What to know before getting a dog

So, you’ve decided to take the exciting step of buying a dog. Congratulations! 

Is it a new addition to your family? Or, maybe you’re single and looking for a furry friend to keep you company? Whatever the reason, picking a breed that suits your environment and lifestyle are things you should consider. 

You’ve probably heard it before, but buying a dog comes with responsibilities. From training to pet insurance, it’s essential to make sure you’re ready for the challenges and financial commitment of owning a pet. 

Often puppies and dogs are bought without proper consideration of how much care they require, leaving thousands surrendered to shelters every year in Australia. 

We’ve outlined some key traits and conditions of common dog breeds to help you find the perfect companion.

 

What to consider when choosing a dog breed

Before purchasing your furry companion, consider where you live and which breed will be most suitable for it. Your environment will be a determining factor in what kind of dog you can accommodate.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my living situation look like?
    Do you live in a house, apartment, townhouse or rural area?
  • What does my day-to-day look like?
    Do you work full-time, or are you free most of the week?
  • What does my family structure look like? 
    Do you have a large family with children, or are you single living alone?
  • Am I planning to move anywhere or have long-term travel plans?
    Is there anyone that could look after your dog while you’re away?


If you live in an urban area with limited access to a backyard or outdoor area, a smaller dog that requires less physical exercise may be a better fit than a larger one. Big dogs often need more space and have greater physical activity needs.

Once you’ve considered these things, it’s time to start looking for your perfect match. Take a look at our guide below to see what kind of dog breed might be best for you.

Common things you need for a dog

There are a few things you’ll need if you’re bringing a dog home. From a bed to toys, these basic items are essential for keeping your dog happy and healthy.

See a breakdown below:

Item Description Average cost per product#
Bed

A comfortable bed that suits your dog’s size

$20 - $70

Food

Opt for dry or wet food that’s appropriate for your dog’s age and size

$2 - $5

Water/Food bowls

Get non-slip bowls so your dog can eat without making a mess

$15 - $20

Collar

It’s best to get a collar you can adjust as your dog grows

$8 - $45

Lead

A lead should be chosen based on the size and age of your dog. Not too long or short. 

$10 - $20

Toys

Choose a range of toys - training, enrichment and interactive

$5 - $20 (each)

At home grooming

Brush, shampoo and conditioner

$10 - $12 (per item)

Popular dog breed characteristics

Dog Breed Size Energy level Suits Lifespan
Border Collie

Medium

Highly energetic

Farms or active family

10 - 17 years

German Shepherd

Large

Low - moderate energy

Active and experienced dog owners

9 - 13 years

Cavoodle

Small

High energy

Families or individuals that want a ‘low maintenance’ dog

10 - 14 years

Golden Retriever

Large

Moderate energy

Active families with a lot of space

10 - 12 years

Labrador

Large

High energy

Active people and families seeking a companion

10 - 12 years

Rottweiler

Large

Moderate energy

Experienced dog owners

8 - 10 years

Bulldog

Medium

Low energy

Homebodies and families

8 - 10 years

Pomeranian

Small

High energy

City lifestyle, individuals that live in smaller spaces (like apartments)

12 - 16 years

Beagle

Small - medium

High energy

Active individuals and families

12 - 15 years

Dachshund

Small

Moderate energy

Homebodies and families

12 - 17 years

Pug

Small

Low energy

Older couples, homebodies and families

12 - 15 years

Cavapoo

Small

Moderate energy

Families, couples and single

12 - 15 years

Pit bull

Medium

High energy

Experienced dog owners

8 - 15 years

Boxer

Medium

High energy

Families

10 - 12 years

Chihuahua

Small

High energy

People living in apartments or smaller homes

10 - 18 years

Spoodle

Small

High energy

People living in apartments or smaller homes

11 - 15 years

Newfoundland

Large

High energy

People living on large properties and farms

8 - 10 years

Australian Cattle Dog 

Medium

High energy

Active families or farm work

12 - 15 years

Greyhound

Large

Moderate energy

Homebodies and families

12 - 15 years

Poodle

Small - medium

Moderate to high energy

People living in apartments or smaller homes

12 - 15 years

Bernese Mountain Dog 

Large

Moderate

Active families and farm work

6 - 10 years

Pocket bully

Small - medium

Moderate energy

Experienced dog owners

11 - 13 years

Cockapoo 

Small

Moderate energy

People living in apartments or smaller homes

12 - 15 years

Great Dane

Large

Low to moderate energy

Families with big spaces

7 - 10 years

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Small - medium

Moderate energy

Families

9 - 15 years

American Staffordshire Terrier

Medium - large

Moderate energy

Experienced dog owners, couples and singles

10 - 15 years

Common conditions in dog breeds

Maintaining the overall health of your pet is another important part of ownership. Factors like diet, exercise, and knowing common conditions associated with your dog’s breed play a huge role in their well-being. 

Due to their genetic makeup, many purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs are prone to different skin, ear, and eye conditions. For example, due to their small skull structure, Pugs are predisposed to commonly suffer from corneal dystrophies that cause issues with their vision. This condition is also prevalent in other flat-faced breeds like the Shih Tzus and Bulldogs. 

It’s essential to develop an understanding of potential health issues your dog could face, so you can identify the symptoms and seek veterinary help.

Take a look at some common conditions that different dog breeds are prone to below. These conditions may be covered by pet insurance.

Skin conditions

Whether a result of allergies or bacterial infections, skin conditions should be treated as early as possible. Folliculitis, ringworm, and environmental/ food allergies are some of the most common skin conditions seen in dogs.

The breeds more prone to these conditions are:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Pitbull
  • Chihuahua
  • Spoodle
  • Poodle
  • Pocket bully
  • Great Dane
  • American Staffordshire Terrier

Ear conditions

Ear conditions can appear in dogs from allergies, bacterial infections, and yeast. Excessive head-scratching or shaking are signs your dog might be suffering from an ear infection. Otitis externa is a common ear condition seen in dogs. 

The breeds more prone to these conditions are:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Pitbull
  • Chihuahua
  • Spoodle

Eye conditions

Eye conditions are common amongst dogs. Corneal damage, dry eyes and conjunctivitis are some of the most common eye conditions seen in dogs.

The breeds more prone to these conditions are:

  • Border Collie
  • Cavoodle
  • Bulldog
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Cavapoo
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Newfoundland
  • Greyhound
  • Poodle
  • Pocket bully
  • Cockapoo
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Gastrointestinal problems

Digestive problems can occur in dogs from eating the wrong foods and bacterial infections. Diarrhea, worms, and gastritis are some of the most common gastrointestinal problems seen in dogs.

The breeds more prone to these conditions are:

  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Rottweiler
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Great Dane

Dog insurance

Now that you know a bit more about dog breeds and common conditions, you might want to consider ways you can combat unexpected veterinary bills if your pet falls sick. 

Woolworths Pet Insurance offers a range of cover options for dogs with basic, standard, comprehensive and comprehensive plus policies. All levels of cover come with free access to VetAssist, a service that connects you with credible vet advice 24/7.

Cover your furry friend today

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Price Promise a. only available if a Woolworths Pet Insurance policy is purchased by 30 June 2022 b. only applies to competitor products available as at 1 January 2021 that at least cover up to 80% back on eligible vet bills and have a similar excess c. does not apply to quoted renewals, variations, free insurance offers, or quotes that include discounts for other products purchased d. only available if the quote is genuine – written proof of quote may be required. Please note covers provided by insurers will vary.

Price of items based on www.woolworths.com.au as of November 2021.

† Offer available to new Woolworths Pet Insurance policyholders, and is limited to 1 membership per eligible policy. The free membership offer (valued at $199p.a) is from the date of your policy commencement, provided your Woolworths Pet Insurance policy remains active. You are not eligible to redeem the free membership subscription for cash or credit. VetAssist is a separate subscription based service to the Woolworths Pet Insurance product, and is provided independently by Woolworth’s third party service provider, VetChat Services Pty Ltd (VetChat). Click here for full VetAssist Service terms and conditions. Woolworths reserves the right to withdraw or extend this offer at anytime, without notice.

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Woolworths Pet Insurance is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd ABN 78 090 584 473, AFSL 241436 (Hollard), is promoted and distributed by Hollard’s Authorised Representative (AR) Woolworths Group Limited ABN 88 000 014 675, AR 245476 and is arranged and administered by PetSure (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 95 075 949 923, AFSL 420183. Any advice provided is general only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to ensure this product meets your needs before purchasing. PDS and Target Market Determination available at insurance.woolworths.com.au/pet-insurance.