top of page

Choosing a puppy

Are you unsure of what breed of dog would suit your lifestyle and family best? Or, maybe you aren't sure how to select the best breeder. The Caring Canine Coach has put together a handy guide to help you decide. We will also go through the importance of genetics in an easy to understand way and which behaviours you should seek help for if you see them in your puppy.

What's in this guide?

Which breed best suits your lifestyle?

Getting a puppy is such an exciting time but have you thought about which breed is most suited to you and your lifestyle?

There are many amazing breeds to choose from but it's important not to go off looks alone. Some breeds may need more exercise than you can provide, or may not be suitable for a first time dog owner. Some may grow to be large dogs that cost a lot to feed and will need plenty of room. Some breeds of working dog may be difficult to live with, if they aren't putting their skills and energy to good use.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a breed:

· How big will they grow and can you afford to feed them?

· How much exercise do they need and do you have enough time to provide this?

· Do they need a job to do to keep them busy? Some dogs from working lines need to work and behaviour problems can develop if they don't have a job to do.

· How much training will they need and do you have enough time to dedicate to this?

· Is the breed known for certain health problems? Some health conditions are prevalent in certain breeds and can be passed from the parents to their offspring.

· How does the breed cope when left alone? Some breeds may cope better than others when left home alone.

· Will the breed get on well with other pets? Some breeds can have a high prey drive and you may find it problematic expecting them to live with small furry animals.

· Is the breed known for having certain behaviour problems?

· Does the breed have any traits that you may find difficult to cope with?

· Are the puppy's parents working dogs? If you don't have the time and skills to work these dogs they can develop behaviour problems.

Blue Cross has a fantastic guide on choosing a breed. Click here to download it.

If you would like some help and guidance around choosing a puppy to suit you and your family, get in touch today for a chat.

The consequences of getting the wrong breed

Here is a story about an owner that didn't do their research before deciding on a breed.

Last year Mr Smith decided it was time for him to get a new best friend. There were so many breeds to choose from, but he had been watching some videos online of Belgian Malinois. The dogs looked like they were lots of fun and appeared to be really clever and easy to train. Mr Smith decided that was the breed for him and without any research found himself a beautiful puppy which he named Mal.

Mal was a cute puppy and full of energy. Mr Smith hadn't owned a dog before but did a few minutes training a day to make sure Mal could do simple things like sit and lie down. He worked full time and could only manage to take Mal out for a 30 minute walk a day.

When Mr Smith was at work Mal chewed things; he chewed the sofa, wallpaper and even the doors. Worse still, Mr Smith's neighbours were getting angry as Mal was barking all day. Mal was also terrible for biting, he would bite Mr Smiths arms and legs, nothing Mr Smith tried would stop the bites.

After a few months Mal started to bark and lunge at people and other dogs on his walks. That was the last straw for Mr Smith, he got advice from other owners of the breed and soon realised he didn't have the knowledge, time or skills that Mal needed. Luckily Mr Smith got Mal from a trusted breeder and Mal went back to them and was rehomed. Mal now does agility everyday and has even won competitions. Mr Smith is now thinking about a more suitable breed for his lifestyle.

If you are struggling with your dog's behaviour, use the Contact page and fill out a quick form, I'll then contact you to arrange a FREE 15 minute discovery call to discuss how I can help.

How do genetics affect a breed?

Puppies get half of their DNA from their mum and half from their dad in the form of chromosomes, it's DNA that makes each and every dog unique. On each chromosome there are many different genes, the genes are what give dogs their characteristics.

When creating different breeds some genes become more common, this is because breeders select dogs with the characteristics that are appropriate for the breed and don't breed others who don't have those desired characteristics. Over time more breeding takes place and the characteristics that have been selected by the breeders get stronger in the population of dogs of that breed.

A good example of this in action is the Bulldog, one desired characteristic is their squashed nose however they didn't always look like they do now. When the breed was created their noses would have been much longer, however over time the breeders selected dogs with shorter noses; as this continued the Bulldog's nose started to shrink. As people liked this appearance, breeders continued to select dogs with shorter noses for breeding until we ended up with the Bulldog we know and love today. Sometimes selecting for such characteristics can cause health problems, Bulldogs can have breathing difficulties due to their squashed noses and may not be suitable for going on long walks every day.

Genes don't just affect how a dog looks, they can also affect how a dog behaves. Let's take the Greyhoud as an example. This breed were bred to help humans with hunting but unlike other dogs they do this using their sight rather than their noses. To do this job they need to be fast, have good eye sight and enjoy chasing things. So, in the early days of the breed, the dogs that were quickest and the best hunters would have been chosen to breed from. Numbers of dogs with these characteristics increased, therefore there was much more chance of dogs with these characteristics breeding. This in turn strengthened the genes for speed and chasing in the population.

What does all this mean when choosing a puppy? Well, it's a good idea to research the breed first, although you may not be getting your new dog to do the things it was originally bred for, some of these characteristics are naturally present and can be difficult to overcome if they cause problems or don't suit your home environment. Let's go back to our Greyhound example, they have been bred to chase small furry animals therefore if you have a house full of cats this could cause problems that are difficult to resolve or take a lot of time and effort to overcome.

Is behaviour all down to genetics?

A puppy's genes can't be changed however some characteristics can be influenced by their environment and upbringing. Let's say two puppies from the same litter both have genes that make them timid. They both go to homes with different owners, one of the owners slowly introduces their puppy to all kinds of situations and makes it a positive and fun experience for them. The other owner forces their puppy into situations they are afraid of and shouts at them when they get scared.

The puppy that was slowly introduced to new experiences in a positive way, grows up to be confident and enjoys going for walks. The other puppy grows up to be anxious of going out and is scared of lots of different things out on walks.

So, although they both had the same genes that could have made them timid, their upbringing and training influenced how the genes affected the puppies in their adult life.

Is a dogs behaviour all down to their genetics? No, it's a combination of both nature and nurture. As Gudjon Bergmann said "instead of pitting nature against nurture, we must understand that both work in harmony. We can influence our nature through nurture".

Did you know I offer a puppy training package designed specifically for those of you with a new puppy, you can find out more here

How to choose a breeder

It's important to find a trusted breeder when buying a puppy, it can reduce the risk of them having health and behaviour issues and can be a great source of help if you do encounter problems. Not all breeders are responsible, some of them can be puppy farms who have no regard for the health of the dogs they are breeding from or the health and wellbeing of the puppies. In March 2021 a new law was passed that means anyone that breeds three or more litters of puppies a year needs a licence. Anyone that advertises a business of dog breeding also needs to have a licence. When applying for a licence breeders are visited to ensure they are looking after their dogs and puppies correctly. A trusted breeder should have no problem with you asking to see their licence. There is a big BUT though, there is nothing to stop a breeder changing the way they do things after they have been inspected.

So, if having a licence doesn't make a breeder responsible and trustworthy what else can you do? Here are some things that should raise alarm bells when looking for a breeder:

· The breeder has numerous adverts selling different litters of puppies

· The images of puppies are used in different adverts in multiple areas of the UK

· The puppies not being microchipped before leaving

· The breeder telling you they will meet you somewhere away from their home to meet the puppy

· Mum and Dad not being there when you go to see the puppy

· Only being shown one puppy and the rest of the litter isn't there

· The breeder pushing you into making a quick decision to buy

· Asking for payment before you have met the puppy

· The Mum dog not interacting or caring for the puppies

· The advert states the puppies are already vaccinated and they are less than 6 weeks old

If you have any doubts walk away. If you are concerned you have found a puppy farm or are worried about the conditions the puppies are kept in contact the RSPCA and report it.

Here's some things that are signs of a responsible breeder:

· Asking about you and the environment the puppy will live in

· Having a waiting list for puppies

· Having plenty of time to talk to you before and during your visit

· Mum, Dad and the rest of the litter being present when you visit

· They have started socialising the puppies

· Not rushing you into making a decision

· The Mum of the puppies is interacting with and caring for them

· Mum and Dad not displaying fear when the owner approaches

· Will show you their breeding licence

· Will have proof of worming, health checks and microchipping

· Have evidence of pedigrees

You can get further advice about choosing a breeder by clicking the on the following:

Puppy behaviour and when to seek help

Bringing up a puppy can be very rewarding but is also hard work. Some puppy behaviours are normal such as biting, pulling, chewing and having accidents in the house. It takes time and lot's of training but these problems can be overcome. Even if the behaviour is normal, it can help to get a professional in to show you how to handle these challenges.

Sometimes a puppy can come with behaviours that they have inherited through their breed, some of these behaviours may require professional help as they can be harder to change. Let's take a Border Collie as an example, they were bred to heard animals, they have lots of energy and an eye for moving objects. It would be normal for them to want to chase moving animals however problems can occur when they see cars, motorbikes and other moving objects and want to give chase. This can lead to them lunging and barking at them out of frustration. If your young puppy starts displaying similar behaviours it's time to get some professional help, it's normally easier to resolve these types of problems if they are caught early.

Other behaviours your puppy may display may not be related to their breed but may still require professional help. Here is a list of behaviours you should look out for:

· Aggression towards people

· Aggression towards other dogs

· Unable to cope when left alone (destroys things or barks/cries)

· Anxiety

· Fear of noises

· Lunging at people, dogs or objects

· Their hair going up on their back when they see a person or dog

· Guarding food or toys

· Snapping or snarling when touched

· Shaking or hiding when a person or dog approaches on a walk

These may be one off behaviours but if they happen more than once it's best to get some help. Don't be afraid of asking a professional for help, they are used to helping dogs displaying these behaviours and can show you what to do before the behaviour gets worse. Often puppies displaying these types of behaviours don't grow out of it and they may actually get worse.

All is not lost if you have a puppy displaying any of the above behaviours, or if your dog is older. You can book a FREE 15 minute discovery call HERE and we can chat about your problems and discuss ways I can support you.

Do you need help choosing the right puppy?

Get in touch today and I can help you decide which breeds would suit your lifestyle and guide you in how to prepare for their arrival.


bottom of page