You will often hear the adage “Breed doesn’t matter- it’s how the dog is raised that makes a difference.” I firmly believe this statement in the sense that being a certain breed doesn’t automatically make a dog aggressive or vicious: it all depends on how they are socialized from a young age (along with genetic factors inherited from the parents; but you get the idea). Pit bulls and Rottweilers can easily be amazing, loving dogs, just as Golden Retrievers can still bite and act aggressively.
However, when looking to get a purebred dog, you still need to do your research because this statement only applies to temperament and not to other breed characteristics such as activity level and working instinct.
When beginning your research, start with what the breed was originally bred to do. The American Kennel Club recognizes different classifications of dog breeds. These groupings separate the breeds into various categories such as herding breeds, hounds, and toy breeds, depending on what each particular breed is bred for. These groupings will be able to tell you about the activity level of a certain breed. For example, herding dogs, bred to be energetic and quick thinkers, require excessive physical exercise and mental stimulation. So, if you’re not ready to go for runs or long walks in every type of weather and be outwitted by your dog, don’t get a Border Collie. Further research into the specific breed will also tell you about the energy level and exercise requirements of each individual dog breed.
Additionally, something to keep in mind is the grooming requirements of particular breeds. For instance, the Silky Terrier requires weekly upkeep, while short-haired breeds might only require occasional brushing. Grooming a dog is not only labor-intensive for the owner, but also can get very expensive since in most cases it is necessary to go to a professional dog groomer. If you are a person that prefers fur with minimal upkeep and maintenance, perhaps look for a short-haired breed.
Another extremely important factor is prey drive: some breeds, no matter how amazing they are with people, have a primitive instinct to chase small “animals”. (This word is in quotes because to some dogs, children are animals- they are small and close to the ground, and they may move quickly and unpredictably. A perfect recipe for chasing.) So, if you have small children or other animals (like cats) in your house, be careful and research the prey drive of the breed you are interested in.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone, only to give a word of warning. I have spoken to way too many people with, for instance, herding dogs, complaining that their dog tries to herd their kids and nips at their heels. So just like anything else, do your research and be thoughtful before adding a dog to your home. After all, they are living, breathing creatures- not commercial products. They have distinct instincts and personalities. If you are careful and match these characteristics to your own lifestyle, you will have a friend for life.