How to choose the right size dog for your home

Jan 29, 2009 at 4:05 p.m. ET

Too big, too small, or just right? Find the puppy that will be a perfect fit for your home.

Woman and White Dog

So you have decided to get a puppy, but you just are not sure which breed will best fit the size of your house (or apartment). Well, before you find yourself paraphrasing any movie clichés like, "This place ain't big enough for the both of us," you will need to honestly assess how much space you will be able to give this new roommate of yours.

Don't fall for those puppy dog eyes

Do not, I repeat, do not base this decision solely on the adorable little puppy you might be cradling in your arms. Puppies grow to their full size in a surprisingly short amount of time. So it's important that you don't get a large breed type dog now, with hopes of moving into a larger place later. Plans can change, and it is better to wait until you have moved into the larger space, than to find yourself and your mate crammed into a shrinking space.

The right breeds for small spaces

One option is to adopt a small dog that will be a better fit. The Dachshund, Pug, Chihuahua, Terrier, Chow Chow, Cockapoo, Poodle, Shitzu, Beagle, Jack Russell are all great apartment dogs. They remain small and need very little space to run around while indoors. Some of these breeds do require regular exercise, but a daily walk or two around the block is more than enough to keep them healthy and in good spirits.

On the other hand, there are medium- to large-size breeds that will be content in a small space. Bulldogs and greyhounds, for instance, are happy to lounge around the house, though they will need a daily dose of physical activity.

Don't forget the noise factor!

You should also consider the happiness of your neighbors when you make your decision. A good nighttime watchdog can make for a daytime nuisance. So if there is no one at home to distract the dog from barking at the occasional passerby or bird, you will likely get complaints. If you think your puppy will be a barker, be preventive. Look into a day care kennel, where you can drop your "baby" when you go to work, and pick it up on your way home.

Remember, finding the ideal dog that matches your living space, lifestyle, and personality will make your small home a warmer and brighter space to live in -- with plenty of room left to spare.

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