Which dog breed is right for you?

Living Well | Dr Kerry Bail | Posted on 10 March 2019

Vet tips to help you choose the perfect pet.

Many of us who own dogs have a favourite breed that we keep going back to. But if you’ve never had a pooch, choosing your new best friend can be quite a challenge. 

These are some of the factors you should consider:

Studio portrait of French Bulldog Puppy sitting and staring directly at camera.

French bulldogs may require frequent trips to the vet.


Portrait of a Border Collie

Love dog sports? A border collie could be the pet for you .


Italian greyhound smiling at the camera against a purple backdrop

Italian greyhounds love to lounge.


Size

How big a dog do you want? How big is your car? Dogs vary from just a few kilograms to giant breeds such as great danes and English mastiffs, which can weigh more than 100 kilograms. Size also reflects lifespan. Small dogs generally average up to 16 years, whereas most giant breeds average only eight years.

Grooming

Long coat or short? Do you want a dog that needs regular grooming and haircuts? Do you want a dog that sheds a lot, a little or not at all? Poodles and bichon frise shed minimally and are good for people with allergies, but all dogs shed to some degree, and heavy shedders need frequent grooming. 

Purpose

Why are you getting a dog? Is it a pet for the kids? Cavalier King Charles spaniels and border terriers are some of the best breeds for children. Hungarian vizslas are a larger breed that are especially gentle with little ones.

Do you want an exercise companion? Kelpies are great to run with, but need a lot of space and exercise. The kelpie show strain requires less exercise than the working strains. 

If you’re after protection, rottweilers and Australian cattle dogs make great guard dogs and are often good with family, but they can be very aggressive and may be risky with young children and visitors. Rhodesian ridgebacks can make excellent guard dogs, as they are very protective but can also be very gentle with kids.

Cost

What is your budget, now and down the track? Some breeds may have you visiting the veterinary clinic a lot. For example, brachycephalic (flat-faced) types such as French bulldogs and pugs have many health issues. While most pure-breds are expensive, vet bills will differ depending on breed.

Majestic profile of red vizsla looking up golden red vizsla puppy dog looking up on white background profile of head and shoulders

Vizslas are a gentle breed and great if you have little ones. 


Portrait of a blond labrador retriever dog looking at the camera with mouth open seen from the front on a blue turquoise background

Labradors are great for sportier pursuits.


portrait of a Jack Russell Terrier puppy.

Avoid Jack Russells if you own cats and bunnies.


Adoption 

Have you considered a rescue dog? Dogs in shelters can be available at various ages, including pups. Most pure-bred clubs also have rescue organisations that re-home their breed if owners’ circumstances change.

The time factor

How much time can you spend with your dog? Are you a busy person who is not at home much, or do you have lots of spare time? Will your dog often be alone, or is there someone at home during the day? Greyhounds, Italian greyhounds and whippets need daily exercise, but are very happy to just lounge around the rest of the time.

Living conditions 

How big is your property, and how close are your neighbours? Small dogs such as pomeranians, Maltese, shih tzus and their crosses do well in apartments. Will your dog sleep inside or outside? On your bed or in their own bed?

Other pets

Do you have other animals, and are they compatible with dogs? Some dogs have a strong hunting instinct and may try to eat Peter Rabbit. Many terriers, such as Jack Russells and fox terriers, will not get along with cats and bunnies. If they are brought up together from puppyhood, though, most dogs can become friends with other species.

Sports and shows

Are you interested in dog sports such as agility or flyball? Training? Showing? Border collies, kelpies, labradors, German shepherds and Shetland sheepdogs (Shelties) are among the many breeds that excel at sports.

At the end of the day, you have a big decision. If you talk to breeders, they will be passionate about their breeds, and possibly biased. It’s a good idea to talk to the professionals at your vet clinic who work with animals day-in and day-out. All dogs are individuals, but vets and nurses get to know the traits of particular breeds, which ones make good family pets, which ones might be aggressive, and which ones are easy to train.

Veterinarian Dr Kerry Bail works out of Emerald Veterinary Clinic and owns Great & Small Veterinary Services in Upper Beaconsfield.