Get the dog that suits your lifestyle by choosing the breed and age wisely. Here’s what you need to know about various breeds and their traits.
Are you a self-proclaimed dog lover? Then you’ll know all about the different breeds – but what about their tendencies?
There are hundreds of pure breeds and cross breeds out there, all with different personalities and needs. Choose the right one and it could be a match made in heaven but get it wrong and you could have a troublemaker on your hands.
Here are a few things to look out for when finding your preferred pooch.
Should I get a dog?
Owning a dog is a big undertaking, and you need to decide if you’re up to the task of looking after a pet. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Can you give it the care and attention it needs?
Dogs need daily exercise (up to three walks a day for demanding breeds) and firm training. They shouldn’t be left alone for hours at a time, either. In fact, many dog homes and rescue trusts won’t let you adopt a dog if you’re out of the house for more than four hours a day.
Can you afford it?
Depending on the breed, you could end up paying a few thousand pounds for a pure bred pup. And it doesn’t stop there. Everything from food to puppy classes will cost you, not to mention vet bills.
Finally, are you committed?
The average dog lives a minimum of ten years – definitely what you’d call a long term financial and emotional investment. You also have to consider your life plan: children, work commitments, travel goals. All these can make it more difficult to own a dog.
Yes, I can give a dog a good home. But what breed do I choose?
This will strongly depend on your living situation. If your home is a good size but with a small outdoor space, i.e. a ground floor flat, then you should opt for a smaller breed. Equally, if you have a two or three bed house with several rooms and a decent back garden, you could choose a medium to large breed.
Why choose a small dog?
Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus are all common small breeds. Another popular pooch of the dainty variety is the Dachshund aka sausage dog, but these dogs are a type of hound so don’t be fooled by their cute exterior – they’re feisty and love a good walk.
What about medium-sized dogs?
These breeds include anything from your Cocker Spaniels and Beagles, to your Corgis and Basset Hounds. Many are prone to weight gain due to their hearty appetites.
Regular walking is therefore essential. Some people might consider a Labrador or Boxer medium-sized while others consider them large, but either way, they have lots of energy and will demand your attention. The same goes for Border Collies, which also need lots of stimulation to keep up with their intelligent nature.
And large dogs?
German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Pointers: every dog in this category will need at least two walks a day. They’re great companions if you enjoy long, leisurely outings.
A penchant for giant dogs?
Bullmastiffs, Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds are all enormous in the dog world and Bernese Mountain Dogs and St Bernards (ever seen the movie Beethoven?) are now seen much more in the UK. The average person’s home or lifestyle may not be able to cope with these hulks. Giants need lots of space, walks and food – they could destroy your home if you don’t look after them properly, so proceed with caution.
Which dogs have the best temperament?
A lot of this comes down to age. Puppies can be hard work and will need care 24/7 in their initial few weeks at home, so make sure you’ve got the time on your hands. Most dogs tend to settle down at around three to four years old.
Older dogs that are rescued will have to adjust to your home and pick up a new routine. They may feel particularly scared or get even more excited. Take note of all the background information the adoption centre gives you and follow their advice.
In general, larger dogs tend to be calmer in their older age, while small dogs like Jack Russells can be excitable throughout their lives. And some dogs are known to be good around children, such as Golden Retrievers and Irish Setters.
Which dogs are good for people with allergies?
Having a dog allergy is not ideal if you want a dog. Every breed of dog can cause an allergic reaction. Though some believe that certain breeds like poodles are hypoallergenic, this is not strictly true. The Poodle is very unlikely to trigger allergies, however, as is the Giant Schnauzer, Bichon Frise and Afghan Hound (amongst others).
Which dog breeds are prone to health issues?
With the world of fashion and celebrities making some breeds massively popular – think Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Shar Peis and Pugs. The price tag for these breeds has surged, which has led to heavy inbreeding and puppy farms attempting to meet the demand. This type of breeding can cause the dogs to suffer from serious health conditions, such as heart and respiratory problems and mental health issues.
Before you buy a dog, it’s worthwhile taking the time to do plenty of research to find trusted breeders. When you get your dog, it should come with certificates that prove the dog’s bloodline and parentage.
Some pedigrees are more susceptible to health problems because there isn’t much diversity in their genetic makeup, which is something you’ll need to bear in mind.
Does the breed affect the cost of insurance?
Pedigree dogs, or breeds that are renowned for having health problems, usually cost more to insure. Monthly insurance payments or pet plans can range anywhere from less than £10 to over £100 a month. This depends on the breed and age of the dog, if the dog has any ongoing ailments, and the level of cover you need.
However much it costs, it’s always a good idea to get pet insurance. You will need to take it to the vet for vaccinations, microchipping and other standard treatments and vet bills are expensive. Just remember to read the policy terms thoroughly to make sure your dog is properly covered.
Could you adopt a dog?
If you aren't too worried about any of the above or have no special requirements for a dog breed, you might want to consider adopting a dog instead of buying one. There are lots of dogs in rehoming centres and pounds across the country in need of loving homes who would make wonderful companions, regardless of their breed.
You might be able to find a certain breed of dog in a rehoming centre if you're patient. Check websites, visit in person and build a relationship with the staff. If a dog comes in that they think could be right for you, then you might be able to apply.
It's important to remember that dog rehoming centres often have strict criteria for potential owners. It's essential to prove that you have the time, expertise and money to properly care for a dog – especially if they are a breed that comes with unique requirements.