What to look for when choosing a dog – it’s a pawesome journey!

That’s it. You’re going to do it. You’ve shilly-shallied long enough, you’re going to get a dog! So how do you go about finding your perfect match?

You may have a specific breed of dog that you love, or prefer the uniqueness of magical mixed breeds. But before you even start choosing breeds, consider - can you give your new friend a good home with plenty of love and exercise, training and the correct nutrition? Would it be better, and kinder, to take on a rescued dog or an older one? Are you at home during the day or will you need to employ the services of a dog walker? Ask your doggie friends about the pros and cons of different canines, but don’t forget, they’ll be biased by their own beloved pooches!

UK’s favourite pets

Dogs are more popular than ever and the UK’s favourite family pet – the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) reckons that 24% of the UK adult population have a dog, with an estimated population of 10.1 million pet dogs, overtaking the previous favourites, cats.

Rover.com has calculated the 10 dog breeds expected to be most popular in 2021 — and mixed breeds have taken the top spot, for the first time. From those lovable mongrels to purebreds, the team at Rover.com analysed their database to learn more about the UK's favourite breeds. While gorgeous mixed breeds were crowned the most popular, the research also found that Cocker Spaniels and Jack Russell Terriers are also rising stars.

"With the pandemic, people are spending more time at home and are more likely than ever to be craving companionship," Kate Jaffe, Trends Expert at Rover.com said. "As a result, we saw a surge in pet adoption in 2020. And now, with so many people still working remotely, we expect that this trend will continue well into 2021.

"When it comes to the most popular dog breeds this year, we anticipate that the surge in adoption will lead to beloved mixed breed dogs continuing to rise to the top of the list. We also expect to see the following breeds remain popular."

10 most popular dog breeds in 2021:

  • Mixed Breed
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Cockapoo
  • French Bulldog
  • Border Collie
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chihuahua

Of course, there are many other dogs that might fit your bill, and if you are still flummoxed by choice, you could try the Purina Dog Breed Selector. Whether you know the breeds you like already, or you need a helping hand, this can help you to find your perfect four-legged friend.

Where’s mum?

If you’re going down the puppy route you need to be aware of horrific scams that have caught out many would-be dog owners, especially since the pandemic began. Puppy farming is rampant and a large number of puppies bred from farms have serious health issues. Be suspicious of advertisements on pet websites as these can also often be a way of wangling a deposit without ever producing a puppy.

In 2015 Pup Aid launched their #wheresmum campaign highlighting the cruelty of puppy farming for profit, not love. Their website is full of great advice and information and it’s a great place to start your journey, after all, knowledge is king. www.pupaid.org/wheres-mum

If a pure breed is your choice then it’s best to contact assured breeders through www.thekennelclub.org.uk and ask to be put on a waiting list. All the reputable breeders will have lists, but it’s definitely worth the wait as you’re guaranteed a healthy, happy pup whose parents have been health checked prior to breeding.

Adopting

As a nation of pet lovers, we’re also very happy opening our homes to a rescue dog and showering him with all the love and happiness he could ever want. After what might have been a traumatic or difficult start in life, rescues often become the most loving and loyal of dogs and the heart and soul of the home.

When it comes to choosing the right dog, the highly trained staff at rescue homes across the country will make sure you’re a match made in heaven. The Dogs Trust explains that “dogs in our care are carefully assessed by experts to determine what sort of home is ideal for them. Sometimes it can take time to find the perfect match, but we’ll do everything we can to help you find yours.”

The Dogs Trust can arrange a virtual meeting online to find out more about you, your lifestyle, and the home you can offer one of their dogs. “We’ll talk through everything we’d normally discuss in person - including about how a dog will fit into your life in the long term, as restrictions are lifted”, they explain.

There is so much to consider and a lot of research to do before you take your first steps into dog ownership, but it’s important to get it right first time. Offering a dog the life and love that it deserves is so rewarding, and he’ll give you many years of pure, unadulterated happiness too!