Factoring in lifestyle and temperament compatibility when looking for a canine companion ups your chances for a happy, lifelong relationship. Just like with human life partners, one person’s ideal is another’s recipe for disaster.
To narrow down your criteria, jot down answers to these questions:
How much exercise do I plan to provide for my dog?
Mainly couch cuddling? Jogging on Sunday mornings? The daily walk to school with the kids in the mornings? A 10-mile run every morning at 5am?
What kinds of activities would I like to engage in with my dog?
Take to the office? Take on vacation? Take along to my stall at the local Farmers’ Market? Take to the park with my kids every day? Practice agility/Rally-O/tracking/canine freestyle, etc?
How much time do I want to spend on and with my dog?
I just want my dog to be a low-key companion. I want to engage in dog sports as a hobby. I want to win a Frisbee Dog trophy or show my dog at Westminster.
What kind of temperament do I like in a dog?
I prefer a loving, attentive dog that never tires of cuddling. I prefer a dog that’s happy to interact but can also entertain himself. I prefer a dog of catlike stoicism that doesn’t bug me for tummy rubs all the time.
How much time do I want to spend on the grooming needs of my dog?
I don’t mind brushing my dog’s coat every day. I like a sweet-smelling companion and intend to give my dog a bath every two weeks. I prefer making regular visits to the groomer or a DIY grooming session at home every six weeks or so.
Armed with your answers, research dog breeds or visit your local animal shelter or a breed rescue group and describe what you’re looking for. For example: Short coat, good with kids, very affectionate, medium-sized engine.