Choosing the right dog: key considerations to find the best mutt for you

Please read the information below to help decide whether you are ready to get a dog. Consider each section when making your decision. You can also download our Puppy Buying Guide app for smartphones.

Male or female, puppy or adult

You could discuss the above options with:

  • experienced dog owners
  • your prospective veterinary surgeon
  • breeders from whom you may consider purchasing a puppy
  • those involved with rescue organisations

These people will usually be happy to share their experiences and opinions with you, and should give you a good range of opinions to consider.

Choosing the right dog size

Does your choice of dog, in relation to its size, suit your home, car, children and exercise plans, and suit friends or family that might look after it during the holidays? 

Coat length and type

  • Do you mind spending hours grooming?
  • Cleaning your dog and your house?
  • Do you want a low-maintenance breed? 

Some dog breeds have a strong smell; others dribble a great deal! Can you live with these things?

Non-moulting breeds of dog

For those owners who wish to obtain a dog which has a predisposition not shed its coat may be a suitable choice. Find out what breeds are non-moulting dogs.


There are no naturally unhealthy pedigree dog breeds - but there are breeds in which certain conditions tend to surface more. It will inevitably take time for these conditions to be eliminated but where there are known health problems, which can be tested for, research and health testing should be carried out. The Kennel Club runs specific schemes aimed at the breeds concerned. Tests such as hip and elbow scoring enable potential owners to have a good idea about the future health of their puppy. To find out more about particular breeds and the health tests that may be relevant to them, please visit the Breed Information Centre.

Ensure you are covered with a lifetime policy from the Kennel Club Pet Insurance. Find out more about insurance cover levels included by visiting the Kennel Club Pet Insurance website.


Some dogs are bred for looks, others for their working ability, and the result is that you get a whole range of temperaments in between. Which one is right for you depends on many variables so get expert help on your intended pedigree dog breed and be very careful about where you buy your puppy.

Pedigree or Crossbreed

A pedigree dog is the offspring of two dogs of the same breed whose lineage is recorded with a recognised club. Pedigree dogs carry a breed standard which is a blueprint for their likely character and health needs.

In addition to pedigree dogs there are also crossbreeds to consider. These dogs often display a mixture of their ancestors traits. So it is important to take this into account. If you know the mix of breeds this may help but otherwise, find out what you can about the parents. Here are some additional tips when choosing a crossbreed dog.

Buying two dogs together is a bad idea

Whereas it may be true that they will keep each other company, they will do so at the cost of your relationship with them. The tendency is for them to bond with each other, rather than with you and your family. Rearing two puppies successfully takes an enormous amount of work, as you have to rear them separately, and give them each individual quality time, space, exercise and training, so it is not for the faint hearted or busy dog owner.

Existing dogs

If you have an existing dog and would like to buy a companion for it, consider the fact that many dogs prefer being the only dog in the family, and resent sharing their space, humans, attention, toys and treats with other dogs. If you do want another dog, a good age gap is about four or five years. If you are not sure how your dog will feel about it, 'borrow' a friend's dog for a few days to get a rough idea.




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Buying a Dog Buying a Puppy Crossbreed Dogs Pedigree Dogs Puppy Buying Advice
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