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How to choose your dog breed

I am asked so frequently why we chose to get a Bloodhound. Yes, we like how they look, but it's much deeper than that. It started with an investigation into vulnerable breeds in the UK (you can learn more here), followed by the typical questions one asks when getting to know more about a dog breed. Discussions were had, and we both said that the breed appealed; we didn't think much more of it at that time. Sadly, an incident occurred a few years ago wherein a dog I knew vanished without a trace, and all I could think was that our (then fictional) Bloodhound could have saved the day. In Norma's name, I decided I had my heart set on a tracking dog to help in crisis. The rest is history.

Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that morphology (appearance) is the number one deciding factor when it comes to choosing a dog. While the best of us cannot resist an adorable face, there are far more important things to consider when choosing your dog breed and making that commitment. I have seen too many times people make bad choices when it comes to the right breed, and I believe this accounts for a huge number of dogs going through rescue. Read on to learn more about finding your breed.

Rottweilers are a fantastic choice for experienced owners looking for affectionate dogs.


One of the most important factors when researching breeds is the consideration of your lifestyle, and more importantly the commitment you are able to offer them.

Consider the following:

  • How much time do you have for exercise?

  • How much time do you have for mental stimulation?

  • Does this breed require external activities such as dog sports?

  • Will this breed cope with your work schedule?

  • Is this breed typically social or more reclusive?

  • Does this breed typically mix well with others?

The amount of times I see people with full time jobs getting working breeds and complaining when the dog is tearing the house to shreds or chasing the cat is insane. I spoke to someone once who was concerned about the Patterdale's exuberance when trying to introduce him to the hamster. It was a short conversation.

Learn what your breed was bred to do and expect to meet those needs. If you are not able to meet those needs you will inevitably end up in hot water (more about behaviour problems later).


Nobody wants to talk about money, but it's an important decider. I have a giant breed, so he costs more to feed. His crate was more expensive, so are his collars and harnesses. We have to pay more for flea and worming as the dose is larger. Generally, the bigger the dog - the more expensive to shop for.

With regards to insurance your premium will vary depending on breed. As far as I am concerned, insurance is non-negotiable as a responsible owner, and so you should be aware how much your breed costs. Dogs prone to health issues such as Bulldogs (of varying types) are extortionate to insure. A good old Heinz 57 is much cheaper.



Often forgotten, grooming is an overlooked part of pet care. Any designer crossbreed (e.g. Poodle cross) is likely to need grooming and it is absolutely a mandatory part of their care. Failing to have your dog groomed can cause all sorts of pain and discomfort, and often feeds into behaviour problems also. Groomers break their backs (literally) to keep dogs in great shape, and they charge accordingly. You will also need to be prepared to keep a regular grooming schedule at home.

Short coated dogs require significantly less maintenance when it comes to grooming.


A difficult thing to grasp is the lifespan of your desired breed. Typically, the bigger the dog the shorter the lifespan, and vice versa. Whether your preference is a shorter or longer life (both being valid for many reasons), it's something that's always worth considering.


You must find out about common behaviour problems affecting your breed. From BAOS in French Bulldogs, to IVDD in Dachsunds, to hip and elbow dysplasia in many large breeds, the results if you are unprepared can be catastrophic. There are plenty of vets who will be happy to help if you ring to ask for their advice before making a commitment. Once you have learned about these conditions be prepared to pay for insurance, and it always helps to have emergency money aside too.

Common behaviour problems

Work/life balance, who is she? I would be thrilled if somebody were to email and ask about common behaviour problems before making a commitment to a breed. My current role at Dogs Trust has allowed me to speak to thousands of dog owners about the problems they are experiencing, and believe me there are patterns. I've created a popular series about this on Tik Tok if you'd like to hear my thoughts.

I suggest asking people who have this breed about the behaviour problems they have experienced. Breeders may not be forthcoming with the information, but it doesn't hurt to ask. You can often find Facebook groups dedicated to breeds, so make use of that wealth of information also.

Final advice for choosing a dog breed

By now you should be familiar with what questions to ask and what research to conduct in order to discover the right breed for you. If I can give you any further advice, it it this:

  1. Meet the breed - don't wait until you're purchasing one to meet them for the first time

  2. Then, meet more of the breed - go to shows, join groups - meet lots of different ones

  3. Ask the difficult questions and be prepared for the answers - it is better to know ahead of time

  4. Reach out to professionals and ask for our opinions

Best of luck!

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