What is the best dog for me? How to choose a breed of puppy

By Gemma Hopkins on 01 July 2017

We’ve all heard the saying “a dog is not just for Christmas”, and as such bringing home a furry friend should be treated with the appropriate time and consideration to ensure a healthy and happy environment for both the family and the dog. With so many pups to pick from, making a sensible decision can be a bit baffling, so we’ve simplified the process by creating a simple system for the UK’s ten most popular breeds so you can finally answer that question, “what is the best dog for me?”.

Labrador

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Labradors are the best-loved family pet in the country, and it’s easy to see why! Adorable, loyal, playful, active and affectionate, Labradors are the picture-perfect family pet, and they won’t ever stray from your side. They’re a healthy breed, easy to groom, and highly intelligent, although prone to weight gain if loved a little too much! Despite their good temperament, however, they can be needy, and require plenty of space to roam about both inside and out. Labradors can walk for hours, and love toys and other stimuli to keep them entertained at home.

 

Cocker Spaniel

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Friendly, laid-back and playful, Cocker Spaniels are excellent pets and great fun to own. They require a moderate amount of exercise to keep them happy, and are intelligent enough to take orders easily. They shed excessively and often require heavy grooming, but their health is very good and they rarely need to take a trip to the vet. Cocker Spaniels adapt well to their environment, and are just as happy to play with children as with adults.

 

Springer Spaniel

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Springer Spaniels make excellent companions and are useful dogs to have around, especially good at keeping owners company on hiking trips and other outdoor excursions. Springers were bred to hunt and haven’t lost their appetite for activity nor their prey drive, and so can be space-hungry and very active. Agile and intelligent, Springers make athletic pets and are lovely and playful with a very good temperament, and behave well socially with other dogs. They require a fair amount of grooming, but will love the extra attention.

 

German Shepherd

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German Shepherds are friendly, playful dogs and are brilliant with children. Sometimes they can be antisocial with other dogs, and acclimatising them with other breeds when young is a good idea. They shed a lot but are otherwise easy to groom and care for, and not too demanding. They have a lot of energy, so need walking often.

 

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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Staffies have developed a bad name over time, often attributed to poor breeding and bad handling. Many Staffordshire Bull Terriers are bred to fight and are poorly treated, and such rehoming one can come with a host of problems. By nature, however, they are one of the friendliest and most loyal family dogs around, and despite their low tolerance of other pets can be a much-loved member of any home. They do require patience and consistency, and you will be rewarded for your efforts. Easy to groom, simple to exercise, and very playful.

 

Border Terrier

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Border Terriers were bred to hunt, and haven’t lost that spark of energy that makes them exceptional outdoor canines. As such, Border Terriers can be tiring for some owners and should only be taken on with the knowledge that they love to stretch their legs. They interact well with children and are affectionate and very playful, and are not known to bark or howl so you can be sure of a good night’s sleep.

 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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Easy to train, easy to groom, and one of the friendliest dogs on the planet, it’s easy to see why the King Charles is such a popular choice. They don’t take up much space, don’t want for a lot, and are very laid back. Despite their size they do require plenty of exercise and are very agile, and aren’t too fond of being alone.

 

Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers are picture-perfect family dogs, and are incredibly friendly and loyal. They socialise well with other dogs, are great companions, and are relatively low maintenance. Golden Retrievers are often called upon for their high intelligence and make great service dogs, and as such need space and stimulation to keep them happy, as well as lots of outdoor activity.

 

Pug

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Pugs are well known for their humour and playfulness, and are great fun to have around. Despite their size they’re big characters and require lots of interaction and stimulation, and they hate to be alone. Pugs are known to suffer from health problems and as such can be quite high maintenance, although their friendly faces will mean you don’t mind the added expense.

 

Boxer

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Boxers are handsome dogs with high energy, and are very protective towards the ones they love. They make brilliant family pets, although they can be sensitive to other dogs. Boxers love going for walks and spending time with their owners, but aren’t too keen on being left behind. As a breed they carry the potential for genetic health issues and sometimes require more attention than other canines.

 

It takes a good amount of research on the part of owners to ensure a pet will be happy at home, and choosing the right breed can pay dividends for all parties in the long run. Every puppy needs to be a good fit, and you’ll know when you’ve found the best dog for you.

If you would like further advice on a specific breed, what its needs are, and whether it would be an appropriate addition to your household, please take the opportunity to seek out professional advice. Simply contacting your local veterinary practice and discussing your situation in more detail will help ensure the happiness of your pet, as well as yourself. Happy picking!

 

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GEMMA HOPKINS BVETMED, CERTVC, MRCVS, RCVS ADVANCED PRACTITIONER IN VETERINARY CARDIOLOGY


Gemma holds an RCVS Certificate in Veterinary Cardiology and continues to work part time in practice to remain up to date and continue her interest in cardiology.

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