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English Toy Spaniel

This distinctive dog has a noble character and history.

English Toy Spaniel Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Companion Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
10 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

Nicknamed "Charlies" after the king who loved them, English Toy Spaniels are quieter and more reclusive than their Cavalier cousins, but they can have a mischievous spark. They tend to prefer a single person and are not a "hail fellow, well met" type of dog breed.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    When you think of the English Toy Spaniel, or King Charles Spaniel as he is known in Britain, the words sweet, gentle, and lovable typically come to mind. He has been loved by kings and held in high regard by many.

    Charlies are compact, square-bodied dogs with a short face, domed head, large dark eyes, long fringed ears, and a flowing silky coat. Their docked tail is two to four inches long and is adorned with silky feathering. He wears a straight or slightly wavy coat with feathering on the legs and feet.

    The English Toy Spaniel is a quiet, unassuming breed that was developed as a companion dog. He requires little exercise and has a laidback personality. The ET's idea of a great day is to spend it sitting near his favorite person, quietly showering her with love. Charlies make excellent companions for seniors or anyone who doesn't have the strength or mobility to handle other dogs. That devotion to people can be a negative trait, however, because he can suffer from separation anxiety.

    English Toy Spaniels do well in apartments and can adapt to any lifestyle except being left alone for long periods of time or left to live outside or in kennels. They generally get along well with other dogs but can be shy and timid in the presence of strangers. English Toy Spaniels are very gentle with children but are not recommended for homes with young children since the accompanying noise and excitement may overwhelm them.

    For fun, he likes to chase birds and butterflies. Keep him on leash outdoors so he doesn't chase them right in front of a car.

    Training can be easy with this breed as long as you understand his nature. He's independent and will occasionally disregard commands when they are first given. Generally, however, he's happy to please and enjoys the companionship training provides. English Toy Spaniels may bark to alert you to someone's approach and they might bite someone who scares them or whom they don't like, but that's about the extent of their watchdog ability.

    An English Toy Spaniel should be monitored in hot weather because his short muzzle makes him susceptible to heat exhaustion. He should live in a home with adequate ventilation and air conditioning, and his time outdoors should be limited during hot and humid weather.

    If you are looking for a dignified dog who is calm, affectionate, and gentle, one who will enjoy spending all his time with you, one who is happy and devoted, then the English Toy Spaniel is the perfect breed for you.

  • Highlights

    • Socialization is important with this breed because they can be timid when they are exposed to new people or situations.
    • Considered to be an average shedder, the English Toy Spaniel should be brushed every week to remove loose hair and to keep the coat from tangling.
    • For the dog's own safety, the English Toy Spaniel should be kept on leash whenever they are walked and they should also have a fully fenced yard.
    • English Toy Spaniels do well in apartments.
    • English Toy Spaniels do not handle heat very well and need to be monitored on hot days to ensure that they do not overexert themselves. It is recommended that the dogs reside in an air-conditioned dwelling.
    • English Toy Spaniels have low energy levels and low exercise requirements. They are happy spending their days sitting on your knee, and a leisurely walk around the neighborhood will meet their exercise needs. They make excellent companions for older owners.
    • English Toy Spaniels are loving dogs that usually do well with children, but they are not the ideal breed for a home with busy children since they can become overwhelmed by the noise and excitement children make.
    • English Toy Spaniels are companion dogs and thrive when they are with the people they love. They should not live outside or in a kennel away from their family.
    • Separation anxiety is a common problem in the English Toy Spaniel and they can become destructive when they are separated from their owners for a period of time.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store.
  • History

    Toy spaniels have existed for centuries and were favorites in royal courts. Mary, Queen of Scots, her grandson Charles I, and great-grandson Charles II were all avid fans of the small spaniels. In fact, their nickname, Charlie, comes from the two kings of that name. They are devoted unto death. Both Mary, Queen of Scots and Charles I were accompanied to their executions by their little spaniels.

    The toy spaniels of centuries past were slightly different from what we know today. They had a pointed muzzle, but crosses to such breeds as the Japanese Chin and Pug in the 18th and 19th centuries eventually resulted in dogs with the short muzzle and round apple head that are found in the breed today.

    By the end of the 19th century, the old-style toy spaniel with the more pointed muzzle had passed into history, but an American art lover named Roswell Eldridge offered a large monetary prize to the breeder who could reproduce them. King Charles Spaniel breeders took some of their long-nosed throwbacks and created what is now known as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a slightly larger cousin of the ET.

    You can see the differences between them if you look carefully. Charlies have a more pushed-in face, a domed head, and ears that are set below the top of the head. Cavaliers have a longer nose, a flat head, and ears that hang from higher on the head. Charlies have a docked tail, while Cavaliers have a long plumelike tail. They come in the same four colors, although the ET's colors have the more the romantic designations of Prince Charles for the tricolor and King Charles for the black and tan.

    The Cavalier was given that name to differentiate him from the King Charles Spaniel, but American breeders went a step further and began calling the Charlies English Toy Spaniels. They're still known as King Charles Spaniels in their homeland of Britain.

  • Size

    The English Toy Spaniel is approximately 10 to 11 inches tall and weighs 8 to 14 pounds.

  • Personality

    The sweet and lovable English Toy Spaniel is a true companion dog. He has an aristocratic bearing, but he's not a snob at all; picture instead a happy, devoted, quiet dog. He enjoys spending time with the people he loves and will fit himself into their lives. The ET requires little exercise and is happiest perched on his owner's knee. He does well with other dogs and cats if socialized to them and is gentle and loving to children although he's not best suited to living with them. He can become overwhelmed by excitement and can be shy and timid when he meets new people or is exposed to new situations.

  • Health

    Not all English Toy Spaniels will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    • Patellar Luxation: Also known as "slipped stifles," this is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts — the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not properly lined up. This causes a lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait in the dog. It is a disease that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of Patellar Luxation ranging from grade I, which is an occasional luxation causing temporary lameness in the joint, to grade IV, in which the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives the dog a bowlegged appearance. Severe grades of patellar luxation may require surgical repair.
    • Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA): Patent Ductus Arteriosis, or PDA, is a common congenital heart disease that is found in many different breeds. It occurs when the ductus arteriosis, a large vessel or shunt that causes an unborn puppy's blood to pass through the heart and bypass the lungs, fails to close after birth. When that happens, fluid accumulates in the lungs, resulting in labored breathing, fainting, dizzy spells, coughing, heart murmurs, collapse, and heart failure. Patent ductus arteriosis is repaired with surgery.
    • Mitral Valve Insufficiency: Mitral Valve Insufficiency, also known as mitral valve disease or chronic valve disease, is most commonly seen in older dogs and occurs when the mitral valve, which is found between the left atrium and ventricle, begins to fail. When this happens, the mitral valve fails to prevent the flow of blood back into the left atrium. This can cause many devastating side effects, including heart failure. Signs of this disease are a heart murmur, fluid in the lungs, an enlarged heart, lack of energy, and a decrease of strength to the heart muscle. It can be treated for a time with medication, diet, and a restriction of exercise. It helps to keep your Charlie at a healthy weight and his teeth clean and healthy.
    • Cleft Palate: The palate is the roof of the mouth and separates the nasal and oral cavities. It is made up of two parts, hard and soft. A cleft palate has a slit that runs bilaterally or unilaterally and can range in size from a small hole to a large slit. A cleft palate can affect both the hard and soft palate separately and together and may cause a cleft lip. Puppies can be born with cleft palates, or a cleft palate can occur from an injury. Cleft palates are fairly common in dogs, but many puppies born with a cleft palate do not survive or are euthanized by the breeder. The only treatment for a cleft palate is surgery to close the hole, although not all dogs with a cleft palate require the surgery. It is important to get a diagnosis and treatment recommendation from your veterinarian.
    • Cryptorchidism: Cryptorchidism is when one or both testicles on the dog fail to descend and is common in small dogs. Testicles should descend fully by the time the puppy is 2 months old. If the testicle is retained, it is usually nonfunctional and can become cancerous if it is not medically treated. The treatment that is suggested is to neuter your dog. When the neutering takes place, a small incision will be made to remove the undescended testicle(s); the normal testicle, if any, is removed in the regular manner.
    • Seborrhea: Seborrhea is a skin disorder that is categorized as two types: seborrhea oleosa (oily skin) and seborrhea sicca (dry skin). The signs of both are dry, flaky skin, a terrible "doggy smell," and itching, and it is usually accompanied by other ear and skin infections. The causes of seborrhea can be metabolic disorders, allergies, internal and external parasites, and autoimmune diseases. Before treatment can begin, the underlying cause must be determined. Once it is, seborrhea can be treated quite easily with a change in diet, high quality shampoos and conditioners, and occasionally with medication.
    • Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal Dysplasia is most commonly a congenital hereditary disease, meaning the dog is born with it and it was passed to him by his parents, but it can also result from trauma or prenatal herpesvirus or parvovirus infections. It can be mild or severe and is caused by an abnormal development of the retina, resulting in retinal folds. This can lead to a variety of vision problems for the dog ranging from a small blind spot to total blindness. Retinal dysplasia can be detected as early as six to eight weeks of age. There is no known treatment for retinal dysplasia, but many blind dogs live full lives, and their other senses compensate for the vision impairment.
    • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: Legg-Calve-Perthes disease affects the hip joint and results in a deformity of the hip joint ball. It starts with a decrease in the blood supply to the head of the femur bone until the bone eventually dies off and collapses and becomes deformed. The result of this deformation is arthritis or inflammation of the hip joint. It is unclear what causes Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Dogs with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease may chew at the hip, move stiffly or painfully, develop progressive lameness, or seem irritable. Treatment is usually strict crate rest, physical therapy, and surgically removing the deformed femoral head and neck. Prognosis is generally very good after the surgery and many dogs suffer only minor lameness, particularly during weather changes.
    • Hydrocephalus: When the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain accumulates either because of a congenital defect, obstruction, or the result of perinatal trauma, it places pressure on the brain. This usually occurs in young dogs under the age of 18 months and older dogs that are over 6 years of age. If hydrocephalus is left untreated the dog will die. The obstruction can be removed surgically or through insertion of a shunt.
    • Umbilical Hernia: Umbilical hernia is a condition that is present at birth in which abdominal fat or internal organs protrude against the abdominal wall near the umbilicus. If the hernia is small, it can be left without treatment. Some small hernias close spontaneously by the time the puppy is 6 months old, and some dogs have lived with small hernias their entire lives without difficulty. Large hernias require surgery, which is often done when the dog is being spayed or neutered. Surgery is used to prevent a more serious condition where an intestine loop drops into the hernia causing life threatening "strangulation" of the intestine.
    • Open Fontanel: English Toy Spaniels are born with a soft spot on the top of their head. Usually the soft spot closes, much like a baby's will, but sometimes one will not close fully. Of course, a dog should never be struck, but it's important to understand that even an accidental blow to that spot on the head could kill an English Toy Spaniel with an open fontanel.
    • Fused Toes: Fused toes are a common trait in the English Toy Spaniel and should not be confused with any form of disease or disorders.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In English Toy Spaniels, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

  • Care

    The English Toy Spaniel does not require extensive amounts of daily exercise. They generally exercise themselves at home and require only small walks around the neighborhood or a small game in the back yard. They are not ideal walking companions because they can suffer from joint problems, and long walks can aggravate any problems they may have.

    Training can be easy with this breed as long as you understand his nature. He is independent and may disregard commands when they are first given. Generally, they are happy to please and enjoy the companionship training provides. Leash training can be particularly difficult since they prefer being off leash, but it is important to keep your English Toy Spaniel on lead whenever he's not in a fenced area since he can be easily injured by other dogs. Housetraining an English Toy Spaniel can be an easy task as well, and many have been successfully trained to potty on paper when nightly walks or a yard are not available.

    Socialization is important with this breed since they can be very timid when they are exposed to new people or situations.

    Occasionally an English Toy Spaniel will stop eating and usually it will be his teeth that are bothering him. Keeping the teeth clean with regular brushing and veterinary cleanings will help prevent any problems.

    English Toy Spaniels do very well in apartments because of their low energy levels. They are companion dogs and should never be left outside or in a kennel. An English Toy Spaniel should be monitored in hot weather since their short muzzles makes them susceptible to heat exhaustion. It is recommended that they live in homes that have adequate ventilation and air conditioning and their outdoor time should be limited when it is hot and humid.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 0.5 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    For more on feeding your English Toy Spaniel, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog

    .

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The English Toy Spaniel has an abundant coat that is long and straight to slightly wavy with a silky texture. Feathering should appear on all four legs and feet. Fringing should appear on the body, chest and ears.

    The coat comes in four color patterns: Ruby, a rich mahogany red, with or without a small white patch on the chest; Blenheim, a white base coat with large chestnut or red markings; Prince Charles, a tri-color consisting of a white basecoat with large black patches and tan markings over the eyes, under the tail and on the underside of the ears; and King Charles, a rich black with mahogany tan markings.

    The English Toy Spaniel requires little in the way of grooming. Give him a bath once or twice a month, using a high-quality shampoo to keep his coat silky. Comb him once a week to remove any dead hair or tangles, and wash his face daily to remove any "sleepies" from the eyes or food left on his face after a meal. English Toy Spaniels are considered to be average shedders.

    Clean ears regularly with a damp warm cloth and run a cotton swab around the edge of the canal. Never stick the cotton swab into the actual ear canal. You should also check ears, eyes and teeth for any discharge or bad smells. Both are signs that your Charlie may need to see the veterinarian.

  • Children and other pets

    English Toy Spaniels can be loving toward children, but they can become overwhelmed by the noise and stimulation young children create. This can lead to biting if they are handled roughly. English Toy Spaniels do very well with other pets, especially if they are raised with them.

  • Rescue Groups

    English Toy Spaniels are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. If you're interested in adopting an English Toy Spaniel, a rescue group is a good place to start.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the English Toy Spaniels.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Usually

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Extremely

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Moderate

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Very

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Very low

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Moderate

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • Low

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Not usually

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Fairly good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Usually

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • Medium

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • Moderate

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Rarely

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • Medium

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • High

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Moderate

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • High

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • Moderate

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Miniature

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Very poorly

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Poorly

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Poorly

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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