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With a loyal, affectionate and good-humored nature, canines make the ultimate life-long companions. From the moment they pounce on your face in the morning to their sweet kisses at the end of a long day, there is no denying the fact that a dog is a person's best friend.

It is important to remember, however, that adding a dog to your family isn't all fluff and games like the viral videos may have you believe. Bringing a dog into your home is certainly a proud milestone in your life that you should embrace and celebrate, but dog ownership comes with its own unique set of challenges and surprises and isn't a decision you should take lightly. Consider if dog parenthood is right for you before investing in the buddy of a lifetime.

Consider What Breed Is Right for You and Your Lifestyle

Every canine has unique attributes that make him special, so take your lifestyle and habits into consideration when selecting the type of dog to bring into your home. Some breeds are known to be more hyper, while others like to chill on the couch. Some pups are major poof balls with tons of fur, while other dogs are hypoallergenic.

Be Honest: Are You Ready for Pawtherhood?

While it is crucial to know what you want when selecting your next best friend, it is even more important to be honest with yourself and how you function on the day to day. Maybe you live in a small apartment and don't have the open space for a large dog. Perhaps you are more active and want a dog whom you can take with you on hikes, or perhaps you are completely lazy on the weekends and just want a pal to hang with while you watch Seinfeld reruns.

There is no perfect dog except for the dog that is perfect for you, so as long as you remain true to yourself and your needs, you will be sure to find your next best buddy.

Fido and Your Finances

Between pet insurance, grooming, vet trips, training, food, toys and pet sitting – it adds up – the cost definitely varies by dog size, breed and needs (be it health issues, coat maintenance or behavioral problems that just won't quit).

To give you an idea, a medium-sized dog with an average life expectancy of 13 years has an estimated lifetime cost of over $15,000, which is a huge chunk of change for the average person. Be sure you do the research so you are ready and aware of the financial commitment that comes with being a pet owner.

Why, Hello Fur...Basically Everywhere

Be prepared to always leave the house with your own layer of dog hair covering your clothing – and by the way, dog hair also makes for a lovely parting gift for all of your guests. Unless you have a hypoallergenic dog, shedding is a major part of owning a dog.

Hypoallergenic or not, you should maintain your dog's coat and keep it clean, brushed and trimmed for the health and safety of your dog. Educate yourself on your dog's breed so you are aware of proper grooming tips, tools and maintenance.

Puppies Require Your Full Attention

A lot of people don't realize that puppies are very much actual dog children that require your full attention throughout their growth and maturation into adulthood. A puppy can get into all sorts of mischief, cry into the night and have accidents (you get the picture), so puppies need to have a structured schedule much like small children (and many adults for that matter) in order to have a healthy, happy life.

It is only fair that you recognize if you have the time to invest and give to a puppy before bringing her into your home. All dogs and their humans need time to adjust to new situations and surroundings, but if you still want a canine and cannot be around 24/7 to tend to the needs of a new puppy, consider getting an adult dog as a companion.

Less Freedom, More Love

Although you may have less freedom than you did before, a dog's love is unconditional, irreplaceable and unlike anything you have ever experienced. You may lose some free time, but you will gain a fur-ever friend.

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About the Author

Samantha Mannis

Samantha Mannis is a writer based in Los Angeles, California. Her passions include food, comedy, travel, and her broccoli-eating miniature poodle terrier.