Find the Right Dog for You!
When adopting a dog, it’s very important to choose a breed that will fit your lifestyle and environment. For example, a breed with a strong “prey instinct” would not be a good choice if you have small children or other pets. A dog with a dense, fluffy coat would not be a good choice if you live in a very hot climate. A breed that requires a lot of attention will be a problem if you need to leave him alone during the day.
My own dog, Cooper, is an Australian Shepherd with a very strong herding instinct. When we go to the dog park, he immediately goes to work, trying to herd the other dogs into a corner. Usually one or two will bolt away, and he proceeds to run after them to round them up again. Cooper is not at all dog-aggressive, so the whole thing turns into a big game that all the dogs seem to enjoy.
However, sometimes people bring small children to the dog park, and when they do I immediately call Cooper to my side, because parents usually don’t appreciate having their kids “herded.”
The key point is that it’s important to understand your dog’s breed and make sure you can accommodate their instincts and breeding into your life.
To help find the right breed, there are a number of dog breed selectors, which ask you a series of questions and then recommend appropriate breeds.
In the reviews below and the table at the end of this article, I’ve compared a number of the top dog breed selectors.
The American Kennel Club breed selector asks just seven questions. It doesn’t include any questions about the preferred size, and almost nothing about the activities you plan to share with your dog.
The selector returns just three recommendations; there is a very basic side-by-side comparison of six attributes of each of the three recommended breeds.
The AKC site has very good pictures and profiles, but the information for is spread over several pages.
Overall Grade: D
With just seven questions and three recommendations, this selector isn’t much help in finding the best dog for you.
With ten questions, and 12-15 recommendations, the Animal Planet breed selector does a credible job of finding the best dog for you, but it is not as nearly as powerful as the leaders, DogSpotters and Dogtime (reviewed below).
The breed descriptions are very good, and they include health problems that affect certain breeds.
Also, the site features great videos and slideshows, with multiple high-quality photos of each breed.
Overall Grade: C+
This venerable selector was originally published on CD-ROM as part of Telemark’s Guide to Dogs, where it sold over 45,000 copies. For over a decade it was a major feature of the IAMs.com website. It has recently been updated and republished on the DogSpotters website.
It has a simple, single page form with 34 questions, including a wide range of activities that you might want to share with your dog. It returns 30 recommendations, ranked by percentage match.
There are excellent profiles of each breed, but there is only one photo of each dog type, and most of the photos are taken in dog show settings. Profiles include links to breed standards, breeders, rescue organizations, and books about each breed.
The site also features a dog breed comparator which allows you to compare up to four dogs side-by-side, showing 42 different attributes for each dog.
The site does not allow you to find dogs by a particular attribute, like DogTime (reviewed below), but is does have a number of special lists, such as breeds that shed the least, dogs that are good with kids, or dogs that don’t bark much.
Bonus features include a “guess the dog breed” game and “guess the puppy breed” game.
Overall Grade: A
This selector has a fun, single page form with 20 questions, including several that relate to the owner’s personality. It returns 15 recommendations.
There are excellent profiles of each breed, but there is only one photo of each dog type. The profiles include links to rescue organizations for each breed.
There is a unique feature that allows you to view dogs by attribute – such as all breeds that are easy to groom, or all breeds that are highly intelligent.
Overall Grade: B
The IAMS breed selector asks fourteen questions. The selector doesn’t allow you to select multiple answers for many of the questions. For example, you must pick a single size of dog… you can’t pick multiple sizes that might be OK. It also doesn’t include any questions about the activities you plan to share with your dog.
The selector returns nine recommendations, with a photo and short profile for each. There’s no way to see a side-by-side comparison of the breed recommendations..
We were unable to find a library of breed profiles, so you can only see information on the breeds that the selector recommends.
On the plus side, the selector is very attractive and fun!
Overall Grade: C
The limited questions and the fact that you can only select a single answer make this a weak tool for researching the best breeds for you.
This selector has 17 questions, spread over several pages. None of the questions allows you to select multiple options: you cannot say you’d like a “medium or large” dog, or a “medium or long” coat. The selector returns 8 recommendations.
The profiles are very short compared to other selectors.
There is a link to find adoptable dogs in your area.
Overall Grade: C
|Number of Questions||6||10||34||20||14||17|
|Help on Questions||N||N||Y||Y||N||N|
|Number of Results Returned||3||12+||30||15||9||8|
|Dog Breeds A-Z||Y||Y||Y||Y||N||N|
|Dog Breeds by AKC Group||Y||Y||Y||N||N||N|
|Breed Profiles||Very Good||Excellent||Excellent||Excellent||OK||Poor|
|Find by Attribute||N||N||Several Lists||Y||N||N|
Our top rating goes to the DogSpotters breed selector, based on its excellent 34-question selector, side-by-side breed comparer, thorough breed profiles, and bonus features on the site.
Our second place pick is the DogTime breed selector, which has a fun, easy to use selector with 20 questions. It also allows you to search breeds by particular attributes, such as short coats or good with other pets.
Honorable mention goes to AnimalPlanet. Although the selector isn’t nearly as powerful as the winners, the video and photos are great!