Breed Choice

How could I resist adopting one of these?

A few months after my old dog, Lloyd, passed away in January 2010, I started the search for a breed of dog I thought would fit in with my life. I knew that my new dog would have to have lots of energy, but above all would have to be a breed known for their good temperament. I often have young children in the house and my next dog would have to tolerate children running around making lots of noise. After months of looking in to many different breeds our family decided that an Irish Setter would best suit our needs.

My expectations of this dog were always going to be different to the reason I got Lloyd. Lloyd was a wonderful obedience dog but not too much fun to have around. He was an ‘old man’ even when he was a puppy- always very serious, not up for too much fun. This was fine for me before children, but now I need a dog that knows how to play, and remain playful for many years.

If I have caught you while you are considering adopting a dog that’s great! Spend time researching different breeds. You can visit breed websites, often there is a club associated with each breed. When you see people with your chosen breed in the street, stop and ask them what their experience has been having the breed. I have even been known to stop my car and approach people walking their dogs to get breed information. Given the opportunity, most people love talking about their dogs.

Always look at what your chosen breed was bred for. This will give you valuable (general) information on what sort of behaviours you can expect from your dog. For example, Border Collies are herding dogs, bred to round up sheep and other stock. Behaviours such as circle running and intense focus usually occur. This can be good if it is you (their owner) or your ball they are focused on, but it can also be less than impressive when they start ’rounding-up’ other dogs or children.

Much of successful dog training depends on measuring your expectations and needs in a dog. Different breeds have different needs. My Irish Setter will, at the least, be a companion dog and play mate for our whole family. He will also have to be able to go running with me while I ride and run (training for triathlons). The Irish Setter seems perfect for this. Think about the kind of life you lead, your experience with dogs in the past, and your physical abilities. If you are honest with yourself you should find a nice breed match.

The breed of dog you really want may not be the best one for you. My two favorite breeds of dog (and one day I will have one) are Great Danes and Akita’s, I love the way these dogs look. Great Danes because of their size, I love big dogs. Akita’s because they have such a presence about them, they are hard to ignore- just beautiful. However, I didn’t feel comfortable inviting either of these dogs in to my life at this stage. Making a calculated breed choice will really help you live a more harmonious life with your dog. Some people choose Border Collies because of their intelligence level- they want a smart dog. Border Collies are very ‘switched on’ dogs. However, this can seriously backfire if you don’t have the time to train or exercise (mental and physical) them.

Enjoy this process, it is wonderful looking at all of the different kinds of dogs on offer. What makes this part so fun is the anticipation of bringing a new member in to your family. Be honest with yourself and talk to the whole family about your chosen breed. This is only the beginning!

If you have any breed questions/thoughts please feel free to post a comment. I have worked with so many breeds over the years I might be able to give you some insight in to what it is like to work with them.


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4 Responses to Breed Choice

  1. Moira Corby says:

    We chose our pup after about 2 years swinging between Labradoodles (intelligence, non shedding, family oriented) and Shepherds (always 2 of them in my childhood).
    Then I realised how many animals are given up in Australia, too many lives destroyed.
    After spending time getting to know my MIL’s adopted adult Border Collie Zach last year and running with him by my side, I started actively searching pounds and dog homes. 6 months into our search, 2 month old Scout found us at Bendigo RSPCA. He is collie x kelpie- affectionate, gentle, full of energy but able to settle quickly.
    He is the ideal dog for my family life and in 7 months I hope we can be running partners too!

    • katarina says:

      It’s great to be able to spend as much time as possible with a breed you are considering. This will give you a good idea about what you can generally expect from the breed. I guess it’s a bit of a test drive.

  2. Anne-Marie Lake says:

    My family had 2 Danes (Edward & Kobe) while I was growing up. They were absolutely beautiful dogs with incredible temperaments. We used to kit them out in dress-ups and hound them incessentaly and they always took it in their stride. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Great Danes to anyone.
    Sorry to hear about your old dog, Lloyd :( I hope your new pup is coming along well.
    Anne-Marie Lake

    • katarina says:

      Hi Anne-Marie, I think that Great Danes are amazing dogs, they really are like giant lap-dogs! I’m sure they would have brought much joy to your home, especially dressed up in their ‘Sunday Best’. I would surround myself with them if I could. However, I have had to take in to account other family members breed preferences. Afterall, a family dog must be welcomed by everyone in the family otherwise it would be an up hill battle from the beginning. Not to worry though, I will adopt one some day!

      Ah, the new pup. I will be posting an article soon (in the next 24 hours) about the progress of it all. Stay tuned. I pick him up on Sunday and am currently in the process of unpacking all of the toys I bought at the pet shop today (I spent way too much money but had so much fun).

      Thank you for your sincere condolence- you sound like you know what it’s like to loose a much loved dog. I will miss Lloyd forever and I was blessed to have him in my life.


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