Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed


Dog breeds are not "one size fits all," so you should select a dog breed carefully. Find out how different breeds' temperaments, sizes, grooming requirements, and exercise needs can help you choose the right dog for your family.

Four Things to Consider When Selecting a Dog Breed

Four of the most important factors to consider when choosing a dog breed include temperament, size, cost and the needs and preferences of individual family members.


The first consideration that most people evaluate when choosing a dog breed is general temperament. Some breeds are considered more outgoing and friendly while others are more prone to display aggression. Which breed a family chooses depends on their needs. If they are looking for a guard dog or protective animal, a more aggressive breed may be suitable. If, on the other hand, they are interested in a family pet, more easygoing breeds are a better choice.

Temperament characteristics to examine include:

  • Aggression and protectiveness
  • Energy, activity level, and playfulness
  • Intelligence
  • Loyalty
  • Sensitivity
  • Compatibility with other animals

Breeders, breed books, and American Temperament Test Society statistics can give a general overview of a particular breed's temperament and allow individuals to narrow their options. However, the best clue is to observe the breed itself by spending time interacting with available puppies and their parents. Individual dogs can vary widely in their attitudes and behaviors, even within the same breed. The younger the puppies are, the more their temperaments can be molded by proper socialization and training.


The next common consideration when choosing a dog breed is the animal's size. Naturally, larger breeds (Great Danes, German Shepherds, Retrievers, etc.) require more space both inside the home and outside for exercise. Smaller dog breeds such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, or Toy Poodles are more suitable for smaller environments including apartments, senior care centers, or mobile homes. Prospective owners should note, however, that small size does not necessarily mean less care or a gentler temperament.



All dogs, no matter what their size, temperament, or breed, require a multitude of supplies, including:

  • Beds or bedding
  • Toys for inside and outside
  • Collar and leash
  • Periodic vaccinations and other health care
  • Food and water bowls
  • Food and treats
  • Grooming supplies
  • Crates for traveling

Other potential costs include boarding fees, professional grooming, and licenses. Larger dog breeds may have greater food expenses and certain breeds may require more extensive medical care: potential owners must take into consideration all the animal's needs and gauge their financial commitment before choosing a specific breed.

Family Member Needs

Before choosing a dog breed, a family must consider its human members. Small children do not make good companions to small dogs, which they may see as toys and could inadvertently harm. Some dog breeds are excessively loyal or protective and will not do well with a very socially active family: constant intrusions from strangers would frighten and stress the dog.

If family members are allergic to animals, including dogs, consider hypo-allergenic breeds such as Poodles, Shih Tzu, or Maltese. While no dog is truly non-allergic, certain breeds shed less and can be more comfortable for allergy sufferers.

Selecting a dog breed by considering the needs of human family members guarantees that everyone enjoys the love and companionship of a faithful pet perfectly suited to the entire family. Furthermore, families should consider their future needs: most dog breeds live at least ten years, and while there may not be any small children around when the animal is a puppy, there may be in the future.

Be Absolutely Certain Before Purchasing or Adopting

One of the greatest tragedies of all dog breeds is that after outgrowing puppyhood, many adult dogs are abandoned. While all puppies are small, cute, friendly, and playful, all puppies also grow up. By considering the breed's temperament, adult size, financial requirements, and its suitability to all family members, potential owners take responsibility with their decision and select an appropriate companion that will remain a cherished family member for many years.

The following slideshows may also help you decide which breed is right for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog Breed