By the Pets for Homes Team, in collaboration with Snooza
Written by David Baquiran, a freelance writer who loves writing about being active, travel, technology, and pets.
Choosing the right dog breed is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make as a first-time dog owner. This choice will determine your new companion’s social, exercise and grooming requirements. Making sure that these traits line up with your own lifestyle is the first step to creating a rewarding and fulfilling relationship with your dog.
People choose their pets for different reasons: for companionship, as an athletic buddy, as a guard dog or maybe as assistance for a disability. No matter the case, each breed is predisposed to its own specific traits that will allow it to excel in certain situations. If you purchase a dog from reputable Australian dog breeders, it will also minimise any potential negative traits from breeding and will maximise the chances of getting only healthy, well-tempered dogs.
However, it’s also important to remember that each dog is an individual. A dog’s breed doesn’t completely determine its behaviour and ability. It’s also a product of its environment and upbringing, so you as a first-time dog owner will have a lot of influence on your dog’s personality and wellbeing. Before you begin choosing your breed, you have to be mindful of your own living situation, preferences and capability to provide for a new pet.
What Dog Suits My Lifestyle?
Dogs are incredibly adaptable animals, but they also have needs. Your answers to the following questions will help you determine what breed will best suit your current situation.
1. What type of home do you have?
It’s important to know what kind of space your dog will have to live in, play and sleep. The size of your home will determine what size of dog will be best suited for you. Simply put, smaller homes will mean getting a smaller dog, while larger living quarters will allow you to have bigger, more energetic breeds. Even if you have a modest house, if you have an enclosed yard, that may be enough space for your dog’s exercise requirements.
You’ll have to take into account the amount of noise your dog will create. Apartment living will have neighbours closer together than standalone homes, so people on your floor may appreciate a less vocal breed.
2. Where are you located?
A dog owner living in the heart of the city will have a much different experience than someone living in a small town or the countryside. Cities are noisier and more busy, so there are many distractions that may spook your dog or cause them to become fearful. A calmer, more easy-going breed may be better in this situation.
Dog owners in more peaceful and quiet surroundings may be able to handle dog breeds that are more guarded in their approach, as there won’t be as many things to trigger their defensive nature. In fact, many dog owners in the countryside get their dogs for this ability to watch over their property.
3. Who else lives in the household?
The current number of people in your household and their level of comfort with animals will also play a big role in the type of breed you’ll get. Children tend to love dogs, but may have issues playing with the animal if things get too exciting. Smaller dogs may be at risk of getting hurt by young kids, and larger dogs may also inadvertently hurt young children. In that case, low-sensitivity breeds that can handle being manhandled will be your best bet.
Any elderly or disabled family members will also need to be taken into account, as even well-behaved dogs may jump on people or run headlong into them. Smaller, lighter dogs or ones with lower energy will be better if there’s anyone who could be injured while interacting with the dog.
This also applies if you have other types of pets, such as birds or cats. If you’re worried about your cat attacking your dog, then you’ll need a very calm breed of dog. Birds may trigger the dog’s prey drive, so you’ll be best off with a breed that isn’t meant for hunting.
4. Where will the dog be staying?
Your dog’s living conditions will have to be considered. Hardier breeds with thicker, wiry coats will be better suited to staying outdoors, while smaller breeds with softer coats will do better indoors. In either case, the dog will need adequate shelter from adverse weather conditions.
Your dog’s sleeping arrangement will also play a part in this. For outdoor dogs with thicker coats they’ll need a tough, durable dog bed, such as the Original Snooza Dog Bed or the Flea-Free Raised Bed, that can be raised off the ground to allow for airflow on warmer days, keeping your dog cooler. You can also find soft, cosy but tough outdoor beds like this Ortho Nestler Indoor-Outdoor, with weather-resistant fabric. Indoor dogs may enjoy something more
plush to help them stay warm in the cooler months, such as the Snooza Calming Cuddler. This bed is ideal for breeds that are more prone to anxiety, and those that love to curl up deep into the raised walls of their bed. Additionally, a Calming Blanket can provide extra comfort and security to help support anxious dogs.
Dogs spend a significant amount of time napping and sleeping, so it’s good to ensure that they’re comfortable. This can have long-term effects on your dog’s wellbeing – puppies who lack sleep may display unwanted behaviours such as nibbling on furniture or excessive barking. For puppies that tend to chew, a durable bed with chew-resistant fabric such as the TUFF range can be a great option. If you choose to adopt a senior dog from a shelter, they may have special needs for supportive bedding in case they have arthritis or other similar medical conditions. Snooza’s Orthopaedic range of dog beds may be more suitable for breeds that are more prone to certain ailments like joint problems.
What are Your Preferences?
Your preferences for a breed will usually be more flexible than your living conditions. Here is where you’ll have a chance to dial in what specific breed will be the best match for you. However, most dog owners are perfectly happy with dogs that don’t line up 100% with their preferences, so long as it’s the right dog with the right personality.
You should ask yourself:
- How much time am I willing to spend on grooming my dog every week?
- How much exercise do I want to do with my dog?
- How big do I want my dog to be?
- Do I need my dog to guard the house?
- Do I want my dog to be relaxed or playful?
- How much time can I put in for training my dog?
From there, it should be easy to narrow down the breed that will fit both your lifestyle and preferences. You’ll need to determine the following traits based on all the information you have so far:
- Breed size
- Coat type
- Intelligence level
- Energy level
- Tendency to bark
- Suitability for hot or cold weather
- Friendliness to strangers and children
For first-time dog owners, it’s recommended to have an easy-going, low-sensitivity dog breed that is easy to train. Size doesn’t matter quite as much, as that will depend on the living conditions. What’s more important is that the dog is able to bounce back and respond to training even if you, as a novice dog owner, make some mistakes. Low-sensitivity breeds will not get overly anxious even with inconsistent routines and will not be too headstrong for a first-time owner to train.
Owning a dog for the first time can be a challenging journey, but the reward is a lifelong friendship between you and your dog. All it takes is commitment, patience and perseverance, and even novice dog owners can see great results.