Dog breeds are typically divided into a few basic categories: companion dogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs and working dogs. The top dog breeds for every purpose are represented here. Despite the names, in contemporary America, most breeds - even hunting or herding dogs - service as companies for individuals and families.
You do not have to have own a large house to own a large dog (although a tiny apartment is not going to be big enough for one of the giant breeds). If you can take him outside for a good hour of two of exercise every day... a large dog can live in a small house or apartment just fine.
Some dogs will patiently put up with little children who pull their ears or accidentally poke them in the eyes, while others will not and map nip or bite back in defense. So if you want a dog who is excellent with children avoid breeds which may have a dominance streak or that have short tempers.
Dogs have been selectively bred for thousands of years, sometimes by inbreeding dogs from the same ancestral lines, sometimes by mixing dogs from very different lines. The process continues today, resulting in a widening in appearance without speciation, "from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane."
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