Choosing the right breed of dog for you is difficult and requires some level of self-insight and reflection. Because choosing an inappropriate dog for your lifestyle is not only a struggle for you, it is also extremely unfair on the dog.
A dog that requires plenty of exercise, for example, will not be happy sat in a kennel all day. Before you even begin to search through the list of breeds available to you though, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is everyone you live with happy with having a dog?
- Do you have the time to devote to adequate exercise and mental stimulation?
- Are you prepared to walk in all weathers and at on dark nights?
- Do you have the time to provide daily attention and grooming?
- Can you afford a pet dog? Can you afford the veterinary bills, food and insurance?
- Can you provide a safe and secure home for life?
If any of those questions return an answer of ‘no’ then you should really consider whether a dog is right for you at this stage of your life. You may be with your pooch for up to 15 years or even more in some cases. So really consider whether you have the time and money to devote to such a responsibility. Your dog’s health and happiness will depend on it.
If the answer to all of those questions is yes then you are indeed capable and ready to start looking after a dog. So let’s find out how to choose the right one for you! We can’t choose a breed for you, but we can tell you what questions you should ask yourself to narrow it down. Let’s get barking…
Like Owner, Like Dog
It is very true what people say, a person’s dog is often an accurate reflection of themselves. It only makes sense to purchase a puppy that matches your personality traits and lifestyle, so it is no wonder this is true. So the first obvious thing to consider when choosing a dog is your age. If you are over 90 years of age, a Rottweiler is hardly going to be your dog of choice.
Some dogs require lots of physical exercise; some require more mental stimulation whilst many others require a lot of both. This requires a mature and patient person – traits which are not usually associated with 18-25 year-olds. So as you can see, age is an important factor when it comes to choosing a dog.
Have you ever owned a dog before? This is another important question to ask yourself, as buying a dog meant for novice dog owners may overwhelm you and cause behavioural problems later down the line. Some can be easily trained whilst others need a bit of a push and a lot of patience. Dogs that are highly sensitive or those that think independently can be harder for a first-time owner to manage at times. So you must always take your experience into account.
Your Personal Lifestyle
We don’t need to know how many cocktails you sink at the weekend or what your diet is like or anything like that. That side of your lifestyle your dog isn’t too particularly bothered about. What you should be asking yourself though is:
- How active and energetic are you?
- What time do you usually wake up in the morning?
- How much daily exercise and attention are you able to provide your dog?
- How often are you at home?
- Do you enjoy being outside or are you afraid of the elements?
An active person fits well with an active dog, like a Labrador or a Miniature Schnauzer. If you are slightly lazy, or you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning (or the afternoon) then an energetic and lively dog is not for you. The rule here is simple, if you and the dog have little in common, don’t take it!
Sensible and Soft or Hard and Loud?
Many breeds of dog will take a stern telling-off and instantly forget about it, letting the reprimand roll off their backs as they move on swiftly to being your best friend again. Whereas other breeds will take a dirty look to heart and not look at you for the rest of the week.
Dogs with low sensitivity levels are then of course better suited to those people of a louder, more brash and assertive nature. While more sensitive breeds are best suited to quiet, calm and relaxed environments with routine and order. So if you have young kids or like to throw quite a few parties choose a Labrador Retriever, Beagle or some other type of low-sensitivity dog. Otherwise, pick a breed that enjoys peace and quiet.
Dog Energy Levels
High-energy dogs are always ready for action, for what seems like all of the time! These dogs are capable of putting a shift in, due to a working nature that has been bred into them for centuries. They require a significant amount of exercise, which many people will struggle to provide away from their working lifestyles.
Some low-energy dogs can be likened to couch potatoes, or couch pooches in this case, as they simply sit and do nothing. This can be particularly annoying if you are an active person and your dog does not like to be left home alone. When choosing a breed, take into consideration your own activity level and think about whether you’ll find an energetic dog invigorating or frustrating.
- What are Your Living and Family Situations?
- What type of home do you live in?
- How big is your garden if you have one?
- Do you live in the city or the countryside?
- For how long would your dog be alone each week?
Your living situation is extremely important as after all, your dog will be living in your home too! So if you have a tiny house with no garden, an Irish Wolfhound is going to cause you problems. Big problems. If you have a very energetic dog then you are going to need some fields or a beach to run around on – which isn’t usually found in city centres.
As important as your living situation is, your family situation is just as significant. Do you have any children in the house? Any old and frail people? Any disabled individuals? What is the age of the youngest and oldest person living or attending your property on a regular basis? Will any or all of these people be happy and comfortable around a dog?
Your Personal Dog Preferences
Of course what dog you choose will also heavily depend upon your own preferences, above all else. There are tons of things to consider here so we have listed just a few to get you thinking:
- How long do you want your dog’s coat to be? Do you hate shedding?
- What size dog are you looking for?
- Do you want a dog that will protect your property?
- Do you want a dog that will play fetch?
- Do you want a dog that is independent or requires constant attention?
What’s it Gonna Cost?
You can’t put a price on love, especially puppy love, but the cost is still an important factor when it comes to looking after a pooch. How much money are you willing to spend each week to feed your dog? There is also the insurance to take into consideration, as some breeds cost a lot more than others when it comes to this. How often will your dog be groomed each week? What will the veterinary bills be like for your choice of dog, especially later in life?
Giving up a dog because you cannot afford to keep them anymore is heart-breaking, as it something you are forced to do rather than something you wish to happen. So make sure you are definitely able to properly afford to keep a dog happy, healthy and well maintained.
Questions to Ask on Purchase of Your Pooch
- Has sufficient information been provided about the dog’s history?
- Have you had a chance to take the dog for a walk and introduce yourself properly?
- Have you seen what the dog is like away from the kennels or previous owner?
- Do you have a full veterinary history?
- Have you seen proof of vaccinations?
- What help or advice is available should there be problems after you have bought the dog?
- Have you seen the mother and the rest of the litter?