Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Factors to Consider When Getting a New Dog

Tips for deciding how to choose a dog.

If it's time for you to add a new dog to your family, congratulations! It's a fantastic, fun time, and you're going to have a ball.

As you're deciding what breed or mix of puppy to get, here are some things to think about. The last thing you want to do is ignore these priorities and get a breed that isn't right for your home or family.

Decide on Size

Size is the first thing to consider when figuring out which dog breed will fit best in your family. Tiny, small, medium, large, or giant—you'll need to choose the right size. Here are some considerations that will help you decide:

  • How big is your home?
  • How much yard or access to outdoor space do you have?
  • Do you have young children who may not do well with a tiny dog or who could get bowled over by a giant one?

Remember that, if you choose a puppy, they won't stay their current size for long. Be sure to consider how the dog will fit into your home when full-grown.

Decide on Age

Do you want a puppy or an adult dog? Here are some points to consider that will help you decide:

  • Do you have time to housetrain?
  • Will you be able to take the dog to obedience classes?
  • Are all your family members able to help care for the dog, or do you have young children who may do better with an already-trained dog?
  • Do you have the time and means to deal with pre-existing health or behavior problems in an older dog? How about spay/neuter surgery and puppy vaccines?

Body Characteristics

Some dogs have fur that grows continuously, requiring grooming every six weeks. Some have floppy ears that need to be cleaned routinely to stave off infections. Some have flat faces and bulging eyes, requiring lots of face-cleaning and trimming of eye hair.

Some dog breeds need more brushing at home between groomings than others. Some dogs have lots of skin wrinkles that require cleaning and drying daily.

Think about the level of maintenance required for your dog based on body characteristics and be realistic about what you can handle in terms of time, money, and commitment.

Energy Level

Keep in mind the general activity level of the breeds you are considering. Some are content to be mostly lapdogs, while others need vigorous activity every day or a "job" to keep them from engaging in boredom-related negative behaviors.

Be realistic about your time and availability to engage in activity with your dog for ten or fifteen years before choosing the best breed for your home.

If you spend some time honestly considering all these things before you choose, you'll be able to pick the right breed or mix for your home. Consult your veterinarian if you need more information about particular breeds.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Potty Training for Puppies

A General Guide to Puppy Safety

Crate Training

First-Time Dog Owner Mistakes to Avoid

Mutts: Mixed Breed Dogs and Why They're Great - Slideshow

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.