What to Do When You and Your Partner Want Different Kinds of Dogs · The Wildest

Skip to main content

What to Do When You and Your Partner Want Different Kinds of Dogs

Five couples share how they’ve reached a compromise to find the perfect pup for them

by Charles Manning
7 February 2024
A Couple In Their House Hanging Out With Their All White Akita And Pit Bull.
Kristen Curette & Daemaine Hines / Stocksy

You want a small dog with a mild temperament and discreetly sized poos. Your partner wants a big bruiser who can play fetch for an hour and keep you warm if the electricity goes out. You’d like to adopt an older mix breed from the local animal rescue. Your partner has never adopted a pet and feels unsure.

You want a girl. They want a boy. You want a Shih Tzu like the one you had as a child. They want a Rottweiler like the one their friend had at uni. You both feel very strongly about this decision. It’s something you’ve been thinking about for a long time (separately and together) and you really don’t want to compromise. What do you do? 

We interviewed five couples to find out what they did when faced with this conundrum. Learn from their advice, but remember, whatever dog you end up with, the love will follow.

An Australian Shepherd named Reni
Photo: Danielle, Reni’s mom

1. Danielle, Jose and Reni

Danielle and Jose were together for seven years before they decided to get a dog. “I had never had a dog, and I didn’t grow up with pets, so I didn’t know much about them,” says Danielle. She wanted either a Boxer or a Pit Bull, but her partner, who grew up with dogs, felt very strongly that they should get an Australian Shepherd.

“Jose’s family rescued an Australian Shepherd mix when he was a kid, and it was their favourite dog they ever had,” says Danielle. “All I knew about them was that they shed a lot, and I didn’t want our house to look and smell like a dog lived there.”

When Jose’s coworker told him about a litter of Australian Shepherd puppies on a farm, they couple knew they had to meet them. Although Jose was the one who initially wanted an Australian Shepherd, the dog they came away with, Reni, has an extra-special bond with Danielle. “She is five now and my best friend,” says Danielle. “She follows me everywhere around the house and comes to me first for anything. She’s definitely my dog.”

And how does Jose feel about this? “We couldn’t be happier,” adds Danielle. “Reni is the most loyal dog. She is very gentle with our two-year-old daughter and very well trained – we worked with her a lot when she was a puppy, so now she is usually off-lead in our neighbourhood and always listens to commands. She is friendly with other animals and people. We love her so much!”

Photo: Todd, Ridley’s dad

2. Todd, Meagan and Ridley

“My wife had never owned a dog and was apprehensive about adopting anything she might be intimidated by or couldn’t physically handle,” says Todd. “I, on the other hand, have had dogs my whole life and am a huge fan of massive dogs. I wanted a dog I could ride as a mount into battle.”

Todd says that, for him, “A small dog was better than no dog,” and he agreed to his wife’s choice, especially considering the modest size of their apartment. But, he argues, a Great Dane can be just as good in an apartment as a little pup.

First, they attempted to adopt a Jack Russell mix named Simon, who was unfortunately already scooped up by a little boy and his parents. “The little shit beat us to it!” Todd recalls. But instead, he and his wife found Ridley, a black-and-tan Australian Shepherd mix “with the best smile and the gentlest temperament”.

“Ridley is the best dog I’ve ever owned,” says Todd. “We got him when he was four, and he’s 16 now, still in beautiful shape and still just as amazing a family member as ever. We joke that he’s Rob Lowe because he never ages. He was so easy to train and so loving and matches our energy – even now with a two-year-old. He was a much smaller dog than I was wishing for and a much bigger, smarter dog than my wife had hoped for, but now, neither of us would have it any other way.”

Cielo, a Goldendoodle
Photo: Matthew, Cielo’s dogsitter

3. Matthew, Scott and Cielo

Matthew and Scott have been together for 11 years and have often thought about getting a dog but have never gone for it. “I love all dogs but, in theory, I wanted a small-to-medium-sized dog,” says Matthew. “Not a Chihuahua or Pomeranian, but something smaller than a German Shepherd.”

Scott, on the other hand, loves big dogs. “He likes dogs of any kind, really, but he was averse to a smaller dog. He loves the outdoors and really small city dogs don’t feel like outdoor mountain dogs,” says Matthew. 

Instead of adopting their own dog, the pair became the go-to dog sitters to Cielo, a friendly Goldendoodle, whose humans take long trips overseas a couple times a year. 

“Cielo moves in with us during those times,” says Matthew. “And even though he’s not technically our dog, I think we’re both happy with the situation. Cielo’s very well-behaved, incredibly polite, very intelligent, and wildly charismatic. He is obsessed with going to the nearby vets and can quietly lead you to their offices, which he won’t leave, so we have to be pretty strict about avoiding them. He’s also at his happiest when we go on what we call ‘family walks’ where it’s the three of us. He constantly checks to see if we’re still there on those occasions. 

“It’s the equivalent of being an uncle or a godparent or whatever,” adds Scott. “I love kids and dogs and totally get how they are rewarding and even life-defining, but I also love quality sleep and last-minute adventures, so I’m very happy taking a hard pass on the full-time responsibility of having a dog of our own.”   

Veda and Otto
Photo: Chindura and Elliot, Veda and Otto’s parents

4. Cindhura, Elliot, Veda and Otto

Cindhura and Elliot were together for seven years before they got their first dog, Veda. Cindhura wanted a medium-sized dog (10–30kg) who wouldn’t shed too much. “I have pretty bad dander allergies,” she says. “I grew up with smaller dogs and felt better about the idea of being able to at least lift my pet.” Her partner, on the other hand, wanted a big dog (over 30kg). “He’s always felt pretty strongly that small dogs are not ‘real’ dogs.”

When they found their Great Pyrenees mix, Veda, at a local shelter, she was only 29kgs – a vast improvement over her pre-shelter weight of 20kg, but still well below the healthy 40kg she is today. Although Cindhura had wanted a smaller dog initially, once she met Veda, there was no going back.

“We went to the shelter, and Veda came right up to us, and we both immediately agreed she was ours. I couldn’t imagine a better first dog,” she says. “Ultimately, it came down to personality. All the other details didn’t really matter. We eventually adopted a smaller dog, Otto – a 25kg Border Collie, Pyreneese/Pit Bull mix – so I guess, in the end, we both got what we wanted. They do shed like crazy, though. Luckily, my allergies have gotten better.”

5. Abbie, Eliza and their future dog

Abbie and Eliza got together two years ago and immediately started talking about getting a dog. “We both come from families that have a lot of dogs,” says Abbie. “So, we both came into this expecting that someday we would get a dog.”

Abbie is generally more of a cat person – she actually brought two cats into the relationship  – so likes a more hands-off pet, or “more of an independent companion,” as she puts it. “My idea of a dog is one that can take care of itself; although, aesthetically, I’d love a Border Collie or a Borzoi. They are just such cool-looking dogs.”

Eliza, on the other hand, wants a little dog. “Her dream dog is a Shih Tzu,” says Abbie. “She loves dogs that people may consider to be a little ‘off’, a little ‘ugly’. She really loves a tiny dog.” But prior to dating Eliza, Abbie dog-sat for a lot of dogs she describes as ‘little yappy dogs’, which is not her preference. But, she’s already come to the decision that, when the time comes, Eliza will get to choose their family pup.

“I suspect we will probably adopt a Pit Bull mix. I have dealt with enough breeders through my own job that I don’t want to get a dog from one of them, and we both agree that there are so many Pit Bull mixes in the shelter system who need homes. Even though Eliza really wants a little dog, she has a good heart and I think really just wants to help a dog in need.”

Charles Manning

Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.

Related articles