Growing up I always had cats, and while many friends have had dogs, I've never had one of my own. I feel like I am finally mature enough to commit to taking care of a dog, but I am completely unprepared. I have been doing some research, but would like to ask you and other New Yorkers experienced with dog ownership what breed of dog is most suitable, both for a first timer and for someone living in the city in an apartment, someone who goes to work for eight hours a day and would likely have to leave the dog at home most weekdays. Any advice on breed selection and how to provide as much for the dog's needs as possible would be greatly appreciated.

- Simon

2005_12_ask_dog.jpgAsk Gothamist is crazy about pets, and we're always delighted to hear that someone wants to become a responsible pet caretaker. The first thing that comes to mind when looking for an apartment dog is a small size, but not all small dogs are neccessarily best suited to apartment life. Our sister has a retired racing greyhound and a chihuahua, and guess which dog is better behaved? We were recently watching the dog show on TV and the announcer stated "Surprisingly, greyhounds make great apartment dogs." It's important to consider a dog's temperment, energy level, and exercise needs as well as size. The website Canis Major recommends a number of small- to medium-sized dogs as good apartment dogs, including Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Dachsunds, Whippets, most terriers, French Bulldogs, Bichon Frises, American Eskimos, Lhasa Apsos, Corgis, and Shetland Sheepdogs. We had a Bichon as a kid and must say it was an extraordinarily well-behaved dog. A friend of ours adopted a Jack Russell Terrier (pictured) and as you can see, he's just the cutest, and such a good doggie. He was found through - which brings us to an important point: Please don't purchase a dog from a pet store, but adopt one from a local shelter - there are so many animals in NY who need a good home. If you have your heart set on a specific type of purebred, try finding a homeless doggie through a rescue mission for that particular breed.

To make sure your canine companion is happy in your apartment, make sure to give your dog plenty of toys to keep occupied when you're at work. You might want to consider adopting two dogs if you have the space - two pets keep each other company and, theoretically, keep them from getting bored while their humans are away. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. You should also consider hiring a dogwalker if you work long hours.

Need advice? Ask Gothamist - e-mail ask(at)gothamist(dot)com.