Given that a healthy, well-cared-for dog can live for 15 years, it’s important that you choose a breed carefully. To find out more about the key breeds and their main characteristics, click here. By comparing how different breeds will fit your lifestyle and your needs – both now and in the future – you can make a sensible decision that will give you years of enjoyment and companionship.
The first thing to consider is your existing lifestyle, and what type of dog will suit it best. If you have children or grandchildren (or plan to have them in the future) then you need to go for a breed that tolerates children. Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of dog, largely because they enjoy a reputation as a good family pet and get very attached to their owners. Of course, this means that they can develop separation anxiety if there is no one with them for large chunks of the day, resulting in destructive behavior. If the house is empty throughout the working day, a Labrador is not an appropriate breed.
The Family Role
It’s also important to think about the role that you expect a dog fill in your family life. For example, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an ideal choice as a companion dog. However, if you want a dog that would alert you if someone was breaking into your house, that breed would be more likely to befriend the intruder than sound the alarm. Some dogs thrive on activities and being busy, others aren't as active and would prefer a more sedentary lifestyle.
Another big consideration is how much time you have available to commit to a dog. In order to properly evaluate this you need to consider the needs of yourself and your chosen breed. For example, a false assumption that many first-time owners make is that, the bigger a dog is, the more exercise they need. This does not necessarily follow: Greyhounds only need a small amount of exercise compared to a physically smaller Jack Russell Terrier.
An awareness of a dog’s training needs – the intelligent and eager-to-please Labrador requires comparatively less work than more challenging or less intelligent animals – is also useful, while you should also find out about grooming dogs. Don’t forget to also consider issues such as the cost of dog ownership, registration, and legal requirements. Avoid taking on a dog with higher needs than you can meet – it won’t benefit either you or the animal.
Choosing the right dog is a case of balancing priorities, making educated predictions about the future, and doing your research. All that time will be worth it, though, for a pet that your family will cherish.