You want a dog…right, I get that, but why do you want a dog? For me, this questions is of the utmost importance when deciding on what type of breed/dog to bring into your home. If you want a dog to hang out on your lap while you read a book you are probably not going to be too happy if you end up with a 200+ lb giant dog. If you are looking for an exercise partner, ending up with a Pug is probably not going to work out so well.
I think everyone, even the most seasoned dog-sport competitors, still want to have dogs as companions but so many people want something more (or something specific). Think about your lifestyle for a moment–do you go hiking on weekends? Is that something you’d like to be able to do with your dog? Do you love to spend hours reading on a couch at night–would you like a dog who could relax with you like that? Are you someone who loves to travel–do you imagine traveling with your dog? Are you an active volunteer–would you like your dog to end up as a Therapy Dog doing visits in your community? Were you an athlete growing up and looking to get into another competitive sport? Would you like to get into a sport with your dog (since there are now so many sports available to dogs). Or are you really just looking for a loving household companion?
How big a part of your life do you want a dog to be? Be honest with yourself. Is your dog going to be a driving force in your active life? Or will they simply be a lovable part of your daily life? Or something in between? Bandit, my mom’s Shih Tzu is a dog who is a part of our daily lives but is not a driving force in my mom’s life. He is a deeply loved member of the family but he is content snuggling on the couch, getting regular walks, and maybe a special outing occasionally. He is exactly what my mom wanted–she didn’t need another job…just a loving companion to come home to. My mom’s life isn’t about Bandit but it’s certainly improved by having such a great companion.
Thinking about the role or purpose you’d like the dog to fulfill is a big piece of finding a good match. Knowing that you want to have a dog who shares your enjoyment of exercising narrows down the best breed choices for your family. Just have to remember to be honest.