Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Key considerations when choosing a dog

Male or Female, Puppy or Adult
This depends on many things.  Discuss your options with experienced dog owners, your prospective veterinary surgeon and breeders from whom you may consider purchasing a puppy (who will be informative but might be hugely biased!), and those involved with rescue organisations (who are normally grittily realistic).  These people will usually be happy to share their experiences and opinions with you, and should give you a good range of opinions to consider.
Does your choice of dog, in relation to its size, suit your home, car, children and exercise plans, and suit friends or family that might look after it during the holidays?  Large dogs generally have a shorter life span, and cost more to feed, kennel, insure and medically treat than smaller ones.
Coat length and type
Do you mind spending hours grooming and cleaning your dog and your house, or do you want a low-maintenance breed?  Some dog breeds have a strong smell; others dribble a great deal!  Can you live with these things?
There are no naturally unhealthy pedigree dog breeds – but there are breeds in which certain conditions tend to surface more. It will inevitably take time for these conditions to be eliminated but where there are known health problems, which can be tested for, the Kennel Club runs specific schemes aimed at the breeds concerned. Tests such as hip and elbow scoring enable potential owners to have a good idea about the future health of their puppy. Pedigree dogs also carry a breed standard which is an indication of their likely care needs.
Some dogs are bred for looks, others for their working ability, and the result is that you get a whole range of temperaments in between.  Which one is right for you depends on many variables so get expert help on your intended pedigree dog breed and be very careful about where you buy your puppy.
A pedigree dog is the offspring of two dogs of the same breed whose lineage is recorded with a recognised club. Pedigree dogs carry a breed standard which is a blueprint for their likely character and health needs.
In addition to pedigree dogs there are also crossbreeds to consider.  These dogs often display a mixture of their ancestors traits.  So it is important to take this into account.  If you know the mix of breeds this may help but otherwise find out what you can about the parents.
Buying two dogs together is a bad idea
Whereas it may be true that they will keep each other company, they will do so at the cost of your relationship with them.  The tendency is for them to bond with each other, rather than with you and your family.  Rearing two puppies successfully takes an enormous amount of work, as you have to rear them separately, and give them each individual quality time, space, exercise andtraining, so it is not for the faint hearted or busy dog owner.
Existing dogs
If you have an existing dog and would like to buy a companion for it, consider the fact that many dogs prefer being the only dog in the family, and resent sharing their space, humans, attention, toys and treats with other dogs.  If you do want another dog, a good age gap is about four or five years.  If you are not sure how your dog will feel about it, ‘borrow’ a friend’s dog for a few days to get a rough idea.

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