One of the most fabulous things about dogs is that they come in all different shapes, sizes, colours and temperaments, so you would think that choosing the correct one would be easy wouldn’t you? So why do so many dogs end up with behavioural problems, or in rescue kennels? Often, the problem is due to a mis-match of dog to lifestyle. A puppy is a huge commitment – in terms of time and money; Purchase price, equipment, food, vaccinations, worming, flea treatment, insurance, vet’s bills, cost of kennels or pet sitter when you are on holiday… and so on. To avoid problems, dogs need to be walked (not just left to roam, or chucked out into the garden for a few hours. They need training, so that walking is a pleasant experience, not a nightmare. They will need companionship, dogs do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, even if there is another dog present.
So, if you still think you want a puppy – which breed should you choose? A lot depends on your personal preference, but just because you know of one dog of a particular breed, don’t assume that all of that breed will be the same. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and temperaments and activity levels will vary, even within litters, never mind breeds. There is a tendency these days to breed from working lines. On the positive side, if they are from a reputable breeder, then the puppies SHOULD be healthy – they have been bred to have a long working life. On the downside, do not underestimate the amount of physical and mental stimulation that these dogs require! Dogs from working stock have come from parents that have enough ‘get up and go’ to work all day, every day… if they don’t get sufficient stimulation, then they will be looking to amuse themselves – generally this is doing something that will not make you (and probably your neighbours) very happy! So, if you are not someone who enjoys getting up before dawn, in all weathers to take your dog out for a couple of hours a day, and spend time training them to occupy your mind, then you need to have a rethink!
Also, don’t assume that smaller dogs will need less exercise – this is not always true! A small terrier is often much more active than some larger breeds. (plus you have that added love of killing things to cope with).
Another common misconception these days, is that designer crossbreeds are healthier than pedigrees, because of ‘hybrid vigour’. Unfortunately, due to the popularity and the vast prices that these crosses can fetch, there are many unscrupulous people who are just breeding with anything, without any of the health checks that reputable breeders will do, resulting in dogs that have as many, if not more, issues.
If you are looking for a puppy and are not sure what breeds to consider, a good start is to visit Discover Dogs held twice a year, at the NEC outside Birmingham as part of Crufts in March and ExCel in London in October. This will give you chance to have a look at some of the breeds and talk to the breeders…. they want to home their dogs to the right people, so will generally give honest advice about their breed.
You can also look online at the Kennel club’s ‘Find a Breed’ web page, which aims to match your lifestyle to possible suitable breeds.
If you are thinking about getting a new dog/puppy, then Positive Dog Training Solutions is happy to offer free advice to help you choose your forever dog.