How to Choose the Best Type of Dog or Cat For Your Family Pet
At AZPetVet, we think pets are so awesome, we’ve made them our life’s work! Often, we’re asked what’s the best type of dog for a family pet or what are the best types of cats? These are great questions to be asking BEFORE you get a new dog or cat, and they spawn a lot of other questions that you might not have thought to ask. The type of dog or cat is not simply limited to a choice of the breed — there are many other things to consider.
If you’re an experienced pet owner, you already know the challenges and rewards of owning a cat or dog; it’s a lifetime commitment! Sometimes, people can underestimate the particular needs of a type of dog or cat or get a pet without fully thinking things through, which can lead to frustration or even the animal being surrendered to a shelter or being rehomed.
Taking the time to explore different breeds of cats and dogs and the specific care needs of each type can help you make the decision that’s best suited for you, your family, your lifestyle and your future pet dog or cat. This is especially important if you’re a first-time pet owner or have small children or other restrictions. Read on to learn what things you should consider when choosing the best dog or cat for your family.
Experience Levels & Time Commitments for Training Pets
Bringing a pet into your life has lots of benefits, but there’s also a big adjustment period for everyone, including the animal. Have you ever owned a dog or cat or are you venturing into dog or cat ownership for the first time? Do you currently own a dog or cat (or both) and are planning a new addition to your family? Do you want a puppy or kitten or an older animal?
If you’re considering a puppy or kitten, ask yourself how much time you are willing to devote to training? A little (1-5 hours per week)? Mid-range (6-10 hours per week)? A lot (10+ hours)?
Are you gone from home for long periods of time for work or other commitments? Will the dog or cat be crated during the day/night, or free to run around?
If you’re looking for an older pet that’s already trained or housebroken, adoption from a shelter or rescue may be your best bet — and due to the number of unwanted or homeless animals, adoption is always encouraged!
If you currently own a dog or cat or a mix of pets, bringing a new dog or cat, puppy or kitten into the pack will be a gradual process to minimize any territory or jealousy issues or possible personality clashes. Your vet can recommend the right steps and sometimes even products that may help ease the transition period.
Your Home, Family & Lifestyle Matters
Do you live in an apartment or condominium with breed or size restrictions? A home with a big yard? A patio style home with a small yard or limited space? Do you have children under age 10? Choosing the right type of dog or cat for your family and living situation is a must.
For instance, larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes, Mastiffs or Saint Bernards may not be as happy in an apartment or home with little yard space and can often act out by chewing everything they can find, including furniture and walls! Really active breeds like Australian Shepherds, Retrievers or Jack Russell Terriers tend to be extremely smart and will need regular exercise, interactive toys,
and playtime to stay happy and healthy.
Barking, Meowing & Shedding, Oh My!
Can you tolerate barking and meowing, or do you prefer a quieter pet? Dogs will bark, and some tend to do it more than others. Many breeds of dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, Spaniels, Beagles, and Basset Hounds tend to be much more vocal by nature due to their natural hunting instincts. Cats may not bark, but some of them are definitely talkers! Siamese Persian, Japanese Bobtail, and the Sphynx are just some of the breeds of cats known to be very vocal compared to other types of
cats, so it’s important to choose your next pet according to your tolerance level for
barks and meows.
Longer haired pets need regular brushing to help keep their coats in good shape and to prevent matting. While all pet dogs and cats will need some grooming from time to time, shedding is another big consideration, especially if you have allergies or someone with allergies is living in your home.
Some breeds of dogs and cats are natural-born fur factories, while others are low-to-no shedding or even hypoallergenic. The types of dogs that shed the most include Saint Bernards (long or short-coats, they both shed a LOT), Siberian Huskies, Labrador/Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, among others. Types of dogs that shed the least include the Dachshund, Cockapoo, Havanese, and Bichon Frise, among others.
Cats that shed the most fur include the Ragamuffin, Ragdoll, and the Russian Blue. If you’re looking for a low-shedding type of cat, consider a Siamese, Turkish Angora, the Siberian, or the Tonkinese breeds. One note: if you’re allergic to cats, choosing a low shedding breed might not help. Eighty percent of cat allergies are actually due to a protein that’s found in the skin and saliva, rather than the actual fur itself.
Consider your activity levels and lifestyle: are you more one to relax and hang out on the couch, go out to take a walk around the neighborhood or park, or are you an active runner, biker or hiker?
Some of the best dogs for more sedentary lifestyles include the English Bulldog, Chow Chow, Basset Hound, Boston Terrier, and the Shih Tzu. People with active lifestyles who want to bring their dog along for the adventure and exercise. If you’re one of those people, consider an Irish Setter, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Golden Retriever, Weimaraner, or Dalmation for your next companion.
Whew, that’s a lot, we know! Hopefully the questions here will help you make a wise choice when selecting the right new member of your family. Whether you end up choosing a purebred cat or dog or adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue, the lucky cat or dog will likely make a wonderful addition to your life and family for years to come. A final note: don’t forget to spay or neuter your new pet, and schedule regular wellness visits with your veterinarian. Happy adopting!
Here is a fun interactive tool to use to help select the right breed of dog for you:
Here is a fun interactive tool to use to help select the right breed of cat for you: