How to Choose the Best Dog Breed for Your Family

Dog Breed Features to Consider

Most people have a breed or two that they prefer. Now that you have kids, however, it's time to take practical information (instead of personal bias) into consideration. Here are some of the issues you need to consider when choosing a dog:

Size: Generally, small or toy-sized dogs such as Chihuahuas or some of the smaller terriers are not the best choice for families with children younger than age 7. These pups are fragile, and an inadvertent squeeze or a fall off the bed could do serious damage. The opposite is true for large dogs, which can sometimes be too rough with babies and small children. Big breeds are also not ideal for smaller homes, like apartments or condos.

Exercise needs: Again, big dogs, like German shepherds or Labrador retrievers need space to run around. If you have a fenced-in backyard or are able to take your pooch for long, daily walks, a large breed might be perfect for you. If you travel frequently or can't commit to the exercise needs of an active pup, you should probably consider a pooch that requires less cardio and more affection, such as a Pomeranian or a shih tzu. Whatever you do, don't believe your kid when he says, "I'll walk him every day, promise!" He won't.

Grooming requirements: There's no doubt about it; long-haired breeds like border collies and poodles corner the market on adorability. But that fluffy coat and array of decorative bows require frequent grooming sessions by you or a professional. If you prefer not to spend more time and money grooming your pup than you do on yourself, you might go for a short-haired breed, such as a beagle or dachshund. These kinds of dogs usually only require an occasional bath and brush.

Shedding: Large or small, long-haired or short, dogs shed. It's a fact of life that can't be avoided. If the idea of sweeping up regularly makes you cringe, there are certain breeds, like border terriers and bichon frises that shed less than others.

Allergic potential: Dogs with hypoallergenic coats are an option for people with pet allergies. Schnauzers and Irish water spaniels are just a couple of the breeds that produce less dander, the allergy-causing culprit.

Lifespan: Smaller breeds tend to live longer than large breeds. Although there's no money-back guarantee a pup of any size will hit a certain birthday, a breed's general longevity is certainly something to consider if you don't want your child to face a hard goodbye at an early age. For example, the lifespan of a typical English bulldog is eight to 10 years, whereas bichon frises average 12 to 15 years.