Mark Vette – Internationally renowned Animal Behaviourist, Educator, Author and TV personality

Choosing the right dog for the family.

Hey there, welcome to my latest blog post. I’m going to be discussing some of the key points to consider when choosing to get a new dog, as it is really important to get the right fit for both you and your future dog.


The start of a great relationship with a dog begins when you choose the right one. With so many different breeds of dogs and each one with their own very distinct personalities and idiosyncrasies, it can be hard to pick. It ultimately comes down to combining your needs and wants of a dog, with the attributes of various breeds to get the ideal match. The better suited you and your dog are, the more fun and happy your time together will be.

Here are some things to consider when deciding what breed of dog will suit you.

  1. Exercise level. All dogs need exercise, but this varies greatly from breed to breed, so it is important to match the dog’s level with your own. You don’t want to deprive your dog of something as important as exercise or it may manifest into other issues later on.
  2. Environment. Consider your family size, house and land size, other animals on the property and whether you’re urban or rural. Dogs need a contained environment, especially in their younger years when they are curious and prone to wandering and following their nose.
  3. Temperament. Do you want a very independent dog capable of being at home while you work? Or would you prefer a very affectionate and loving companion dog? Do you want a dog that will be protective and alert you when people enter your property? Or do you have a busy household with lots of comings and goings? There a variety of factors to consider about what you want in a dog’s temperament.
  4. Trainability. Do you want to spend a lot of time training your dog in agility and obedience, or would you rather a playful and cuddly dog? Do you want or need your dog to perform any specific tasks?
  5. Physical traits. Do you have any allergies? You may want to consider a dog with a woollen coat to help aid with those allergies. Also consider any breed-specific ailments – certain breeds are prone to various congenital, medical and psychological problems. These can result in cleft palates, blindness, hip dysplasia, fearfulness and deafness to name just a few. 
  6. Pure bred or crossbred? A pure bred dog needs to come from an excellent breeder who hasn’t line bred. Line breeding can cause negative recessive traits to show up more often, plus a good breeder will begin house training, socialisation and give you advice on how to care for your specific breed. Alternatively, if you choose a crossbreed, you often get the best of both breeds. Cross-breeding can improve general health, provide psychological benefits and can often result in higher levels of trainability. I personally like crossbreeds.
  7. Age. I’d recommend getting a puppy at 7-8 weeks old as this is the beginning of the critical formative period. It’s the time when pups naturally leave the den and start to meet the rest of the pack. You and your family are in essence “the pack” and building that relationship during the formative period is essential to ensure a well socialised, well-rounded dog. See the formative period video in Dog Zen now.
  8. Rescue a dog. With so many rescue dogs in need of a loving home forever, I always recommend that you adopt a dog from your local animal rescue shelter. Often the people that work or volunteer there will also be able to help assist you in making the choice about which dog will suit you best.  For more information on this critical topic see the ‘Choosing the right pup or dog breed’  and ‘Choosing the right individual pup’  videos in Dog Zen.

All the best,

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