How to Choose the Right Puppy

litter of different puppies in a dog bed

Adding a puppy to your life and your family is an exciting time! There are also a lot of things to consider to make sure you and the puppy you bring home are a good fit for each other. Here’s how to choose the right puppy:

1. Think About the Size of the Fully-Grown Dog

Puppies are adorable. They’re small, cute, and fluffy. But, all puppies will grow into a dog and you need to make sure you’re prepared for how big that dog will get. Small dog breeds will stay small their whole lives and some also retain a puppylike demeanor. Other dog breeds will grow into huge dogs that require a lot of space.

You’ll need to consider your current and future living situation. This is one of the best tips for finding your next dog. If you live in a small apartment, bigger dog breeds likely aren’t the best fit for you. There are some large dog breeds for small homes that will fit right in. But, there aren’t many and most big dog breeds also need space.

Although smaller dog breeds tend to be a better fit for smaller homes because of their size, some of them still require space to run. And, some dogs can only be let off-leash in securely fenced areas due to a high prey drive, urge to chase, or urge to wander. So, there are other things to consider aside from just adult size when you are choosing the right puppy for you.

2. Consider the Age of Your Children

Another consideration for how to choose the right puppy is to consider the age of your children if you have them. Young children are still developing motor skills and coordination. They can also be less gentle because of this.

It’s extremely important for you to teach your children how to behave around dogs to avoid cases of pulled ears or tails, rough play, and more. But, it’s also important to consider how accidental falls, trips, sitting, and more can affect a puppy. Small dog breeds are even smaller as puppies. As such, they are more easily injured by accidents common with younger children.

Dogs big and small can be a great fit for families with children, especially if they have a temperament and a personality that is well-suited to them. However, you’ll still need to keep the age of your children in mind when choosing a puppy and then closely supervise their time together as they both grow.

3. Be Honest About How Much Time You Have Available

Another tip for how to choose the right puppy is to honestly think about how much time you have available for care. You’ll need to think about how much time you can spend each day dedicated to socializing and training your dog, giving your dog exercise, making sure they have enough attention and mental stimulation, and grooming them properly.

Exercise Needs

Some dog breeds require more exercise than others. If you don’t have hours a day to exercise your dog, then getting a puppy from a high-energy dog breed doesn’t make sense for you. Also, think about the activities you will be doing with your dog from day to day.

If you’re a runner, there are some dog breeds that make good running partners while others won’t be able to keep up. If you live on a farm, some herding or working dog breeds may be able to adapt to your lifestyle and environment better than others. Thinking about how your dog might fit into your daily activity can also help you figure out what traits to look for or to avoid in a breed.

Attention Needs

If you’re not going to be home for most of the day or no one will be home for a lot of the day, you also don’t want to get a “velcro dog” that needs to be attached to your side at all time. Any dog can develop separation anxiety without enough socialization, training, attention, etc.

But, some dog breeds are more independent than others. And, some dog breeds naturally bond closely with their families, thrive on attention, and do best when they are in the company of people as often as possible.

Grooming Needs

On top of that, you will need to make sure your dog is groomed properly. Every dog requires nail care, ear care, and dental care. The variation in grooming needed comes with coat care. There are a lot of factors that determine the grooming level of a puppy, but it’s important to pay attention to them to make sure you have the time available for taking care of your dog’s coat.

Some dogs require daily brushing while others get away with weekly brushing. Some dogs require professional grooming every four to six weeks while others only need an occasional bath at home. Some dogs shed more than others. However, low-shedding does not always mean a low grooming level. Poodles and poodle mixes are often prized for their low-shedding coats, but they tend to have a high grooming level that requires daily brushing and professional grooming every four to six weeks.

4. Examine Your Budget

Adding a puppy to your family also adds extra expenses. Food, toys, vet care, general care, and more are all things you’ll need to pay for when it comes to your dog. Large dogs will eat more and have larger toys than small dogs, so they will tend to be more expensive.

Small dogs may need extra clothes to stay warm in the winter that some larger dogs don’t, so they may be more expensive that way. In some cases, a person may be able to afford to care for a small or medium dog, but may not be able to afford the care for a larger or giant dog breed.

5. Think About Your Experience

Another tip for how to choose the right puppy is to think about your experience and choose a dog breed whose training needs match your experience. Highly trainable dogs that are a good fit for first-time dog owners tend to be a good fit regardless of experience. Puppy training classes can be a big help for novice dog owners, but you should have an idea of the training requirements for puppies you’re interested in.

Every puppy will require training and socialization, but some may be a better fit for you than others. Working dogs often need a job to stay happy and healthy. Some dog breeds are more stubborn than others. Some dog breeds get bored more easily than others. Depending on your experience, you may need to plan on enlisting in training classes to make sure your puppy is properly socialized and trained.

6. Research Breeds and Ask the Breeder Questions

Once you have reviewed your lifestyle, space and time available, budget, etc., you should be able to come up with a list of traits that would make a breed a great fit for you as well as some traits that would potentially make a breed a bad fit for you. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to research dog breeds beforehand, so you know what things to look for when buying a puppy.

This will allow you to hone in on potential puppies that will be the right fit for you. Plus, you’ll know some basic information about the breed and what you’re looking for. This will be useful when you visit breeders to meet puppies in-person. You can ask the breeder questions about the puppies you’re interested in and get clarification about any unknowns you still have.

Puppies are awesome and getting one is exciting! As exciting as it is, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that puppies grow up and, when you bring one home, you should be prepared to care for them for many years. Knowing how to choose the right puppy is the first step in making sure the puppy you bring home is one that you have the time and ability to care for properly.