By Cassandra Wilder

Roughly 44% of American households have a dog. For people contemplating buying their first dog, it can be tricky trying to decide on what breed to go for. You may even opt to adopt an older dog rather than going for a puppy. It’s important to think carefully about your circumstances – namely, space at home, budget, and how much time you have available to look after the dog appropriately.

Where to start?

With so many different breeds (pure and cross-breed) to consider, trying to establish which dog is right for you might feel a bit overwhelming at first. What’s more, there’s a lot to learn about what different dogs eat and play with, and the space and costs associated with that. Animal exhibitions, such as the Atlanta Pet Expo, offer a helpful starting point. These events can help you familiarize yourself with different dogs and the challenges and appealing aspects that come with each. You can speak to dog lovers and experts alike, who can advise you on which dog might be suited to you depending on your needs and personal circumstances. It’s worth doing your research and taking time to come to a decision you feel happy with. After all, with dog owners spending an average of $140 per month on their pooch, your choice of dog comes with a high price tag.

Home environment and time are key

Two factors that are fundamental to your choice of dog are the amount of exercise and food a dog needs each day – and whether you can provide it – as well as your setup at home. For example, if you have a young family at home, the dog will need to be child-friendly. This means having a gentle personality and a level of intuition – things that can be found in breeds such as beagles, labradors and collies. Certain big dogs, meanwhile, will also require a lot of space at home or in the backyard. If you’re limited on time and/or people at home who can take the dog for daily walks, certain dogs will not be appropriate. Siberian huskies, for example, are full of energy and ideally need two hours of exercise a day. This may suit you well if you’re an avid runner or cyclist, but if you don’t have this time available, then a dog that is lower maintenance when it comes to walks would be better for you.

Make the most of dog owner pals and colleagues

When it comes to choosing your first dog, there will always been an element of balancing your heart with your head. You may be particularly drawn to a particular type of dog, but certain aspects don’t make it a natural fit with your circumstances at home or your daily commitments. Speak to others you know or meet with dogs about their experience. Seeking advice from others, along with meeting different types of dogs, can be an invaluable way of helping you come to a decision that’s right for you and your furry friend.