Many families view their decision to adopt a dog as one of the best decisions they ever made. Set yourself up for adoption success by thinking about the type of dog that’ll be the best fit for your family based on these essential compatibility points.
Energy level is often a make-or-break factor when it comes to some families. In general, dogs are very energetic as puppies and then "calm down" as they get older. However, "calm" means different things for different breeds and sometimes even differs from dog to dog within a specific breed.
This may come as a surprise, but size doesn't correlate to energy level. Giant breed dogs like the Great Dane actually do well in small homes because they tend to lounge around in between walks. However, the logistics of sharing a studio apartment with a human-sized, four-legged couch potato is another matter. Corgis, on the other hand, are deceptively athletic, despite their small stature. These little dogs are bred to chase and run, and if they aren't given an appropriate outlet for their considerable energy and intelligence, they can become destructive or even annoying.
If the dog you're considering adopting is a mixed breed, it's best to just assume he will need vigorous daily exercise. Senior dogs who just want a loving home to nap in are a notable exception to this safe assumption.
Shedding and Allergies
These are two big concerns for many prospective dog owners, and are also the subject of a lot of misunderstanding. Dogs with curly coats tend to shed less dramatically than dogs with wiry double coats, but just as you lose hair on a regular basis, all dogs with fur shed, particularly as seasons change and they lose their winter coats.
Curly-coated dogs are sometimes described as hypoallergenic, but allergies can come from dander too depending on the person. According to Mayo Clinic, allergic reactions to dogs are most often caused by saliva and urine rather than the fur itself. These allergenic fluids get on the coat and slough off in the form of shed fur and dead skin cells known as dander. Bathing your dog weekly and keeping him out of the allergic family member's bedroom helps reduce the impact, but this won't make a big difference for people with severe allergies. Be sure to double check that your sniffles around dogs aren’t allergies to their coat or dander before finding a dog that’s right for you.
Puppies require lots of supervision at first and careful guidance. If you don't want to get out of bed in the middle of the night for potty breaks — just as you would to change and feed an infant — and are too busy to diligently train and exercise an impressionable, energetic young pup, you should consider adopting an older dog. A puppy won't be a good match if you’re unable to meet the significant time commitment upfront. But also keep in mind that the puppy stage is just that – a stage. With consistent training and patience, you’ll get to a point where your pup will be an integrated part of your family and home.
Your Own Lifestyle
Adopting a dog will change your life in truly gratifying ways. But it’s also your responsibility to make sure the change is compatible with your desired lifestyle. If your house is often empty due to various work obligations and social engagements, a dog who requires a lot of attention unfortunately won't be a good fit. A small toy breed may not be the best choice for families who love to go on long-distance hikes and want their four-legged companions to share in the fun.
Be honest with adoption staff and tell them what your life is like. It's their job to help you find a pooch that fits seamlessly into your family so you can enjoy every moment!