Dog Breed Selection

German shepherdDogs come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. In fact, as a species it may be fair to say that dogs have more variety than almost any other mammal. Compare dogs with lions, bears, otters, or even deer, and you will see that there is a much wider range than in most other species.

So in one sense you are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a dog, but at the same time this creates a problem. If you wanted a pet hippopotamus you have a pretty good idea of what it looks like, how big it is, and so on. Dogs? Everything from something half the size of a small cat that so-called celebrities carry in their handbags to something the size of an Irish Wolfhound that weighs considerably more than you do.

So there are a number of factors to take into consideration when thinking about a canine companion.

Living Accommodation

playing ballNot the least of these is your living accommodation. If you have a one bedroom apartment you probably won’t want to share it with the aforementioned Irish Wolfhound. If you have a 1,000 acre farm, the Wolfhound will be no problem.

Do you have a yard? If you do, then it makes for easier living if your dog can go in and out as it pleases. How long can you spend taking a dog for walks each day? Half an hour? An hour? More? A big breed such as a St. Bernard, a German Shepherd, or a Great Dane will need much more exercise than a Chihuahua. Is there any open space near you where you can let your dog run free, or do you live in the center of town?

Do you have small children? If you do, you will need a dog with an easy going temperament.

Will your dog be left at home alone for a certain number of hours each week? Some breeds don’t seem to mind being alone, while others can get distressed if left for too long.

How active are you? Are you happy to go out jogging in the morning, taking a dog with you, or are you more of a couch potato?

How Much Can You Spend On Food?

How much are you willing to spend on dog food every week? Obviously, a big dog will eat far more than a Yorkshire Terrier. What about grooming? A long-haired variety such as an Afghan Hound is really going to need grooming daily in order to look its best and be comfortable, while a short-haired dog may only need a comb through once a fortnight.

Do you want a guard dog, or just a doe-eyed companion who is happy to snuggle up on your lap while you watch TV?

Two dogs playing Have you considered vets bills? Some breeds of dog tend to be high maintenance in this area. Great Danes, for instance, are lovely companions, but are relatively short lived and can suffer from all sorts of problems when only a few years old.

Some large breeds are the Mastiff which is courageous, yet docile and good-natured, the Newfoundland (very large) which is exceedingly friendly, the Black Russian Terrier which is very protective of family yet not too keen on strangers, and Dogue De Bordeaux which is protective, affectionate and loyal, yet not aggressive.

Medium sized breeds include Beagles (not so popular as they were 50 years ago) which are very easy-going, Airedale Terriers (very good with children, but aggressive towards other dogs), and the ever-popular spaniels with their long floppy ears, which are affectionate and good-tempered.

There are very many terriers in the small dog category, some of which are sparky and can be snappy if not well-trained. Many people love the ubiquitous Jack Russell for its’ immense intelligence, loyalty, and affection. Jacks can be the most wonderful companions, but need to be well-trained from an early age.

We can’t give all the answers here, but you can see that there a number of factors that you need to consider carefully in order to find the right canine friend for you. If you Google “how to select a dog” you will find a considerable amount of information, including a quiz from a well-known pet food manufacturer where you enter personal details (living space and so on) and your preferences, and are presented with a list of suitable dogs to fit in with your lifestyle. It is well worth checking out.