Which Dog Breed Is Best For Me? Find Out With Our Guide!

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8 min read

Updated - Feb 22nd, 2022

Is a new four-legged best friend in your future? With so many amazing dog breeds to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. 

Whether you’re considering dogs with pedigrees or loveable mutts, we’re here to help.

Finding the best fit for your personality and lifestyle is no easy feat, but our guide will set you on the right track. Now let’s find out which dog breed is best for you!

How to pick the best dog breed for you

Cuteness is an important factor, but certainly not the only one when choosing your perfect dog. The place to start is self-evaluation. What are your lifestyle habits? What is your living situation? Are you able to budget for a new dog? There are many questions you need to consider when deciding if you should get a dog, let alone deciding which breed is right for you. 

Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind:

  • Housing and outdoor space – Ask yourself, “Will I have enough space for this kind of dog?” Keep in mind that large dog breeds typically require more exercise and space than small dog breeds, and energy levels will vary. Some dogs will be just fine with apartment life, whereas others might need a big yard or park to run around.
  • Time – Do you have time to go on daily walks and play with your dog? Keep in mind that all dogs require both physical and mental stimulation – but some breeds will require more than others. If you’re a busy person, you may want a dog that is more independent and doesn’t need a lot of exercise to stay happy. 
  • Cost – The AKC estimates the average cost of sharing your home with a dog is $19,000 over your dog’s lifetime (average 10 years). Each year, they estimate the cost of dog food, toys, vet care, medications, and miscellaneous expenses will run you approximately $2,000. The size of your dog makes a difference too, with large dogs being more expensive than small dogs. There are things you can do to offset medical expenses – like getting dog insurance and preventive care.
  • Housemates – Are there small children in your household? If the answer is yes, dog breeds that are best with kids (a.k.a. more tolerant of tail tugs) may be a better fit. Large, active dogs or herding breeds (more on that later) can present a hazard to frail family members. How about other dogs or cats? You may want a dog with little to no prey drive if this is the case.
  • Trainability – Trained dogs are happier, safer, and make better companions. If you are a passive person, and not inclined to enforce rules, consider a companion dog that is calmer. There is always the option of hiring an obedience trainer for your new dog, but keep in mind you’ll have to be consistent with commands so they stick. Could you handle a longer puppy training period that requires more patience? If not, the kind of dog you choose is important. 
  • Tidiness – Are you a fastidious housekeeper who can’t tolerate dog hair? Even short-haired dogs will shed when seasons change. You might want a hypoallergenic dog, or a breed that is less likely to shed if this is the case. Drooling is another consideration. Pugs and English Bulldogs tend to leave trails of slobber in their adorable paths – but this might not be adorable for everyone!
  • Grooming – Some dog breeds like the Poodle, Golden Doodle, and Cocker Spaniel require grooming regularly. All dogs will require nail trims, baths, and brushing, but dogs with heavy undercoats require extra grooming to reduce matting, which is painful and can damage the skin. Consider how much time you’re willing to spend grooming your dog.
  • Age – There is a major difference between raising a puppy and caring for an adult or senior dog. If you’re prepared for lots of puppy teething, boundless energy, and puppy potty-training, a young pooch is a joy to have. If not, you might be better off adopting a perfectly lovable adult or senior dog who’s a little more tame and socialized.
  • Purebred or mixed – You can’t go wrong with either purebred or mixed. Whichever you decide, just make sure you purchase from a responsible breeder or adopt from a responsible local rescue or shelter.

Now that you’ve assessed your lifestyle and created your canine companion wish list, let’s see which breeds might fit the bill.

Dog breed groups: Which is best for you?

The AKC classifies dog breeds into seven groups: sporting, hound, working, non-sporting, toy, herding, and terrier. These groups are meant to demonstrate the personality and traits of different breeds based on the job they were originally bred for. Bear in mind, each dog has its own unique personality and demeanor! This is just meant to give you a baseline. 

Here’s a rundown of the seven groups:

Sporting Group

These dog breeds were created to hunt, capture, and retrieve game from both water and land. They have thick, water-repellent coats designed to protect them in harsh weather. A high prey drive means they will chase small animals like cats, rabbits, and birds. These dogs are intelligent, easy-to-train and require regular vigorous exercise to keep them happy. These loyal, active, friendly dogs are family-friendly.

Common breeds in this group are:

Hound Group

These dog breeds were bred to hunt and are divided into two groups – Scent Hounds and Sight Hounds. As you can probably gather, Scent Hounds have an acute sense of smell whereas Sight Hounds have a sharp sense of sight. Both hounds have incredible stamina for tracking, making them useful for finding missing persons.

These dogs have very high prey drives and will chase anything that moves, including your household kitty or that squirrel in the yard. Note: Scent Hounds have a distinct “bay bark” that may not be for everyone, especially if you have very close neighbors. Despite this, they’re generally calm and make great companion dogs.

Common breeds in this group are:

Working Group

These are the dog breeds with the highest work ethic and are happier when they have a job to do. Originally bred for pulling carts, carrying loads, protecting flocks and their human families, and assisting humans in service capacities. Today, it’s not uncommon to see them partnering with humans in police or search and rescue work. 

These breeds have strength and intelligence. They make excellent family additions but require training and setting boundaries. They will need a job to do, and if left without consistent physical exercise or mental stimulation, they can develop destructive behaviors or separation anxiety.

Common breeds in this group are:

Non-Sporting Group

These breeds are good companion dogs. Their histories are very diverse, filling many roles within the canine community. The most well-known is the fire dog role – filled by the beloved Dalmatian.

Common breeds in this group are:

Toy Group

The job of this group is to be none other than affectionate, loyal companions. Being small, they live happily in small houses, apartments, or any small living space. These breeds are perfect for lounging on the couch with you and can usually fit right in your (dog-safe!) travel bag during outings.

The toy group may be tiny, but they have big personalities! Many of them are barkers and can become very possessive of their person. However, they’re also trainable and make excellent companions when boundaries have been clearly established.

Common breeds in this group are:

Herding Group

This group of dogs is very intelligent and eager to learn new skills. They’re easy to train but require a lot of exercise. Their original job was to move livestock from field to field. The herding group’s excellent agility allows them to change direction on a dime. Unless you want them herding your family, the neighborhood kids, or the other pets, they must keep busy. 

Common breeds in this group are:

Terrier Group

These terrier group is filled with high-energy, intelligent breeds that were originally bred to hunt for small critters and vermin. These dogs make splendid companions, but dog parents in this group should plan on spending lots of time training, providing plenty of exercise, and understanding their sometimes stubborn personalities.

Common breeds in this group are:

Still can’t decide which dog breed is best for you?

If you still aren’t sure, keep it simple! Consider these three questions: 

  1. What does your household look like and where will your new dog fit in?
  2. How much time are you able to spend on exercise/training?
  3. Which breed will best match your personality and lifestyle?

Some additional lists you might find helpful:

We hope you find your perfect tail-wagging companion to fulfill all the adventures you envision. At the end of the day, no matter which dog you choose, they’re bound to bring loads of joy into your life. 

In between all of the couch cuddles and playtime with your new dog, there’s bound to be a ruh-roh or two. Pumpkin’s dog insurance plans can help you pay for the best care possible should an accident or illness arise in the years to come.

The happiest pups get covered as early as possible, so fetch your free quote now!

*Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses

Lynn Guthrie

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!
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