When choosing the right small breed dog for you and your family, make sure that the breed is a good fit for your lifestyle. Although individual dogs each have unique personalities, do some research on your chosen breed and its temperament and grooming requirements before bringing your small dog home.
Family Makeup and Health
Consider how a dog will fit in with your current family makeup. Given their size, toy breeds -- those weighing 15 pounds and less -- may not do well in homes with rambunctious small children. Consider also whether any family members are allergic to pet dander. If so, there are several low-dander small breeds to choose from, including the miniature poodle, the miniature schnauzer, the Maltese and the bichon frise. While no dog is hypoallergenic, some breeds are better than others when it comes to leaving dander behind.
Personality and Temperament
Research the temperament of any breed you’re considering. For example, you might long for an adorable Jack Russell terrier, but you might not be prepared to deal with this breed’s energetic and assertive nature. Spend some time thinking about what you really want in a companion, whether it be an energetic playmate, an alert watchdog or a laid-back lapdog. Consider also whether a breed will require a lot of exercise and activity to keep from becoming anxious or bored, and whether your new dog should be able to cope well with being left alone for long hours each day.
Grooming and Medical Requirements
Some small breeds are cute to look at, but they require a lot of regular brushing and grooming. Decide whether you can afford either the expense of taking your dog to the groomer or the time involved in grooming her yourself. You might find that your lifestyle is better suited to a short-haired breed that requires less maintenance. You should be aware that many breeds are predisposed to certain medical conditions. Although a reputable breeder should screen for these problems, they can crop up later in life and some conditions can be chronic. You should decide whether you’re able to provide appropriate veterinary care, should the need arise.
The Affordability Factor
Purebred dogs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars if purchased from a breeder. Depending on the size of your budget, this might significantly narrow down your options. On the other hand, animal shelters are full of both purebred and mixed breed dogs in need of good homes. The Humane Society estimated that as many as 2.7 million shelter dogs failed to be adopted in 2013. Although you might luck out and find the breed you were hoping for at a shelter, you might also discover that the right dog for you and your family is a mixed breed dog.
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.