Dog Types


Your dog’s emotional needs

Just as feeding your dog the right nutrition for his age, lifestyle and condition is vital to keeping him healthy and energetic, giving him the right emotional nourishment is vital to keeping him happy.

At PRO PLAN®, we have approached this dual need in a revolutionary way. We have divided the pet dog population into nine distinct types, each with its own set of innate, emotional needs, to provide you with the best possible advice on how to emotionally nurture your dog, based on sound psychology and years of behavioural studies.

Exercise & Play

Exercise and play are important for all mammals, and this is especially true of dogs. Exercise allows dogs to expend their energy on natural behaviours like exploring, chasing and digging; play allows them to hone their natural instincts and, more importantly, develop the necessary social skills they need to thrive in cooperative groups.

Puppy exercise regimes should gradually be extended as they grow, with early formal exercise being more for socialization than anything else. Free play in the garden will release excess energy at his own pace without the risk of him struggling to keep up. Over-exercising when young can be harmful, especially to large breeds.

Play is essential for learning and is directly linked to brain size, with larger-brained animals playing more than smaller-sized ones. Play results in the release of dopamine – a chemical important for influencing moods as well as the ability to learn. Lack of play opportunities can lead to listlessness and depression, and dogs who do not have sufficient free play when young are more likely to show aggressive tendencies in adulthood.

Play generally increases as puppies develop. They will play for longer and improvise their own toys if none suitable are present – to the detriment of your shoes – so provide a good collection of safe toys and rotate them to avoid boredom. If you play too it’ll make things even more exciting.

Exercise is important for physical health and fitness but also for mental and emotional wellbeing. A dog that is well exercised for his age, type and size will be more likely to rest calmly at home between activity and play sessions, be more receptive to training and be happier and more co-operative. A bored, under-exercised dog is likely to express his unhappiness through barking, inappropriate chewing and other destructive behaviour, and could be prone to obesity.

Play decreases a little with the onset of adolescence but the nature of the play can also change as dogs develop secondary sexual characteristics, becoming more competitive with canine playmates and more independent. Adolescence is also the time when dogs’ working instincts start to emerge: Collies start to learn and perfect the strategies of good herding, for example.

A dog will generally need less exercise as he gets older, but not all dogs age at the same rate – be guided by your own dog’s behaviour and reduce the length of exercise as he shows signs of slowing down.

Do not cut out your excursions altogether. Exercise is important for maintaining muscle tone and joint mobility. A dog may be stiff when he gets up immediately after rest, and he is likely to tire more easily, but several short walks a day will be appreciated and will help to keep him mentally alert and happy.

If a younger dog is introduced into the family, a senior dog can often experience something of a second puppyhood, though care must be taken that the youngster doesn’t wear your senior out.

Older dogs’ senses also usually become somewhat less efficient with age so this should be considered in your play routines.

Breed size
Size is another important factor to consider. Large dog breeds mature more slowly than small breeds and can seem puppy-like or adolescent in comparison to smaller breed dogs of the same age.

Ensuring your dog has size-appropriate toys is also important. A Chihuahua puppy really isn’t going to have much fun with a large football

To make sure you get the most from your play sessions with your dog – and to enable you to provide him with the most fulfilling opportunities to engage in natural behaviour, it’s important to consider his breed type, as different kinds of dog will take pleasure from different types of play.

You can find more specific advice for your dog in the article about their dog type.

Why Emotional Bonding is Important for All Dogs

The relationship between you and your dog is built on trust and develops over time as he grows from puppy to senior.
Like the young of most mammals, puppies are irresistibly cute to us. Their relatively large eyes, drop ears and soft coats appeal to our parenting and nurturing instincts. It is a winning survival strategy that makes us want to look after them, but they can become just as devoted to us too.

Most puppies shadow their new guardians and hang on their every word, so start reward-based training with your puppy as soon as you get him home. You’ll get the chance to enjoy lots of cuddles, too – puppies sleep rather a lot and holding a sleeping puppy or stroking him while he’s on your lap is one of the major plus-points of pet ownership.

The early weeks will set the foundations for your future life together, so start as you mean to go on: with a loving, respectful bond and lots of fun. Don’t shout at or punish him if he does something wrong; calmly show him what you’d prefer him to do. A golden rule is to ignore inappropriate behaviour and reward good behaviour.

Owners who do not put in this early groundwork can sometimes find the start of the awkward adolescent phase too difficult to cope with and choose to re-home their dog rather than work through it. Just as with human teenagers, canine adolescents can test your patience, but it is a passing phase. Once he reaches full adulthood, your dog will tend to calm down and your relationship will be all the stronger for having survived the ‘terrible teens’. 

By the time he’s an adult, your dog should know your ground rules and be well trained. This is the prime of his life, when he is energetic, healthy and well mannered.

Having a well-trained dog means you are more likely to be able to take him with you wherever you go – to the homes of family and friends, dog-friendly gardens, bars, cafés and so on. Spending time with your dog in a range of environments and making him a significant part of your life will further strengthen your bond and make him even more relaxed and well mannered.

The bond with a senior dog is like no other – after years together, you are well tuned to each other’s personality and moods and know each other inside out. As your dog slows down, your nurturing instincts will become even stronger and you will feel naturally more protective of him.

Some people like to spoil their dogs as they get older, letting them get away with behaviour they never would have as puppies, but regardless of whether you allow your dog on the sofa or not, it may be a good idea to move his own bed into your bedroom. This will give him the reassurance of having you close when he wakes in the night. Some older dogs can be disorientated after a deep sleep and may wake several times during the night. A relief break in the early hours may be necessary – and if your dog is close by, he will be able to alert you to his needs more easily.

A senior dog may also need more regular grooming. His nails may need cutting more now he exercises less, and long-coated dogs may benefit from a short ‘puppy’ trim, which is easier for the owner to manage and more comfortable for the dog, especially in warm weather.

If your senior dog becomes grumpier, do not just dismiss it as a typical sign of old age. It is often a sign of pain from a condition such as arthritis, and your vet will need to examine your dog and provide appropriate treatment.

Your dog’s type is a vital factor in the relationship you have. Find out more by selecting your dog’s type in the section below.


You are what you eat – and the same applies to dogs. Correct nutrition provides energy for life, physical growth and emotional and behavioural development.

Size Matters
Smaller dogs have a reputation for often being fussier eaters than larger breeds. This could be more to do with the owner’s over-attentiveness and inadvertently encouraging the dog to refuse his meal, in order to hold out for a tastier replacement.


Intelligent feeding
Since chewing, eating and enjoying food is such an important part of what makes a dog happy, it makes little sense to let him wolf down his food in a matter of seconds twice a day. Instead, make mealtimes more interesting for him by devising different ways of feeding that will challenge him a little and encourage him to use his canine senses and skills.

For example, scattering some dry kibble in short, dry grass will occupy the major senses of sight and smell and will appeal to his natural scavenging instincts. The same applies to treat-dispensing toys, which nowadays come in a huge range of sizes and shapes.

Tailor such ‘intelligent feeding’ to your dog’s type. For example, a terrier type will enjoy hunting the garden for small parcels of treats in paper bags. To a terrier, ripping and shredding the packaging will be just as pleasurable as eating the treats inside! Or a scenthound will enjoy following a trail that leads to a treat-toy. More details and suggestions about ‘Intelligent Feeding’ are given under each dog type profile.

Chewing is a very important activity for dogs of all ages and you should provide as large a range of chews as possible, both for your dog’s enjoyment and for his dental and oral health. Dogs love to chew a variety of textures and there are many different types of chews available from pet stores including tough rubber, rawhide, safe bones, rope tug toys and nylon-type chews.

When puppies are three to seven months of age, their milk teeth start to drop out and their permanent adult teeth begin to emerge. Chewing helps to relieve the pressure on the gums from teething and can also help dislodge milk teeth. Just as the teething phase comes to an end, so adolescence begins – a time when your dog explores the world in earnest with all his senses. Just as with a human toddler, much of this exploration will be conducted orally, so if you don’t provide suitable chews, your dog will find out outlets – in the form of your shoes, TV remote, handbag, furniture etc.

Find out more about your dog’s specific needs by reading about his dog type.

Prof. Peter Neville

Professor Peter Neville is a Companion Animal Behaviour Therapist and has been in practice for the referral and treatment of behaviour problems in cats and dogs for over twenty years. He has been a Clinical Professor at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture, Miyazaki University, Japan since April 2008, and was appointed Professor (adjunct) at the Dept of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University, USA in May 2009.

He established the first companion animal behaviour referral clinic at a UK veterinary school at the Dept of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bristol in 1990.and is now one of the world’s most well known pet behaviourists.

Peter Neville is also our Companion Animal Behaviour Consultant here at Purina

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