Deciding to get a dog, whether puppy, adult, pedigree or rescue is a huge decision. It’s important to research the characteristics of the different breeds you are considering to make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for! But….with over 300 dog breeds to choose from, it won’t be an easy decision!
The Pedigree Route
The majority of pedigree breeds were originally bred for a specific function, for example, hunting or working livestock. Once you know this purpose you will have aet a better idea of its personality and behavioural traits. For example, herding breeds like Border Collies can display obsessive chasing behaviours when excited or those bred to pursue scents, like Beagles, can also be deaf to any owner's command once their instincts kick in and once on a trail may disappear for hours - or even days!
All in all, as a pet owner, you must understand and take responsibility for the breed you select and respect the natural instincts of that breed. You will need to train and socialise your chosen breed in order to handle any particular traits.
The Rescue Route
Now more so than ever, shelters are filled with dogs of all ages and breeds due to the huge increase in pet ownership throughout the pandemic, with many families quickly coming to realise, that pet parent life was just not for them.
Dogs can end up in the shelter for many reasons, some because of behavioural issues and others through no fault of their own, perhaps abandoned by owners who decided the pooch did not complement their lifestyle.
Most shelter dogs tend to be cross-breeds; on a rare occasion, you may come across a pedigree breed. Aside from breed, in terms of life stage, the appearance of puppies in shelters is also much less frequent.
Rescue organisations will also offer ongoing support and advice should you have any problems with the dog. They may also visit you occasionally to check you are still happy with the dog, your training is progressing, and you are able to meet its needs.
Once you’ve decided which route to go down, you must consider the below factors before adding a four legged friend to your family.
The first consideration that most people evaluate when choosing a dog breed is general temperament. Some breeds are considered more outgoing and friendly while others are more prone to display aggression.
Your choice should depend on your needs…..are you looking for a guard dog? Or is your motivation to add a family pet to your home dynamic?
Temperament characteristics to carefully consider include:
- Aggression and protectiveness
- Energy, activity level, and playfulness
- Compatibility with other animals
The next common consideration when choosing a dog breed is the animal's size. Naturally, larger require more space both inside the home and outside for exercise. Smaller dog breeds will be more suitable for smaller environments such as an apartment. It’s important to note that smaller breeds do not necessarily equate to a gentler temperament.
Whether rescuing or purchasing, all dogs can make a significant dent in your bank balance. It is important to think of the below costs that will need to be covered:
- Beds or bedding
- Toys and stimulation equipment
- Collar and leash
- Periodic vaccinations and other health care
- Food and water bowls
- Food and treats
- Grooming supplies
- Crates for traveling
- Pet insurance
These costs will then vary depending on your breed selection, for example, it will cost a lot more to feed an Irish Wolfhound than it would a Chihuahua!
Family Member Needs
Don’t forget to consider the needs of the two legged members of your family!
Small children don’t always gel with small dogs, as they can often see them as play things and inadvertently hurt them without meaning to. Or, maybe some family members suffer from allergies so hypo-allergenic breeds such as poodles will be more suitable.
By considering the needs of human family members you will be helping to guarantee that everyone enjoys the love and companionship of a faithful four legged best friend.
Future needs and changes to the family dynamic should also be thought about before taking the plunge! Are you prepared to switch your foreign holidays for a staycation or indeed incur the boarding costs? And are you prepared to make the necessary changes to your home in order to ensure that it is pet-proofed?
BE ABSOLUTELY SURE before you adopt or purchase!