Advice on choosing a dog
1. Male or female?
Although there are no hard and fast rules, some owners consider bitches to be calmer in temperament and easier to train. Of course, there is no guarantee and as with people (owners), there is wide variability in personality.
2. Hairy or smooth?
Casting hair is an important consideration for many first-time dog owners. Dogs with smooth coats, for example, boxers will cast lots of short hair in your home and car. The quantity of hair cast is associated with the density of hair follicles in that breed. Hence Poodles and Bichon Frise with long, curly coats, and fewer hair follicles cast less than many other breeds.
3. Fitting in with your lifestyle
If you have a very active lifestyle or lots of free time, a working dog with high exercise requirements may be a good match for you. Note that giant breeds such as Newfoundlands and Great Danes are not suitable for endurance exercises such as hill walking and running. If you have a busy family and work-life, buying a working dog such a Collie or a Spaniel may prove a burden and result in behavioural issues and ultimately rehoming.
4. Where you live
Many of the large breeds are susceptible to joint problems as they age, therefore, climbing stairs to a flat may prove difficult in old age. To compound this problem, their size makes it very difficult for their owners to assist them with climbing and descending stairs. Best to settle for a smaller breed in these circumstances.
5. Adult rescue dog or puppy?
There are many reputable canine rescue organisations. Some are breed-specific for example; Springer Spaniel rescue or Staffordshire Bull Terrier rescue. Others deal with all manner of breeds such as the Dogs Trust or Scottish SPCA. These organisations tend to hold a lot of information about the dogs’ prior life and hence we recommend them as a source for rescued dogs. Buying an adult dog online from an individual is not a good idea. You must accept that dogs that are rehomed by their previous owners may often have behavioural problems that may not be suitable in a home with small children or elderly people.
Acquiring a new puppy enables you to organise training during their crucial socialisation period, and allows it to adapt to your home life and circumstances.
6. Pedigree vs Crossbreed
A pedigree dog is more predictable as to its future size and temperament. Reputable and established breeders should know their breed well and many endeavour to breed from their healthiest stud and dam. There are many pedigree breeds that are predisposed to hereditary health issues, for example, large breeds such as Labradors and German Shepherds are predisposed to hip and elbow dysplasia.
Although a crossbreed puppy may not be as expensive to buy, try and find out as much about its parents as possible to try and gauge its future size and temperament.
7. Sourcing a puppy
It is wise to view your puppy in the home with its mother before you agree to buy him or her. Reputable breeders should be happy to let you view the mother and littermates in their home environment. It is not advisable to meet the vendor of a puppy in a supermarket car park or a motorway service station as it may be difficult to contact the breeder in the future should any problems arise.
When you register a new puppy with Avenues Veterinary Centre, we will allocate you one of our friendly nursing team to be your personal puppy advisor – find out more.