How City Dwellers and Dogs Can Find the Perfect Fit

Introducing the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets. This series, brought to you by GOOD in partnership with Purina ONE®, explores how pet...

Introducing the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets. This five part series, brought to you by GOOD in partnership with Purina ONE®, explores how pet owners can keep city pets happy, healthy, and balanced, so that pets enjoy being part of their community as much as their owners do. Check out more stories at GOOD Pets.

Often, people interested in pets choose animals that appeal to them aesthetically before thoroughly researching whether its needs would be good matches with their personalities, families, or even other pets in the home. If you’re considering bringing a dog into your life, stop and ask yourself about your own lifestyle first. Here are a few questions potential pet owners should consider as they learn how to be the best caretakers possible.

What kind of dog do you see yourself with?

Overall, spending time with a potential pet in your own space before you commit can help you figure out what works best. Could you tolerate a dog that acts needy or aloof? How about an incessant barker, shedder, or drooler? Zoe Quinn-Phillips, founder of, a service that matches potential pet owners to rescue groups and breeders, says, “If you’re committed to rescue and you’ve never owned a dog, fostering can give you a good taste of pet ownership, but it can involve a lot of dog training. On the other hand, if you succeed at fostering, you can learn a lot more about who you are. Sometimes being around the ‘wrong’ dog for you can tell you more about yourself than being around the ‘right’ dog.”

What do you like to do in your free time and can it involve a dog?

Part of the fun of being a pet owner is spending time together. “Your presence can’t be substituted. If you’re gone, your pet notices,” says Aditya Goradia, founder of, a company that matches pet owners to dog walkers in Los Angeles, California. So how can you and your pet spend valuable time together?

Yes, choose a dog that you think is adorable, but make sure that it’s a dog that’s compatible with your lifestyle as well. For example, Retrievers work well for those that have regimented schedules because they thrive on repetitive activities, while a creative breed like an Alaskan Malamute likes variation and can get frustrated with routine habits. If you work from home, smaller companion dogs like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or Havaneses may be great companions because they like to be held often.

What’s your budget?

A part of being a responsible owner is making sure you can afford to take care of your pet. Typical costs can include grooming needs, regular visits to the veterinarian, dog walking, and food, not to mention all those cute toys. Dogs that have longer coats or shed a lot may need to go to the groomer more often. And, if you adopt a dog with health risks, consider possible vet bills or specialized food.

Which pet has the right size and personality for your home?

Size isn’t everything. If you live in an apartment, you may think having a smaller dog would be better than owning a large one, but it’s not the size of the dog that matters—it’s the personality. And while every dog has his own unique personality, knowing the type of breed offers clues about his natural instincts and the environments he might thrive in. For example:

· Many people think that a smaller dog like a Yorkshire Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, or medium-sized Australian Shepherd would be fine living in an apartment or condo, but those breeds are vocal, have a lot of energy, and need a lot of space in which to move around and chase things.

· Malteses, Chihuahuas, Pugs, or Poodles do well in smaller and enclosed spaces, but they were bred to be companion animals, so it’s important that you have the time to give them proper attention.

· If you want a large dog to make you feel safer during nighttime walks, gentler guard dogs like Alaskan Malamutes may be be preferable in apartments over breeds like Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers, which are known to bark more often.

· Although Shiba Inus are larger dogs, they are independent, so they can do well in a variety of spaces if you happen to be gone for long periods of time throughout the day.

· Greyhounds, although large, are calm and relaxed and aren’t destructive in homes when not stimulated or entertained.

How do you see your future?

Many pets can live for up to 15 years or more, so potential pet owners should think about how pets will fit into their futures. Consider where you’ll be in five, ten, or even fifteen years. Are you planning to have kids? Do you want to get other pets? Make sure your dog is compatible with potential lifestyle choices, so you can be flexible for changes in the future.

Find the perfect pet for you. Use ASPCA's Meet Your Match Program. Click here to say you'll DO it.

This is part one of five in the GOOD Guide to Smart Living with City Pets.

Illustration by Zoe Zoe Sheen

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