It has been well-researched and proven that dogs have a positive effect on our lives. They are a great enrichment for our health as well as for our psyche. As Hildegard von Bingen said, “Give a man a dog and his soul will heal”.
Having a dog as a friend is a great thing! However, before you bring a new family member into your home, some considerations should be made.
More than 300 dog breeds are officially recognized worldwide.
In order to find the right dog, you should pay attention to the space and exercise requirements of the breed, among other things.
Not all dog breeds are suitable for beginners and/or families, so you should find out more about this before you buy one.
Knowledge as a basis
You can get a lot of knowledge about the different dog breeds on the internet these days. Information about the preferred breeds can also be found at the various breed breeding associations and there may even be the opportunity to get to know one or the other dog of the desired breed nearby. Dog trainers are also happy to help you choose the “right” dog.
It is important to really honestly consider the living conditions and what you can and want to do for the dog together with a specialist. During a counseling interview with a young couple who see themselves as very sporty and would therefore like to decide on an Australian Shepherd, the following may turn out to be the case: the two are away from home for work 10 hours a day. The dog should spend this time with grandma and there is really only time to go running with the dog and possibly do dog sports with it on the weekends. At this point, the trainer or breeder should speak empathetically with the prospective dog owner. For us as dog trainers, the focus is primarily on the well-being of the dog. But the grandmother must also be included in the considerations in order to find the right breed for everyone involved.
Or you have a somewhat corpulent gentleman in front of you who would like to have a small, lively Jack Russel terrier. A very willing to work and active hunting animal that absolutely wants to live out its temperament and is by no means satisfied with leisurely walks in the city.
The family that wants to get a dog for the first time and has decided in advance to give a home to a husky will perhaps also see in the course of a consultation that this breed is not necessarily suitable for them. Living in a high-rise building in the middle of the big city and not very sporty, she probably cannot meet the needs of the dog.
These three examples offer a small insight into our practice as professionals and they show how important it is to get expert advice BEFORE making a purchase. Far too many dogs end up in an animal shelter (again) after an ill-considered and emotional decision or are brought back to the breeder. The insight that you haven’t thought of a lot often only comes when problems arise and you don’t know what to do anymore. The main victims are the dogs, who cannot understand the sudden loss of a caregiver and home.
What do I really have to consider if I want to get a dog as a friend and companion?
On the one hand, the answer is very simple, but still not easy. You should think carefully and honestly:
- Can (and do I want) to integrate everything that the dog needs into my life and possibly also change my habits to do so?
- Do I have the opportunity to cover the basic needs of the animal?
- Am I ready to really get involved with my new friend and his personality?
- Are my financial resources sufficient if there are additional costs for the veterinarian and dog training/dog behavior advice?
Even if you already have an idea of which breed it should be, there are always alternatives if the demands that the desired breed or this type entails are not compatible with your own life. On the one hand, it is about character traits, the need for exercise, the need for care and, on the other hand, about one’s own living conditions such as housing, work and, above all, time.
Many people would like to give a rescue dog a new home. In this case, it is particularly important to be aware that you are bringing a living being into your home that may already have had some previous experience. These can lead to unexpected problems and increased financial expense for dog behavior training (and vet visits). In the case of mixed breeds, you should find out about the possible original breeds of the desired dog. Such a hybrid contains the genes and characteristics of all the breeds mixed in it. In the animal shelters in Austria, those who are interested can get good advice from the employees who, together with the interested parties, choose the right dog. Getting to know each other through repeated visits takes time, which you should definitely take. Good animal shelters are networked with competent trainers who support the new dog parents and answer the many questions that naturally arise.
According to the latest trends, completely different breeds are mated with each other more and more often, whose breed characteristics really do not fit together. As an example I name the Bernerdoodle. There could be a poodle with its light bone structure in the body of a Bernese mountain dog, and the genetic differences often lead to health problems. Although both breeds are very people-oriented, the Bernese is a rather easy-going house and farm dog with impressive looks and a natural reserve towards strangers. In contrast, the poodle, which is one of the very active and intelligent breeds, likes to be kept busy and is also happy about fast runs with its human. Of course, the puppies of this fashion mix look adorable, but it’s not always good – let alone healthy, what looks so cute. The reason why such breeds are crossed is the hope of getting a – in this case – Bernese-type dog that does not shed and that allergy sufferers can also keep. However, this is by no means 100% given and nobody can really predict which optical and character traits these puppies will get, which are often sold more expensively than real pedigree dogs.
The desire for an animal is more than understandable. But that is not enough as a reason to really bring the desired animal into the house if the necessary requirements are not met. Anyone who is aware of their responsibility, seeks advice and does their own research about the planned breed has gained a lot. After all, this decision is about the human being being happy with his dog and also the dog being happy with his human being and both together have a great and fulfilling life.
How to find the right breed of dog
There are more than 300 dog breeds worldwide, plus countless crossbreed variants – so it’s no wonder that choosing a four-legged friend is difficult. In our guide, we tell you what you should pay attention to in order to find the right dog. A short test reveals the answer to the question “Which breed of dog suits me?” Happy reading and finding the right dog breed!
What breeds of dogs are there?
Officially, 368 dog breeds are currently known. However, this number increases regularly, as new variants are constantly being bred. There are different approaches to categorizing races. The most well-known is the categorization according to the original area of application of the animals:
- guard dogs
- herding dogs
- hunting dogs
- lap dogs
How to choose the right dog breed
Since you probably don’t have a flock of sheep or your own hunting ground at home, in this guide we’ve categorized the dogs according to their suitability for certain types of people and life situations. This is how you can quickly find the right breed of dog. The following aspects are particularly important here:
- required space
- urge to move
- articulation by barking, howling, etc.
- child friendliness
- ability to remain alone
- effort in education
- compatibility with other pets
- employment intensity
Dogs for beginners
Which dog suits the beginner? In fact, there are a few dog breeds that do well here. These include, for example:
The Collie is one of the most famous pedigree dogs, not least thanks to the television series “Lassie”. These family dogs are also ideal for beginners. The Collie is very intelligent and willing to learn. He is also considered to be extremely loyal and affectionate. Surprisingly, his long coat needs less care than most people think – thorough brushing every two weeks is enough.
The voluminous fur and the elegant head make the Rough Collie absolutely unmistakable. Not only because of the famous dog Lassie – main character of books, films, and TV series – the breed is one of the most well-known in the world. Here you can find out what distinguishes the popular dogs and makes them so unique.
History of the Collie
The Collie is a Scottish breed of dog that was already known in the 13th century. The dogs are believed to be a mix of local herding dogs and the animals brought by the Romans in the 5th century BC. The Scottish farmers used the nimble dogs mainly to herd the sheep in the high moors. The term “Collie” comes from the Scottish sheep breed of the same name, whose name means “cabbage sheep”. Since the breeders in the 19th century wanted to improve the herding qualities of their dogs, they crossed their dogs with the borzoi. His figure grew taller and slimmer, and his head narrowed.
The first club was founded in 1840 and the breed was officially recognized in 1858. The dog quickly became known worldwide and is considered in Australia to be the ancestor of the Australian Cattle Dog and the Kelpie. The breed gave up its original task of herding a long time ago and can now be found as a companion and show dog. Several lineages have emerged throughout history.
The Rough Collie is a loyal and bright dog that is very family-friendly. He wants to be actively integrated into the family and is never aggressive toward strangers. When dealing with conspecifics and other pets, he is just as unproblematic. Even children are no problem for the cheerful dog, as he is very good-natured. Intelligent dogs enjoy learning new commands and are happy to obey their masters. As long as he has a reliable reference person, the uncomplicated dog feels comfortable everywhere and adapts quickly. Their affectionate nature makes the dogs great companions in everyday life.
Activities with the collie
The Scottish Shepherd is a sporty and active dog that needs a lot of exercise. Daily walks in any weather are the least your collie needs in terms of exercise. You can let the dear herding dogs run free without any problems, since the breed has hardly any hunting instinct and does not like to stray far from its master or mistress. With the appropriate training, it is therefore also suitable as a companion for jogging, hiking, horseback riding or cycling. If the daily walks are too monotonous for you, there is nothing wrong with training him to be a rescue dog. The agile herding dogs are just as enthusiastic about sports such as obedience, agility or dog dance. Although collies are very active dogs, they are of course also happy to have a day or two of rest in between.
Collies in Movies and TV
Probably the most famous collie, if not the most famous four-legged friend of all, is the dog Lassie. It was brought to life by the British-US American writer Eric Knight on December 17, 1938 with the short story “Lassie Come Home”. The story tells of a little boy from Yorkshire and his faithful dog Lassie. With his family getting into financial troubles, they have to sell the handsome dog to a nobleman. Since neither Lassie nor the boy can live without each other, the dog flees from the country estate hundreds of kilometers away and returns to the boy. The story has been filmed several times in the form of series and feature films and is probably one of the most famous dog stories in the world to this day.
This dog breed also owes its popularity to many series and films – but also to its good nature and loyalty. The Golden Retriever enjoys swimming and playing fetch games. It is easy to train and is therefore well suited for beginners. However, he does not like to stay alone at home.
The whippet is one of the sporting dog breeds. Active people will find the right dog in him. But he also loves to cuddle with his owner. As a typical sighthound, the breed is a real lightweight and only weighs around 12 kilos. The whippet has a strong hunting instinct and can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. Therefore, you should not necessarily let him run free in the forest or on fields.
The whippet was bred by poorer miners in northern England in the late 19th century. The aim was to breed a small, rather undemanding, fast, and persistent dog for hare and rabbit hunting. The Whippet quickly became very popular for dog racing and became known as the “little man’s racehorse”.
The Whippet is one of the fastest dogs in the world, being able to sprint at almost 60 kilometers per hour. A significant role in its creation was played by the larger greyhound, which is believed to have been crossed with small terriers and the Italian greyhound. However, there were already smaller sighthounds in the Middle Ages that could have been a model for the whippet. At that time greyhounds were reserved for the nobility and the smaller variety was at least as much a lap dog and companion as it was a hunting companion.
Small greyhounds became of particular interest to the lower classes when dog fighting was banned as a leisure activity and for betting in the 19th century. Dog racing thus became popular as a substitute. It was not until 1970 that interest in the Whippet as a racing dog fell sharply, as a betting tax was introduced in Great Britain. Today, the Whippet is primarily kept as a show and family dog.
Behavior and nature
The Whippet is a calm, affectionate, and adaptable companion. He is often a bit reserved towards strangers, but has little waking instinct. Basically, the Whippet is polite and friendly to people as well as to other dogs.
Whippets tend to tremble and usually carry the tail between their legs. However, this is not due to over-anxiousness. The clamped tail results from the greyhound-typical sloping pelvis, the trembling is mostly excitement. In fact, whippets are much more robust than they look, mostly very healthy, persistent and long-lived.
Bred for chasing rabbits, the whippet brings with it a great deal of hunting instinct. This is not easy to control as whippets were originally intended to hunt on their own and not in close cooperation with their human. A Whippet has no problem going out of sight of its human to hunt.
Whippets are equally sensitive, independent and strong-willed. Their upbringing therefore requires a great deal of sensitivity, consistency and the renunciation of violence. A whippet is not submissive, but it is loving and sensitive towards its people.
Attitude and care
The whippet does not necessarily need a garden, but a securely fenced area is an advantage so that you can let him run around without worrying. In the apartment he is extremely quiet, gentle and unobtrusive. A Whippet can be accustomed to small animals and cats that live in the house, at least if he has known them since he was a puppy. For all the gentleness that a Whippet radiates, one must never forget that it is a predatory hunting dog that hunts down and kills small animals, including cats, if the opportunity arises.
Whippets like to live in packs, but they are also very cuddly and affectionate towards people. They like to accompany their people everywhere, which is rarely a problem due to their calm, inconspicuous nature, even in the city or in the restaurant. They are unsuitable for keeping outdoors, even in a kennel.
In order to be happy with a Whippet, you have to want and like the greyhound-typical independence. A Whippet can certainly be trained, but always keeps its own head and makes its own decisions at lightning speed, especially when it comes to hunting stimuli. Outdoors he is persistent, energetic, and loves to run. He definitely needs a lot of exercises and is also enthusiastic about games. Even dog sports like e.g. agility, Frisbee, or popular sports suit the Whippet if you know how to get him excited about it. He is actually superior to many other breeds due to his speed and dexterity.
If the dog is to take part in races, its condition must be carefully built up and a comprehensive health check by the veterinarian should also be mandatory. In Germany, the dogs run after a mechanical rabbit. You should only start with this sport when the Whippet is physically fully mature.
The Pomeranian is very self-confident, yet friendly, and has a lot of energy. He is also suitable as a guard dog and likes to bark. It is a dog breed with no hunting instinct. Incidentally, it is said that Michelangelo and Martin Luther already had a spitz as a pet.
Calm dog breeds for apartment keeping
The French bulldog has mutated into the trend dog par excellence in recent years. The dog breed inspires with its friendliness, its playfulness and its ability as a fight cuddler. She hardly barks and only needs short walks. The dog breed is also suitable for beginners.
This is a quiet dog breed with no hunting instinct. The pug is very humorous and playful. Despite his comparatively short legs, he likes to move. Even if you already have other pets, you will find the right dog in him. By the way: The pug is also suitable for dog beginners.
This breed of dog is available in different sizes – miniature and miniature poodles are best suited for keeping in apartments. They are active dogs and like to accompany their owners everywhere. Poodles are also known to be friendly, affectionate, and smart. However, he needs extensive grooming and should be clipped regularly.
Originally from China, the Shar Pei is one of the intelligent dog breeds. He is very loyal and calm. However, games and sports are not among his favorite pastimes. The Shar Pei likes to mess with other dogs, so it’s best not to get into fights.
Nature and temperament
The Shar Pei is calm and relaxed. He is intelligent and willing to learn, but still retains his own will. He is adaptable and is well suited to families with children – assuming appropriate socialization, of course. Since each Shar Pei has a very individual character, it can fit into almost any living environment. There are very sporty specimens that like to accompany their owners when jogging or cycling and those that are happy with walks and quieter activities. A breeder can often recognize certain character traits when they are puppies and look for the optimal living environment for their puppies. The Shar Pei is alert but not very willing to bark. He can be suspicious and reserved towards strangers at times.
The Shar Pei’s fear of water, which is typical of the breed, is interesting – there are few specimens that go swimming and bathing voluntarily.
Dog breeds for families
Which dog suits us? Families need pets that don’t care about noise, like to play and, above all, are fond of children. The following dog breeds make perfect family pets:
This dog breed is extremely fond of children, friendly and playful. The boxer is a good example of former hunting dog breeds that have established themselves as family pets. In the past, the animal was used to hunt bears and wild boar. This dog breed is absolutely uncomplicated – and is therefore also suitable for beginners.
The Labrador Retriever is an intelligent and active family pet. Like the Golden Retriever, he also likes to go swimming and has a strong play instinct. The dog romps around with children but is also available for cuddle sessions. He is also very patient and balanced.
It is said that Empress Sissi already owned a dog of this large breed. Despite its stature, the Leonberger is very gentle, good-natured, and friendly. Even the loudest of children’s yells don’t bother these active family dogs. The animals are also extremely intelligent and make suitable family-friendly, large guard dogs.
Empress Sissi is said to have owned this lion among the dog breeds. After all, the big Leonberger not only impresses with his proud lion’s mane and his harmonious physique but above all with his self-confident composure and his child-loving nature.
The lion-like appearance of the Leonberger is no coincidence – after all, the lion in the coat of arms of the city of Leonberg served as a model when breeding began. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the town councilor of the southern German town near Stuttgart, Heinrich Essig, wanted to breed a dog that would resemble the lion in his town’s coat of arms. The dog lover Essig crossed a black and white Newfoundland bitch (some sources assume that it was a Landseer) with a St. Bernard, a so-called “Barry male” from the monastery hospice Great St. Bernhard. Later, other St. Bernards and Pyrenean mountain dogs were used for breeding, completing the appearance of this new dog breed.
The first Leonberger dog as we know it today finally saw the light of day in 1846. The large dogs, which combined all the excellent characteristics of their original breeds, were soon sold from their hometown of Leonberg to the whole world as a status symbol. Up until the two world wars, Leonbergers were popular both as watchdogs for “polite society” and as farm and draft dogs.
In the turmoil of the world wars and in the hardship of the post-war period, when hardly anyone could feed such a large dog, the number of breeding dogs fell dramatically. It is thanks to a few lovers of this breed that the Leonberger breed was saved from extinction. The few remaining owners got together and built up a new breed of Leonberger dogs together. Fortunately, there are numerous dog clubs worldwide that are dedicated to breeding this impressive breed.
The Leonberger dog literally has a “thick skin”. Especially when dealing with children and toddlers, the gentle giant shows his good-natured and friendly nature. Even the loudest children’s screams don’t bother the noise-insensitive and patient dog. On the contrary, thanks to his lively temperament and playful nature, he enjoys romping and playing with children to the fullest. Puppies in particular are extremely playful – although they can of course also be a bit impetuous.
Its good-natured and open-minded character makes the Leonberger dog an ideal family dog, which is always a loyal and obedient companion to its people in every situation. Due to his innate vigilance and fearless nature, he is also a reliable watchdog for his family, who will stand by and protect you in any situation. However, Leonbergers are neither aggressive nor timid and react very calmly to new or strange things. Despite their size, the pedigree dogs can easily be taken anywhere. It is true that puppies in particular do not always listen to every word in their playfulness, but who could not forgive these cheerful and friendly creatures for their stubborn heads?
If the young dogs have someone at their side who calmly and patiently teaches them to listen to their commands, training a Leonberger shouldn’t pose any problems. Despite their intelligence and pronounced self-confidence, Leonbergers show a great willingness to subordinate themselves to people right from the start. Leonbergers are therefore also suitable for dog beginners, which of course does not mean that you should go to work completely ignorant. If you decide to buy a Leonberger, you should familiarize yourself with the care, keeping, and training of this pedigree dog. Anyone who can meet their demands for exercise, care, and time together with the family will certainly find an incredibly loving, loyal, and affectionate friend for life in the Leonberger dog.
Attitude and care
In addition to the necessary “small change” for the purchase and keeping of these impressive animals, as a future Leonberger owner you should, above all, have the time. Due to their size, Leonbergers need a lot of exercises to stay physically fit and healthy. The more time your Leonberger dog gets to spend with you and your family, the happier he will be. Leonbergers are very people-oriented, affectionate dogs that feel most comfortable when the whole family is together. At the same time, they are also very active – a house with a garden in which they can romp around as they please is a must for these giant dogs. In addition, a forest or park should be nearby so that you can go on long trips in nature. A lake in the vicinity, where you can play and swim as you please, would also be ideal for water-loving dogs. Despite their calm and even-tempered nature, Leonbergers are very active dogs that should ideally be in equally active hands. Dog sports, such as dog diving or Treibball, are also suitable for Leonbergers, but romping around in the great outdoors and in the water is what suits them the most.
In addition to the physical activity with the four-legged friend, grooming the long-haired giant also takes time. The long, thick hair needs to be brushed daily. In order to facilitate this procedure, it is important that Leonberger learns to sit and lie still as a puppy. An adult dog that has not learned these commands will hardly have the patience for such intensive grooming.
Training the Leonberger, who is willing to learn, is easier than grooming it. Thanks to their intelligence and good comprehension as well as their willingness to subordinate themselves, the dog breed is considered to be very easy to train and learn. With these good-natured and gentle dogs, it is sufficient to teach the most important commands in puppyhood. The reference person should set a clear line and always speak in a calm voice. Shouting or even violence will certainly not lead to success.
The Schnauzer is available in three different sizes. This breed of dog is extremely versatile: both lively and even-tempered, both affectionate and headstrong. Schnauzers like to play with children and are very good-natured. The breed also scores well as a family-friendly guard dog.
Perfect breeds for canine experts
Have you been on the dog for a long time? Then the following breeds might be of interest to you:
The Akita Inu originally comes from Japan and has been bred there for centuries. This breed of dog doesn’t particularly like strangers, but they are affectionate and loyal to their own family. His unconditional loyalty became known through the film “Hachiko: A Wonderful Friendship”, which is based on a true story.
The Basenji comes from Africa and is one of the oldest dog breeds of all: Evidence of its keeping can already be found on Stone Age pictures and in ancient Egyptian tombs. Basenjis are very calm, friendly, and intelligent dogs. However, he does not like to subordinate himself, which is why his owners should have experience with dogs. Fun fact on the side: The Basenji can even yodel – it makes noises that resemble the singing of the Alps.
Dobermans are among the best guard dogs. They are actually very peaceful, but have an imposing, muscular build. The dog is also very brave, intelligent and confident. The Doberman needs an experienced, calm and secure caregiver. As an active, sporty dog breed, it needs a lot of exercise, but also mental activity.
The Kangal is a livestock guardian dog from Turkey. This means he tends to be fiercely defensive of his territory and loved ones. Male dogs in particular are often very dominant and willful. The Kangal doesn’t particularly like other dogs or strangers. For this dog breed you need extensive know-how and experience. Even if the animal recognizes you as the “leader of the pack”, it can react aggressively to others in defiance of your “calm” and “sagebrush” commands.
Test: Which breed of dog is right for me?
To find the right dog breed, answer the following questions as accurately as possible. Then add up the points from the table below for your answers. In the resolution, you will then see the right dog breeds for you.
Will this be your first dog?
a) No, I have had several dogs of different breeds.
b) No, I already had a furry friend of a dog breed that was easy to train.
c) Yes, and I’m really looking forward to it.
What is your current living situation?
a) I live in a small apartment in the city.
b) I live in a house with a garden.
c) I live in an apartment near a park or the great outdoors
How athletic are you?
a) I love doing sports in nature. Whether jogging or swimming – I’m there.
b) From time to time I do a bit of sport.
c) sports? Does it have to be that way?
Do you have children living with you?
a) Yes, my toddler(s) fill my everyday life with life and noise.
b) Yes, my kids are just getting into their teens. Puberty sucks.
c) No, none are currently planned.
4-8 points: A small breed of dog that is easy to train and doesn’t need a lot of exercise suits you best. How about a French Bulldog, Pug, Poodle, or Pomeranian?
9-15 points: Your life situation is a good match for a dog that enjoys playing, is active and adaptable. How about a Leonberger, Boxer, Labrador, Whippet, or Golden Retriever?
16-21 points: You already have dog experience and either has a lot of space or like to exercise. How about a Schnauzer, a Basenji or a Shar Pei?
22-25 points: Congratulations, you are a real dog connoisseur! How about a Kangal, a Doberman or an Akita Inu?
Important to know: Irrespective of your test result, you should inform yourself intensively about the desired dog breeds and their characteristics before purchasing. Breeding clubs are the best contact persons here.
Which dogs are easy to train?
These include the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, and the French Bulldog. You should always put some effort into training a dog, it’s worth it. In this way, your animal becomes self-confident and at the same time socially acceptable.
Which dog breeds are not for beginners?
Some dog breeds require a lot of experience, for example, because they are very dominant, headstrong or spirited. So that the dog does not then give you the orders, you must be familiar with the animals. Examples of such dog breeds are the Akita Inu, the Basenji, and the Doberman Pinscher.
How do I find the right breed of dog?
Which small or large dog is right for me? This is a question many prospective dog owners ask themselves. Your experience with dogs, the available space, and your living arrangement are decisive for the answer. To find out more, simply answer the questions in our test above.