Choosing a puppy – a practical guide

So, you’ve decided you’d like to get a puppy. What next? Here’s some practical advice about how to start the process of deciding which type of dog is right for you.

The first step is to make a plan. Begin by making a list, writing down a description of what you want the ideal adult dog to be.

Consider how it would fit into your lifestyle – whether you’d like a dog that enjoys curling up with you on the sofa, or taking long hikes, or playing ball. Do you plan to take it on holidays with you, either within the country or abroad? If abroad, consider how you will travel, as ferries, planes and trains all present different kinds of challenge for a dog.

Then there’s the question of visiting family and friends. Are you likely to take your pup with you on long journeys in a car or on a train?

Give some thought to the indoor places you may like to visit with your dog: pub and cafes, hotels and B&Bs, tents, camper vans and caravans.

Ask yourself if your puppy will be left at home while you’re at work. If you’re looking at a sporty and active breed, are you going to be able to fit in enough time to exercise them before and after work on the shortest winter days?

If you’re hoping for a long coat or a fluffier type of dog, factor in the time it will take you to shower them off, towel them and brush them out after wet and muddy walks. If you’re looking at a breed that needs regular grooming, you’ll need to put aside the time and budget to take them to the groomers.

Perhaps you’d like to compete with your dog in sports or showing. That comes with its own set of considerations.

All of these things need to be taken into account when making a plan about which breed, or mix of breeds, to choose.

We all have preferences of what we like in terms of looks, size, coat and so on. But admiring the appearance of a certain breed doesn’t necessarily mean it has the right personality traits to join the family.

In fact, choosing a breed that isn’t the right fit usually has three different outcomes.

  • You adjust your lifestyle to fit the needs of the dog. This could involve getting started in dog sports, changing your job to accommodate their needs, or even moving to a totally different type of house.
  • You end up rehoming the dog, as it’s simply not working for either of you. This can be heartbreaking.
  • You have a difficult life with the dog for its lifetime – and while you can employ the help of professionals to make some things easier, it won’t change the fact that you’re simply not a good fit.

There are hundreds of breeds and crosses out there. Among this huge variety, there’s a perfect choice for everyone – a dog you love the look of which is also a good fit for you. It’s just a case of doing your research and not rushing into it.

Spend time with the breed, go to breed shows or competitions, make friends with breeders and owners. Ask as many questions as you can. All of this will ensure you’re getting the right pup for you.

To get you started, head back next week for our guide to the seven different groups of dog and the most popular breeds within them.