Ask the Dog Guide: Get a Dog?

January 8th, 2009 by Dan

Question: My partner and I both work nights 11pm-7am 4 days a week. On these days we sleep till 4pm. We are looking to get a new small dog for the house, but do not know what breed to get because of the length of time they will be on there own. We like small dogs and I personally want a white furry dog. any ideas? or should we not get a dog at all because of the long length of time they will be on their own?

Thank you very much.


Toy breeds were bred as companions and lap dogs. Some toy dogs were expected to sit on their owner’s laps literally all day. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel even served the inauspicious function of drawing fleas away from the royal family and their court! Because of their origins, most toy dogs don’t just like people, they need people, and don’t do well unless they receive a great deal of attention.

Maltese Dog

Maltese Dog

Photo by Rich Moffit.

Due to your schedule and the fact that you specifically want a small white dog, I don’t think now is the right time to add a dog to your family. Small white breeds include toy breeds, which need human companionship as discussed above, and the West Highland White Terrier, which needs a lot of exercise.

If your schedule becomes reorganized so that you’re able to work during the day, you could consider using a dog walker or doggie daycare to provide a little extra playtime and companionship for a toy dog while you’re at work. Unfortunately, these services are not available during the night. If you really do feel you need a dog now, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker to take your dog out in the morning while you sleep.

One final suggestion: Adopting a senior dog might be an option for you. Although even senior dogs tend to be awake during the day and sleep most of the night, making it difficult for them to adjust to the schedule of a human who works nights, they may require less active playtime and be perfectly content to sleep next to you.

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