Choosing the Right Dog for Your Family and Lifestyle

When you've made the decision to adopt a dog, finding one isn't just as simple as walking into your local animal shelter and picking out the cutest smiling face.

Closeup of dog

Choosing the right dog for your family means researching and making an informed decision.

While your first impression and the feeling that you get when you interact with a canine for the first time is very important, you may also want to consider a few points beforehand to make an informed decision. Here are a few tips to get started.

Use online resources

According to, it's extremely beneficial to research rescue groups and animal shelters in your area. Pay careful attention to the descriptions of the dogs themselves. If the facility tends to use the same language over and over again, it probably means that they don't know much about the animal.

Checking to see if they have a Facebook page can be helpful when searching for success stories from the facility in question. This is also a good time to look into return policies, pet adoption procedures, and other important information that will factor into your decision.

Consider your lifestyle

If you come from an extremely active family, a working dog like a Labrador or a Golden Retriever will likely perfectly fit into your humble abode. If you're a bit more laid-back, a smaller dog or an older canine may be more akin to your speed of living. Whatever the case may be, don't get tied up with preconceived notions about breeds until you see the dog in action. Keep an open mind when meeting canines to find the right energy level and temperament for your family. The American Kennel Club has a dog breed selector that could be helpful when trying to determine the right kind of dog for your family.

Think about the dog's age

Choosing between a younger and a full-grown dog is another major decision. While puppies are incredibly cute and irresistible, they are also a much bigger undertaking compared to adult canines in terms of behavioral training, house-breaking, and socialization, reports the American Kennel Club.

Shelter and Rescue Dogs

Adopting an adult dog can prove to be a great alternative to raising a puppy. Many shelter and rescue dogs are well-trained and simply just need a home. Some also tend to have minor behavior problems and often require continued puppy education in adulthood. Others have more significant problems, such as fearfulness, which can require months and months of dedicated rehabilitation. Be honest with yourself and consider how much responsibility you want to take on beforehand. Each dog is unique.

This content is provided by the pet wellness experts at Hartz. We know that adopting a dog or cat is a huge commitment, so we're here to help you feel confident and become the best pet parent you can be.