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How should you choose the perfect pup out of all the dog breeds? Go through this checklist

Here are a few tips to help you pick the exact right dog for your family

We love dogs, and at least according to us, they are all the best boys and girls. But not all dog breeds will suit your family. Choosing the perfect pup means doing some research and also deciding based on your instinct. When you look at the 200 breeds, not to mention nearly unlimited combinations of mutts, you might get a little overwhelmed. We don’t recommend picking out of a hat or spinning a puppy prize wheel. Instead, go through these five steps before selecting your pet.

Newfoundland dog lying down

Make a list of the characteristics you want

When you imagine your future pooch, what immediately springs to mind? Ultimately, every dog personality is different, but there are some characteristics that commonly present in certain breeds. If you need anything special, like a hypoallergenic canine, that needs to go to the top of your list. Don’t forget to include some behavioral things like good in the crate or wants lots of attention.

Narrow it by breed group

Because there are a couple hundred breeds out there, it might help to think about the groups first. For example, do you want a herding dog or a toy dog? Those are very different and will help you shorten your list. If you don’t think an animal that requires two hours of exercise per day fits your day-to-day lifestyle, you should cut some of the hunting and herding beasties off the list.

Do your research

Now you can cross-reference your needs with the breeds that didn’t get eliminated on the last step. Look up both the official characteristics from a credible source, like the American Kennel Club, and the opinions of pet parents. Try following a few TikToks or Instagrams to get some first-hand info on different breeds. If one jumps out at you, that’s a type of dog you should follow up on.

Find a rescue group

We’re always going to champion adopt, not shop. The good news is that many groups specialize in one particular type of dog and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the process. Others, like the ASPCA, will give you a whole host of beasties to choose from. Keep an eye out for adoption events in your area as well, which can be hosted just about anywhere.

Family meeting dog at shelter

Meet some dogs

No matter how many yellow legal pads you fill with info about the difference between Labs and goldens, nothing beats looking into a puppy’s eyes and falling in love. You might change your mind and that’s OK. On the flip side, don’t throw your research out the window too quickly. A cute dog that doesn’t fit your lifestyle isn’t the right furry friend for you.

If ever you feel overwhelmed by too many perfect fuzzy faces and giant brown eyes, bring a touch of logic to the equation. That means following our checklist to figure out what you need, which dogs might fit your criteria, and then finding the exact right animal that will come into your home like they always belonged.

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Rebekkah Adams
Rebekkah’s been a writer and editor for more than 10 years, both in print and digital. In addition to writing about pets…
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