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Choosing the Perfect Dog Breed: Understanding Breed Standards

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Looking to add a new dog to your household? Choosing the right breed for your lifestyle is an important task! Each breed has its unique traits, characteristics, and temperament, and selecting a breed that aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and expectations is essential to prevent behavioral problems and frustration. One incredibly valuable tool in making this choice is understanding and considering a breed’s standard. In this blog, we will explore how to choose a dog breed based on their breed standard for a pet.

Understanding Breed Standards

Breed standards are established guidelines that describe the ideal physical and behavioral traits of a particular dog breed. These standards are developed and maintained by kennel clubs and breed-specific organizations to preserve and promote the unique qualities of each breed. While breed standards may seem to primarily serve as a reference for breeders and judges in dog shows, they also provide valuable insights for prospective pet owners.

Here are some key aspects of breed standards to consider when choosing a dog breed:

  1. Size and Appearance: Breed standards outline the typical size, coat color, texture, and overall appearance of a breed. Consider whether you prefer a small, medium, or large dog, as well as the specific coat type and color that appeals to you.
  2. Temperament and Behavior: Breed standards often describe the typical temperament and behavior of a breed. Some breeds are known for their friendliness and sociability (think: Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, King Charles Cavalier, Pekingese) while others are more reserved or protective (Akita, Rottweiler, German Shepherd). Think about the kind of temperament that would fit well with your lifestyle and family dynamics. If you are a social butterfly with a lot of new people in and out of your house, a guarding breed probably won’t mesh well with your lifestyle!
  3. Exercise Needs: Breed standards may mention a breed’s activity level and exercise requirements. Active breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds need plenty of physical and mental stimulation, while some toy breeds may be content with shorter walks and play sessions. But don’t count the little ones out if you’re looking for an active pal; consider a Papillon, Whippet, or Jack Russel Terrier if you wan’t a small dog with some “go”.
  4. Grooming Requirements: The coat type described in a breed’s standard can provide insights into their grooming needs. Breeds with long, silky coats may require regular brushing and grooming, while short-haired breeds are generally lower-maintenance in this regard. Poodle (and poodle mix) coats will require daily brushing and monthly grooming, which is a huge time and financial commitment.
  5. Health Considerations: Some breed standards may highlight specific health concerns or genetic predispositions associated with a breed. Research these issues to understand potential health challenges your chosen breed might face. Make sure your chosen breeder tests for all breed-relevant health concerns common to your chosen breed.

Matching Breed Standards to Your Lifestyle

Now that you have a basic understanding of breed standards, it’s time to assess how well they align with your lifestyle and preferences:

  1. Activity Level: Consider your own activity level. Are you an active person who enjoys hiking, running, or playing fetch in the park? Or do you prefer a more relaxed lifestyle? Do you like to train your dog to do advanced obedience exercises, or do you want to play in a dog sport? Choose a breed that matches your energy levels and ideal doggy activities.
  2. Living Space: Your living situation matters. If you live in a small apartment, a breed that requires a large yard to run in might not be the best fit if you are stuck at work most of the day. Some smaller breeds or those with lower exercise needs may be more suitable for apartment living.
  3. Allergies: If you or a family member has allergies, look for breeds that are hypoallergenic or have minimal shedding, as indicated in their breed standards.
  4. Family Dynamics: Consider your family composition and any existing pets. Some breeds are excellent with children and other animals, while others may require more supervision and training. A herding breed generally is not the best fit for a household with small, active children running around.
  5. Time Commitment: Think about the time you can dedicate to training, grooming, and exercise. High-maintenance breeds may require more time and attention.


Choosing a dog breed based on their breed standard is an excellent way to ensure that your new furry companion aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and expectations. By understanding the typical traits and characteristics outlined in a breed’s standard, you can make an informed decision that leads to a happy and fulfilling relationship between you and your pet. Remember that while breed standards provide valuable guidance, individual dogs may vary, so always spend time getting to know what a potential dog breeder tends to produce before making your final decision. Ultimately, the right dog breed will bring joy and companionship into your life for years to come.

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