Let’s start with my favorite category: the terrier breed. Terriers used to be bred to kill and hunt vermin, and include breeds like the West Highland white terrier, wire fox terrier, Norfolk terrier, Cairn terrier (Toto), Parson russell terrier (formerly the Jack Russell), and the American Staffordshire (i.e., pit bull) terrier (Justine’s fave).

I’ve often been described as a terrier, and am not sure if this is a compliment or if I should take personal offense. This breed is generally energetic, feisty, spirited, and small. If this breed was a person, Napoleon would best describe this category. They vary from small to medium sized, and typically have low tolerance for other animals, dogs, or kids. While these are wonderful dogs, terriers don’t often act their size and can have an argumentative personality. They’re the perfect pet for childless, mile-a-minute married couples and feisty, crotchety old men.

The toy breed is specifically designed to impress. Despite their small stature, these dogs are known to be tough cookies. These range from Chihuahuas to Japanese Chins, Pomeranians, poodles, pugs, papillions, and Yorkshire terriers.

Typically, toy breeds are the type you see carried in a purse, partly thanks to pet-owning "trendsetters" like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, and are perfect for city dwellers with minimal living space. These breeds are highly affectionate and can be great apartment dogs. Based on their size alone, they are easy to manage and train. They may not be the most kid-friendly dogs, however, so if you anticipate owning, having, or borrowing any children in the near future, think carefully. I personally screen out dating guys who have these breeds.

The non-sporting dogs are a very diverse group that includes the shiba inu, standard poodle, Tibetan terrier, chow chow, bulldog, Dalmatian, bichon frise, and keeshond.

These breeds are typically more unique and less commonly seen, and their personality, overall friendliness, size, and coat vary greatly between each specific breed.

Second to my fave, the pit bull, is the herding group. This group includes breeds such as border collies, Welsh corgis, Belgian sheepdogs, Bouvier des Flandres, briard, and Australian shepherds.

These breeds were formerly in the working group, and are known for their ability to control the movement of other animals using their innate herding instinct. It’s useful to think of these dogs as the hysterical stockbrokers of the canines. Herders require extensive "brain" training and activity, such as agility, obedience, and herding trials.

If you can’t provide mental stimulation for this breed, like throwing a Frisbee to them for 30 minutes a day, kindly consider a different category. If you live near a children’s playground or dog park, watch out — you may find your dog herding and biting the ankles of small 2-legged children, trying to round them up. Although most singles and homeless people appreciate this service, persnickety moms always get upset, so make sure to carry a leash in case you need to rein them in (the dogs, not the moms).

Finally, the miscellaneous group. This group typically comprises dog breeds that I can’t spell or pronounce. Check out AKC for more info on this group!

Again, any buyer’s remorse out there? Tips you recommend?

Dr. Justine Lee

Image: Eric Isselée / via Shutterstock