed for you. Here’s a great list of things to consider:

    • What’s your lifestyle and interests like?
    • What is your work situation like?
    • Do you have enough time to dedicate to a dog? If so, how much time per week?
    • Do you, or will you have children? What are their ages?
    • Do your children know how to respect a dog and its boundaries?
    • Will this be your first dog?
    • Do you rent or own your home?
    • If renting, does your landlord allow dogs into their home?
    • Will you train the dog yourself or have them professionally trained?

    These are all important questions to ask yourself, and if you go to an ethical breeder, you’ll have to be prepared to answer these questions as well. They help a breeder determine if a puppy of that breed is right for you and if you can provide what is needed to one of their puppies. More on that later!

    Research Dog Breeds That You’re Interested In

    With an idea of what your lifestyle is like and what you can provide to a dog, research is the next best step to consider.

    You may have a list of breeds that you’re interested in, and that’s wonderful! Some could be matches while others may not be. Doing extensive research will help you determine this.

    Let’s say that you’re considering an Alaskan Malamute as your potential breed in this example. However, you can substitute almost any breed in place of a Malamute here.

    Here are a few great ways to start researching this potential breed.


    The internet provides a plethora of resources to go to when it comes to learning. Unfortunately, some will be good and others will be downright wrong, especially when it comes to dogs. The key is to go to knowledgeable sources that provide the most accurate information.

    For most, this will be your breed’s parent club. The parent club is the authority on your dog breed of choice, and often works with the kennel clubs to dictate things like the breed standard. Parent clubs are made up of dedicated breeders and fanciers of your chosen breed who only have the best interests of the future of their breed in mind.

    Their websites usually contain some wonderful and accurate information on the bred. One good way to get a good synopsis or overview is by reading the breed standard. This outlines everything from how the breed should look to their temperament and demeanor. It’s a blueprint for your chosen breed.

    To find the parent club for your chosen dog breed, check out this page.

    One other great resource is breed blogs. You can learn lots of valuable information from these blogs, but just be sure to check that they are written by legitimate owners of the breed.

    Social Media

    When it comes to dogs, social media can be a blessing and a curse. Knowing the right place to get your information is again key.

    Joining general breed groups usually isn’t a good source of information. These groups are often filled with pet people who may have backyard-bred dogs and may have inaccurate information to share.

    On the flip side, there may be knowledgeable breeders, owners, and handlers in those groups, but figuring out who is who can prove to be a challenge if you’re new to the community.

    One great way to connect with the most knowledgeable and ethical folks within your chosen breed is to go to the parent club website. There is often a breeder referral list where you can talk to members of the club and connect with them on social media.

    They can talk to you about the breed and give you more insight into whether or not they’re right for you.


    Another valuable way to learn even more about the breed that you’re interested in is to get out there and meet them!

    Connecting with dedicated owners and breeders is an awesome way to actually meet a great example of the breed and see if they would be a good fit for you.

    You can do this one way by venturing out to dog shows. There are often many entries of all kinds of different breeds in AKC dog shows, and this gives you a chance to meet more than one of your desired breeds.

    You can also talk to the owners and handlers and learn from some of the best. It’s also a great way to find and network with breeders and fanciers within a certain breed.

    Consider Your Options

    There are a few routes that you can take when looking for a purebred dog. Each path is valid and some may suit your situation better than others, but it’s always good to consider all of your options.

    Let’s have a look at what you can consider.

    Buying a Purebred Puppy From a Breeder

    When most people think of buying a purebred dog, they are thinking of purchasing a puppy from a breeder. This is great if a puppy is something that you’re ready for and look forward to working with.

    The key here is to find an ethical, reputable breeder who is working to preserve and protect their breed.

    Not all breeders are equal, and backyard breeders can talk a good game leading you to believe that they’re ethical. Here are some important things to look for in a breeder of your next purebred puppy:

    • Do they do all of the required health tests (OFA/PennHip)?
    • Do they work or prove their dogs in some way? (Conformation/Agility/Herding/Rally/Dock Diving etc.)
    • Do they use puppy culture or other programs to raise their puppies?
    • Are they a member of their breed’s parent club?
    • Will they take back their dog in the event that you cannot keep them?
    • Will they keep in contact and provide support for the duration of the dog’s life?

    These are just a few questions to ask your breeder. A good practice is to talk to others in the community as well about your chosen breeder to get their opinion.

    If everything checks out, this can be a great route to get a well-bred, purebred dog.

    Retired Breeding Dog

    If a puppy isn’t a good fit for your lifestyle, you can look into buying a retired breeding dog from an ethical breeder. You’re still looking for all of the same things that we mentioned above, but this time you’re going to apply some of them to the adult dog.

    Adult breeding dogs that have retired are often wonderful pets that allow you to skip the puppy phase. You’ll get a dog with a wonderful temperament who has been treated well and trained well throughout their life and still have quite a few years ahead of them. They’ll even have off-spring and relations that you can keep up with as well.

    For anyone looking for a full-trained dog who will be a great addition to their family, going to a breeder and inquiring about retired dogs is a great way to enjoy a purebred dog.

    Breed-Specific Rescues

    If you’ve found a dog breed that fits your lifestyle, you may consider adopting from a breed-specific rescue. These are dogs that have typically been pulled from general shelters by retired breeders or breed fanciers who make it their mission to find homes for these dogs.

    This is a wonderful opportunity for the right family to adopt a dog of their chosen breed and save their life as well. Typically, you’re not going to find well-bred dogs in breed-specific shelters (or shelters in general). The dogs that end up in these shelters are usually from backyard breeders who won’t take their dogs back in the event that they are given up by their owner and end up in a shelter.

    These dogs can still make wonderful pets and are so deserving of a second chance in life. It may not be the right choice for everyone, but for the right family, it can be so rewarding.

    You may consider fostering a dog of that breed as well to get a feel for what living with them will truly be like. Be sure to research this before doing so, however.

    Questions to Ask Yourself When Searching for the Right Dog Breed

    With all of these resources available to you, you also need to think of a couple more things. Each dog breed was bred for a purpose and therefore will have hardwired genetics inside of them.

    It doesn’t matter how you raise them, as training only makes certain traits manageable. They’ll still be there.

    This is part of why finding the right dog breed for you I so important and should not be a decision made lightly. If you live in an apartment, having a dog breed that loves to bark isn’t going to work for you. So, choosing from a breed that has less of a tendency to be vocal will be best for you.

    Here are some other questions that you should ask yourself about a potential dog breed.

    What Size of Dog Will Work for You?

    Dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes, which means that you have plenty of choices. You can go with a giant breed or a small breed. The choice is yours and it’s up to you to decide what size of dog will fit your lifestyle.

    This is a great general way of narrowing down your choices. Another thing to consider when it comes to size is that males are typically bigger, and females are smaller. This can help you decide on which gender to go with also.

    How Much Grooming Can You Tolerate?

    Some breeds are “wash and wear” while others require extensive styling and grooming. As a pet owner, you can keep many of these breeds in styles of pet cuts to make things a little easier on you.

    With any dog, regular grooming is important as every dog deserves the love and care that grooming provides. This includes regular brushing, bathing, and nail cutting.

    This means that you need to think about the coat and its maintenance of any breed that you’re considering. B honest with yourself.

    Will you have the time, patience, and resources to maintain their coat? Can you handle intense shedding twice per year? Will you be able to properly care for a corded dog?

    If not, then start searching for another breed.

    What’s Their Temperament Like?

    If you don’t like a dog’s temperament you’re not going to have a good time living with them.

    Not all dog breeds are created the same, and you have to keep in mind that they were bred for different purposes. A guardian breed isn’t going to be friendly to strangers like a companion breed may be. That means careful watch and control around any strangers that enter your home for the duration of the dog’s life.

    Keep in mind, that this doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the dog. They are acting the same way that any guardian breed should act. This is what makes them so good at their jobs!

    It’s our jobs as their owners to manage the behavior and realize that we can’t eliminate it. So, always take temperament into extreme consideration when choosing a dog breed. The breed standard will usually give a great overview of this, but be sure to talk to many in the breed community and meet a few dogs of your desired breed as well.

    Doing this will truly help you decide if you’re prepared to live with a dog of that breed.

    What Health Risks Might This Breed Have?

    Ethical and reputable breeders will only strive to produce the healthiest dogs that they can. This includes checking pedigrees to ensure no signs of illness or disease, and health testing their dogs to the fullest.

    However, sometimes dogs are still prone to certain diseases. Understanding what can come up in the life of your dog is important as an owner.

    Some things are preventable, while others aren’t. Doing your research into your breeder and ensuring that you’re aware of what could come up is very important.

    Consider a Rare Breed

    One last thing that is more of a consideration than a question to ask yourself is to consider rare or vulnerable breeds. There are many dog breeds that are low in numbers and need dedicated owners to help keep their population numbers up. This helps to save them from extinction.

    When considering your future dog breed, consider choosing a rare breed that may fit your lifestyle. If there’s none that makes sense for you, please consider helping in other ways such as spreading the word about these endangered breeds or donating to their causes.

    What About Mixed Breeds?

    Mixed breeds are most commonly bred by backyard breeders who are looking to turn a profit on their dogs. Ethical breeders almost never make any profit on their litters.

    However, in very rare cases there are ethical mixed breed breeders. They are usually:

    • Starting with quality breeding stock from ethical breeders
    • Breeding for a very specific purpose
    • Ensuring that they’re doing all of the same health testing and work that ethical breeders of purebreds are doing
    • Screening buyers extensively as an ethical purebred breeder would
    • Not pumping out countless litters of the mixed breeds each year

    These are just some of the things that an ethical mixed breed breeder should be doing. Any less and they would be considered unethical.

    So, if a mixed breed with a very specific purpose from a breeder who ticks all of the boxes is your choice, then proceed. Just be extremely careful, as most mixed breed breeders are unethical.

    But remember, there are hundreds of purebred dogs to choose from. You’re sure to find one that works for you.

    How to Choose the Right Dog Breed

    Many people take the subject of how to find the right dog breed for them lightly, however, this is an animal that you will be spending the next decade or more with. To eliminate dogs ending up in a shelter, we need to choose ethical breeders and the right dog for our families.

    Be sure to take our guide into consideration when looking into your next dog breed.

    Have you learned a thing or two about how to pick a dog breed? Learn something new by reading our blog!

    Will you give what you learned in this article a try?

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