How to Choose the Right Dog Breed for You

11 minute read By Lucy Hughes
Reviewed by: Pawrade Team
August 23, 2022

St. Bernard jumping up on a woman in a park in the sunshine

Whether buying your first puppy or adding another member to your family, choosing the right dog breed is important. Each breed has its own unique personality, so it’s important to consider whether your lifestyle and personality match that of your potential puppy! Pawrade will help you determine which dog breed best fits you or your family.

Size Matters

One of the first things to consider when looking for the perfect dog is size. Do you have a lot of space at home with a big yard, or do you live in an apartment? Will you often travel by plane and need a small animal that doesn't take up much space in the cabin? If you're only looking for a small animal, why not try getting two? Two small dogs will keep each other company, and watching them interact can be very entertaining! Larger dogs will require more space and may need more exercise opportunities. Does your dog have room to roam and run off-leash? Are you able to control your large dog on a walk or hike? Maybe your large and small dogs have formed a close bond and love being together.

Consider the children in your household. Both large and small breeds have advantages and disadvantages when being around children. Smaller dogs may be cheerful and eager to please, and larger dogs may serve as the protector and form a close bond with their little companions. On the flip side, some tiny dogs might be too fragile to be around children, and certain larger breeds might be too intimidating for little ones. However, teaching young children to respect dogs will bring harmony to your family no matter what the breed.

Personality Means Everything

The personality of a dog can be just as important as its breed. Even though it's generally easier to predict behavior based on a dog's breed, specific characteristics still play a larger role in choosing a pup. Some dogs tend to be more independent, and others more social, for example. Some breeds require large amounts of space, and others thrive with plenty of attention from their owners. Other dogs need a “job” with their high energy drive and could get destructive without meaning to if not kept intellectually stimulated. Every dog has unique qualities, but some share common characteristics according to size or activity level.


Do you work in or outside of the home? Do you travel a lot? Are you renting and wary of upsetting your landlord by asking them to allow a large dog in your home (and paying a premium)? Perhaps you live with roommates and want to ensure everyone is on board with having a dog. Do you want a dog more likely to be a couch potato? You may have children or are getting ready to welcome a child. These are all important things to consider when choosing the best breed based on your lifestyle. If you lead an active lifestyle, you'll want to choose a puppy who will grow up to match your enthusiasm and energy. The key here is ensuring that your choice of breed fits into your life as much as possible so both owner and pet can enjoy their time together.

Exercise Needs

Some dogs require a lot of exercise. Depending on your location, walking or running with your dog might not be feasible daily. For example, if you live in an apartment building, you may have no choice but to take shorter walks around your apartment parking lot. If you live in an urban environment, choose a breed that needs less exercise so he can still get plenty of happiness from smaller doses of playtime and walks daily. Smaller breeds suitable for apartment living tend to need less exercise than larger ones. Breeds like Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Chihuahuas are all excellent choices if you live in a metropolitan area where there isn’t much space outside for walking or running.

Larger breeds tend to be more active than smaller ones, requiring longer walks and more opportunities to stretch their legs during playtime indoors. If you have access to a good-sized fenced-in yard or dog park, they’ll have the freedom to run around off-leash to get out their energy or satisfy their high drives. There are many great ways to exercise your dog other than walking and going to a dog park. If you’re an active individual or family, you’ll want to include your dog in your adventures! Active dogs include Australian (and other) Shepherds, Retrievers, Collies, Siberian Huskies, Terriers, Pointers, and Portuguese Water Dogs. 

Dogs with Jobs

Dogs have helped humans for thousands of years since they were domesticated. Certain breeds of dogs in the working dog category, combined with specialized, extensive training, can thrive at the tasks presented before them to help humankind. Whether the training lasts a few weeks with an informal certificate or ranges up to a lifetime of constant maintenance training, these dogs will gain a sense of satisfaction since they are eager to please others. If you feel your dog is a good fit, look into the certifications and level of training required.

While a dog can be a pet first and foremost, you may want to “employ” your dog to do a variety of jobs:

  • Service dogs have special protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are defined as “a dog that is individually trained to perform tasks or do work for the benefit of a person with a disability.” Service dogs help with mobility assistance, detect certain medical conditions such as low blood sugar or seizures, and provide other services and assistance to people with medical needs. Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Poodles are popular breed choices (along with other breeds). No breeds are restricted under the ADA.
  • Therapy and rehabilitation dogs work in settings such as hospitals, schools, disaster areas, and medical facilities to give affection and comfort. They are not protected under the ADA but still require certain certifications through accredited organizations. Some examples of therapy dog tasks would be providing comfort after a natural disaster, listening to children read to help improve reading skills, and bringing cheer to nursing homes. Typical therapy dog breeds you may see are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Corgis, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and more.
  • Emotional support dogs can help individuals navigate challenges in everyday life. While they do not hold the same protection and privileges as service and therapy dogs, emotional support dogs improve the quality of life by providing therapeutic companionship. Any breed can be suitable.
  • K9 protection dogs can be employed in various settings, including military, police, and security guard settings. They require thorough training and work closely with their handlers. Popular breeds you’ll see are German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Doberman Pinschers, Mastiffs, and Rottweilers, all working in tandem with humans to help serve and protect.
  • Conservation and search and rescue dogs help find people in need during natural disasters, detect invasive species at ports of entry, find endangered plants and animals, and help border patrol. Common breeds include Bloodhounds, German Shepherds, St. Bernards, English Springer Spaniels, Retrievers, and others.
  • The entertainment industry and acting dogs are in high demand for commercials, TV shows, and movies. Some iconic dogs most people recognize are Lassie the Rough Collie, Toto the Cairn Terrier, Bruiser the Chihuahua, Rin Tin Tin the German Shepherd, Hooch the Dogue de Bordeaux (French Mastiff), and Beethoven the St. Bernard. Several professional animal advocacy groups exist to ensure these dogs are treated humanely and keep animals safe on set.  
  • Sled dogs help humans pull sleds on icy and snowy land harnessed as a team, often in famous races like the Iditarod or for other reasons such as transporting supplies between remote communities. They are highly trained and are meticulously cared for to ensure optimal performance and health. Perhaps the most recognized breed is the Siberian Husky, and other breeds like Alaskan Malamutes, Chinooks, and Samoyeds enjoy racing to the finish line.
  • Herding and livestock guard dogs enjoy helping their humans corral, guide, and care for their precious livestock. Farmers and ranchers would have more difficulty keeping their animals in check without these dogs. Great Pyrenees, Border Collies, and several varieties of Shepherds, Heelers, and Cattle Dogs all fit the bill.
  • Hunting dogs help track or retrieve wild games with their keen sense of smell. Whether on water or land, several breeds of hunting dogs provide assistance in the pursuit of the quarry. Different types of breeds are used depending on the type of hunting you’re doing. For example, the Hound group follows scents and gun dogs like Spaniels, Retrievers, Setters, and Pointers locate and retrieve game. Other notable hunting breeds are Beagles, Terriers, and Dachshunds

Grooming Needs

There are so many dog breeds out there, and you may not even know what goes into grooming different breeds. Each breed will require different levels of maintenance. Grooming is much more than just presentation – it can help keep your dog healthy.

Dog Coat Varieties

We assume all dogs have fur, but there’s much more to know beyond the fluff! Your dog’s hair length, texture, and type determine how much maintenance you need to ensure a happy, healthy pup. Coat textures include wavy, curly, silky, smooth, short, long, hairless, combination, double, wire, and many more!

If you’re looking at dogs with longer hair, make sure you can handle a higher grooming cost. Some long-haired dogs require daily brushing, while others need weekly or biweekly attention. Be prepared to vacuum quite a bit and have a lint roller nearby at all times!

Some dogs have double coats, which means they have an outer layer of longer guard hairs and an undercoat made up of dense, short, wooly hair. The double coat acts as insulation and a cooling agent, so you shouldn’t shave a double-coated dog. Newfoundlands, Retrievers, Chows, Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, Shiba Inus, Shepherds, and Pomeranians are some examples of breeds needing extra care with their double coats.

Short-haired breeds typically only need a bath every few weeks. Their hair may or may not shed and can be silky, hair-like, or rough to the touch. Some notable short-haired breeds are Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, Dalmatians, Jack Russell Terriers, Basenjis, Weimaraners, and Boxers. It’s also important to consider how much time you want to spend on grooming – some short-haired pups don’t shed much but still require regular brushing and bathing, while other short-haired breeds have coats that don’t shed at all! Low and non-shedding dogs include Maltese, Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, Coton de Tulears, Poodles and Poodle mixes, and Havanese dogs. Some dogs have barely any hair, like the Chinese Crested, American Hairless Terrier, and the ​​Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless Dog).

A Word about Doodle Dogs

Doodle pups are in their own special category for grooming needs, so it’s essential to understand the commitment when buying a poodle cross of any kind. Even if the haircoat ranges from more Poodle-like or closer to the original breed, these dogs need to be brushed and combed from the hair root to the tip daily to prevent matting. Matted hair is challenging to address and usually cannot be untangled. Matting also can cause the dog pain and discomfort.

You may wonder, "Do Doodles cost more to groom?" The answer is it will depend on the groomer's policies. Doodles need regular appointments. Often, owners may not put in the work required between appointments, leaving the groomer to try to mitigate the damage. They’ll need to be blow-dried entirely after a bath to prevent matting. Their haircoat can be extremely thick. Due to the attention required, groomers may need to book 2-3 time slots for proper grooming. Check your groomer’s policies when bringing home a poodle combination.

Kid Friendliness

Do you have kids or want kids someday? If so, dogs that don’t do well with them (like Terriers) may not be a good fit. Also, keep in mind that protective breeds might not tolerate children. It’s best to do your research on dog breeds that are perfect for families. And dogs bred for specific activities such as hunting, herding, and guarding aren’t likely to have as much patience with little ones as those bred as companions. No matter what type of dog you choose, always remember that any dog can bite, and any breed can make a wrong choice. When it comes to kids and dogs, safety first!

Is The Breeder Trustworthy?

Trustworthiness is paramount. Although finding a trustworthy breeder may seem difficult, we make the process easier at Pawrade. All of our breeders have to go through an application and interview process. We only work with breeders who use non-invasive testing methods so you can be sure that they are treating their dogs ethically and responsibly. Additionally, our breeders are local to where we ship your puppy. This means that if you have any questions or concerns about your puppy’s health or behavior, you can reach out directly to your breeder for help.

Begin Your Journey

When picking out the perfect dog breed for you, the most important thing to remember is that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all puppy. Finding the right fit for your lifestyle may take some trial and error, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you want to learn more about different breeds of dogs, contact our puppy specialists today! We can also give you more information on specific breeds if you have questions about which one might be best for your situation. For more information and to search our available puppies for sale, call us at (888) 729.8812!


Lucy Hughes profile picture

Lucy Hughes

Lucy Hughes has been teaching and writing professionally for half her life. She has a passion for helping people choose a puppy and lead an exciting life with their new furry companion. She enjoys spending quality time with her family and her beloved Golden Retriever, Bowie.

All Author Posts