You are ready to expand your family with a new puppy. What kind should you get? This is the big question. There are so many different breeds, and they each have their own characteristics. While it is tempting to just pick the cutest one you see, a little research and soul searching can lead you to the right puppy. Choosing a breed that is not suited to you or your family can end poorly and cause a lot of problems along the way.

Here are six key factors to think about when choosing a dog.

Shedding: Will you find dog hair that needs to be vacuumed every day to every other day irritating? Some breeds shed very little like, a Shih Tzu or a Poodle, and some dogs shed a lot, such as a Great Pyrenees or German Shepard. Every dog will have plusses and minuses. These higher shedding dogs are great dogs who, with proper grooming, the shedding can be minimalized.

Size: The size house or apartment and the yard space or lack thereof should factor into your choice of puppy. That Great Pyrenees may be the cutest puppy you have ever seen, but in a year when he is super tall and 100 pounds, you may find it a little cramped in your studio apartment. These large breed dogs also need room outside to roam, so a big yard is ideal. If you are drawn to a big dog, but space is lacking, consider a Corgi or other small but sturdy dog.

Energy Level: Would you like a dog to run with you every day and play fetch in the park for hours? Or, would you prefer a dog that snuggles on the couch with you to watch a movie? Perhaps, something in between. Be honest with yourself about how much exercise will be available for your dog. There are some working breed dogs, such as a Border collie that needs a lot of activity and likes to feel like he has a job. Kept inside or in a small yard with little exercise will make this puppy very unhappy, which can often lead to poor behavior. If you want high energy, though, this is the dog for you. For a lower energy dog, consider a Great Dane if you have the room or a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for a smaller home. Choosing a dog with the energy level that suits your family is crucial.

Temperament: Dogs are instinctual animals. Each breed has inherent instincts to behave in a certain way. From their energy level to their personality, most dogs will be born with certain tendencies. Dogs such as German Shepherds are guard dogs by nature. This means they will bark more than some other dogs and will protect your family. A Golden Retriever will generally fetch for you all day, while a Maltese may not be great for protection but will happily cuddle on your lap for hours.  A great resource to check out puppy personality traits is the American Kennel Club. It’s a great site and fun to check out all the different breeds. It is also important to remember that while breeds have certain instincts, the training and treatment of any animal affect their personality.

Family Considerations: Do you have a toddler or older children? Are there elderly members in your household? Make sure you are choosing a dog that fits your family. How much training will your family be able to provide for your puppy? If you get a large breed that is not trained properly and jumps up on a toddler or older individual, they could do some harm? You need to assume your toddler may give a tug on that tail when you look away for a moment, is your breed of puppy likely to nip to protect itself or be more patient? 

Pure Bred vs. Mixed Breed: There are positives and negatives to both purebred and mixed breed dogs. You may have a better sense of the personality type you are getting in purebred. They can also come with health issues, can be expensive, and you must do your research to be sure you are getting your dog from a responsible breeder. The American Kennel Club is a great resource to find a breeder. A mixed-breed dog may tend to have fewer genetic disorders and may be less expensive. Some puppies are purposely a mix between two breeds, such a Pug and a Poodle – a Puggle, and some are what some call mutts that are a mix of dogs. There is endless debate as to which of these dogs are “the best” but you need to find the right dog for your family at the end of the day. Pick your puppy carefully. Take all of these factors into consideration. A little extra time choosing the newest member of your family will pay off in the end. Those super cute puppies grow up to be dogs that need to be the right fit so that you and the dog are happy and healthy.