What dog is right for me?

The Big question – What dog is the right dog for me?

Group of five dogs

Bringing home a loveable new puppy, adopted adult dog or even an older dog can be one of life's big joys. But which one is the right dog for you.?  We have a few questions below that you may find, will help you out with the big decision.

Some helpful questions to keep in mind?

  • Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog? Remember that the average dog can live up to 12 years!
  • Will a dog fit in well with my family?
  • Will a dog get along with my other pets?
  • Is my home big enough for a dog? Do you have a back yard or garden? Is there a park nearby
  • Can I exercise my dog every day? Do you have time to take your dog for walks?
  • Is there someone at home all day? Dogs get lonely just like us!
  • Can I find the time to train and groom a dog?
  • Do you want to give your dog a lot of attention?

If you can answer "Yes" to these questions the next step is to ask yourself what sort of dog you would like?

Do you know what breed of dog you want?

Choosing a specific breed of dog has the advantage in that you will know what to expect but mongrels and cross breeds do not tend to have the health issues that certain breeds suffer from due to inbreeding

Make sure you do some background research on the breed of your dog. This will give you an insight into how the breed is likely to behave, how you need to care for them, and any common health complaints associated with the breed that you will need to keep an eye out for. Different breeds also require different amounts of exercise. Some breeds, such as Whippets and Border Collies, will need a lot more exercise than others such as Bulldogs or Basset Hounds would. This means you can find a breed that best suits your lifestyle based on how often they will need to head out for a walk.

Do you want a Puppy, an Adult or an Older Dog?

Bulldog Puppy and Adult

Puppies - need a lot of attention! Be prepared to spend a lot of your time training your puppy, especially over the first six months. Busy families should bear in mind that puppies can't be left alone for more than a few hours at a time. There may be a few little accidents in the house whilst your puppy is learning to be house trained and you might find your favourite slippers end up chewed to bits but with a little patience your efforts will be paid off with a well behaved and loving new pet.

Adult dogs  - can be a great choice if you do not have the time to dedicate to training a puppy as most adult dogs already know how to behave if they have been homed with a family before. You will have to spend some time getting your dog used to his new house so that he settles in as well as letting him get to know you so that you bond together happily.

Senior dogs  - can make wonderful companions. If you are looking for a calm, mature dog that prefers gentle walks to romping about then an older dog would be ideal. Remember that if you choose an older dog they will need special attention and may need to visit the vet more often due to old age. 

View our "Caring for Senior Dogs" guide to learn more

Do you want a Male or a Female?

If you already have a dog at home and want a companion for them it is best to opt for the opposite sex. The general rules are that a male dog will accept a female dog coming into his home better than another male. If you do opt for another male you will need to keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting on all right. A female dog will take to a male dog entering her home as most male dogs will display submissive behaviour to a female. The worst mix is two females as there is a higher chance that they will fight with each other.


Border Collie

Female dogs are smaller than males and some people believe that they are good choice if you have young children as they are naturally more mothering and protective over little ones – even if they are from another species! Some dog trainers reckon that females are smarter than males, are more willing to learn and have a longer attention span.

Males are larger than females, are more active and have better endurance. They have lots of energy and are fun to play with as well as being loyally protective. Male dogs may see children as playmates and if you have small children they may be frightened if your dog is very bouncy and frisky around them. If your dog is not neutered you could find him charging off to visit females in heat and fighting other male rivals.

Do you want a dog for a specific purpose?

You may already have set your heart on a little lap dog that you can carry around or a large dog you can enjoy the outdoors with. If you cannot decide, then perhaps a medium sized dog would be a good choice. Remember that large dogs need more space – will he fit in your car? Do you have plenty of room in your house and is your garden big enough? Large dogs also need more food. Small dogs can be more delicate and more sensitive to colder temperatures so you may need to buy a dog coat to keep them warm in winter.