It’s easy to fall in love with a sweet little face or a certain breed of dog. But the dog we like (or the dog that is all the rage right now) is not always the right one for us, and we may not be right for him! Let’s take a look at what to consider in order to pick the right dog.
BREED AND NATURE OF THE DOG
Among the first aspects to consider when picking a dog is its breed and character. Dogs were bred to perform certain tasks, and you must take this into consideration.
Defense dogs, for example, are very protective of their owners and must be trained with great care and patience. Hunting, flushing and retriever dogs tend to be very obedient, but they are also lively, energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise, like greyhounds and terriers, in general. Sheep dogs were bred to protect herds of cattle and sheep, making them great guard dogs for the home. They too are very active dogs and need plenty of space, of fresh air and exercise. And then there are what you might call ‘lap dogs’, that is, small home-bodies, social dogs delighted with short walks and whose aim in life is to be cuddled.
After you have learned more about the breed of dog that might suit you it’s time to try to understand that sort of character he has. Watching how he behaves with his siblings or other dogs is always a good indicator of whether he has a dominant and active nature, or a more gentle and mild character. Not only, but all real breeders know their dogs. Ask them, or those that care for the dogs, for more information about the character of the dog you think might be yours.
DOG SIZE AND CHARACTERISTICS
Another important factor you have to keep in mind is the size of the dog, especially in terms of how much space you have and what his needs are. A Great Dane needs more space, a lot more food and far larger – and thus more expensive – accessories (bed, dog house) than, say, a Poodle. You will incur higher medical expenses, as you will need larger amounts of tick and flea medicine and vaccines of all sorts.
Not only, but if you have small children or disabled people living with you, a large dog could inadvertently cause them harm. That doesn’t mean that a tiny dog is the answer for them either. Dogs known as ‘toy dogs’ because of their very small size can be easily frightened and have an aggressive nature, they tend to bark a lot and even bite to keep people at bay. Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Cocker Spaniels, on the other hand, are well-balanced companions and ideal play mates for children.
Remember also that females tend to be more tolerant of small children, they are sweeter and more docile than males and thus also easier to manage, perfect for first-time dog owners. Males tend to be more active and territorial, thus ideal guardians. And if you have fallen in love with a really fluffy dog like a Pekinese, remember that the lovely long hair also means more grooming: washing, brushing and cleaning. Long haired dogs also lose their hair a lot, so if you are a finicky housekeeper perhaps this is not the type of dog you should be bringing home.
THE OWNER’S CHARACTER AND LIFESTYLE
Another question to be asked is: What sort of person are you? Do you prefer to stay peacefully at home? Then perhaps an energetic dog is not the thing for you, unless you’ve decided to trade the sofa in for the outdoors! The same is true if you are away from home for long periods of time. If this is the case, then perhaps you should find an adult dog, as puppies tend to need a great deal of attention. A King Charles Spaniel, a Maltese or even a Bolognese is a perfect choice for home bodies, and their relatively small size also makes them wonderful companions for older people.
But if you are the sporty type, an active person always on the go, a jogger or hiker, then you need to find a dog that also loves these activities: a hunting dog, a medium-sized sheep dog like a Border Collie, or a larger Czechoslovakian Wolf Hound, but also a small dog like a Jack Russell may be the pal you’re looking for to spend time with out of doors.
Your living situation also needs to be seriously considered before making the final decision. If you live in an apartment in a large city and have limited time to dedicate to a pet, then don’t get a dog that needs plenty of space and exercise. It comes down to evaluating whether your life style will make Rex a happy, healthy dog.
Other factors to be considered when looking for the right dog:
- A puppy or an adult? Adopting a puppy means that for a few months you’ll have the most adorable creature living with you, but one that can also be a real hand full! An adult dog, on the other hand, may have behavioural issues that can’t be changed, but he will certainly be calmer and is already, one assumes, trained.
- And when the holiday season arrives? Do you have someone who can care for the dog while you are away? If not, you might put him in a specialised kennel until you return. Find out if there is one not too far from you.
- A purebred or a mutt? If there is a particular breed you especially like, one with precise characteristics, then go see a professional breeder. Do remember that purebred dogs are more delicate health-wise, and they are prone to genetic problems. And keep in mind that adopting a dog really does fill the heart with joy, a joy that all the more intense if the dog comes from the kennel!
In the end, do fall in love with an adorable little face, but before you take it home, consider the factors listed above so that everyone can live happily ever after.