An introduction to buying a dog
So, having decided that a dog is the pet for you how do you choose which dog is the right one as there are so many breeds and types?
Pet ownership brings huge benefits, from providing a focus and purpose for owners to having an animal to care for that is dependant but provides loving companionship. Studies have shown that owning a pet can have many health benefits for example dog ownership encourages regular exercise and the soothing repetitive action of stroking a pet is known to help reduce high blood pressure.
There are many breeds of dog, ranging from tiny Chihuahuas to huge Great Danes, with everything in between, as well as many different types of crossbreeds. It is worth bearing in mind that the costs involved with a smaller dog are less than those associated with a larger one. These costs include feeding, worming, veterinary care and boarding.
Which dog breed should I choose?
Space does not allow us to list even the most popular breeds of dogs, there are literally thousands.
However do consider the relative risks and benefits of a pedigree dog, versus a ‘Heinz 57 variety’ crossbreed and also the newest craze of puppies from two different pedigree parents, such as a labra-doodle.
It’s probably better to start off by considering the size and the temperament of dog that would suit you and your lifestyle best. There is very likely to be several breeds (both pure and crossbreeds) that will tick all your boxes.
Do your research on the diseases that certain breeds can be prone to, as these conditions that can make life very expensive and traumatic. e.g. hip dysplasia in Labradors.
Whilst crossbreeds tend to be healthier, don’t be put off pedigree breeds, as reputable and Kennel Club accredited breeders take part in programmes to eliminate some of these problems.
It is important to choose a dog that suits the whole household. For example, if you have children and they are at school all day and all the adults are out at work, then perhaps it’s not a good idea to have a puppy.
After settling into the new household, an older dog is more likely to tolerate longer periods left alone, but will still require human company for decent periods every day, as well as daily walks and play. A good way to encourage and teach children to interact with a family pet is involvement in grooming and daily playtime.
If you do not have much space at home or live in a flat without access to a garden, then perhaps a small dog is the right pet for you. Remember that some landlords have specific rules about dogs, so it is important to find this out before going ahead.
It’s important to be honest with yourself about the amount of time you are able to dedicate to exercising your new dog. Working breeds, such as border collies and springer spaniels, will require more exercise every day, come rain or shine. Also working breeds need more training and stimulation than some other breeds and without this may become destructive and have behavioural problems.
The average dog may live 10-12 years; the very large breeds have a shorter lifespan than the smaller ones.
When choosing a dog many people opt for a puppy, perhaps preferring to train them from scratch to fit in with their particular lifestyle. A puppy may require a lot of work with toilet training and may well need specific training classes whilst they are young. However, if you are out at work most of the day it’s not a good idea to have a puppy that will be left alone for more than 2-3 hours or for long periods. Puppies need lots of care and attention and may develop destructive behaviour and become distressed due to boredom and loneliness.
It is worth considering that the rescue centres are full of dogs over a year old, looking for homes.
On the positive side they are toilet trained, are likely to have got beyond the ‘chewing’ stage, may have basic training skills and are generally calmer and readier to fit into a household. This reduces the need for extensive training and avoids the excitable phase that puppies go through, which may involve chewing, biting and jumping up.
After settling into the new household, a dog beyond the puppy stage is more likely to tolerate longer periods left alone, but will still require human company for decent periods every day, as well as daily walks and play.
Buying a pedigree dog can easily cost up to £1,000, but rescue dogs considerably less.
Owning a larger dog is more expensive than a small one. For everyone there are one off costs involved, such as neutering and microchipping, toys, beds etc. and continuing costs such as food, kennel fees, vaccinations and parasite prevention.
An older pet may also have reduced initial financial costs, as neutering, initial vaccinations and microchipping may already have been performed. Balance this with the fact that an older pet may develop health issues that carry an emotional and financial burden.
Pet insurance is widely available to help with veterinary emergencies and illness fees, but remember to budget for the vaccinations and flea treatments.
Where should I buy a dog from?
Undertaking research on the internet, dog advice books from the library, visiting breeders and kennels or even chatting to dog owners in the park is a great way to learn about the particular type or breed of dog you are interested in. A reputable rescue centre is a good place to go to as they have many types and breeds of dogs all in the one place and will have the expertise to help you make a correct choice. Look for the rescue centres in your area and pay them a visit. The best, such as Dogs RSPCA and Dogs Trust will have lots of invaluable advice and experience to help you to make your choice.
We strongly recommend that you do NOT buy or home your new dog from someone you don’t know e.g. via the internet or small ad’s in the paper, unless they are from a Kennel Club accredited breeder. Not only have many come from ‘puppy farms’ with poor welfare standards, but often become seriously ill or indeed die within a short time of being homed. This can prove both expensive and traumatic for the whole family. It is important to ask to see the mother and the litter in their home environment. Never agree to a ‘breeder’ delivering a puppy to you or asking to meet you in a public place such as motorway services or the supermarket car park.
It cannot be stressed enough that research and preparation are extremely important when choosing a pet. But once you have taken the step and are a pet owner, then the benefits and rewards to the whole family are huge and your pet will become a much loved member of your family!