So, you’ve decided to get a dog. Congratulations! You are about to embark (pun intended) on a fantastic and rewarding journey. But you have an important decision to make first. Which is the right dog breed for you?
This might seem like an easy decision to make as it can be really tempting to pick a dog breed which you find cute, or which reminds you of a friend’s adorable pooch. But as a responsible dog owner you will need to put some thought into this choice.
You’ve probably already considered all that a dog has to offer you, but have you considered what you can offer a dog? Specifically, have you considered what you can offer a particular dog breed? Like people, dogs all have individual personalities. But different dog breeds have certain characteristics which can tell you in advance the kind of lifestyle they’ll need you to provide. It’s important to make sure that your own lifestyle matches that of the dog breed you pick, so that you and your dog can enjoy many happy and healthy years together.
Here are some of the things you should consider.
Size and Lifespan
When selecting a dog breed, size is a good place to start. Typically, larger dog breeds require more living space than smaller breeds. So, if you live in a smaller property, you should consider smaller dog breeds to ensure your pawfect pal is comfortable in their living environment. Equally, if you live in a larger property, you may wish to consider offering a home to a larger dog who will be most comfortable with plenty of space. Be careful though; size doesn’t dictate how much exercise a dog requires! Smaller dog breeds can require more exercise than larger ones.
Lifespan is an important consideration when selecting a dog breed. All dogs are a long-term commitment, and you need to be prepared for this. But lifespan varies a little between breeds. You should make sure you are aware of the lifespan of the breed you are considering, especially if you plan to adopt an older dog, so that you know roughly how long you will have together and how long you’ll need to be prepared to commit to caring for your dog.
Breed Temperament and Energy Levels
Different breeds have different temperaments and energy levels. ALL dogs require time and effort from you, and you should not take on a dog if you’re not prepared to provide this. But some dog breeds have higher energy levels than others and will require even more of your time and energy. Some dog breeds are also more playful or likely to get along with children than others. It’s important to make sure that the temperament and energy level of the breed you are considering matches your lifestyle and activity level.
Common Health Issues
Some dog breeds are more prone to certain health issues than others. For example, many breeds including German Shepherds, Bulldogs, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia which is a painful malformation of the hip joints. Dog breeds with short noses such as Bull Dogs and Pugs often suffer with brachiocephalic syndrome which causes trouble breathing. Other dog breeds such as Beagles are prone to allergies. It is important to research common health issues for the dog breed you are considering so that you are aware of the type of care your pooch may require, and so you are prepared for the potential vet bills!
Do you have pet allergies? Perhaps you should consider a hypoallergenic breed! Hypoallergenic breeds are not guaranteed to be allergy-free. But they do shed less often and produce less dander which is similar to dandruff and can trigger allergies. Poodles, Schnauzers and various Terrier breeds are examples of hypoallergenic dogs. If you are an allergy-suffering dog lover, you may want to give serious consideration to taking on a hypoallergenic breed.
Still Confused? Consider The Different Dog Groups
There are so many dog breeds out there, you might not know where to start. You could consider different groups of dogs and their typical characteristics to help you find the right breed for you.
Here are just some of the dog groups you could consider.
Gun Dogs: This group includes breeds such as Retrievers, Pointers and Setters, and Spaniels. Said to be good family dogs, gun dogs are typically very social and friendly and get on well with children and often cats. But they are highly active! Gun dog breeds need walking frequently and can become unruly if not given enough exercise and mental stimulation.
Hounds: This group includes breeds such as Beagles, Basset Hounds and Dachshunds. Loving but often quite independent, hounds are either scent or sight hounds. Either way they require plenty of exercise as they love long distant running or sprinting respectively.
Terriers: Most Terrier breeds are part of this group. Terriers are fun and energetic and perfect as long-distance walking companions. However, they can be noisy, stubborn, and prone to hunting small furry creatures including cats.
Toy Dogs: This group includes breeds such as Pomeranians, Bichon Frise, and Chihuahuas. These breeds can be attractive due to their lower exercise requirements and their affectionate nature. They tend to not be overly interested in socialising outside of their family and can be prone to separation related issues.
Working Dogs: This group includes breeds such as Boxers, Rottweilers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Often gentle giants, many of these breeds are typically active and require plenty of exercise and training to keep them busy. As larger breeds they require space, and work best with experienced owners.
What To Do Now
Don’t rush this decision. Have a good think about all the above considerations and research different breeds that you think may be a good fit for you. Be honest with yourself about how well you can meet the needs of the breeds you research, and you’ll be sure to find the right dog breed for you.
Purina has a breed selector quiz which helps you factor in aspects of your lifestyle that are important in selecting a breed. You can find this here.
Don’t forget to always make sure you buy a dog from a responsible breeder. You could also consider the many rescue dogs awaiting homes, including the many cross and mixed breeds who also have fantastic personalities.
Good luck in your search!