There are hundreds of different breeds of dogs out there, varying in almost every aspect – from size to personality. Just compare a Chihuahua to a Great Dane, considering the sheer difference between these two breeds I’m surprised they aren’t different species!
So with nearly 400 hundred breeds and new breeds constantly emerging, how do you choose a breed that will suit you best?
Are You Ready For a Dog?
The first real question you should ask is – Are you sure you want a dog? If you haven’t owned one before then be sure to consider the expense, time and care that you are going to need to dedicate to your new friend. Some breeds of dog can cost anywhere from £50 – 150+ a month once you’ve factored in food, insurance, vet bills and accessories.
Do You Want to Adopt or Buy?
Not everyone wants to adopt however and although it is such a great thing to do there are valid reasons why it might not be for you. It can be difficult to gauge temperament for instance, which could be a problem if you have kids.
Buying a puppy means you have more control over how they are raised, but ensure you are buying from a reputable breeder. If you intend to buy, it might be worth making a donation to a local pet shelter or the RSPCA as well to help support dogs in need of re-homing.
Your Available Space and Breed Size
The amount of space you have in your home and garden is going to play a large factor in the breed of dog you should look for. Obviously if you are living in a small, one bed flat, a large breed such as a Dalmatian or Akita are probably not going to be suitable. You may also look for a nearby dog boarding facility in case you need somewhere to drop off your dog or if you need to leave your dog when you go on a trip.
If space is small, consider a ‘Toy’ breed such as a Chihuahua, Shih Tzu or Yorkshire Terrier. Remember that larger breeds typically require more exercise, so a large garden and easy access to fields and parks would be beneficial.
Grooming, Coats & Allergies
A dog’s coat can vary greatly; short or long, curly or straight. You should consider the amount of time you will be able to put aside to groom your pet. Typically, the longer haired breeds are going to require more grooming – but may be less prone to shedding.
All dogs are going to require some degree of grooming, especially if you want to keep their coat glossy. If you might not have a lot of time to dedicate to grooming however, consider shorthaired breeds such as Irish Terriers or Greyhounds. If grooming is going to be a major problem, maybe even consider a hairless breed such as the Chinese Crested!
If you have friends or family who are allergic to dogs (or maybe you are even allergic yourself!) you may be interested to know that some breeds of dog are consider ‘hypo-allergenic’. Whilst it is not possible for a dog to be completely hypoallergenic, some breeds are less likely than others to cause an allergic reaction. Breeds such as the Poodle or Bichon Frise are less likely to bring on the sniffs and sneezes.
Do you want a dog to go jogging with or a dog to laze around with you on the sofa? Do you have time to take your dog for a long walk every day? If you fancy a lazy dog you should probably consider a Chihuahua, Pug, Bulldog or (interestingly) a Greyhound. You might be surprised to see the Greyhound down as a lazy breed, but they are indeed low energy dogs!
If spending an entire Sunday afternoon in the park with nothing but you dog and a ball sounds appealing, you probably want a more energetic dog. Consider a Foxhound, Irish Wolfhound, Cocker Spaniel, Retriever, Doberman Pinscher or a Siberian Husky.
Is Intelligence Important?
If you are hoping that your dog is going to fetch you the paper every morning, you’re going to want a smart, quick learning breed. Certain breeds are well known for their intelligence, such as the Border Collie and Poodle. Other intelligent breeds include; Doberman Pinscher, German Shepard, Rottweiler, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer and the Welsh Corgi.
Do you Have Children?
If you’ve got kids, then ensure that you get a breed that is going to be safe to have around them. Nearly all dog breeds are considered child friendly, the only exceptions being the handful of breeds listed by the dangerous dogs act, which includes the Pitbull.
However, if you want to take extra precautions and ensure that there isn’t going to be any trouble between child and canine consider a Retriever, Pug, Beagle, Border Collie, Chihuahua, Dachshund or Jack Russell Terrier. Even large breeds such as Akitas or even Great Danes are safe to have around children. Just bear in mind with the large breeds there is a chance they can knock down smaller children if they get a little excited!
Some breeds of dog will happily live to the age of 14 or above whilst others are only with us for 7 or 8 years. Generally larger breeds are shorter lived, for example the average age of a Bernese Mountain dog is around 8 years. On the other hand, Jack Russell Terriers will happily achieve that 14-year goal.
Do You Need Protection?
Different breeds were originally breed to be better at certain tasks; one common task often assigned to dogs was standing guard. In fact many people still own dogs to act as guard dogs today.
Whilst you might not want a dog solely for protection, it can offer peace of mind if you know that your pet will act as a deterrent to would-be intruders when you’re not at home.
The most obvious breeds that spring to mind are the Rottweiler, Doberman, German Shepard, Mastiff and Bull terrier. You may or may not however, be surprised to hear that the Chow Chow also makes a good guard dog.
Have you had any good experiences with particular breeds? Can you suggest a great guard dog or clever canine? If you can, make sure to let us know in the comments below!