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  • Courteous K9

What Breed of Dog is Best for You?

Updated: Jun 10


There are many things that you should consider when looking to add a new dog to the family. It is important that you are honest with yourself and you make a list of things you can deal with and things that are an absolute no-go. Some important things you should consider are: energy level, biddability (motivation or desire to work and train with you.. how much do you want an obedient dog?), sociability, likelihood for dog or human aggression, likelihood for reactivity/excessive barking. If you are looking for a family pet, be careful with breeds that are good with their family but can be nervous or reactive around strangers- especially if you have kids and they have their friends over. Think about your lifestyle when considering which dog breed to get. We often see people who come to us who are struggling with certain behaviors that they do not want and were not expecting to have in a dog, even though they are common traits of the breed they chose to acquire. This often happens because people get breeds based on aesthetics vs taking into account what living with those breeds may entail.

A group of different breeds of dog sitting in a circle

Caution should be taken when reading breed profiles. Think of them as dating profiles. They often aren't going to list negatives outright, instead they will be be phrased in a positive light. For instance "loyal/protective" = might show reactivity or aggression with people and/or dogs or "high energy" = possible over arousal/neurotic/OCD behaviors. In addition, think of the purpose of the breed. For instance, livestock guardian breeds tend to show aggression to people/dogs near their homes; herding and sporting breeds tend to be more nippy or mouthy and have higher energy; working breeds are more likely to show reactivity or aggression; terriers tend to have high prey drive may not be good with cats, small animals, could be dog aggressive, etc. 

The benefit of getting a dog through a responsible breeder is that you are stacking the deck in your favor of getting a dog that fits their breed standards and general characteristics.

Breed Groups:

Within certain breed groups (terrier, herding, sporting, working, etc.) there are differences as well. For instance, within the hunting breeds your typical retrievers (labs and goldens) are often going to be more social with both humans and dogs and not as vocal. Whereas your hounds that hunt by treeing animals and barking at them are going to be more likely to not be good around other animals and are likely to be very vocal/reactive in general. Another example would be the herding breeds. Thinking about what animals they herd. Generally speaking the herding breeds that herd sheep are going to be less likely to nip as firmly and less pushy/tenacious/aggressive. Whereas the herding breeds that are bred to herd cattle are generally going to have a much firmer bite and in generally be more hard headed/pushy/tenacious.

Differences within the Breed:

There are certainly a lot of variation within any particular breed (and this is where if you find a responsible good breeder, they will know their lines and what you are likely to expect), but in general, you should be prepared for the possible breed traits that may develop into maturity. Many unwanted behaviors get more pronounced during maturity (around 6-18 months), but really you will pretty much know the type of dog you have when they are around 2-3 years old.

Our Thoughts on Various Breeds:

Here is a list of many of the breeds our trainers have worked with. We have listed our views of how well these dogs do in the average pet home based on our experiences with them.

  • Green = Generally human/dog neutral to social, generally trainable, typically no bigger behavioral issues

  • Yellow = May be more human/dog selective or reactive, extra caution and additional management or handling skill may be required, some behavioral issues may occur

  • Red = Possible human or dog aggression, potential moderate-severe behavioral traits, may require highly skilled handling for safety of the owner and/or other people or dogs, and possible management in every day life.

Sporting Group:


Boykin Spaniel, Brittany, English Setter, German Shorthaired Pointer, Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Vizsla, Weimaraner, Welsh Springer Spaniel


Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, English Springer Spaniel, Lagotto Romagnolo, German Wirehaired Pointer, Gordon Setter

Hound Group:


Basset Hound, Beagle, Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Whippet


Afghan Hound, Dachshund


Basenji, Black and Tan Coonhound, Bluetick Coonhound, Redbone Coonhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Treeing Walker Coonhound

Working Group:


Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bullmastiff, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, Samoyed, Standard Schnauzer

Yellow: Black Russian Terrier, Boxer, Doberman Pinscher, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Leonberger, Mastiff, Portuguese Water Dog, St. Bernard, Siberian Husky


Akita, Anatolian Shepherd, Boerboel, Cane Corso, Great Pyrenees, Rottweiler

Terrier Group:


Border Terrier, Cairn Terrier


Airedale Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Rat Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, West Highland White Terrier


American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Irish Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Toy Group:


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chinese Crested, Havanese, Maltese, Pug, Biewer Terrier


Chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pomeranian, Poodle (Toy), Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier

Non-Sporting Group:


American Eskimo Dog, Coton de Tulear, Keeshond, Poodle (Miniature & Standard), Xoloitzcuintli


Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, French Bulldog


Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chow, Dalmatian, Shiba Inu

Herding Group:


Bearded Collie, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog, Swedish Vallhund


Australian Shepherd, Belgian Tervuren, Border Collie, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd Dog, Miniature American Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Spanish Water Dog


Australian Cattle Dog, Belgian Malinois, Old English Sheepdog



Alaskan Klee Kai, American Bulldog, Dutch Shepherd, Jagdterrier

Want help picking out your next dog?

We are always happy to provide our thoughts on what breeds may best suit what you are looking for if you want help narrowing down potential breeds you researched. Contact us if you would like help finding the right match for you!

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