When it comes to choosing what kind of dog is best for you and your family, the choice can seem a bit overwhelming as there are hundreds of dog breeds out there (not including all the mixed breeds). Some considerations when choosing the best suited dog are listed below:
Pedigree or mixed breed
With more than 200 dog breeds recognised in the UK alone, plus all those adorable crossbreeds and mixed breeds in infinite variety. The development of dog breeds for specific purposes has led to more variations than most other species. The main advantage of choosing a pedigree is predictability. You can be fairly certain that you will get predetermined size, coat length and texture, character, energy level and susceptibility to illness. Mixed breeds (mongrels) come from a non-pedigree background. Sometimes you can see a few hints as to the parentage, with others it’s impossible to guess. Genetically mixed breeds are often healthier, since they usually have a larger gene pool and fewer hereditary problems
Available Space for your Dog
The amount of room that you have will obviously affect the type of breed you can get. Some dogs can be at home in an apartment while others need more room. Larger dogs obviously need more space, especially when they’re puppies when they like to play more (although their activity levels may change as they get older). This is not to say that you can’t have a larger dog in an apartment but you will need to take extra care to make sure your dog gets enough exercise by taking your dog out on walks more often etc.
Also, do not assume that a dog’s size directly reflects his activity levels. Most small and toy breeds are very active and enjoy a lot of running around (although they may need less room to do so!), while large, giant breeds have moderate-to-low levels of activity and are more content lying on the sofa than running around outside.
If you prefer a big breed, you also need to keep in mind that they generally shed more, eat more, and potentially cost more in medical expenses (most medications are usually prescribed according to size and weight).
Children with Dogs
Obviously the most important aspect here is the safety of both your children and the dog. Although you naturally need to exercise caution, some breeds are generally more tolerant of children than others. Small-to-medium size dogs are generally preferred for households with small children as it is easy for bigger dogs to accidentally knock down a small child during playtime or with a swipe of his tail. Smaller toy dogs (Chihuahuas, Maltese) are often too fragile for a young child so if you are considering a toy breed you need to teach your child to properly handle a small dog. The temprement of the breed also needs to be taken into consideration with some breeds being generally more placid than others.
The amount of exercise you can provide your dog will significantly dictate the breed you will choose. Some dogs need to be exercised often while others may be content sitting on your couch for most of the day. Again, size is not an indication of energy level as some of the smallest dogs are extremely high energy dogs so you need to do your research based on your energy level.
When it comes to shedding, you need to ask yourself if you can put up with hair and fur in your house or not. Some dogs shed heavily while others may be seasonal shedders and others are low to no shedding. It is important to note that long-haired and thick coated dogs don’t necessarily shed more than short haired dogs. Rather it’s the breed of dog that dictates how much they are likely to shed so again do your research.
In general, long dog hair will need to be groomed more often. Some dogs will also need professional grooming. There are two things you have to consider here which are time and cost. If you are planning to groom your dog yourself, you need to be aware that some breeds will need daily grooming in order to look clean. If you are planning to take your dog to a professional groomer then you may want to ask local groomers in your area about the cost of grooming so you can have an idea of how much you will need to spend.
If allergies are a problem in your household, then consider a hypo-allergenic breed. This doesn’t mean that the dog will be completely allergy-free but it will mean that your dog will generate less amounts of allergy causing elements. Bichon Frise and Poodles (as will as variations of these breeds) are examples of dogs that cause fewer allergies.
For more information, we recommend you contact The Kennel Club who may have a list of litters available, or can put you in contact with breeders in your area. You could also contact the larger dog shelter organisations such as The Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs Home or Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Dublin SPCA).