Choosing A Dog – What Type Of Puppy Is Right For You?

By Marc Abraham on 15 December 2017

With so many different breeds and crossbreeds available to buy or rescue nowadays, the thought of choosing a dog can often be quite daunting. Every type of dog has its own traits, personality, instincts, and the more dog owners you talk to, the more useful information you’ll pick up. So my advice is to do your research carefully: searching online, reading books and doggy magazines, attending dog shows, asking your vet or even enquiring at your local dog grooming salon. People who love dogs love talking about them; so chat with as many people as possible about their dogs in your search for choosing a dog!

Unsurprisingly, with so many different shapes and sizes of both pedigree and crossbreed dogs (or mongrels as they used to be known) out there, comes a huge variation in potential health issues, life-spans, and of course, costs involved in feeding, insuring, and parasite protection e.g. against fleas and worms. Staffies and Staffie crosses make wonderful pets and are often overlooked in rescue. Be wary of descriptions such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘designer dogs’ as they can often prove misleading. In my opinion, as a practicing small animal vet, as long as you’ve done your research properly you can find healthy dogs of any type.

Before choosing a dog, take a moment to carefully consider your reasons for owning him or her in the first place; as well as whether you have the time, money, garden, space, etc to commit to keeping your dog responsibly. Far too many dogs these days are bought on a whim, often impulse purchases influenced by celebrity and what’s ‘fashionable’, and sold via outlets uninterested in the puppy’s welfare.

Enough exercise and attention is vital to our dog’s needs, as mental stimulation will help prevent boredom which can lead to behavioural problems, and appropriate levels of physical exercise will make obesity and its related problems e.g. diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, less likely. Worth noting that retired greyhounds often require much less exercise than is assumed, often preferring a more laid back couch potato lifestyle.

The golden question when choosing a dog is always “Where’s Mum?” There should be no excuse why the pup’s mother isn’t at the breeder’s premises when viewing the puppy. Excuses like “mum’s gone for a walk”, “she’s at the vet”, “she’s at a neighbours”, etc. are typical with for sale pups born on puppy farms whether in the UK or abroad, so on hearing this you should always suspect irresponsible breeding practices and not purchase.

As well as looks, temperament is also passed from mum to pup so it’s essential to view mum and observe her physical and emotional condition, especially paying attention to any interaction with her pups. Furthermore, like with all businesses, dog-related or not, there’ll always be those unscrupulous sellers cutting corners and deliberately misleading buyers.

Fake or ‘stooge’ mums may be displayed alongside puppy farmed pups, but are easy to spot as they very rarely interact with these pups, fearing the puppies’ real mum will arrive back and see her off! Most breeders and rescues will advertise online nowadays but online advertisers asking for money before you’ve seen the pup should be avoided as these are often scams with no actual pup for sale. Whether the breeder advertises online or not, it’s the actual moment when the pup is viewed and bought that the mum should always be present, interacting with her pup(s).

Buying or adopting pups both have their advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I’d always recommend choosing rescue pups, especially Staffies, as they’re already neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and behaviourally assessed – you’ll also be saving a life! Puppies from breeders are often much more expensive than rescue dogs but choosing a puppy can be more appropriate with very young children, and please remember you can also find all sorts of puppies in rescue centres too!

Whenever we talk about choosing a dog, it’s important we discuss ‘puppy farming’, often the term used for the mass production of puppies on a sometimes industrial scale, commonly taking place behind closed doors in huge agricultural units in the UK, Ireland, or Eastern Europe. Puppy farms keep breeding dogs and their pups imprisoned in horrific conditions, enabled by the remote selling of the pups to the public via third parties like pet shops, i.e. well-away from their mums and place of birth. These pups and their mums often suffer serious and commonly fatal health and welfare problems, not to mention the emotional heartache that follows for excited new owners.

Finally, if you’ve done your research, considered your lifestyle and resources, and come to the conclusion that buying or giving a dog a forever home isn’t right for you at this time then that’s totally cool. Better to wait until your circumstances suit responsible pet ownership than buy a dog on impulse and not be able look after it properly. Instead, visit your local rescue shelter and ask to volunteer as a dog walker or kennel assistant, or better still, foster a dog either short or long term; who knows maybe you’ll become inseparable and end up providing a loving home for that dog’s life after all.

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Better known as ‘Marc the Vet’, a practicing veterinary surgeon, author, and animal welfare campaigner based in Brighton, England.


Marc qualified from Edinburgh University and has since worked in small animal, mixed, and emergency practice, as well as volunteering oversees for animal rescue projects and campaigning for numerous animal welfare issues. Marc began his TV career as resident vet on The Paul O’Grady Show, and has since appeared giving pet advice on BBC Breakfast, ITV’s This Morning and Good Morning Britain. As well as TV, Marc has also written two books: Vet on Call, and Pets in Need. Marc regularly blogs for The Huffington Post and has composed over 1000 articles.

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