Lumping dogs into large or small dog breeds is not much help when it comes time to select the right companion dog. A good match will more likely be the result of giving thoughtful consideration to dog group instincts and temperament, and then allowing individual personality to kick in.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has grouped dogs together based on the type of function they were developed to perform throughout history. This approach will help quickly eliminate categories of dogs which may at first be appealing, but on second thought would prove to be a mismatch.
A sedentary individual will not do justice to a highly intelligent and super active dog like the Border Collie, and it is very unlikely that this kind of dog will stand for it. On the other hand, a toy dog would seem like the ideal companion for an apartment dweller, but how long would the neighbors put up with a yappy individual?
Dog group instincts will help eliminate the dogs that are unsuitable for your lifestyle, and the best place to start is with the eight dog categories recognized by the AKC:
Once you have selected an appropriate category or categories of dogs, size and temperament come into consideration. And last but certainly not least, the individual character of each dog.
Strangely enough, many dogs seem to have that problem licked as they select their people with enviable aplomb. These are often marriages made in heaven!
Our goal is not to present every dog breed listed by the AKC, but rather the most popular breeds only.
Dog Breeds & Children
Small dog breeds are usually fragile and at risk of getting hurt by small children. A medium or large breed may be more appropriate, as long as it is well trained.
Well-known kid-friendly dog breeds include the Labrador or Golden Retriever, Boxer, Beagle, West Highland White Terrier and Shetland Sheepdog.
Small Dog Breeds
It is easy to assume that small dog breeds will be less costly to feed, but some small dogs are extremely picky and demand expensive, high-quality food. If you agree that any dog should be served only good nutrition, then small breeds even when selective about their diet will be less expensive to feed.
Though small dogs need as much exercise as their larger counterparts, they need less space to do it in. Some small breeds such as small Terriers and Chihuahuas can show aggression and might be better off kept on a leash to prevent them from challenging larger dogs like Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds. I suspect they suffer from split personalities, so no use telling them they are tiny … they know better!
Small dog breeds are also ideal for small living spaces like apartments, though their yapping must be taken into consideration. Their size makes it easy to forget that they need daily mental stimulation if they are not to become despondent or even destructive.
Large Dog Breeds
Large dog breeds are impressive and often used as a deterrent to criminals. Though they take up more space and can easily overwhelm a small home, they do not all require more exercise than a smaller dog.
Some large dog breeds like the German Shepherd or the Doberman can be more dependent on their owners than small breeds like the Fox Terrier.
Choosing the right dog among so many dog breeds can be a daunting task, but it is a very important one which will have a huge impact on your new friend and will bring much love and happiness into yours. Choose wisely, and good luck to both of you!