Your Official Guide to Picking the Best Dog Breed for You
Find out the pros and cons of the most popular breeds so you'll know what you're getting into before you bring a pup home from the shelter or the breeder.
Labrador Retrievers are great for families
Labs are hands down the most popular breed in the U.S. and have been for many years. In many respects they are the quintessential family dog; loyal, good with kids, friendly but big enough to make a burglar think twice, and long-lived. They do need room to play so a yard or frequent trips to the dog park are ideal. They also love water! They do shed seasonally, so regular brushing is necessary. As they age, labs are prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis, and frequently suffer knee ligament injuries in middle age. For a large breed dog, labs have a fairly long life-span, some living upwards of 12 to 13 years, so geriatric issues, urinary incontinence, cognitive dysfunction (dementia), hearing loss, and heart problems are not uncommon. Still put off by their size? You might reconsider because of these reasons you should consider a large dog.
German Shepherds are loyal
German Shepherd dogs, or GSD for short, are a perennial top dog on the AKC most popular breed list. Loyal and intelligent, these guard dogs are great for families and do well with children. Their large size and exuberant nature may mean you want to keep a close eye if you have small children, just to avoid any tumbles, and their sweeping tail can clear a coffee table in the blink of an eye. Because the breed standard for GSDs states that they should have sloping hindquarters, they are prone to hip dysplasia, and like any large breed dog, frequently suffer knee ligament injuries. As they age, German Shepherds are also predisposed to heart disease.
Great Danes are good apartment dogs
Despite their size, Great Danes actually make great apartment pets. They are laid back and love nothing more than some good sofa-time. They are good with children, but should be supervised with young kids due to their overwhelming size. Standing up to 32″ at the shoulder and weighing over 120lbs, Danes do well with occasional walks throughout the day. Danes are notoriously short-lived, with a life expectancy of six to eight years, and are predisposed to heart disease and gastric dilation and volvulus (commonly referred to as bloat). Bloating is one of the things your pup would tell you if it could.
Golden Retrievers make good service dogs
The epitome of the family dog, Golden Retrievers are beautiful and friendly, this intelligent breed is frequently trained as service dogs. Goldens do well with children and are great house dogs, but their long coat does need frequent brushing to avoid matting and help with shedding. Golden Retrievers are also prone to hip and knee injuries as well as heart disease and GDV.
Border Collies are high energy
Smart, high-energy, and athletic, Border Collies have been bred over hundreds of years to herd sheep. They are intense and hardworking, but due to their herding instinct, may not be the best choice for families with small children or apartment dwellers. If not entertained, they can be destructive, and they are so intelligent, they can quickly lose interest in toys and decide your couch or your shoes make a much better toy. When unsupervised, Border Collies should be confined to a crate. Because of their long dense coat, border collies should be brushed frequently and are prone to skin disease if their coats aren’t maintained properly. Before you bring your pup home, make sure you have everything on this new puppy checklist.
Chihuahuas are sassy
Tiny chihuahuas pack quite a punch for their five pound average weight. They are devoted to their owners and tend to gravitate or lay claim, to one member of a family. Because of their small size and sassy temperament, they are not an ideal choice for families with young kids. Since they don’t require much exercise, though, they are great apartment dogs. The shed seasonally and don’t require frequent grooming. Like other small breeds, chihuahuas commonly have a genetic condition called luxating patella, which means their knee caps pop in and out. The condition can cause problems with mobility but can be surgically repaired. Stuck for a name? These are the most popular dog names to inspire you.
Pugs are even tempered
Sweet and silly, pugs are one of a kind and immediately recognizable owing to their squished nose (called brachycephalic) and bug eyes. Even tempered and friendly, pugs do well with children, but caution should be exercised in lifting them or holding them by the neck. Their eye sockets are very shallow, providing their bug-eyed look, which allows their eyes to actually pop out if too much pressure is applied. Like chihuahuas, pugs frequently have luxating patellas and shed seasonally. Pugs also commonly have skin problems and allergies.
Boxers are eager to please
Another brachycephalic breed, boxers are high energy, exuberant, and friendly. A boisterous and loving breed, Boxers are eager to please but frequently not the brightest bulb in the box. Loyal and protective, Boxers are great family dogs, but care should be taken around small children, because boxers are very excitable. Another short-lived breed, Boxers have a life span of less than 10 years and have a breed predisposition to heart disease and a few different cancers. We love rescue dogs and mixed breeds, too! This is everything you need to know before adopting a rescue pup.
Poodles are super smart
Arguably the most intelligent breed on the list, poodles come in several sizes ranging from tiny teacups to 65 to 70lb standards. Misconceptions abound regarding poodles, and they are frequently considered high maintenance and fussy, but they are easy to train and do very well in obedience and agility training. They don’t shed and frequent grooming is required, but their coats can be kept short and easy to maintain. As a breed, poodles are predisposed to heart problems and luxating patellas.
Beagles are fun-loving
America’s favorite hound dog, according to the AKC, Beagles are not only great hunters but make fantastic family dogs. They are fun-loving and, with those big eyes and long hound-dog ears, very cute. They are easy to train and equally love romping in the yard and crashing out on the sofa. Apartment dwellers beware, beagles, and all hounds, are loud. They bark and bay by nature and may be more well-suited to stand alone houses than apartments with shared walls. Breed-specific advice is one of the secrets your vet won’t tell you.
Dachshunds are frisky
Easily recognizable for their long back and stubby legs, Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers and weasels and have kept that determination and spiritedness through the generations. They can be a little on the frisky side, so care should be taken with children. Due to their long, low body, they are very susceptible to back injuries and intervertebral disc disease. Disc problems can be treated medically or surgically, but occasionally result in permanent paralysis.
English Bulldogs are clowns
English bulldogs are adorable clowns. Stubby body, squat legs, squished faces, they are a wildly popular breed and a great family dog. Smart and laid back, bulldogs love to lie around and would be in your lap if you let them. Because they have been bred to achieve certain characteristics, namely short snout and stocky build, they are prone to multitude health problems, and potential owners should be aware of the expense generally associated with these dogs. From routine surgery to open up their airway to allow them to breathe easily, to C-sections required for birth (most bulldogs cannot give birth naturally), this is not a breed to take on without doing plenty of research. Despite their easy going personalities and lovable dispositions, bulldogs may not be a good choice if owners are not able to commit financial resources to their almost certain medical problems. Commit these 10 silent symptoms your dog is sick to memory.