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If you are thinking about getting a dog, you may be struggling to figure out which breed is the right one to go for. There is so much choice that it can be difficult to even know where to start. So what do you need to think about when choosing the right dog for you?

Size

This should be one of the first things you think about as it can significantly narrow down the options available to you. Some people don’t like tiny dogs, whereas others don’t like very large dogs so have a think about the size that you want. If you aren’t sure, consider the sizes that you are pretty sure you don’t want. It may be the case that you don’t want a tiny dog but you’re not adverse to the idea of a smaller dog. You also need to think about whether or not you can actually control the dog. If you struggle to lift heavy things, a big dog like an Alsatian may not be ideal; they could pull you over if they are too enthusiastic on a walk. However, something smaller and lighter like a Yorkshire Terrier may be a better option because you can easily pick them up.

Energy levels

The size of dog you have will obviously be a contributing factor to the sort of energy levels it has to consider what you want from your dog. If you are keen to go out and do lots of exercise and even work out with your dog, you might like the idea of a very energetic breed that enjoys being outside and running around. However, if you’d rather have a dog that is quite happy to curl up on the sofa with you in the evenings, you’ll be looking at a rather different breed.

Free time

You need to think carefully about how much free time you can dedicate to your dog on a daily basis. An energetic breed will obviously want to go out and exercise more, so you should work out exactly how much time you have spare to exercise your dog each day. On top of that, you need to have enough time to actually play with your dog as well as exercise him. These things all start to mount up, so a larger dog may take up more time than a smaller one that can happily entertain himself and get a decent amount of exercise from just running around the house.

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Reputation

Some dogs have a reputation for exhibiting certain traits and habits. For example, Rottweilers have been known to have a more aggressive streak but poodles are often thought of as quite docile and ideal for older people. Find out what your friend’s dogs are like and see if any of them have a particular behavioural trait that you don’t like. Their personality can also show you how trainable they are. Bichon Frise breeds are notoriously difficult to train, but Labradors pick things up much faster.

Personality

Some people like the idea of having a dog as part of the family. They want him to sit with them on the sofa, sleep on their bed and be with them all the time. However, there are other people who want to have a dog for more practical reasons like guarding the house. They may want them to just sleep in their dog beds – rather than on on anyone else’s bed – and largely keep to themselves. Different breeds have different personalities so you will see more affection from some dogs over others.

With the trait for affection also comes the friendliness of your dog. Some of them are more than happy to live with a whole range of different animals while others, particularly hunting or working dogs are not comfortable with this. You need to think carefully about why you are getting a dog, because the reasons will determine whether you need him to be sociable with other animals or to simply be obedient to any commands you give him. If you have other pets already, you need to be sure that your new dog can get along with them happily.

Training

Again, if your dog is going to be a working dog, he will need to be very trainable to ensure his own safety as well as that of yourself and other people. Some breeds are notoriously difficult to train so if you are happy for your dog to have the run of the house and be the top of the chain of command this won’t be an issue. Many people like their dog to know basic commands to think carefully about this one when choosing what dog to have.

Similarly, you need to decide if you want your dog to be a form of protection as well. They will need training if they are to be guard dogs but they will also probably need a slightly threatening or aggressive nature. If you’re looking for a family dog, this sort of protection won’t be as essential and so the type of breed will be quite different.

Grooming

All dogs need some level of grooming and maintenance so you need to decide how much time you are prepared to spend getting him into good condition. Some breeds need grooming on a daily basis, whereas others are very low-maintenance and don’t need to be brushed or have their coats maintained – with the exception of a trip to the groomers occasionally. If you do have a very busy lifestyle, a lower maintenance dog may be a better option.

All of these elements need to be given careful thought before you make a final decision on the type of dog you get. Personal circumstances have a huge impact on the lifestyle of the dog so make sure you can give him the best life possible. Taking a bit of time to make a list of the things that you want and need from your dog – as well as what you can offer him – can make the final decision much easier in choosing the right breed for you.

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