No one is entirely sure when dogs assumed the role of man’s best friend, but if we’re to believe Lassie, Bolt, Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver, or any of the other myriad movies and TV shows whose main characters would be right at home in Dog Fancy magazine, dog and man go hand in hand. (Er, ‘hand in paw,’ rather, but that doesn’t rhyme as well.) It’s a well-documented fact that pets reduce stress and add years to your life – not to mention being crazy fun to have around – but before you take the pup plunge, consider the following factors to figure out what type of dog will best fit your unique needs.
Before you rush to jump on the canine train, consider how much space you’ll have for your new pooch. If you’re a lucky member of the Contemporary Landed Gentry, then you can manage a larger breed as long as you have the proper equipment (doggie door, fenced-in yard, etc), but If you live in a studio apartment on the 44th floor of a high rise, then you probably don’t want to bring home a Bull Mastiff that’ll take up two-thirds of your square footage.
Having a sweet bachelor pad in the sky shouldn’t force you into rat-dog ownership, though, because there are some medium-sized dogs that can still rock a small space with aplomb (just like you!); you just need to make sure your new friend is of a breed that thrives indoors. (You should also check out dog parks and in your area so your dog isn’t stuck trying to get exercise on the median of the highway because you live in the middle of a concrete jungle.)
Some examples of mid- to large-size breeds that do well in apartments: dachshunds (allowing you to finally use “hey, can I show you my wiener?” as a pickup line without being a total perv); bulldogs (whether English, French or otherwise); basset hounds (the most contemplative of all canines); beagles (which, you’ll be glad to know, are excellent with children and water fowl alike); and Boston terriers (relatively inactive for the more chill among you).
Dogs are a lot more like people than you might realize. They love sleeping, they hate having their territory invaded, and every once in a while, they really like to let loose and blow off some steam with their friends. They’re also totally dependent creatures that demand at least some attention from you every day, so before you get one, you need to consider how much free time you’ll have to spend training, walking and playing with your buddy.
While self-employed gents and stay-at-home dads will have ample time to spend training a new puppy, those of you who work 13-hour days on a regular basis should stick to older animals that don’t need constant supervision. Most dogs don’t like to be alone for hours on end, so you should also look into a dog walker or pet boarding service that can step in on days you can’t make it home to take care of Fido. While temperament varies from dog to dog, some breeds are typically more independent than others, including Shiba Inus (a distant cousin of the wolf), Chinese Shar Peis (sometimes mistaken for very alert bulldogs), and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons (hunting dogs that sound a lot higher-maintenance than they actually are).
Unless you expect your dog to forage for its own food and defend itself against fleas and illness, you need to allocate a portion of your monthly earnings to your pet’s care and wellbeing. Some people are surprised to discover that the cost of dog ownership far exceeds the price of breeder fees and occasional vet visits; in fact, peteducation.com estimates that with food, medicine, toys, and pet-related home improvements, the cost of owning a dog can be between $280 (on the very low side) and $2,500 (for those of you who plan to outfit Sparky in designer doggy duds) per year, which adds up to $5,000 – $40,000 over the course of the average dog’s lifetime. In short, you shouldn’t adopt Fido expecting that the one-time application fee is all you’ll have to shell out in return for using him to meet chicks (however, it’s a scientifically proven fact that dudes with dogs do far better than their pooch-challenged counterparts in the lady-slaying department).
Paris Hilton has taught us many things during her tenure in the extended-15-minute-spotlight, but perhaps the most important lesson is just how pivotal a role pets play in accessorization. The type of dog you walk down the block says a lot about who you are (or who you’d like others to think you are), so take a look at our pooch-sonality breakdown to see which one might be right for you.
If you’re a guy’s guy with a soft side, go for a medium- to large-sized breed that’s fun-loving, genuine, loving, and loyal. Good bets include Golden or Labrador retrievers, English or Cocker spaniels, Pointers, Doberman Pinschers, Collies, Sheepdogs, and any type of Terrier.
If you’re sensitive through and through, then your preferred pup is most likely one that enjoys lots of attention and copious cuddling. Try Chow Chows, Schipperkes, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, or Beagles.