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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

He's a lover, not a fighter.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Terriers
Height
Weight
Life Span
12 to 14 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

Although he was created in 19th-century Britain to be a small, fast fighting dog, those days are long past. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier dog breed of today is a fine companion known for his courage, intelligence and love of children.

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

    The Staffordshire Bull Terrier can be an imposing dog with its strong, muscular body, intense stare, and powerful stance. Many are interested in the breed because it looks like a tough dog but are surprised to learn that the Stafford is a sensitive and loving companion who enjoys playing more than being tough. He sees life as a joyful adventure and lives it to the fullest.

    Fans love the Staffordshire Bull Terrier for his small to medium size, short, easy-care coat, and dynamic yet gentle personality. With his short, broad head and muscular body, he resembles the other bull breeds such as American Staffordshire Terriers and American Pit Bull Terriers, but he is a breed unto himself with distinct physical characteristics that set him apart, including size and ear shape.

    The Stafford is known for his love of people and trustworthy nature. He has been described as "a sort of everybody's Man Friday," and his greatest desire is to spend time with his people, whether that means vegging out on the sofa and watching football, running errands in the car, going for walks, or participating in activities such as agility, flyball, obedience, and therapy work. Expect to give this athletic and energetic dog a vigorous walk every day, as well as plenty of attention during downtime. He dislikes being left to his own devices. Staffordshire Bull Terriers are not a breed that can be left outside alone or at home for long periods of time without human companionship.

    Nicknamed the nanny dog, the Stafford is prized for his patience with and love of children, although it goes without saying that no dog should ever be left alone with young children or expected to double as a baby-sitter. He is not always so friendly toward dogs he doesn't know however, a remnant of his origin as a fighting breed, which required him to be aggressive toward other dogs yet gentle with human handlers.

    Be aware that some municipalities restrict the ownership of bull breeds. Be sure that yours is not one of them before acquiring a Stafford. For the person who has an understanding of his sensitive nature and can give him patient, firm leadership, the Stafford is one of the finest dog companions around.

  • Highlights

    • The SBT should not be left to live outside. He's a companion dog and thrives in the presence of his family.
    • Because he may be aggressive toward unknown dogs, a Stafford should never be walked off leash.
    • Staffords are highly intelligent, but they are also freethinkers who like to do things their own way. They need firm, patient, consistent training.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers are energetic dogs who need a vigorous walk or play session daily.
    • SBTs enjoy their comforts and will readily join you on the sofa or bed if allowed.
    • Staffords shed little, although they may have a heavy shed once a year. They require weekly brushing to remove dead hair and keep their coat shiny.
    • The Stafford needs early socialization, especially if you want him to be friendly toward other animals.
    • The SBT is not recommended for a timid or first-time owner. This breed needs a confident trainer who is consistent and firm but also loving.
    • Staffords love to chew, especially during puppyhood. Provide them with tough, durable toys.
    • Like all terriers, Staffords are diggers. Reinforce the bottom of fences with concrete or chicken wire so they can't dig beneath them.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers can do well in apartments if they are properly exercised, but ideal living quarters include a fenced yard where they can play.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers do not handle heat very well and need to be monitored on hot days to ensure that they don't overheat.
    • Staffords love children, but despite their nickname of "nanny dog," they should not double as a baby-sitter. Always supervise interactions between children and dogs.
    • If properly socialized and raised with them, Staffordshire Bull Terriers can do well with other dogs and animals. It is important to understand that some Staffordshire Bull Terriers will never do well with other animals and may need to live in single animal homes.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a strong prey drive which will send them after small animals around your neighborhood including cats.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a high pain threshold and can become injured without any outward sign, such as whining.
    • The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a restricted or banned breed in many cities and the number of cities restricting the breed is rising. It is important to research your city's dog by-laws to avoid the unnecessary seizure and destruction of your dog.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers are extremely mouthy as puppies and can be destructive if not closely supervised.
    • Staffordshire Bull Terriers are protective of family members, but they are not too concerned about property. They are more likely to welcome burglars than to guard the silver.
    • Never buy a Stafford from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn't provide health clearances or guarantees. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and who breeds for sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Staffordshire Bull Terrier shares a common ancestor — the Bulldog — with the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier, and the Bull Terrier. It was created in the early nineteenth century to be smaller and faster in the fighting ring, yet gentle and friendly toward people. It was probably developed by crossing the Bulldog with an ancestor of the Manchester Terrier. The cross eventually evolved into the Staffordshire Bull Terrier we see today.

    The first Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club was formed in England in 1835, and a breed standard was written shortly thereafter.

    In the United States, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier generally enjoyed life as a family companion, and it wasn't until 1975 that the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club. The first Stafford registered with the AKC was named Tinkinswood Imperial. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America was founded in 1974.

    Today, the Stafford is ranked 85th among the 157 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC. They are excellent dogs who truly embody the description "man's best friend," and many enthusiasts know that they own one of the best kept secrets of the dog world.

  • Size

    Staffords stand 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder, with males being taller. Male Staffords weigh 28 to 38 pounds; females, 24 to 34 pounds.

  • Personality

    Loving toward people from just a few weeks of age, a proper Stafford is never shy or snarly. He is energetic and enthusiastic in everything he does and remains on alert, even in repose. This breed's temperament is described as tough, courageous, tenacious (read: stubborn), and curious. A people-loving personality makes him a good caretaker of his family, but he's less likely to be protective of property. Because he's so attentive and interested in people, however, he'll always alert you to the presence of visitors, wanted or unwanted.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when he's young, and it should continue throughout his life. Socialization helps ensure that your Stafford puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Staffordshire Bull Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be subject to certain health conditions. Not all SBTs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    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's been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In SBTs, you should expect to see health clearances on both parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hips and elbows, and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation, certifying that the eyes are healthy.

    Because some health problems don't appear until a dog reaches full maturity, health clearances aren't issued to dogs younger than 2 years old. Look for a breeder who doesn't breed her dogs until they're two or three years old. The following problems may occur in the breed:

    • Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD). This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint, eventually causing lameness or arthritis. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
    • Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition that is thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog's elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Depending on the severity of the problem, your vet may recommend surgery, weight management, or medication to control the pain.
    • Patellar Luxation: This common problem occurs when the patella, which has three parts — the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not properly lined up and often slips out of place, causing the dog to skip or hop when it happens. It is thought to be hereditary. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of patellar luxation, ranging from grade I, 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.
    • Hereditary Juvenile Cataracts: The development of opacity or cloudiness in the lens of the eye at an early age. This condition progresses rapidly, and dogs can be blind by 3 years of age. Surgery can sometimes partially restore vision. A DNA test is available to identify dogs that are carriers, affected, or clear of the defective gene.
    • L-2 Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria: Affected dogs lack a particular enzyme to break down the aforementioned compound. It then builds up in cerebrospinal fluid and plasma, causing such signs as lack of coordination, muscle tremors, poor learning ability, and seizures. Signs can be treated, but there is no cure. Dogs with this condition are usually euthanized at an early age. A DNA test is available to identify dogs that are carriers, affected, or clear of the defective gene. Buy only from breeders who use this DNA test to screen their breeding animals.
    • Skin Allergies: Also known as atopic dermatitis, this itchy, scratchy condition is sometimes seen in certain Staffords. It's not unusual for afflicted dogs to suffer hair loss or to develop sore spots on their skin. The problem is often compounded by bacterial infections. Aggressive flea control treatment can help, as can supplementing the diet with omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil.
    • Demodectic Mange: All dogs carry demodex mites. The mites live in hair follicles and usually don't cause any problems, but dogs with weakened or compromised immune systems can develop a condition called demodectic mange. Also called demodicosis, it can be localized or generalized. In the localized form, patches of red, scaly skin with hair loss appears on the head, neck and forelegs. It's thought of as a puppy disease and often clears up on its own. Generalized demodectic mange covers the entire body and affects older puppies and young adult dogs. The dog develops patchy skin, bald spots, and skin infections all over the body. The American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology recommends neutering or spaying all dogs that develop generalized demodectic mange because there is a genetic link. The good news is that the mite can't be passed to humans or other dogs.
  • Care

    The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a companion dog who does well in any type of home as long as he gets daily exercise. He should live indoors, with access to a securely fenced yard. Like all terriers, Staffords are diggers, so it is important to reinforce fences by embedding them in concrete or burying chicken wire at the bottom to prevent escapes. Underground electronic fences are not suitable for this breed. A Stafford will ignore the shock if he sees another dog approaching his territory, and the lack of a solid barrier means that other dogs can enter the yard, which can lead to a serious fight.

    His short face makes the Staffordshire Bull Terrier unsuited to staying outdoors for more than a few minutes in a hot or humid climate, and he should always have access to shade and fresh drinking water. Some Staffords enjoy playing in water and will appreciate having a kiddie pool to lounge in on hot days, but others prefer to avoid the wet stuff. Staffords are not good swimmers, so take steps to protect them from falling into a swimming pool or spa.

    The Stafford's exercise requirements can be satisfied with two or three half-hour to one-hour walks or playtimes daily. Engage his mind with training sessions or fun activities.

    Begin training the day you bring your Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy home. He is intelligent and learns quickly, but he can be impulsive and stubborn. Forget strict and formal obedience training. For best results, be patient, firm, and consistent to develop the strongest bond with your Stafford. Always look for behaviors you can reward instead of punishing him for infractions. Harsh corrections can damage the dog's self-confidence and personality. Regular training practice and social interaction will help ensure that you live together happily. A bored or lonely Stafford is destructive in his attempts to entertain himself.

    A Stafford is not generally a barker, but he is definitely vocal. This breed will entertain you with his snorts, snores, grunts, and groans, as well as his singing voice, often described as a yodel.

    If you are consistent and follow a schedule, housetraining comes easily to the Stafford. Crate training assists in this process and prevents your SBT puppy from chewing on things he shouldn't or otherwise getting into trouble when you aren't around to supervise. A crate also gives him a safe haven where he can retreat when he's feeling overwhelmed or tired. Never use a crate as a place of punishment.

    Leash training is also important, especially since your Stafford will be a strong puller, small size notwithstanding. Good leash manners are essential to the state of your muscles, your own happiness, and your Stafford's safety. Never walk him off leash any place that he might encounter unknown dogs or other animals. He has a strong prey drive and will give chase if not restrained.

    Early, frequent socialization is a must for this breed, especially if you want your SBT to be friendly toward other animals. Puppy socialization classes are a great start, but socialization shouldn't end there. Visit many different dog-friendly stores, parks, and events.

    With proper training, consistency, and socialization, your Stafford will be a wonderful family member who protects and loves you unconditionally.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1 5/8 to 2 1/4 cups of a high-quality dog food daily, divided into two meals. To avoid gastric dilatation volvulus, also known as bloat, withhold food and water for at least an hour after vigorous exercise.

    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.

    Keep your SBT in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Staffordshire Bull Terrier has a short, smooth coat that lies close to the skin. It comes in red, fawn, white, black, or blue, or any of these colors with white, as well as brindle or brindle with white.

    The Stafford's coat sheds annually and hair loss is minimal throughout the year. Dirt brushes out easily, and the coat dries quickly after a bath. Brush him weekly to remove dead or loose hair. Bathe as needed. This breed has little odor, so he usually doesn't require frequent bathing.

    Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Brush your Stafford's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the accompanying bacteria. Daily is better. Trim his nails once or twice a month, or as needed. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short nails keep the feet in good condition and don't get caught in the carpet and tear.

    Check the ears weekly to make sure there's no debris, redness, or inflammation. Clean the ears as needed with a cotton ball and a cleanser recommended by your dog's breeder or your veterinarian. Wipe around the outer edge of the ear canal, and don't stick the cotton ball any deeper than the first knuckle of your finger.

    Begin accustomizing your Staffordshire Bull Terrier to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet--and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

  • Children and other pets

    The Stafford is suitable for families with children, but despite his much vaunted patience and gentleness, he should always be supervised in the presence of toddlers or young children. He can be rambunctious and may accidentally knock small children down.

    Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any mouthing, biting, or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating and not to try to take the dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Some Staffords get along well with other dogs and cats when they're raised with them. As adults, they may require more of an adjustment period before they welcome the company of another dog. To ensure the best relationship, choose a dog of the opposite sex. Make introductions in a neutral area away from your home.

  • Rescue Groups


    Staffords are sometimes 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. Other SBTs end up in rescue because their owners have divorced or died. If you're interested in adopting an adult Stafford who's already gone through the destructive puppy stage and may already be trained, a rescue group is a good place to start.

  • 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

  • Sometimes

    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.

  • Rarely

    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.

  • Moderate

    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.

  • Extremely

    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.

  • Not usually

    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.

  • High

    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.

  • Almost always

    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.

  • Almost never

    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.

  • Extremely

    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.

  • Very High

    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.

  • Very 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.

  • High

    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

    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.

  • Medium

    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.

  • Low

    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?

  • 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.

  • Not so well

    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.

  • Very 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.

  • Very high

    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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