While some parents think getting a family dog or any family pet, will help teach the kids responsibility and simply choose a breed based on what's accepted as a "good family dog" choosing the right breed for your family takes a little more work.
If you're considering getting a dog for your family, ask yourself these questions to help you select the best breed for your family.
What do you want from your dog?
Are you looking for protection for your home? A dog to join you on your morning runs? A dog to sit on your lap and snuggle? It's a good rule of thumb to choose a dog that has the same energy level as your family and to choose a breed that typically has character traits that align with your expectations.
Does size really matter?
Some small dogs grow into really, really big ones. Are you going to want to be handling a 90 pound muscle machine a few years down the line? While small dogs can be an attractive option are you going to be tempted to treat your dog like a baby or provide for the socialization it needs?
Do you want a puppy or an adult dog?
Do you have the time, patience and energy to invest is training a new puppy? Does adopting an older dog that has lived around children sound appealing? Are you able to invest in obedience training? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you choose if a puppy or adult may be best for your family.
Purebred or mixed breed?
Does your puppy need to come with papers? Like people, all dogs are different. While you can hope for getting a purebred that traditionally exhibits certain characteristics, there are no guarantees.
Male or female?
Do you have a gender preference? Are you willing to spay or neuter your dog? If you have other pets in the home, this questions may be of even more importance.
What will the dogs living conditions be like?
The answers to these questions can help quickly narrow down what breed of dog may be best for your family. Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you have a fenced in backyard? Do you own or rent? Will the dog spend long hours alone? Some breeds need lots of daily exercise, others are content lying around. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and get bored quickly, which can lead to trouble.
How old are your children?
For families with children under five, small dogs and puppies may not be the best match. While the kids will eventually learn how to properly and safely interact with their beloved pooch, young children can play rough and may hurt smaller dogs. Are you willing to spend the time and energy teaching your children how to interact with a puppy?
How much mess can you handle?
Some dogs, like Golden Retrievers, shed more than others. Some dogs are easily litter box trained, some are not. How much of a mess can you really handle?
How much are you willing to spend for pet care?
In addition to food and routine medical care, some breeds are prone to certain illnesses or conditions. Are you financially prepared to care for a dog should he experience a significant health problem?
Are you willing to make a 10-15 year commitment?
The puppy you bring home won't be the same dog 10 years from now. Is your family willing to make a lasting commitment to a family pet?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can narrow down what type of breed may be best for your family. While Golden Retrievers, Pugs, Labradors, Beagles and Irish Setters are usually listed at the top of family friendly dogs’ lists, it's important that you really consider your family's needs, personality and lifestyle before simply settling.
Have you recently added a dog to your family? How did you decide on what type of pup to get?