You’ve made the decision to welcome a new dog into your family. Now comes the fun part: Finding the perfect dog. There’s a lot to consider and, before you commit, ask yourself these five questions:
What’s your schedule?
Think about your lifestyle: Do you work long hours? Struggle to get out the door in the morning? Travel every chance you get? Owning a dog is a big responsibility and a life-changing one. Are you ready to take your pet on at least two 15-minute walks every day – or more if you have an active breed? Will you be able to block out time for obedience training, house training (if your pup needs it), and epic games of fetch? Are you willing to rethink your travel plans based on whether or not you can take your dog with you?
Is there room in your budget?
Your love for your dog doesn’t cost a thing, but his upkeep does. A 2017 report estimates that owners will spend an average of $27,074 to $42,545 over 10 years on caring for their dog. This includes everything from spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and other medical expenses to food, toys, grooming, beds, and (okay) all those adorable pet Halloween costumes we know you won’t be able to resist buying.
Drawn to a certain breed?
Can’t get enough of a Golden Retriever’s sunny disposition? Have a soft spot for a Basset Hound’s big ears? Crave a snuggle buddy, like the Bichon Frise? Each breed has its own personality, appearance, and energy level, so do some research. Fact is, the breeds you’re drawn to may not be the right fit for your lifestyle.
To groom or not to groom?
Unlike fastidious felines, dogs leave their hair care entirely in their owner’s hands. Depending on the breed you choose, that may mean extra work on your part – and possibly extra budget. For example, long-haired breeds like the Pekingese need daily brushing to keep mats and clumps at bay, while others, like Poodles, require regular trips to the groomer to maintain their curls.
Shedding may also be a consideration. If you’re okay with seeing a dusting of hair on the floor that you just cleaned yesterday, then you may be up for owning a Saint Bernard or Akita (both are notorious shedders). If you’d rather give your vacuum a rest, stick with a breed that doesn’t shed, like Portuguese Water Dogs, Miniature Schnauzers, and Yorkshire Terriers. Bonus: These breeds are also considered low-allergen, making them a great choice for allergy sufferers.
Do your personalities mesh?
Finding the right dog is a lot like dating—the right one will share the things you’re passionate about, whether that’s cuddling on the sofa while bingeing on Netflix, or hitting the hiking trails on the weekends. Every breed and every dog has its own unique personality so, as you’re thinking about which one to bring home, be sure to ask about:
- Energy level and activities the dog might enjoy.
- Friendliness with kids and other animals (if you have either in your home).
- Any special health needs or considerations.
Becoming a dog owner is an exciting adventure—as well as a major commitment. After all, you’ll likely have your dog for a decade or longer. Before taking the plunge, make sure you’re informed and fully prepared. It’ll help get you and your new best friend off on the right foot (or paw ;).