For many newly wedded or young couples, raising and caring for a dog together can be a wonderful opportunity to strengthen their bond and pave the way for starting a family.
“Our first child was a cat and our second child was a dog,” said Clark K. Fobian, DVM in Sedalia, Mo. and president of the AVMA. “We worked out our parenting philosophies on our pets … they were some of the most special pets we had because they were our first.”
Once you and your partner have evaluated your lifestyle and feel ready to commit to a dog together, the next step will be finding the right breed for you. Here are some of our favorite breeds for newlyweds.
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Every dog has its own unique, individual personality that may or may not mirror the traits of its breed, Fobian said. In general, however, Labrador Retrievers are some of the most pleasant and easy to care for breeds, making them a popular choice for millions of families across the country. Their even disposition, trainability and easy upkeep makes them a good choice for young couples, Fobian said. They require consistent grooming and exercise but with proper care make healthy, happy companions.
Doing the necessary research in advance of selecting your perfect pup can also help you determine which breed will be the right fit for you.
“Deciding as a couple beforehand what the family ‘dream dog’ looks like is more likely to contribute toward harmony within the family,” said Sharon Wirant, manager of anti-cruelty behavior services at the ASPCA. “Unnecessary stress and unhappiness can result if a couple’s lifestyle and expectations differ from the dog’s personality needs.”
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An intelligent breed with an eager to please attitude, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Golden Retrievers are also a great fit for active couples and young families. They can adapt to many different living situations and, according to Fobian, aren’t predisposed to many medical conditions. Their friendly temperaments may also be a good fit for a couple looking to have children.
“A friendly and easy-going dog may be best for living with small children because they tend to be very tolerant to new sounds, smells and little ones crawling and running about,” Wirant said.
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Chesapeake Bay Retriever
The state dog of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is another active breed with a strong, powerful build. With a distinctive double coat that’s dense and wooly underneath and short and wavy on top, the Chesapeake, or “Chessie,” is a happy, intelligent breed that loves the water, according to the AKC. They’ll do best with outdoor-loving families and, according to Fobian, are another easy breed to keep up with.
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A loveable, energetic breed, Boxers can be stronger willed than Retrievers and show some aggression towards other dogs but are very loving towards people, Fobian said. They’re patient and spirited with children while also being protective, according to the AKC, making them a popular choice for families. Boxers have minimal grooming needs but require daily exercise.
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A nice, clean breed, according to Fobian, Dachshunds make a good choice for couples in search of a smaller dog. They’re loveable, playful companions, according to the AKC, and make an ideal pet for many homes. Because of their size, they can easily adapt to many living environments and do well with children under adult supervision.
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Another smaller breed, Boston Terriers have a great disposition and make good family animals, Fobian said. Because they’re brachycephalic, or have short-noses, Boston Terriers may have respiratory problems or be prone to overheating but it doesn’t diminish their suitability as an excellent companion and house pet. If you’re looking to add children to your family, teaching your dog basic obedience skills will help you to manage their behavior when children come to visit or a baby arrives, Wirant said.
“The expecting couple can begin to gradually expose [their dog] to sounds, sights and smells they may encounter when baby comes home several months before it arrives,” she said. “Think about the changes to your dog’s routine after the baby comes home and don’t forget to include them in some of the baby activities—they enjoy being a part of the family, too.”
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A loving breed, Miniature Poodles are easy to please and cooperative, Fobian said. Their small size can work in nearly any size home and their hypoallergenic coat may help reduce allergic reactions, according to the AKC. The Poodle also excels in obedience training, a must-do when raising any type of dog.
“Enroll [your dog] in a reward-based training classes to build a strong foundation of life skills and manners for a well-behaved dog,” Wirant said.
Training classes will also help socialize your dog to a variety of different people and other dogs, Fobian said, while teaching you what you need to do to care for your dog. Fobian also encourages couples to attend training classes together as a fun, family-friendly activity. Look for reward-based trainers at http://www.ccpdt.org
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Brave, determined and energetic, the AKC says Yorkshire Terriers offer “big personalities in a small package.” They’re easily adaptable to a variety of living situations, travel well and make suitable pets in many homes. They require minimal exercise but love human interaction. Yorkies can have both long and short coats, which require very different grooming needs.
“Long coated dogs need to be groomed frequently to prevent mats and tangles [while] short haired dogs require less grooming but can shed quite a bit,” Wirant said. “Be sure to discuss everyone’s expectations of owning a dog and the plan to satisfy your dog’s exercising, grooming, health and behavioral wellness needs.”
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Mixed breed dogs make exceptional family pets, Fobian said, but their looks don’t always reflect their behavior.
“A dog may seem like a low-key Labrador but can be as high-energy as a Greyhound,” he said. “Most shelters are more than willing to allow you to interact with a dog to make sure that it’s the right fit.”
If you do plan to adopt, choose a shelter or rescue group that has detailed analysis of your potential dog’s behavior and personality. Some shelters use the ASPCA’s Canine-ality® program, which helps give insight on the dog’s personality to make the perfect match between pup and person. If you choose to purchase a dog, make sure to select a reputable breeder that allows you to visit with the puppies and their parents before making your choice, Wirant said.
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Things to Keep in Mind
Identifying what you desire for your canine companionship and lifestyle is the first step, Wirant said. It’s important to consider the age, energy level and personality traits you’re looking for before you begin looking.
Choosing an adult dog may be a great first pet candidate, Wirant said, because they’re typically housetrained and will have a behavioral history that can give you insight on whether that dog will be good around children or not. If you have your heart set on a puppy, Wirant suggests choosing one that shows an interest in you and doesn’t show extreme shy or energetic behaviors unless you’re committed to providing them with the training and behavioral support they need. The ASPCA’s virtual pet behaviorist can help you decide what type of dog to choose in addition to tips on how to handle a variety of situations, like introducing your dog to children, with your new pet.
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Jessica spends her days trying not to helicopter parent her beloved shelter pup, Darwin.