How to find the right dog for you
A lot of people underestimate the importance of finding the right dog. With so many adorable breeds that pull on our heartstrings, it’s easy to go for a canine just because they look cute. But when it comes to choosing the perfect pooch, it’s all about personality and temperament.
Humans have bred all kinds of dogs over the years, ensuring each breed serves a specific purpose. Collies are smart and expert sheepherders; Dalmatians used to be used as carriage dogs to pull carts; and St Bernards have a reputation as being skilled rescue dogs. Each of these traits makes these canines stand out, and better suited to certain homes and environments.
Some dog-owners stick with the same breed throughout their lives. They’ll build up an affection for a certain type of dog and find that they’re well suited to home life. If you’ve not owned a dog before and you’re looking to buy a new pup, choosing what breed to get can be a challenge, especially seeing as there are officially 218 recognised breeds according to the Kennel Club.
From tiny Chihuahuas to cheeky Beagles, active gun dogs, sniff-obsessed hounds and giant breeds like the Great Dane, the list goes on and on.
You may also be considering a rescue dog or crossbreed, in which case you’ll probably have different requirements. The handy thing about getting a rescue dog is that you can go and meet them and get to know them before you take them home – a great way to see if they’ll be a good fit with your family. Although narrowing down your search and considering which type of dog you want can still be tough.
But don’t fret, because we’re here to help. This straightforward guide will cover some of the things you need to think about before deciding on a particular pup. You’ll also want to compare dog insurance to make sure whatever bundle of love you bring home is adequately covered.
Top 3 things to consider before purchasing a pooch
What kind of lifestyle do you lead?
Some dog breeds and dog owners just don’t go well together. For instance, owners that lead a chilled-out life and don’t fancy walking for two hours a day may not want to get a Husky or a Weimaraner. People that don’t like mess, dirt or mountains of dog hair may not want to go for a double-coated breed that sheds, like a Malamute or German Shepherd.
Do you work long hours and have a very busy night life? You’ll probably want a low maintenance dog, and you’ll need to make sure someone is around enough to give them the care and attention they need. Or maybe you’ve got a very active family that likes to go out for long walks or go running with your canine pal?
Some dog breeds are happy to be lap dogs and chill on the sofa for most of the day, whereas others literally don’t stop. Take Greyhounds, for example. Yes, they’re known for being super speedy, but they also have a reputation for being ‘the world’s fastest couch potato’. This is because once they’ve had a good sprint, they like to have some downtime.
Other breeds like Staffies, Beagles, Collies and Cocker Spaniels tend to be more playful, full of energy and constantly on the go.
How much space do you have in your house?
Do you have a decent size, fully enclosed garden where your hound can run around and stretch their paws? If you’ve only got a small garden, this might impact what sort of dog you can get.
Breeds that need lots of exercise or a large garden won’t enjoy being cooped up. You’ll also want to think about how much space you’ve got inside your home, and what size dog might be the right fit.
Like humans, dogs like their own space sometimes so it’s essential you have an area in your home where your pooch can relax in its own bed away from everyone else.
How much time can you dedicate to a dog?
Certain dog breeds need more training and attention than others. Consider how much time you’ve got to dedicate to training and how much you’ll be around. Some breeds are more inclined to suffer from separation anxiety like the Hungarian Vizsla and prefer their owners to be around most of the time, whereas others are happy to be left for longer periods.
How to meet different dog breeds
One of the best things you can do when deciding which dog to get is to spend some time with different breeds. It’s only when you interact with certain breeds that you realise they might be a good fit.
Events like Crufts and Discover Dogs are a great way of meeting lots of dog breeds in one place. At Discover Dogs, for example, they have owners with examples for every breed. So if you’ve got a few breeds on your shortlist, you can go and meet them in person, and also ask their owners about personality traits, training and potential health problems.
How do you tell what breed your dog is?
If you’ve already got a dog, and you’re not sure what breed they are, there are ways to find out. Maybe you’ve got a crossbreed – you think they’re a lab collie cross and you really like their temperament. If you want to get another dog crossed with the same breeds, it makes sense to check that your current pooch is definitely the mix you think they are.
You can do DNA tests for dogs which will identify what breeds your dog is made up of. Or you can always ask an expert for their opinion, such as your vet or a dog behaviourist, if you don’t want to shell out for a test.
Potential health issues
It’s also worth noting that some dog breeds, particularly pedigree breeds, suffer from hereditary health problems. For example, Weimaraners often get twisted guts, labs can suffer from obesity and hip problems and boxers are more prone to skin cancer and tumours. If you are tempted to get a particular type of dog, you may want to check what health problems they’re likely to get.
This doesn’t need to stop you getting the type of dog you love, but it’s useful to be aware of what to expect, so you can compare dog insurance and get a better idea of ownership costs.
Don't rule out crossbreeds
As we’ve just discussed, purebred pedigree dogs often suffer from more health conditions. They’re often bred to have specific physical features, some of which aren’t actually very healthy. Like flat-faced dogs, for example – the shape of their face means they often have difficulty breathing. Some experts believe crossbreeds are often healthier than their purebred counterparts.
They’re also usually cheaper and you get the benefit of enjoying characteristics from a few different breeds all in one dog. Poodle crosses are becoming particularly popular at the moment, with lots of owners falling for the cute charms of Cockapoos and bouncy Labradoodles. If you’ve not met many crossbreed dogs before, consider visiting your local dog rescue centre where you can meet a variety of mixed breeds.
Consider the coat
Another key thing to think about is what sort of coat type you want your dog to have. As mentioned earlier, dogs with double coats will moult. This means you’ll need to clean and hoover regularly to keep on top of the hair. And when it comes to coat types, there’s also grooming to consider. Some breeds, like Lhasa Apsos and Bichon Frise, need regular grooms, and whilst you can learn to do it yourself, it’s not that easy, especially if you’re a first-time owner.
The cost of regular appointments at the groomers is certainly something to consider. You may want to opt for dogs that don’t shed, such as Poodles, Cockapoos and Portuguese Water Spaniels.
There are several different coat types that dogs can have including silky, double, wire, wool, smooth and combination.
What are the most expensive dog breeds?
Money might also be a factor when considering what dog to get. Here’s a list of the most expensive dog breeds in the world, as cited by The Telegraph. It includes Samoyed, French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs.
A new puppy can range between £200 and £3,000 depending on what breed you go for. You’ll also want to research how much the type of dog you want is likely to cost on a monthly and yearly basis. Consider costs such as how much food they will need and how expensive they are to insure.
What is the best dog to get?
How long is a piece of string? There’s no real answer as to what the best dog breed is, because it really depends on your needs and requirements. A certain breed may be best for some people, but not others. Really, the best breed of dog to get is the one that will fit in with your family based on their breed characteristics.
Make a list of desirable doggy traits
One way to narrow down what sort of pup you want is to make a list of what you’re looking for in a dog. For example, you might want some of the following traits:
- Protective with the ability to be a good guard dog
- Great with kids and young people
- High exercise needs
- Low exercise needs
- Needy, loving and affectionate
- Laid, back, happy in their own company
- Easy to train
- Good recall
Make your own list of desirable personality traits and then try to match these with dog breeds that tick some of your boxes. This will enable you to narrow down your list of prospective pooches. Then you’ll want to meet different breeds in person to see whether you feel like they’d make a good addition to your family.
Remember whatever breed you go for, individuals can still vary!
It’s really important to remember that whilst specific breeds usually have certain characteristics, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some pups grow up and don’t exactly fit the mould and display a personality that doesn’t match their breed.
Different dog breed groups
Looking at a huge list of over 200 types of dogs can be a tad overwhelming. In order to help narrow down your search, you might want to review the different groups of dogs.
The Kennel Club divides all dogs into seven different groups: toy, utility, working, terriers, hounds, pastoral, gundogs and crossbreeds. These are the groups you’ll see at Crufts. For a brief explanation of the characteristics of each group and the breeds that fall within them, take a look at the Blue Cross website.
Which dog is best for a family?
If you have a young family with children under the age of seven or eight, you’ll want to think carefully about what dog to get. Some breeds can be too big and boisterous for little kids, and even if it’s unintentional, they can knock little ones over.
Plus, certain breeds are naturally great with children and others are not so fond of them. Here are some breeds that are good with kids according to the Kennel Club, including Poodles, Boxers and Labradors.
What is the smallest dog breed in UK?
Are you a fan of tiny toy breeds? If you prefer your canine companion to be on the smaller side, then there are lots of options to choose from. You could go for a Papillion, Pug or Shih Tzu. But which breed is the smallest? Chihuahuas take that crown.
The smallest dog in the world is a Chihuahua, and they can live up to around 18 years old in some cases. Do keep in mind if you get a smaller dog that they tend to live longer than larger dogs, which means more of a commitment. Here are some handy tips on how to care for smaller dogs. Remember, to compare dog insurance for your tiny friend too as even small dogs need protecting!
Compare dog insurance for the best deal
No matter what dog you choose, one of the first things you’ll want to do is look around for dog insurance. Go Get it understands that dogs have different needs, and it’s crucial to find the right level of insurance for your pup. Pick from basic cover, such as accident only, to lifetime cover that protects your pooch throughout its life with you. Not sure where to start? Compare dog insurance online today.