How to choose the right dog breed for you
The coronavirus pandemic has given many of us more time at home, which has caused some households to make lifestyle changes, such as acquiring a four-legged friend.
According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), 3.2 million households in the UK have bought or adopted a pet since the start of the pandemic, and the country is now home to 12 million companion dogs.
Taking a dog is, of course, a lifelong commitment and one that deserves a lot of thought. There are already stories of new owners struggling to meet the demands of keeping a pet, and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home predicts that in the next five years there will be an increase of up to 27% more dogs abandoned or left wandering.
If you are considering buying a dog, it is important to do your thorough research on the right breed for your family and lifestyle to keep you and your dog happy. Here we detail the key elements to consider when choosing a dog breed.
Where do I start?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a dog. For example, do you want a puppy or an older dog? Do you want a rescue dog or a breeder’s? Do you want a pedigree or a crossbreed? And, what breed or crossbreed do you want?
A good place to start thinking about these questions is to talk to friends and family who own dogs for advice and guidance. You can also go to dog shows when restrictions allow, search for breeds online, talk to rescue centers or breeders for advice, or purchase specialty magazines or books.
Some charities such as the PDSA and companies such as IAMS also have online tools that can help you with breed suggestions, while the Kennel club has a practical AZ of breeds if you are looking for a pedigree.
But, before you jump into a breed, it is worth considering the following to help you with your decision.
Where do you live – and who is in your house with you?
While researching dog breeds, think about your home environment in order to find a dog that will thrive in your home.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- How much space will a dog have access to in your home and, if you have one, in your yard?
- Is your garden secure? Some dogs can escape through low walls, for example.
- How easily can you access the open spaces to walk your dog?
- Does everyone in your household want a dog and will you share the family responsibilities?
- Do you rent – does your landlord accept pets?
If you have a small house and a small garden, finding dog breeds that would be happy in this environment can be a good place to start.
Breeds that the Kennel Club believe would be suitable for small homes and gardens include the Rough Collie, Miniature Bull Terrier, Beagle, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Welsh Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, and Dachshund.
Do you have young children?
If you have kids of school age or younger, it’s worth researching the temperaments of different dog breeds carefully, so that you can find a four-legged friend who matches your family.
It is wise to look for calm dogs with loving natures that respond well to training. BorrowMyDoggy, a site that connects owners with local people who would love to walk their dogs, suggests Labrador, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newfoundland, Golden Retriever and Boxers as the top five dog breeds suitable for families.
You should also research how to introduce a dog to your family and learn about child safety around dogs before your new pet arrives.
How Much Exercise Can You Do for a Dog?
Think about how much exercise you could get your dog for if you are currently working from home and need to return to the office. Or, if you are at home all day, how much exercise is realistic for you to devote to a dog in addition to your other responsibilities.
Be aware that some dogs will experience separation anxiety if they have not been left alone for long periods of time before. Here are some tips on how to handle the situation if it comes your way.
While all dogs need exercise, some breeds will need it much more than others. Just like humans, dogs can become overweight or develop behavioral problems if they don’t move enough or are not stimulated enough.
As a starting point to help you refine the breed for you, the PDSA has a rough guide for the total minimum amount of exercise that different breeds of dogs may need each day, while it is also included in the Kennel Club Breeds AZ.
Research on breed temperaments
It can be tempting to choose a dog purely by its appearance, but it may leave you with an unsuitable pet for your home.
Instead, think about what’s important to your personality. Do you want a sociable dog? Or an easily trained dog? Would you like a dog that likes to sleep on your lap at night or a dog that will run with you?
While each dog has their own unique personality, many have been bred for different reasons and to bring out certain traits – some for their looks and others for certain jobs, so consider that too.
If you are considering a crossbreed, it may be more difficult to know its temperament, so it is worth talking to the breeder or rescue center about the dog and his personality.
Research on diseases and medical conditions
Some dogs are more likely to get sick or be susceptible to certain health issues due to their breed, so this is another thing to consider when doing your research. Not only could your dog having an illness be bothersome, it could cost you dearly in vet bills.
For example, the Kennel Club classifies pugs as a “Category 3 breed” meaning they are considered more likely to develop certain health issues associated with “exaggerated conformation” (the way they are bred). .
The conditions can include breathing problems, skin problems, and eye problems.
Think about the hair
For some pet owners, dog hair is an annoyance that can be sucked in, while for others it is something that they cannot stand. Some breeds shed more hair than others, so if this is important to you, look for low shedding dog breeds.
These could include a Cairn Terrier, Dachshund, Greyhound, Poodle, etc.
Also, consider maintaining your potential dog’s coat, as some breeds require regular grooming, as well as professional trimming, which is an added expense.
What breeds can you afford?
According to the PDSA, you should expect a dog to cost you at least Â£ 4,500 to Â£ 13,000 over its entire lifetime, with small dog breeds costing between Â£ 4,600 and Â£ 8,900, medium dog breeds costing between Â£ 7,000 and Â£ 11,000 and large dog breeds costing between Â£ 5,700 and Â£ 13,000.
This is the minimum cost and will vary depending on the breed, size and lifespan of your dog. It includes the cost of pet insurance, the initial kit you will need for a dog, current items such as booster shots and food – but does not include the cost of purchasing the dog for him. itself, or other services such as training or childcare costs. .
Think seriously about what you could afford in addition to all of your other expenses, and factor in the extra charges in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Dogs can live to about 15 years, with the average purebred dog living to 11.9 years, according to the RSPCA.
Find a good dog breeder
Once you have done your research and decided on the breed of dog you want and whether you want a puppy or an older dog, it is important to research the best breeders or rescue centers from where to get your dog.