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Choosing the right dog for you and your lifestyle

Dr. Jerry Klein, American Kennel Club on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Getting a dog should be a well-planned decision to ensure a lifelong commitment. Dogs are not objects that are returned if you change your mind because they have become too big, too energetic or too time-consuming to care for properly. For the greatest chance for success, put forth the effort to find the best match for you and your family.


Dogs were domesticated from ancestors of wolves to work alongside humans and help with our daily lives: hunting, guarding, protecting, herding, being exterminators or just being wonderful companions. Over hundreds or even thousands of years, the selective breeding of dogs with certain traits developed types of dogs that are predictable in their physical characteristics, behavior and personality. Predictability is the major advantage of getting a purebred dog over a mixed-breed puppy or older dog. Predictability and dependability are important because there are usually fewer chances of surprises related to their size, physical characteristics, behaviors and personality traits.


The best chance for a successful match is finding a dog or puppy that will fit in with your lifestyle, activity level and living conditions. If the match is not good, expectations can become disappointments and lead to unfortunate circumstances for both dog and owner. In those scenarios, it's best if the dog can be returned to its responsible breeder. In the worst case, the dog will be relinquished to a shelter, where it may not survive.

For example, if you are looking for a dog to accompany you on hikes, runs or long walks, a short-legged dog may not be the wisest choice. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may not want a high-energy dog that requires a lot of exercise. And if you live in an apartment, size may be an issue.



Being a responsible dog owner is being an informed, realistic dog owner. Do research and educate yourself about dogs and proper dog ownership, nutrition, health and training. Understand the time, energy and money that may be needed to give you and your dog the optimal chance for your relationship to thrive.


There are 198 recognized AKC dog breeds, each with their own look, behavior and personality. Research the common and not-so-common breeds by visiting AKC’s website. Let your research take you to a particular breed’s parent club website (a parent club means that breed’s national club) and learn about that breed’s history, purpose and disposition. There are also lists of recognized breeders and possible rescue members of that breed that may be up for adoption.


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