Discover Dogs, the Kennel Club’s event for putative pooch owners, takes place this weekend. The most important thing, says Sara O’Reilly, is to make sure your pet’s personality is a good fit for your own lifestyle. Here’s our just-for-fun guide to the ideal dogs for some typical Londoners. Illustrations Quinton Winter
With upwards of 3,000 canines set to converge on Earls Court, you’d be forgiven for anticipating a chaotic cacophony in SW5 this weekend. Actually, although they can be a teensy bit whiffy at times, events in previous years have proved remarkably civilised. The proud owners of around 200 different breeds, ranging from tiny lapdogs to hounds the size of small ponies, are all passionate advocates for their animals. Which is not to say they want everyone to join their club. The point of this annual exercise – timed to coincide with the point in the year when kids start pleading for a puppy for Christmas, insisting that they’ll feed and exercise it and even pick up its poo, without complaint – is to make sure people don’t wind up with a dog they can’t look after properly. So, by combining accurate information about the breeds and some shameless human stereotyping, we’ve identified the dogs who’d fit in a treat in four different London areas.
LIVE IN HAMPSTEAD? GET A COCKER SPANIEL
Hampstead is a sophisticated corner of London, full of aesthetes, intellectuals and people with too much time and money on their hands. If you live there, you’ll want a dog to share your pastimes: going for long, indulgent walks on the heath; putting the world to rights over a real ale; gazing smugly into estate agents’ windows. Quick to adapt to their surroundings (as long as they’re not cramped), cocker spaniels require companionship, stimulation and an outlet for their energies, making one the ideal companion for, say, a successful novelist – someone who takes frequent breaks from writing their next bestseller to stroll to the Flask pub for a drink. Or else you could take your new pup and linger over the Sunday papers with a cup of coffee on the outdoor terrace of the Brew House café at Kenwood House. Not all cocker spaniels can read but many will exhibit a gratifying interest in what you have to say after your perusal of The Observer.
LIVE IN CLAPHAM? GET A LABRADOR RETRIEVER
Live in a leafy borough like Clapham? You’ll want a dog that gets especially waggy-tailed at the prospect of wide open spaces. Labs are all-round good guys (even the bitches), easy to train, fond of exercise and lovely with kids. Definitely the dog of choice if you’re resident in SW4 or SW11, postcodes whose fecund inhabitants are proud to live in the capital’s ‘Nappy Valley’. If the school run doesn’t involve a 4×4, it’s likely to consist of a cross-common (Clapham or Wandsworth) convoy: multiple dogs on leads, babies in buggies, kids on micro-scooters, parents with pockets full of poo sacks, wielded conscientiously. You’ll fit right in with a labrador. Or else take your newly acquired pet for ‘walkies’ – in other words an excuse for you to drink a double espresso in relative peace at one of the pavement cafés on Northcote Road. Or sneak off for a pint at the Abbeville while Indie (male or female, you must call your dog Indie – it’s the Clapham way) has a bowl of water and biscuits.
LIVE IN SHOREDITCH? GET A FRENCH BULLDOG
Enjoying a surge in popularity to match the vogue for sleeve tattoos and craft beer, the French bulldog is the mutt’s nuts in the East End right now. They are clean dogs, who – you’ll be pleased to note, given how much your jeans cost – will avoid puddles. In fact, they’ve a natural inclination towards fastidiously groomed bright young things in desirable but understated garments from Folk. They’re fans of Ally Capellino’s minimalist laptop bags for Apple (they wish she’d design a line of coats for dogs). They’re equally happy in a flat or a house but they are terriers, so need a strong, patient leader to ensure they don’t become stubborn. That said, they have a great sense of humour and they’re always happy to tag along for an afternoon spent knitting in the pub, or a trip up to Dalston bar Swingers for an ironic round of crazy golf.
LIVE IN CHELSEA? GET A PUG
Dignified, intelligent and good-natured, pugs sound like they’re plagued by hayfever all year round but are actually rather robust and have lots of character. Although they’re sociable, they can be a bit possessive (‘guarding behaviour’, therapists call it), but that’s not a problem if their owner can be firm. Of course, living in SW3, you’re used to being firm with all sorts of people – shop assistants, waiters, spouses. What really makes a pug your dream pet is their fashion-accessory status. George Clooney, Kelly Osbourne and Jessica Alba are all pug owners, so the little snifflers are entitled to gloat a bit when they meet up outside the Chelsea Potter pub on the King’s Road, as their owners knock back chilled sauvignon blanc, ever-alert for a sighting of someone who’s appeared in ‘Made in Chelsea’.
Discover Dogs runs this Saturday November 8 and Sunday November 9 at Earls Court. £16, £13 concs, free under-12s.
Find out more about Discover Dogs