Choosing a Dog

The following questions can be used as a guide when helping you to choose which dog is best suited to you and your lifestyle.

Can offer it the right type of home? A particularly important question is do you have enough space? Do you have the time and money involved in animal ownership? What age are your children? How stable will your life be over the next 10-15 years?

Please select from the options below to learn more about choosing a dog as your pet.

Selecting your pet

You will be able to purchase a dog from a breeder, kennels, shelters and rescue associations. Some of these sources are better than others, but all options deserve consideration before deciding where to get your dog.

If you decide to purchase from a breeder, you will have already decided that you want a pure-bred dog. Lists of breeders can be found in veterinary clinics, Breeder Directories on the internet and grooming parlours. Failing that, the best method of selection is usually from a friend.

Rescue organisations usually have plenty of dogs looking for re-homing. These places are dedicated to re-homing dogs in homes best suited for each dog. Volunteers, or workers at these organisations may well want to come to your home to meet you and have a good look round your home and garden to help you decide which dog would be most suitable for you and your family.

Selecting the right breed

If you are an active individual, you may be best suited to a dog which needs a lot of exercise, such as a Jack Russell Terrier, a Dalmatian, or a German Shorthaired Pointer. If you lead a more sedentary lifestyle, then a Bichon Frise may suit you better (see table below).

A guide to selecting a dog for your and your family (Taken from ‘Understanding your dog’ Dr Elisa Flint)

Good family dogs
King Charles Spaniel
Golden Retriever
Rhodesian Ridgeback

High energy dogs
Cocker Spaniel
German Shepherd
Jack Russell Terrier
Labrador Retriever
Springer Spaniel
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Low energy dogs
Bichon Frise
West Highland White Terrier
Rhodesian Ridgeback

Guard dogs
German Shepherd
Rhodesian Ridgeback

This list is not exhaustive, and should only be used as a guide when selecting a dog.

Space requirements

For a small dog, you must have a minimum outdoor area size of 125m2, and 250m2 for a medium to large dog. There must also be room for the dog to run around and play, and to go to the toilet well away from its living area.

Time and money requirements

Dogs, particulary puppies, are very time consuming. You must be there almost all the time during the first three months to help house-train the puppy. Adult dogs can be left on their own for longer periods of time, but preferably not longer than four hours at a time. If you work away from home all the time, or if you do not have the option of a dog-walker, then it is unfair to consider taking on a dog. You must to able to take the dog for long walks, preferably twice a day for at least 30 minutes and be willing to spend time and money on taking your dog to obedience classes.

Your future

A dog’s life expectancy is typically between 10-15 years. If you are still living at home with your parents, do you know where you will be in 5-10 years time, or do you regularly travel with work? If you are not in a stable job, or are considering moving away to go to University, now may not be the best time to consider taking on a dog. Dogs can become very attached to their owners and get upset when suddenly separated from them for long periods of time. If you have children, it is easier to wait until your youngest child is at least five years old before getting a puppy. This recommendation is based on the fact that young children and puppies do not react well together, and adult dogs need time to adjust when a new baby arrives into their home.