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choosing the most suitable pet for your household

While there are great benefits from sharing your life with a pet, it’s important to give serious consideration to your decision whether to get a dog or a cat and also to the breed within each species.

Dogs and cats have very different care requirements and also exhibit a huge range of behavioural variations between the various breeds. Different breeds within each species can range from excitable and friendly to laid back and aloof.

In this section we look at why some breeds are popular, whether a cat or a dog is more likely to be the most appropriate pet for you, the positives and negatives of keeping two cats or even a dog and a cat, adopting an older pet versus obtaining a puppy or kitten, and considerations such as hair shedding and size.

the most popular dog and cat breeds can change with the times

Over a decade ago the PIAS survey, the National People and Pets Report 1994, found German Shepherds were by far the most popular breed of dog at that time. The same survey conducted over a decade later revealed Maltese dogs were at the top of the list. This is a major shift as Maltese didn’t even feature in the 1994 top 10 list!

Our research results for Pets in the City are consistent with these findings, showing that Maltese and Maltese crossbreds are also the most popular breeds among higher density dwellers. In more recent times there seems to be an increased diversity in the choice of dog breeds and a prevalence of small and medium-sized dogs.

It would seem that people are making the shift to smaller dogs that may be easier to manage, need less exercise and be more suitable for small spaces.

So what type of dogs did our respondents keep? Plenty of smaller breeds including Chihuahua, Shih Tzu and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels appeared high on the list. But surprisingly, despite being large and reasonably energetic, Golden Retrievers were third highest and there were also working breeds like Border Collies and Cattle Dogs on the list. The respondents showed that overall they didn’t have a huge amount of problems with their pets – remember they reported little difficulty and high levels of satisfaction. Owners also reported that 59% of dogs were purebred, the remainder crossbred.

And what about cats? Around half of our respondents classified Domestic Shorthair (also known as moggies) as their cat of choice. That’s slightly less than other surveys which reveal that, unlike dogs where pure breeds are more popular, crossbreds/moggies are generally more prevalent than purebred cats. The next most popular cat breeds nominated by our respondents were Siamese, followed by Burmese, Ragdoll, Persian and Abyssinian. The range of breeds owned by the survey respondents shows that people manage to keep all sorts of breeds successfully. However, if you are thinking about getting a new pet it’s definitely worth doing plenty of homework to determine the species and breed most likely to suit your lifestyle.

The following is some general information about species and breed or type selection and a range of other considerations. For information on key considerations and tips to help you choose an appropriate breed of dog to suit your lifestyle, go to the dog breed choices section. A selection of dog breeds is profiled in the 10 dog breeds to consider section. For more detailed information on dog and cat breeds, and help with choosing a pet to suit your lifestyle, visit the choosing the most suitable pet for your household and dogs and cats sections.