Puppy Love: Finding the Perfect Canine Companion
Of all the animals in the world, there’s no greater variety than found within Canis Lupus Familiaris – better known as the common dog.
Big and small, tall and short, fat and thin, hairy or naked, and pretty much any color combination you can come up with, these majestic – and sometimes silly – animals have been dubbed man’s best friend, and rightfully so.
For pretty much any human need, there is a canine that can fill it.
- Need a traveling buddy for all those weekend adventures? Get a dog.
- Need a protector from the creepy neighbor down the street? Get a dog.
- Need a companion to watch the game and yell at the refs? Get a dog.
- Need a playmate to dress up in fru-fru outfits and bows? Get a cat – and a first aid kit.
Once you start looking at the different breeds, that’s where the differences start to show up.
The regal Afghan Hound with her tall stance and silky, flowing hair.
The Giant Mastiff with its coat that’s three sizes too large.
The exotic Peruvian Inca Orchid, a mid-sized hairless dog that sports a natural mohawk that matches the boy your daughter brought home senior year.
The downright creepy Chinese Crested that’s almost so ugly it’s cute – but you still wouldn’t want to meet the 6lb little beast in a dark alley.
It’s almost beyond belief that these widely varied animals are all descendants of the Wolf.
Fact really is stranger than fiction !
With so many differences in the dogs on the outside, there’s just as many differences in their overall personalities and temperament – so it’s important to pick one to perfectly match YOUR personality and lifestyle.
Yeah, the German Shepherds are without a doubt the most awesome (me, biased? noooo…) dog on the planet – but are they appropriate for a tiny apartment in the middle of the city where the most excitement that ever happens is a new season released on Netflix?
Location, Location, Location
It’s true in real estate and it’s true in searching for the perfect dog – it’s all about the location.
Your living conditions really are one of the most important considerations, because your home is his home.
An 800 square foot apartment in the city would not be the best living conditions for, say, a Great Dane with a shoulder height of almost 3 feet and an average weight of 175 pounds – and that’s before adding a human and furniture!
Your living conditions are usually – but not always – reflective of your basic lifestyle.
For the most part, apartments are on the smaller side, which limit the space to romp around inside.
Also, most apartments relegate any exercise for your canine to walks – and this usually eliminates the ability to really get in a good run to stretch their legs.
Don’t forget that most apartments frown upon a dog that barks at every little noise.
A smaller living space should shift your focus to one of the small or mid-sized breeds that require less consistent exercise and tend to be a quieter breed.
Be sure to check your rental agreement for animal regulations and size limitations!
- Bulldog: quiet and calm, these dogs tend to be unfazed by the world outside the walls – and don’t require a lot of exercise.
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are a favorite of female apartment dwellers due to their loving demeanor and small size.
My House, My Rules
A better option for a canine is the typical single-family home. More interior room as well as a yard allow your dog to get their wiggles out as needed, and fresh air does their soul good.
Longer walks through the suburban neighborhoods allow for more investigation of smells, and parks are perfect for a game of fetch or a romp with the canine neighbors.
- Bull Terriers are perfect for houses with small or mid-sized yards, and are known for hanging out and playing in the yard for hours without constant supervision.
- Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds in the ‘burbs, being friendly with the neighbors and other dogs as well.
Where the Buffalo Roam
Often misunderstood as the perfect scenario for dog owners with the endless acreage for day-long excursions and the other animals for companionship, the farm isn’t without its own unique set of hazards.
Wild predators and nuisance animals like skunks can all add up to trouble for a dog owner who erroneously thinks he can have an ‘open range’ dog – not to mention what bugs and diseases he can bring back!
Just like any other housing arrangements, a dog is a pet and a responsibility.
- Border Collies are almost a natural for a farm. They love to run and explore – and thrive when given chores to do.
- Catahoula Leopard Dogs are popular in the south, and are common on farms for their protectiveness of livestock and their ability to cover miler each day – and never miss their dinner bell.
What I like to Do For Fun
Your personal lifestyle is another factor in the equation for the perfect canine companion.
How you spend your time during the week days and weekends is important because your dog doesn’t understand the work week – they just know if you’re home or not.
These are a few of your priorities that need to be weighed in light of the needs of the dog you choose – whether you want a snuggler of just a distant companion. Besides, if you’re not home to take care of your four-legged fur baby, who will?
How do you spend your daytime hours? Do you work from home or pull a typical 9-5, or are you an 80 hour-a-week workaholic who uses home as a place to nap and shower between stints at the office?
- Shar Pei’s are those adorable dogs that are covered with rolls and wrinkles – and are noted for their low energy.
- Maltese is a beautiful white fluffball that likes to be the center of attention – or left alone for hours on end to nap in the sunshine.
What is your leisure time like? Are you a weekend adventurer, hitting the trails for a new adventure? Bar hopping to take in all the games and as much alcohol as humanly possible?
Or are you a ‘Netflix-n-chill’ kind of person – weekends spent with your favorite movies and series, with Chinese and pizza delivery on speed dial?
- Basset Hounds are probably some of the lowest maintenance dogs on the planet. They require little exercise and lots of sleep – and like to hang out with you on the couch with Netflix and a lot of pizza.
- Labrador Retrievers are perfect canine companions for those adventures, and can handle just about any weather or terrain you encounter.
Are you a hermit who likes to keep to yourself, or do you stop and talk to every person you meet? Opposites might attract – but when it comes to your puppy, it’s best to be more suitably matched.
- Bullmastiff is a large breed – and just as lazy – will enjoy those calm evenings and weekends at home, provided they get a few short walks in … And some of the pizza.
- Irish Setters are playful and energetic – and love making new friends, no matter what species they are. Their luxurious coats grabs attention and are conversation starters.
The Whole Gang
Who shares your home and life with you? Are you running a bachelor pad for your college buddies, or are you a single mom with young kids? Newly wed or cohabitating?
The amount of time and attention you actually have free, as opposed to your good intentions, is an important consideration.
- Pugs are perfect companions for households that are busy or constantly shifting; they have great dispositions and low stress levels – and just like to be around humans!
- Welsh Corgis are the queen’s favorite for a very good reason; they are fun and frisky and people pleasers to the core.
Why I Want a dog
Ah, the bottom line is always why. And that’s the most important thing you need to figure out before you run out and hit the local SPCA or pet store – why do you want a dog?
There’s honestly no right or wrong answer. It could be as simple as you just want one. Or, you could have very specific reasons.
Either way, the more on target you are with what motivates you, the better you can make the perfect match – and eliminate any possible disappointments or unmet expectations for you as well as the new pup.
Above all, remember that a dog is a permanent addition to your life – so if you’re looking to fill a temporary opening, consider a hobby or a goldfish.
For the Kids
If you’re hearing the begging of tiny little voices and pleading little eyes – you’re probably past the point of no return.
While it’s true that kids who grow up with dogs have higher self-esteem, miss less school, are healthier and are overall more responsible, you need to understand that the promises of doing everything required to take care of it will, in fact, become you doing the majority of the work – kids need to grow into the role of canine caregiver.
But the rewards are out of this world.
- Newfoundlands are gentle giants with an endless supply of patience and eternally devoted – perfect for families and young ones, especially as a first dog.
- Weimaraners stand out for their unique gray coats, but are friendly and most importantly, incredibly obedient.
Working or Hunting
Is there a specific job that you expect your dog to do? Are you looking for a duck chaser on hunting days, or a deterrent to keep unwelcome guests out of the business yard?
If you’re looking for a working dog, you also need to decide if it’s going to be a straight working dog – trained to do its job – or will be pulling double duty as a family pet.
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever is probably the greatest water hunting dogs due to their coat and webbed feet – and their ability to master the land as well as water.
- Dogo Argentino is an excellent guard dog – and when trained to hunt boar, is unrivaled for its tenacity and ability to take down a full-grown wild boar.
Not to be compared to the crazy cat lady up the street, are you looking for a dog to fill a certain void in your life – or as a complement to your life? Are you between loves and looking for someone to come home to?
- Pomeranians are cuteness overload, and all they want do is cuddle and get loved.
- American Eskimos are sometimes called miniature Samoyed’s – but these dogs are bursting with affection and will follow you anywhere.
If you’ve decided that a dog is the perfect animal to keep mice or other small rodents under control, we have to have a talk … But there’s always the Rat Terrier, which is a smaller breed, bred for – you guessed it – catching rats.
But seriously, you should leave the mice catching to the cats. Just sayin’.
Are you a weekend warrior who tackles the trails or camping spot every weekend? Is your idea of fun trudging through the backwoods and blazing new trails?
Are mosquitos your best friends? Do you spend most time covered in mud and sweat?
- German Shepherds are the perfect companion dogs; from Saturday hikes to a week in the Smokey Mountains, the GSD is a faithful companion that can keep up and, with a canine backpack, can pull his own weight … Unlike Mike on our last camping trip…
- Siberian Huskies aren’t just for the snow – but it’s no doubt that’s where they shine. From wooded trails to open country, the husky is at home out in the open.
Are you looking to enlarge the herd? Got a single dog that you think might be a little bored – or is too clingy when you’re around and trying to get stuff done?
If you’re looking to add a dog to an existing household, there’s a few things to keep in mind before taking the plunge;
- Dog expressions don’t match human expressions. In other words, just because they look lonely doesn’t mean they are lonely
- A clingy dog might not need a friend – they might just love you to pieces!
- Does the current canine occupant get along with other dogs it encounters?
If you’re still committed to adding to the flock, there are several breeds that are naturally social with other dogs
- Beagles are the smallest of the hound family, and unquestionably is a friendly and happy dog that loves everyone and everything.
- Boston Terriers are fun loving social butterflies that try to make friends with every other animal they meet.
Get Your Game On
How often do you see a jogger with a dog and think, “That could be me!”? If you’re considering a dog for a workout partner, I guarantee that they will be a buddy that never begs off that 5 mile run in favor of sleeping in.
- Greyhounds are perfect dogs for loafing around the house all day, and taking for an extended run after work or on weekends. There are hundreds of ex-racing greyhounds available for adoption across the country.
- Jack Russell Terriers are little perpetual motion machines that will keep up with you on and off the workout circuit.
I Wanna Talk About Me
Probably the most important part of choosing a dog is matching their personality traits to YOUR personality.
By taking a few minutes to consider some traits about yourself (hey – we’re not judging here!) you might realize that dream dog you thought you wanted could, in fact, be your worst nightmare.
Just think about it and decide yourself – we promise we won’t tell anyone.
Your age goes a long way in choosing a dog. Whether for your adult-self or as your child’s first pet (for the love of God – don’t buy a puppy for someone else’s kid!), age and maturity level goes a long way.
- Bichon Frise are the perfect match for senior pet owners with their quiet demeanor and loving personalities.
- Chihuahua’s are noted for their ability to bond and pledge their undying loyalty to one person.
Have A Heart
Do you wear your heart on your sleeve, or do you suck it up? Do you need hugs and kisses, or just a beer and a little peace and quiet until the commercial? Your emotional sensitivity level needs to match your puppy’s.
- Irish Wolfhounds are giant teddy bears when it comes to sharing the love with their humans – and their giant size matches their heart.
- Chow Chows are hard to miss with their large fluffy bodies and jet black tongues. Originally working dogs in China, their loyalty is matched by their sense of independence.
Martha Stewart’s Nightmare
Are you a neat-freak, with a place for everything and a low tolerance for muddy footprints? Or are your housekeeping skills enough to send Martha Stewart into cardiac arrest?
Is the lawn perfectly manicured, or are your neighbors taking up a collection to buy you a goat?
No matter your level of cleanliness, as crazy as it might seem – there’s a dog for that!
- Alaskan Malamutes are playful and affectionate companions – and can’t walk across the floor without leaving a thick trail of hair in their wake.
- Xoloitzcuintlis – the Mexican Hairless Dog – is the perfect companion for a neat freak because hey – you can’t have dog hair everywhere if the dog is bald! But its loyalty and protectiveness is unsurpassed.
Pass Me A Tissue
If you dread the change of seasons, or sneeze at the sight of a dandelion, have no fear – allergies don’t keep you out of the running for dog-parent of the year.
Check our article on Hypoallergenic Dogs to see that dogs and allergies really can co-exist.
- Poodles are the most popular “hypoallergenic” dog breeds. Bred in a wide variety of sizes from 3 pound toys to 60 pound standards, there’s a perfect size for anyone.
- Labradoodles are wildly popular due to their hypoallergenic status thanks to the poodle and their easy going, fun attitude from the lab side.
Early Birds and Night Owls
Your preferred hours of activity might make you think that you’re eliminated from the puppy owner pool – but nothing could be further from the truth.
If you start getting into your groove when the clock hits midnight, or prefer to start your day an hour before the sun even thinks about popping up over the distant hills, your dog could certainly adjust their circadian rhythm to match yours.
The question is what you do during these non-standard hours of activity. If you’re a night owl, are you an active and outside? Or do you do your best gaming online during those overnight hours?
- Great Pyrenees are a livestock guard dog – and given the choice prefer the night shift. So if you’re a daytime sleeper and have the room for a companion who keeps the same hours, it’s a match made in heaven.
- Belgian Malinois is gaining in popularity among single men, and their energy level – especially at sunrise – makes you think that there’s an instant on switch in there somewhere.
Indoor Plumbing, Please
If you prefer the conveniences of modern technology and can’t go a city block without your designer coffee, or if your role model is Crocodile Dundee, you need to take that into consideration before bringing home a 4-legged bundle of love.
- Dalmatians are actually a lot higher maintenance than most people realize. Contrary to the calm canine sitting on top of the fire truck, Dalmatians need a lot of room to run – and a lot of free time to do it.
- Dachshunds are easily identifiable by their oversized ears and body, and undersized legs. The short legs allow them to get enough exercise without having to venture out into the world on a regular basis.
Which One Will You Choose?
We’ve already said it, and it’s still true – you need to carefully consider what you expect from your future canine companion and be sure you’re able and willing to have this addition to the next decade of your life.
You’ll be so glad you did!