Choosing a dog breed that fits your lifestyle can mean the difference between taking home a new best friend and being stuck with an annoying house guest. While every dog is different, some guidelines can help. Here’s what local vets, shelter staff, and behavioral experts recommend.
Good dogs if you have children: Boxers, Newfoundlands, hounds, and dalmatians tend to be social and gentle. Beagles are friendly and make good family dogs.
Good dogs for empty-nesters: Collies, Norwegian elkhounds, and French bulldogs are active and friendly and make good companions.
Good dogs for the elderly: Smaller dogs such as Shih Tzus, miniature poodles, and miniature schnauzers require less maintenance and won’t pull their owners down the street on a walk.
Good dogs for an apartment: Pekingese, cocker spaniels, and Great Danes are usually mellow and quiet. As long as they get enough exercise, the size of the apartment shouldn’t matter.
Good dogs for a first-time owner: Cavalier King Charles spaniels, miniature schnauzers, and miniature poodles are calm and easy to train.
Good dogs if you work long hours: Guarding breeds such as Akitas, German shepherds, and rottweilers tend to need less companionship and are less inclined toward separation anxiety.
Good dogs if you have a big back yard: Border collies, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds like open spaces and need lots of exercise.
Good dogs for couch potatoes: Bulldogs, Saint Bernards, and Great Danes are low-energy.
Good dogs if you host lots of parties: Labrador retrievers, standard poodles, and hounds are people-oriented and like attention.
Good dogs if you have allergies: Poodles and Labradoodles don’t shed or release dander. Bichons frisés and some terrier breeds are hypoallergenic.
Good dogs to jog with: Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, dalmatians, Great Danes, Weimaraners, and American Staffordshires. Mixed breeds also tend to have good joints.
Good dogs if you want a conversation starter: Chinese cresteds and French bulldogs. While the Chinese crested has been called the world’s ugliest dog, the French bulldog, with its squinty eyes and oversize, pointy ears, is popular in Washington.
Good guard dogs: With training, any dog can be a good watchdog, from the smallest Yorkie to the biggest Great Dane. Traditionally, Dobermans, German shepherds, rottweilers, giant schnauzers, and Belgian malinois are used for protection.
Good second dogs: Dogs tend to like being with the same breed, but Labrador and golden retrievers don’t typically fight to be the alpha dog. Hunting dogs—such as English setters, beagles, hounds, and pointers—play well with others.