Robert is a life-long dog-lover and the co-creator of Telemark's Guide to Dogs, an interactive CD-ROM filled with dog information & photos.
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. Please remember that dog breeds may predispose a dog to certain characteristics and behaviors, but individual dogs will vary, just as people do. You can also overcome problem behaviors in some breeds with training.
To help find the best breed for your lifestyle and preferences, you can talk with dog experts, attend dog shows, and research different breeds online or in books. It's a lot of work, but it can also be fun learning about all sorts of dogs.
On the other hand, there are programs called 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 three to ten recommendations; there is a very basic side-by-side comparison of six attributes of each of the recommended breeds. All of the recommendations are AKC-recognized breeds.
The site has very good pictures and profiles, and lots of information on each dog, but it's very little help in finding the right dog breed for you.
With just seven questions and three recommendations, this selector isn’t much help in finding the best dog for you.
It seems surprising that the AKC has one of the poorest breed selectors of all of those we reviewed. Remember that the AKC is an umbrella organization representing over 200 "breed clubs" for individual dog breeds. Apparently, efforts to make the selector more complete and specific ran into objections from many of the breed clubs.
Overall Grade: D
Dog Breed Info
The breed selector has twelve questions. It's not possible to provide multiple answers for any of the questions.
Read More From Pethelpful
The site returns results as a simple text list which may include 4 or more dogs. It's not clear if they are ranked in any particular order. The breed names link to minimal breed profiles.
Most breed selectors return the best matches based on your preferences. The Dog Breed Info selector seems to operate by a process of elimination. Depending on your choices, there may be no matches at all.
While we care about functionality more than design, we also noted that this site looks very primitive and frankly ugly!
Overall Grade: F
This selector has a fun, single-page form with twenty questions, including several that relate to the owner’s personality. It returns fifteen recommendations: five top recommendations, and ten breeds.
The site seems to feature a mix of AKC breeds, UKC breeds, and designer dogs.
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.
Overall Grade: B
It has a simple, single-page dog breed selector form with 34 questions, including a wide range of activities that you might want to share with your dog. It returns 30 recommendations and displays a percentage match for each breed.
There are excellent profiles of all of the recommended breeds. 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.
In addition to AKC-recognized breeds, the selector returns selected dogs from the United Kennel Club (UKC), and designer dogs from the Premier Kennel Club (PKC).
The site includes a number of "top breed" 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
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 four 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!
The limited questions and the fact that only four breeds are returned make this a weak tool for researching the best breeds for you.
Overall Grade: C
The Orvis breed selector asks thirteen questions, with some relating to activities you'd like to share with your dog. It returns fifteen results, with links to detailed breed profiles.
Inexplicably, a few of the questions—such as the size of dog—force you to pick a single response.
Overall Grade: B-
This selector has seventeen 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.
Overall Grade: C
The Purina dog breed selector has ten questions.
All of the other breed selectors we reviewed show the best match based on your preferences. However, the Purina selector eliminates dogs that don't match. Since it's very rare to find a perfect match, that means you may not get any results at all!
(The only other site that uses a process of elimination is the very primitive Dog Breed Info selector.)
When the selector does find a match, it displays one to three dogs. The profiles are not very detailed; their chief purpose seems to be displaying ads for Purina products.
Overall Grade: F
The Rover dog breed selector has eleven questions. None of the questions allow multiple answers.
The selector displays three results, with very minimal profiles.
Overall Grade: C-
Select a Dog Breed
Select a Dog Breed starts with a very unique interface... it asks you to select up to three categories from a list of eight. Categories include things like "Small & Cute", "Active & Energetic" and "Smart & Trainable."
After you've selected your categories, there are eighteen questions.
The selector displays six results, ranked by the quality of the match; there are links to detailed profiles. There is an option to have results emailed to you. Within a few minutes, you'll get an attractive PDF file with ten results, short descriptions, and links to the full descriptions on the website.
While the interface is interesting, we didn't find the category selection very useful.
Overall Grade: C
Dog Breed Selectors Compared
Dog Breed Info
Select a Dog Breed
Categories + 18
6 (10 via email)
Finding the right breed can be a great start to a long and happy relationship with your new companion, but researching hundreds of available breeds is too much for most people. Dog breed selectors are programs written to help you find breeds that match your needs.
In general, the most useful programs take into account as many factors as possible and return lots of results ranked by how well they match your preferences.
Our top-rated program is the Georgia Puppies 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 is a fun, easy-to-use program with 20 questions.
© 2022 Robert Nicholson