Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from Irish Wolfhounds to Chihuahuas, with over 200 dog breeds recognised by the Kennel Club alone. The most important thing when choosing a dog is to look sensibly at your lifestyle and decide which breed fits best. Rescue centres are full of dogs that people picked because they saw one on television and only later realised they were unsuitable.
A Dog’s Purpose
Dogs were originally bred to fulfil a specific role. Breeds such as the Border Collie were bred to work continuously all day; they are incredibly intelligent dogs that require a lot of physical and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. They are not lapdogs and are unsuitable for those happiest curled up on the sofa!
Tricks of the Trade
The role a dog was bred for affects its characteristics. Terriers were bred to deal with vermin so may not be the best of friends with your hamster, for example! Breeds like the Doberman, however, were bred as guard dogs so are often suspicious of strangers and prone to barking.
On the go
All dogs need exercise. There is no breed of dog suitable for someone who is not prepared for this. Active breeds like the Springer Spaniel will require at least two hours of walking every day, in all weathers and have a strong desire to work; they may become destructive if these needs are not met.
Coat type varies, and different breeds call for different levels of coat care. Breeds such as the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, for example, require a serious commitment to grooming and remember to account for professional grooming fees. Some breeds are also more prone to moulting!
Love is in the air
Depending on the relationship you want to have with your dog, it is worth bearing in mind that not all dogs are as happy with physical displays of affection as we humans are. Conversely, Toy breeds bred for companionship, like the Maltese, thrive on human company and can suffer from separation anxiety.
Sadly, all pedigree breeds suffer from associated health problems. Brachycephalic breeds including Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs often suffer from severe respiratory and eye problems. A responsible breeder should have certification confirming that all necessary health checks have been performed before breeding, so be sure to check before you buy and avoid buying from puppy farms.
Mixing it up
There are too many breeds to cover comprehensively here but, for many, a crossbreed may be the preferred option. The rise of ‘designer’ crossbreeds, however, has given the impression that this is an exact science; it isn’t. Size, temperament, coat length and personality of a puppy can take after any of the breeds in its genetic make-up, even varying between puppies from the same litter.
The best way to choose a dog is by careful research. Read as much as you can and speak to experienced owners. Breeders and rescue centre staff should be happy to help with any questions to ensure you find your perfect partnership.
Blog by OneKind Planet volunteer, Ami Patrick.