Dogs can be amazing companions and a very important part of your family, but it's important when choosing one that you get the right kind of dog for your lifestyle, especially if you are an apartment dweller. About.com helps you pick the perfect four-legged friend.
If you live in an apartment, your first instinct may be to get a little toy-sized dog. But these tiny terriers have their downsides. Accidentally stepping on a small dog or a kid mishandling it can cause the dog to get seriously hurt. They also are more sensitive to cold, so you'll need to be sure to keep them warm. And don't think you can skip obedience training just because your dog is small. They need to be trained to act properly as well. On the other hand, large dogs can take up a lot of room and cost more for food, dog supplies and vet care. Training for a big breed is super important too, for obvious reasons. You can't just pick them up and stop their behavior!
What kind of activity level would be best for you and your family in your dog? If you run daily, a Border Collie or other dog that needs a lot of exercise would be a good bet. But if you know that all you can do is walk your dog around the block once or twice a day, consider a smaller or lower energy dog such as a Bassett Hound. Also, be ready to give your dog more exercise and attention if they start acting out.
Think about what type of grooming your dog will need. Longer haired breeds need to be regularly cut or shaved, and dogs with short hair tend to shed a lot. Some dogs are droolers, or have long floppy ears that can get frequent ear infections, so do your research first. Also think about how old of a dog you want. Puppies need a lot of care and housebreaking training, adult dogs may be housebroken, but will still need some training, and senior dogs need a lot of medical care but can also give a lot of love.
Made your decision? Get out there and visit the local animal shelter to find a friend for life! If you absolutely must get a purebred dog, visit a responsible breeder. Under no circumstances should you purchase a dog from a pet store. These dogs often come from "puppy mills", where they are treated horribly and raised in terrible conditions and often have a lot of health problems.