Bringing a pet into your household is an important decision. Consider these factors when choosing a breed.
Step 1: Assess your situation Assess your situation. Do you have children? Do you own or rent? How big are your living quarters? How much time and money can you devote to a dog?
Step 2: Consider dog size Consider the size of dog you prefer. Large breeds need more exercise, more food, and more space. Small dogs may require protection in cold weather.
TIP: Large dogs often have shorter life spans than medium or small dogs.
Step 3: Consider temperament Consider the breed temperament. Do you want a mellow dog or a watchdog? Do you need a dog that does well with children?
Step 4: Consider gender Decide whether you want a male or a female dog. The choice is important if you want to breed your dog, but there's little difference in temperament between genders.
TIP: Spay or neuter your dog if you do not plan to breed them.
Step 5: Consider health care Consider health care needs. Certain breeds require more attention. Breeds with long coats or with respiratory challenges, for example, require more care.
Step 6: Do research Do some research to find the breed that best matches your needs. A good place to start is the American Kennel Club, at akc.org.
Step 7: Choose your dog Buy from a reputable breeder, and get a certified pedigree if you purchase a purebred. Or adopt a purebred or mixed-breed dog from an animal shelter – many of these animals need loving homes. Even mutts may retain breed characteristics from their ancestry, and they're often hardier than purebreds.
Step 8: Enjoy Enjoy your new companion! There's a good reason dogs are called our best friends.
FACT: The American Kennel Club recognizes over 150 breeds of dogs.