Choosing your new best friend can be quite a challenge! There is a lot to research and consider when choosing a dog. Being well informed, and understanding the lifelong love, care, and commitment that is required, will help make the transition to owning a new dog easier.
After the initial research of owning a dog, it is time to decide what breed you will want. Whether you are looking at breeders or shelters, it is important to choose the right breed or breeds that would suit you and your lifestyle best. Everyone is different; We all have different jobs, live in different places, are different ages, and do different activities, and therefore have different breeds that would suit us best.
You can start off by looking online. There are websites that have questionnaires that help you narrow down breeds that suit your needs best.
The Canadian Kennel Club website is a great resource when choosing the right breed of dog and in dog ownership.
Also, talking to your local veterinarian is a great option as well when trying to get advice on which breed might work best for you.
There are hundreds of breeds of dogs out there to consider and look into. Here is a list of the top ten popular dogs of 2016 in Canada according to the CKC, some of their characteristics, and the best-suited lifestyles and people for them:
Labrador Retriever – Make great family dogs, are good with children, loving, friendly, eager to please, and intelligent. A part of the sporting group, they are excellent at retrieving, obedience, hunting, and agility. They are active dogs with lots of energy to spare and are best suited for people who lead a non-sedentary lifestyle, as they love to swim, hike, and run. A bored lab that is full of energy can become a destructive dog, as they will chew on anything they can. Keep them tired, and keep them busy, with lots of dog chew toys, and activities to do. Average life span of the Labrador Retriever is between 10 and 14 years.
German Shepherd Dog – Very versatile breed. High stamina, intelligent, quick to learn, loyal, athletic, and protective of the home and family. Needs lots of socialization and training, as they can be more prone to anxiety, fearfulness, and aggression. With the right start, this breed excels in tracking, guiding, search and rescue, police work, and will make a loving, faithful companion. Potential owners need to mentally stimulate them with things like obedience and agility training, to help with boredom. Best suited for owners with previous dog experience, and that lead a relatively active lifestyle. Average lifespan is 9-13 years.
Golden Retriever – Like the Labrador, the Golden Retriever makes an excellent family pet. Very friendly, trustworthy, sweet, and intelligent. Excels in obedience and as a guide dog. Golden’s enjoy being around people and are best suited for those with active lifestyles as they enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and running. Also like the Labrador, they enjoy chewing, so provide lots of appropriate things to chew on. Average lifespan is 10-12 years.
Standard Poodle – A very outgoing, friendly dog. Curious, and highly intelligent, they excel in many different activities like agility, and water retrieval. Best suited for people with moderately active lifestyles, as they are very active and energetic. Poodles that don’t get enough exercise can be anxious or destructive. Make great family dogs, and are very faithful to those around them. Average lifespan is 12-15 years.
Havanese – A very happy, outgoing breed. Easy to train, loves to charm and be the centre of attention. Great with children. Though they have lots of energy, they don’t require too much exercise. A couple of daily walks and playtime is sufficient, making them ideal for apartment living, and people with a quieter lifestyle. Barking and separation anxiety can be common issues, but with early training, they don’t have to be issues. Average lifespan is 13-15 years.
Shetland Sheepdog – Another excellent family dog, the Shetland Sheepdog or Sheltie is playful, affectionate, lively, intelligent, and gentle. Very easy to train, they are often involved in agility, obedience, and herding. Best suited for active people, they can still do well in apartments, as long as they are well exercised. They enjoy running at any opportunity and also have a strong urge to herd children, animals, and cars. Properly exercising and occupying your Sheltie’s brain will help keep them calm indoors. A bored Sheltie can bark obsessively. Average lifespan is 12-13 years.
Bernese Mountain Dog – A wonderful companion for any person or family. Affectionate, loyal, intelligent, and patient. Excellent with children. Active and alert, this breed requires a lot of activity. Best suited for mainly cooler climates, their long coats make hot weather uncomfortable. Needs lots of room to move and be active, so apartment living is not well suited for them. Shyness and separation anxiety can be an issue, so early socialization and training are important. Average lifespan is 6-8 years.
French Bulldog – A Playful, friendly, easy-going, and bright breed. The French bulldog loves people and craves attention and companionship. They don’t require too much exercise, just a couple walks and playtime daily. Can fit into any lifestyle, especially for the elderly. They can be a bit of a challenge to train, as they are sometimes stubborn, and dislikes repetitive activities, but with short training sessions filled with variety early on, they can very responsive. Average lifespan is 10-12 years
Yorkshire Terrier – Bold, intelligent, playful, courageous, and independent, the Yorkie is an active dog, requiring minimal exercises that make excellent small companions. Ideal for small living spaces, like apartments. Can be stubborn, so house and behavior training can be somewhat of a challenge. Early socialization and training are important, as they can be suspicious of strangers and can have separation anxiety. Average lifespan is 13-16 years.
Miniature Schnauzer – Obedient, fearless, spirited, alert, and friendly the miniature schnauzer is a lot of personality in a small package. They are excellent companions but can be mischievous, as they enjoy digging, barking, and chasing small prey. They are ideal for people with active lifestyles, willing to keep this busy breed happy with things like agility training, which they excel in. Very versatile, they can be suited living in small or large spaces. Highly trainable and eager, they are also very stubborn and require patience and persistence with training. Barking is a common trait, but with some training, it can be controlled. Average lifespan is 12-15 years.
No matter what breed you end up choosing, take you time, do your research, and you will have a best friend for life!
Written by Georgette Dunn, VT