What They’re Like: French bulldogs are clowns disguised as lapdogs that enjoy playing with their humans. These dogs are often loyal, easygoing, sociable, and low-maintenance -- making them great apartment dogs. But they do get along better with adults than children. And they might bark like crazy when a stranger comes to the door. Because French bulldogs are indoor dogs, they usually don’t need much exercise; short walks will do the trick. Some French bulldogs are easy to train; others resist. Making training seem like a game helps.
Appearance: French bulldogs are small, muscular dogs with short faces, dark eyes, and trademark “bat” ears. Their short, smooth coats come in combinations of fawn (light tan), brindle (fawn with soft stripes), and white. They top out at about 28 pounds.
Grooming: French bulldogs do shed, but their smooth coats don’t require much grooming. You’ll need to clean your dog’s facial wrinkles regularly.
Keep in Mind: French bulldogs sometimes snore. They can be stubborn. And they’re sensitive to extreme temperatures, which means you might need to turn on the air-conditioning in hot weather. Check with a vet about the potential for heatstroke, as well as eye and breathing problems.
What They’re Like: So you’re thinking about getting a dachshund, or wiener dog. They tend to be clever, curious, energetic canines that make playful companions and great pets -- unless you have really young kids. Although loyal to their family, dachshunds have been known to bark relentlessly at strangers, which makes them effective watchdogs. They love the outdoors, so a decent-size yard is a plus, but with long, regular walks, dachshunds can happily live just about anywhere, including apartments. Training a dachshund is not an easy task because they’re very strong-willed. You’ll need to be patient, consistent, and constantly vigilant during potty training.
Appearance: Bred to hunt badgers, dachshunds have long, low, muscular bodies; short legs; and alert facial expressions. They can be standard size (16-32 pounds) or miniature size (11 pounds and under). Choose from three varieties of coat -- smooth, wirehaired, and long-haired -- in a variety of colors and patterns.
Grooming: It depends on the coat type. More grooming is needed for dachshunds with wirehaired or long-haired coats.
Keep in Mind: Dachshunds can get bored if they’re left along too long -- which might lead to destructive chewing. These dogs’ long spines and short rib cages can cause back problems, which means you need to support a dachshund's full frame when holding it. Ask your vet about other health concerns.
English Bulldog (aka Bulldog)
What They're Like: Although they look awfully fierce, today's bulldogs make gentle, lovable, protective pets. In fact, these loyal canines get along with almost everyone, including young kids, other dogs, and even cats. Bulldogs don't need a lot of exercise, which makes them perfect for apartment dwellers and couch potatoes. They're easy to train, but some bulldogs might need a firm hand to keep them in line.
Appearance: Bulldogs look like they're ready to rumble with their heavy bodies, wide shoulders, and sturdy legs. But what they're really known for are the adorable wrinkles on their massive, short-face heads. Their short coats come in a variety of colors. Full-grown bulldogs weigh from 40 to 50 pounds.
Grooming: Bulldogs shed occasionally, but at least their coat is short. Brushing helps.
Keep in Mind: Bulldogs tend to snort, drool, and pass gas. Those cute wrinkles need to be cleaned. And these short-nosed dogs don't do well with heat. Check with a vet about the potential for a variety of health concerns that include problems with hips, knees, eyesight, and breathing.
Labrador Retriever (aka Lab)
What They're Like: Labrador retrievers are usually gentle, even-tempered, and eager to please. All of these characteristics, plus their patience with children, can make this breed an ideal pet. Labrador retrievers might make good watchdogs because they're typically alert and love to bark when someone approaches the house. These dogs do best with a lot of outdoor exercise (they love to play fetch) and a fenced-in yard, if possible. Labrador retrievers are usually easy to train. When housebreaking, begin early and stick to the schedule. Always provide lots of praise.
Appearance: Bred to be hunters, Labrador retrievers are medium-size muscular dogs with downy, weather-resistant undercoats and short, dense outercoats in black, yellow, or chocolate. Their average size is 55-75 pounds.
Grooming: These dogs shed seasonally. Regular brushing will help.
Keep in Mind: Labrador retrievers can get bored if left alone too long, which can lead to destructiveness from all that unspent energy. So make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Check with a vet about the potential for hip and elbow problems, ear infections, eye disorders, and other health concerns.
Siberian Husky (aka Husky)
What They’re Like: They might look like wild wolves, but huskies are typically laid-back, outgoing dogs that enjoy being part of a family with kids. Sadly, their love of family doesn’t stop these dogs from wanting to roam. So make sure the gate stays locked and you always walk your dog on a leash. Huskies can be happy anywhere, but they need a lot of exercise. Plan on lots of long walks or visits to the dog park, especially if you live in an apartment. Expect your husky to be willful but trainable as long as you use a firm, friendly hand. Housebreaking might be difficult.
Appearance: Bred as a sled dog, the muscular Siberian husky comes with a cashmerelike undercoat and a coarse top coat in a variety of colors. These dogs have keen, sometimes mischievous expressions with brown or blue eyes. A fully grown husky weighs 45-60 pounds.
Grooming: Huskies’ thick coats need weekly brushing -- maybe even daily during the one or two times a year when they shed the most.
Keep in Mind: Huskies like to howl. They get restless without enough exercise and destructive if left alone for too long. These dogs have strong predatory instincts, so even though people and other dogs are probably safe, small animals (such as squirrels, birds, hamsters, and cats) are not. And huskies are not built for warm weather, so make sure your air conditioner is ready to go. Check with your vet about hip and eye problems, as well as other health concerns.
What They're Like: The ultimate family dog breed, golden retrievers usually make great pets because they're typically smart, friendly, even-tempered, and eager to please. They're known for getting along well with children and other dogs. They're alert and protective enough to be good watchdogs but can be a little timid unless socialized early. Golden retrievers usually need lots of exercise. They're typically quick learners and easy to train, including housebreaking, but their minds can wander, so make sure each command is obeyed.
Appearance: Golden retrievers have brown eyes, outgoing smiles, and beautiful water-repellent coats in shades of gold. They have a ruff around the neck and feathering at the legs, chest, belly, and tail. Golden retrievers usually weigh from 55 to 75 pounds.
Grooming: Double-coated golden retrievers shed all year long. Regular brushing (and vacuuming) will help. You'll also need to trim the hair between your dog's foot pads monthly.
Keep in Mind: Golden retrievers can be hyperactive, so keep them running. They've been known to slobber. Check with a vet about the potential for skin allergies, hip and eye problems, and other health concerns.
What They're Like: If you're looking for a devoted, protective family pet, this might be the right breed for you. German shepherds tend to be loyal, affectionate, and good with children. And they often make great watchdogs because they're alert, self-confident, and fiercely protective. German shepherds need regular exercise and challenging activities or they might get into mischief. These animals are usually easy to train. But each family member must be prepared to earn the dog's respect -- sometimes again and again.
What do they look like? German shepherds are large, muscular dogs with a commanding appearance; dark eyes; and straight, full outercoats that are most often black and tan. Adult dogs usually weigh from 60 to 85 pounds.
Grooming: German shepherds shed constantly, so plan on daily brushing.
Keep in Mind: You might need to socialize your dog intensively as a puppy to keep it from being overly suspicious of strangers. Check with a vet about the potential for cataracts, hip and elbow problems, and other health concerns.
What They're Like: Want an amazingly adaptable dog whose tail never stops wagging? Then you want a cocker spaniel. These dogs typically make great family pets because they're generally lively, friendly, smart, and easy to train. And they're happy wherever you are -- apartment, house, or estate -- as long as they get enough exercise and a lot of attention. These dogs might be difficult to housebreak.
Appearance: Cocker spaniels are known for their silky, wavy coats and long, feathered ears. These sturdy, compact dogs come in variations of black, tan, light cream, and dark red. An adult cocker spaniel typically weighs from 20 to 35 pounds.
Grooming: A cocker spaniel's hair grows like mad, so its beautiful coat will need daily brushing and regular trims to stay free of mats. You'll also need to clean your cocker spaniel's ears weekly to prevent infections.
Keep in Mind: Leaving your cocker spaniel alone all day might turn a sweet dog into a crazed one that chews, digs, or eliminates where it shouldn't. Check with your vet about the potential for eye, skin, and hip problems, and other health concerns.
What They're Like: When you get a Chihuahua, you're getting a BFF who will probably want to sleep on your lap and follow you from room to room. Chihuahuas make great family pets if socialized and the kids are gentle and patient. Surprisingly, these energetic little canines make amazing watchdogs because they're fiercely protective and love to bark. Chihuahuas don't need much exercise or food, so they often do fine in apartments. These smart, sassy dogs might be hard to potty train.
Appearance: Sometimes called "purse dogs," full-grown Chihuahuas weigh between 2-6 pounds. Their coats can be long or short, and any color. Chihuahuas are known for saucy expressions and large eyes and ears relative to their tiny frames.
Grooming: Chihuahuas need very little grooming, although long-haired ones need occasional brushing.
Keep in Mind: Chihuahuas get cocky when it comes to challenging bigger dogs. The world's smallest breed of dog is also sensitive to cold, which might lead to a drawer full of tiny dog sweaters. Check with a vet about the potential for eye infections, joint ailments, and other health concerns.
What They’re Like: Shih tzus have been cherished house pets for more than 1,000 years. So it comes as no surprise these friendly little dogs usually love to be pampered and played with. They often get along well with older kids, but they don’t have a lot of patience with younger ones. Shih tzus will bark when someone comes to the door, which makes them good watchdogs. Give them daily walks or vigorous indoor games, and shih tzus will do well anywhere, even apartments. These dogs can be frustrating to train and housebreak.
Appearance: Shih tzus get rave reviews for their long, flowing double coats, which come in multiple colors. They’re also known for sweet faces coupled with an arrogant carriage: head up and tail curved over the back. Adults weight from 9 to 16 pounds.
Grooming: Brush your shih tzu’s long coat every day, and bathe your dog regularly to prevent mats. Keep the long hair on its head tied back in a topknot. Clipping a shih tzu’s coat might be an easier solution.
Keep in Mind: Shih tzus can be stubborn. They don’t do well with hot climates. Check with your vet about hip, ear, and eye problems, along with other health concerns.
What They're Like: Once kept as companions to royalty, Maltese are often gentle, loving, and obedient -- which can make them great pets. But these little dogs are also lively, playful, and fearless -- which in this breed's case translates to self-confidence around other dogs rather than aggression. Maltese get along best with well-behaved children. And with daily walks, this dog does well in any size home. Maltese are eager to please and learn quickly if sufficiently rewarded (think treats). Potty training might be a long process, so be patient.
Appearance: Maltese are small, compact dogs with long, silky white hair that makes it appear they're floating when they walk. They carry their heads high and their plumed tails over their backs, which gives them an aristocratic look. Full-grown Maltese weigh from 4 to 6 pounds.
Grooming: Maltese do not shed a lot (great for allergy sufferers), but they do need to be brushed every day and taken to the groomer often to keep their coats from getting matted. A topknot will keep your dog's long hair out of its eyes. You'll need to clean its eyes, ears, and beard regularly.
Keep in Mind: Maltese might be picky eaters. They are prone to anxiety. This breed might do well with children who are careful but can snap at those who aren't. Check with a vet about the potential for skin, dental, and respiratory problems.
What They're Like: Need a fun pal? Boxers tend to be loyal, lovable, and often goofy dogs that crave attention, especially from children. Boxers are often patient and protective, making them good watchdogs. These active dogs need lots of exercise, so plan on lots of walks and visits to the dog park. When it comes to training, boxers learn quickly. Start early: They can become overly assertive without it.
Appearance: Although gentle dogs, a boxer's outward appearance is tough: muscular body, chiseled head, and alert expression. Boxers' short, smooth coats come in fawn (light tan) or brindle (fawn with soft stripes) -- often with white "socks" on their feet. When fully grown, boxers weigh from 55 to 70 pounds.
Grooming: Boxers shed occasionally, but their coat is short. Brushing helps.
Keep in Mind: Boxers can be stubborn. They often drool and snore. And they're sensitive to both heat and cold. Check with a vet about their potential for skin allergies, tumors, and problems with their hips and hearts.
Pomeranian (aka Poms)
What They’re Like: Pomeranians are typically lively little dogs with extroverted personalities -- which can make them great companions. They’re often smart, curious, and independent, but they are still happiest when with their humans. Like many toy dogs, Pomeranians are willing to challenge larger dogs. They’re also loyal, protective, and love to bark, which makes them great watchdogs. Pomeranians might not need much exercise, but they do have lots of energy -- requiring frequent attention from their owners. They’re smart and trainable as long as you make it clear you’re the boss.
Appearance: Pomeranians are compact toy dogs with fluffy double coats, pronounced neck ruffs, and heavily plumed tails. They come in all colors, patterns, and variations -- although red and orange are the most popular. Adult Poms weigh from 3 to 7 pounds.
Grooming: Pomeranians shed a lot. They need frequent brushing to prevent their thick fur from getting tangled. And you’ll also need to brush your Pomeranian's teeth to remove tartar.
Keep in Mind: Pomeranians need to be taught as puppies to limit their barking. They can be sharp-tempered and might not do well with really young kids who don’t know how to handle small animals. Talk to your vet about potential problems with their eyes, ears, and teeth.
Yorkshire Terrier (aka Yorkies)
What They're Like: Yorkshire terriers boast great big personalities. These dogs are clever, feisty, and energetic -- and so scrappy they're willing to pick fights with much bigger dogs. In fact, Yorkshire terriers make great watchdogs because of their fearlessness and relentless barking. These portable pooches don't need much exercise, but they do need lots of attention. Just not from really young kids, please -- Yorkshire terriers aren't very patient with rough play. These smart little dogs are easy to train.
Appearance: Yorkshire terriers are blessed with long, luxurious blue and tan coats and a confident bearing. They weigh from 3 to 7 pounds.
Grooming: Their beautiful coats need daily combing and brushing, as well as weekly baths and regular grooming. You might need to tie back your dog's long "bangs" in order for it to see and eat.
Keep in Mind: Yorkshire terriers are a bit fragile, so handle them carefully. They can be stubborn when crossed. Check with a vet about hip and joint issues, tooth decay, and other health concerns.
Bichon Frise (aka Bichon)
What They're Like: Looking for companionship? Consider a bichon. These gentle, playful dogs tend to love humans of all ages. Plus, bichons typically don't need much exercise, which makes them a great choice for apartment dwellers. Training should be easy, as bichons are smart and responsive. When it comes to house-training, though, be patient: There might be lapses.
Appearance: When you think about bichons, think powder puff -- fluffy, white balls of fur with dark eyes and inquisitive expressions. When fully grown, these dogs usually weigh between 10-18 pounds.
Grooming: The bichon's curly white coat almost never sheds (good news for allergy sufferers), but it can be difficult to maintain because the hair never stops growing. So brush your dog often to prevent mats and get your dog clipped regularly by a professional groomer.
Keep in Mind: Bichons get watery streaks under their eyes from tears; they're easily removed by swabbing. Check with a vet about a bichon's potential for cataracts, as well as skin and ear ailments.