What to do, what to do? Your family wants a dog, but with work, school, social and sports commitments, how do you work in owning a dog and what breed would be the best? Since each family is different, the answer to that question isn't a one-size-fits-all response.
What is a low-maintenance dog?
What is low-maintenance for one family is a huge hassle for another. Defining low-maintenance is a subjective exercise. Does it mean the breed needs little exercise? No grooming? Tolerant of being left alone? No shedding or easily trained? No dog breed is maintenance-free, but because purebred dogs have been specifically bred for certain traits, choosing a dog based on the needs of its breed can be more satisfying. Here's what the experts say.
If your heart's set on a really big dog, the Mastiff may be just the dog you're looking for. This giant breed actually has low energy, so lazing around is its idea of heaven. In fact, Mastiffs have low endurance, so long walks are not something they look forward to. They are happy alone for long stretches of time and are generally docile in temperament. Not aggressive, they do tend to be somewhat aloof and prefer the company of their family. The Mastiff likes pleasing his people, so training is fun and easy. His short coat does not require much grooming. Like most large breeds, however, the life span is somewhat short, from about 8-10 years. Height 27 – 30 inches, weight 120 – 220 pounds.
Still quite a large breed but smaller than a Mastiff, the Bullmastiff enjoys his daily walk as long as it's not too far. Endurance, like its larger cousin, is still quite low. His short coat requires little maintenance and he loves to lie around watching the big game with you. Affectionate with his family and very tolerant of children, he nevertheless makes a formidable guard dog. Training him is different from most obedience training with other breeds, but not difficult. His lifespan is on par with the Mastiff at about 8 -10 years. Height 24 – 27 inches, weight 100 – 130pounds.
Contrary to popular belief, the racing greyhound doesn't have a lot of exercise needs. They really make wonderful couch potato companions. A daily walk and occasional run are plenty for this incredibly sweet-natured hound. Easy to train, gentle and quiet, this elegant breed might take over your couch but will not demand constant attention. Their short coat requires only minimum grooming. Greyhounds live 10-13 years. Height 25-30 inches, weight 60-80pounds.
Bred to be a working dog, on the field the Basset Hound is very active. In the home, however, this gentle, calm dog is a totally different dog. His long, soft ears and droopy expression captivate dog lovers the world 'round. A once-daily walk is sufficient to keep him happy and his grooming needs are quite low. He is most content when with his people, and is friendly and accepting of strangers and other pets. Early on, training is a necessary part of owning a Basset Hound so his natural propensity to stubbornness is overcome. Standing just under 15 inches, he is a medium sized breed due to his weight, 40 – 60 pounds on average. The average life span is 8 – 12 years.
Except for grooming, this may be the best option for busy families or even seniors. The Standard Poodle is calm and gentle, very intelligent and easy to train. A daily walk will satisfy their exercise needs. Their coats don't shed and are hypoallergenic, which is often the deciding factor for families who suffer from allergies. A plus is that this excellent breed doesn't mind being left alone while his family is away from the house. Weighing in at 45 – 70 pounds and standing over 15 inches tall, the Standard Poodle's grooming needs can be taken care of by dropping him off at a grooming salon and picking him up later. Although his life span is relatively long at 12 – 15 years, some Standard Poodles have lived up to 17 years.
Although Dachshunds are energetic little dogs, they can get too much exercise, which can affect their long backs. Climbing stairs and jumping off of things can also injure them, so keep that in mind if you have a two-story home. The short-haired variety has very low grooming needs, and all three varieties (short coat, long coat, and wire coat) stand under 9 inches. The miniature variety is even smaller. Weighing in at between 11 and 32 pounds, the sometimes clownish Dachshund is a favorite everywhere. Early training is important as they can be stubborn if not brought up to obey. The lifespan of this sweet-natured dog is from 12 – 15 years.
The Papillon (French for butterfly) has beautiful, erect ears that trail long tresses that fan out to look like a butterfly. Some have drop ears as well, looking less like a butterfly but just as beautiful Although his single layer coat is long, brushing a couple of times a week is adequate and he doesn't require hair cuts. With no doggy odor and hypoallergenic coat, he is considered low maintenance on grooming. This breed loves to play and is affectionate with children and other pets. A daily romp in the backyard or at a dog park along with his daily walks will keep him healthy and happy. He's a tiny spaniel, half lap dog and half court jester. Perhaps a little difficult to house train (as are most toy dogs), he is highly intelligent and learns easily with consistency. He stands just 8 – 11 inches high and weighs 6 – 10 pounds, a bundle of energy and love. With a long life span of 14 – 16 years, he is there for the long haul.