Choosing a dog is important, as they will be part of your life for a long time. Dogs come in a variety of sizes, personalities and physical characteristics, so you need to consider what kind of dog you are able to live with, and what kind of companionship you can offer your dog.

When choosing a dog you need to consider how much exercise they need, whether they shed hair, any allergies, whether they will live indoors or outside, whether you want a young and playful dog or a gentle companion, whether friendly or protective, the size of your backyard, if you are planning a human family, ongoing costs, how much time you have to exercise and train them, whether you may move overseas, whether you live in a house or unit, if you go out regularly, go on frequent trips, and how fit you are.

Consider the age of children when choosing a dog. A large dog can be intimidating for young children. It is often easier to introduce a dog to a family with a child, than to introduce a baby to a family with a dog. Dogs can get jealous.

Many older people enjoy the companionship of a dog after their children have left the family home.

Pay attention to shedding. My labrador is the hairiest one I have ever seen, lovely as he is. He just has to walk through a room for it to need a vacuum.

Purebred dogs are usually consistent in temperament, however it is worth getting to know the parents of the litter, and to research dog forums for other people’s stories about life with a particular breed when choosing a dog.

Dogs are generally classified as either:

toys – eg pekingese
terriers – eg jack russell
gundogs – eg retriever
hounds – eg afghan
working dogs – eg kelpies
utility dogs – eg st bernard
non-sporting dogs
Dog personalities also range from dominant to clown, lovable to hyperactive, affable to aloof, perennially young, soft and submissive. You may wish to choose a lower-ranked puppy from a litter, as they are often less dominant.

Choosing more than one dog will provide company for each other, and let an older dog teach the younger dog secret dogs business. However take care when introducing an additional dog to your family. Dogs are pack animals, and a new dog may change the social structure of your household. Ensure your first dog is well-trained before introducing another. Let them meet in neutral territory first, such as the local park. Give them separate bowls and bedding.

When choosing a dog breed, try one of these dog selection sites:

Select A Dog from the Pet Care Information Advisory Service.
When choosing a dog, don’t just go to the closest pet shop. Please consider adopting a dog from one of the many pet rescue organisations in your country. This is a great way of saving a dog from being put down.

Otherwise, if you are interested in pedigree dogs, contact one of the registered breeders. This way you will get to know the parentage, litter characteristics, and won’t be condemning a puppy to a lonely few weeks in a pet shop.

The site Say NO to Animals in Pet Shops has many passionate reasons why you shouldn’t just mosey on to your local petshop at the crowded mall, and choose a dog in the window. Approximately 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed at the pounds every year. And many of those were probably impulse buys from a window-shopper. has a database covering pet rescue organisations in all Aussie states.