What's the one thing that melts hearts and begets smiles no matter what? Puppies, of course. Maybe it's their expressive eyes, sweet and affectionate nature, or the occasional mischievous streak. It turns out that there's a scientific reason behind our sudden shift in mood, high-pitched baby talk, and a need to grit our teeth as we ball our fists in excitement. A Yale research team developed a theory dubbed "cute aggression" to explain the psychological reaction that arises when we see an adorable dog, which is likened to the act of crying out of happiness. And dogs offer so much more than just cuteness. According to Live Science, a study about pet ownership revealed that animals provide the same kind of support that our human companions do. Plus, if you have kids, there are also many experts who advocate for dogs in families to enhance child development, particularly with sharing skills and empathy.
So whether you're single and living in a small apartment in the city, a large family on an open farm, or anything in between, there is a dog that'll not only suit your lifestyle but enhance your overall health. But before you run off to bring a puppy home, consider this piece of advice from Lucy Postins, the author of Dog Obsessed. It's all "about mentally preparing yourself and the other members of your family—human and animal alike—for a full-on emotional and physical invasion," she tells MyDomaine. Ask yourself what this dog will need from you, and if you can provide the care and attention it requires. We consulted the American Kennel Club to profile the 10 adorable dog breeds below. Find out which suits your lifestyle best, from energy level, personality traits, and size. Caution: Cute aggression may ensue.
The Regal Cavelier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles spaniels are super playful and affectionate as well as patient and somewhat shy with strangers. These small dogs also crave a lot of attention, so it's best if you can be home a lot or at least a decent amount of time. If you have a small yard they can play in while you're out of the house or toys that will give them comfort, they'll be really happy. And if you don't, they're just as happy going on walks, as long as you take them out consistently since they're pretty active. That being said, spaniels don't need a massive amount of exercise compared to larger dogs like labs. While they need to walk every day, they don't need to get out for any rigorous activities more than a few times a week. This makes these pups very adaptable and easy dogs for families and singles alike. An added bonus? They're easy to train.
The Happy-Go-Lucky Retriever
Retrievers are a classic family-friendly dog because they're great with children. Air Bud, anyone? They can do well in cities where there's enough room to roam and play in a yard, but they're not very well suited for small apartments. Since they're larger dogs, they need plenty of chew toys and exercise. Keep in mind that these large dogs are chewers, so don't leave your favorite pair of shoes lying around the house if you aren't ready to part ways.
While they do have a lot of energy (especially when they're young) and tend to be friendly, Golden Retrievers are also even-tempered, calm, and gentle. Aside from their happy-go-lucky attitude, retrievers are also really obedient and intelligent people-pleasers, making them a breeze to train. Goldens tend to need a little less physical activity than labs do, but it varies from dog to dog. Fun fact: They love swimming.
The Sweet and Obedient Doodle
Poodle combinations make the perfect family pet. Labradoodles are easy to train, but because they're on the larger side, they require about two hours a day of rigorous activity. These well-mannered, even-tempered fluff balls are known for being highly intelligent and affectionate. Doodles are pretty much the closest thing to a giant teddy bear. They're very outgoing and quick to fall in love (and in love with), so they're often good companions for people with disabilities.
They do need a lot of attention and love to be surrounded by people as well as other dogs (and even other kinds of animals, like cats). Goldendoodles have similar temperaments, though they shouldn't be left in a crate for too long without any interaction with other living creatures. This will make them sad and potentially withdrawn.
The Sassy Boston Terrier
Like all dog breeds, the personality of a Boston Terrier will vary. But one consistency among most of these cuties is that they exhibit high emotional intelligence. In other words, they can sense and gauge someone's mood pretty accurately. This can make them great service dogs or companions for elderly people. Bostons are also highly entertaining and love to make their companions laugh. While they do well in tight living quarters, they require daily walks to stay fit and healthy.
These guys have some serious puppy-dog eyes, which can interfere with training. That said, they're pretty obedient if you use the right methods and tones with them. Bostons are also notorious barkers, but you won't need to worry about aggression, as they're really gentle. They can also be trained to keep barking to a minimum.
The Dependable Border Collie
These loyal and dependable dogs are great options for a family and will quickly become a best friend to all. Border collies are highly intelligent team players that are also full of energy, so they love learning fancy new tricks to stay mentally and physically sharp. They're a medium size, so they can live in condos as long as they get plenty of walking and outdoor activity in.
Since they love being outdoors, they'll do well in cities that have access to parks or other spaces outdoors to run around. And don't be surprised if your collie brings in a prize in the form of a bird, as they're hunting dogs. This, along with their impressive jumping skills, is also why it's best to keep them in an enclosed yard.
The Independent Mini Schnauzer
Miniature schnauzers are super alert and full of life, which can also make them prone to causing mischief. Even though they have a fair amount of energy, they'll happily live in an apartment so long as they get to run outside a couple days a week and go on daily walks. While schnauzers are super loving and great for families, they are also perfect for singles and first-time dog owners.
Since they're highly independent, love to be the center of attention, and always assert their own dominance, these pups can be difficult to train. Pro tip: If you remain calm, cool, and collected while also being assertive, training shouldn't be too difficult. Schnauzers also love digging, so make sure you supervise them in your yard so they don't dig up your garden and track dirt throughout your home. We should also mention that they're barkers if that's going to be an issue in an apartment building when you aren't home. On the bright side, this breed doesn't shed, which means these dogs are hypoallergenic.
The Bold and Goofy Boxer
Boxers require vigorous exercise every day, so if you fancy yourself a couch potato, a boxer may not be for you. Unless of course, you need a little motivation to get off the sofa, as this playful and funny dog will paw at you and whine with puppy eyes until you do. They like to be the center of attention and demand being entertained. They'll be happy living anywhere as long as you tire them out with some exercise during the day. Even though they're medium-to-large dogs, they love to cuddle and will remain lap dogs long after their puppy days are behind them.
Boxers are also hugely loyal and protective over their loved ones, making them great family companions. They also get along with cats. However, they're not the easiest breed to train and have been likened to mischievous adolescents. Like teenagers, they tend to be pretty sassy but in a playful and cute way. Be prepared to keep dangerous or precious items out of reach.
The Energetic Dalmatian
With those gorgeous spots and alluring presence, it's no wonder Dalmatians have been the focal point of famous films and revered companies. Whether we're talking about 101 Dalmatians or the iconic firefighting dog, this breed knows how to strike a pose. Beyond their gorgeous coats, these dogs are really intelligent and obedient, making them the ideal watch dogs. They actually come from a history of guarding fancy horse-drawn carriages.
Despite this regal past, Dalmatians can get really wild and rowdy, showing their affection by climbing all over you. They're great for families as long as you don't have really small toddlers since they like to roughhouse and may accidentally knock things over when they're getting pumped up for a walk or welcoming you home. For the same reason, they don't do well in small spaces and can't remain indoors all day as they are larger dogs with a ton of energy.
The High-Spirited Frenchie
French Bulldogs are the perfect companions for both families and singles since they're small enough to bring with you everywhere throughout the day, but they won't require long hours of physical activity. These playful pups love to play ball (even just at home) and will stay in good physical shape if you walk them a couple times a day for about 15 minutes.
Because Frenchies are so excitable, love to play, and have a short attention span, they're notorious for being difficult to train. If you're patient, this personality trait just makes them even more lovable. Similarly, they don't like being cooped up alone inside all day long, so if you won't be able to spend much time with them, they may get lonely and sad. On the other hand, they're great for close quarters and living situations in crowded cities.
The Loveable Mutt
If you'd prefer to adopt a pet rather than go to a breeder, you won't necessarily know what dog breed you're going to get. And that is perfectly fine. In fact, sometimes it just enhances your special bond. As Postins points out, adopting "a dog from a shelter" is so much more than "just providing a wonderful home to an animal in need; you may just be saving his life." If you're interested in adoption she says, "The ASPCA and animal welfare organizations across the country are, under all circumstances, opposed to backyard breeders. If you do decide on a purebred dog, be sure to check that the breeder is licensed and registered with the American Kennel Club."
Now that you're melting from all the cuteness, start brainstorming some name options with these adorable baby names.