How to choose a dog

01 Nov 2018

You’ve thought about it long and hard, spent hours looking at pictures on the Internet and you’ve already dreamt of your future together. But with hundreds of dog breeds to choose from, how do you choose the perfect dog for you?

All dogs are different, but if you consider the following key areas, you can easily find your future best friend.


Regardless of the type of dog you choose, health should be one of the most important considerations. Some dog breeds have diseases in their family lines, so it’s important to only get a pedigree or purebred dog from a breeder that tests for these known diseases.

Speak to your local veterinarian and spend some time reading up on the diseases associated with your favourite breed so you can avoid buying a dog with an inherited disease. Ensure any puppy you buy has been checked by a registered veterinarian and received its first vaccination.

If you get a mixed breed, such as a rescue dog, buy from a reputable rescue or shelter organisation. Rescue dogs from shelters such as the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League have already been checked over by a veterinarian, which means any major health issues will have been detected.

If you plan on getting an adult dog rather than a puppy, ask the seller to get a health certificate from a veterinarian first, to ensure your new dog is in top health.

Temperament and behaviour

The personality of a dog will greatly influence their ability to adapt to change and consequently will influence your relationship with them.

Temperament is not breed-specific - it is highly individual and genetic. This is why it is so important to meet your dog first before bringing them home.

Dogs can have all kinds of temperaments - shy, confident, submissive, adaptable. How can you tell what kind of temperament your dog has? Watch how it interacts with other dogs, humans and the environment.

Even young puppies will show their temperament when interacting with littermates. If you want a confident dog, look for the puppy that approaches humans without fear or initiates play with littermates.

Adult dogs are even easier to assess temperament, as their personalities have fully matured. Spend time with your future dog at the shelter and get to know one another.

Your circumstances and lifestyle when choosing a dog

Your circumstances matter just as much, if not more, than your future dog’s health or temperament. Are you looking for a dog to spend time with your children? Do you live in an apartment? Do you work long hours and won’t be home often? Is it a running buddy you’re looking for? Or perhaps a couch potato to watch Netflix with?

Be really honest with yourself. Dogs are fantastic companions who usually adapt well to circumstances, however, you need to consider matching your lifestyle with your future dog.

Your dog’s age, its requirements for exercise, how much time you can commit to walks and playtime, and whether you can look after it for the next 15 years are important considerations.

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