Choosing A Second Dog

Thinking of adding a second dog? Find out how to choose the perfect dog to round out your dog house.

Get your dog a BFF to play with. Two dogs playing by Shuttersock

If you’ve made the choice to add a second dog to your home, the next step is deciding what dog is the right dog for you and yours. Still not sure if a second dog is right for you? >>

Should I Get The Same Dog Breed

If you love your first dog, there is a pretty good chance you will enjoy another dog with the common traits that attracted you to the breed. Perhaps you enjoy the comical and couch potato nature of Bulldogs or an active, intelligent driven herding dog.

Aside from having practicality of knowing what you are getting, there is nothing more eye-catching and stylish than walking a matched pair of Whippets, Corgis or Shelties down the street. One of the undeniable joys of choosing matching dogs is that they are so alike, and two handsome representatives of your chosen breed make a real statement.

Many breeds of dog are clannish and prefer the company of their own kind. If you’re really happy with your first purebred dog, then you may want to stick to the same breed. Toy breeds, for example, get along best with their own miniature kind. Chihuahuas, Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Yorkies would more happily live with three or four of their brethren rather than having to deal with the hazard of a gawky oversized playmate like a German Shepherd, Labrador or German Shorthair.

If your first dog is a mixed breed, or you are looking to add a mixed breed to your home, it may be more difficult to know what type of dog would be the best match. Often mutts are the most adaptable of all dogs and will accept most any dog as a companion, but it does depend on the temperament of each individual dog.

Whenever possible, it’s advisable to foster a dog for a week or two to see how easily he fits into your home and your current dog’s life.

Mix And Match

When choosing to add a new breed of dog to your home, there are several key factors you will want to consider.

Size And Energy Level

While small and large dogs can be the best of friends, keep in mind that a small dog can be easily hurt or even mistaken for prey by a larger dog in the heat of play. Sighthounds, like the Greyhound or Saluki, or large dogs like a German Shepherd or Doberman Pinscher, can unknowingly kill a toy dog by grabbing and shaking him while running and chasing. If you have a small dog, he will likely be less intimidated by the addition of a similarly sized dog. If you own a large dog, he is less likely to look at a medium to large dog as a squeaky toy.

The amount of exercise and energy level go hand in hand with a dog’s size, and it’s important to keep these in mind when selecting a dog. If your current dog is a bit on the lazy side, choosing a dog with more get-up-and-go can be the perfect remedy to energize your couch potato. Of course, not all opposites attract, and your 6-year-old Basset Hound won’t welcome the off-the-wall energy of a 1-year-old Border Collie or Australian Shepherd.


Compatible temperament can be as important as size, and choosing a second dog with a similar personality to your current dog is often a wise plan. Avoid pairing a quiet, sweet dog with a rambunctious, wild puppy that can overwhelm or upset your dog. Sometimes a shy or worrisome dog can benefit from the easygoing confidence of a younger dog. You can improve your first dog’s outlook on life and make him come out of his shell by adding an outgoing newcomer to your family pack.

Along the same lines, any “imperfections” in your current dog can easily be passed along to the new one. Dogs learn to bark from other dogs. An otherwise reticent dog, like a Whippet, Shiba or English Setter, sharing a home with a barky Beagle, Vizsla or coonhound can quickly find his full God-given voice. Mischievous habits, from digging, door darting, fence climbing, begging and even food- or toy-aggression, can be passed along to the new dog as well. Two naughty, disobedient dogs are not easier than one! On the plus side, good manners and polite behavior can also be passed from your present dog to your new one.


Let’s talk ages. If your desire is to bring a puppy into your home, then your present dog should be three or four years of age, hopefully not younger than one year of age. A three-year-old dog is mature and fully grown; he should be bonded with his family, mannerly and well adjusted. It’s also helpful if he or she is spayed or neutered. If your dog is still an adolescent—12 to 18 months of age–he could become quarrelsome with a new puppy. Remember, too, that a full-grown dog can easily overwhelm a small puppy and even injure him.

Male Or Female

When it comes to the sex of the second dog, most experts agree that opposites get along better, particularly in territorial or dominant breeds like terriers, bully dogs, and guardian breeds. Dogs that are potentially dominant by nature may become increasingly so when another dog threatens their home turf. While two male dogs may fight and jockey for position in the pack, they’re not half as bad as the bitches. Females are in it to win, and they can be reckless and often don’t back down. In this single regard, bitches are the less sensible sex. Any breeder will tell you that the females rule the roost and they are always the boss and queen of the house.

Where To Get Your Second Dog

If your first dog came from a reputable breeder and you’re completely happy with your dog, you might want decide to get your second dog from the same person. You also may choose to consider spreading the love around by choosing a rescue or shelter dog for your second dog. If you have your heart set on a certain breed, consider rescuing an adult dog instead of purchasing puppy from a breeder. Visit the American Kennel Club website for information on national breed rescue groups. For a mixed breed, you can visit a local, well-run shelter and find all shapes and sizes to fit your home.

Not sure if you’re ready for a second dog? Find out if another dog is right for you and your four-legged family>>

Think you’re ready to take the plunge? Read about introducing your new dog>>

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