Choosing the perfect puppy for you
One of the secrets of enjoying a successful and happy relationship with your dog is to make sure you have done your research and chosen the right breed of puppy for you, your lifestyle and family.
Would you believe, there are over 200 pure breeds of dog in the UK and many designer breeds that are also very popular. Each of these breeds will be very different to live with, have differing needs and energy levels. You need to research which breed, as best you can, will fit with your idea of dog ownership and what you are prepared to do every day for the next 12/15 years or so, come rain, shine, snow, wind – get the picture!
People tend to forget that dogs cost money and they are not cheap. They need feeding, grooming, training and regular vet check-ups. A recent survey estimated that owners spent on average a minimum of £1,000 a year on their dogs. Vet fees are ridiculously expensive so getting insurance is definitely a requirement and some breeds have higher health issues, so make sure you research that as well. In addition, don’t forget all the dog beds you will get through during the chewing period which could last a couple of years!!
So assuming you can afford it, do you have the time to give this bundle of energy and fun? Dogs do not have on and off switches. There is lots to consider. Whatever the weather, they need to be exercised; there are training needs to build up a good relationship and you need to understand each other to make your life together relatively stress free and most of all, you need to enjoy being with your dog.
Having the time to exercise your dog is the biggest commitment. Some dogs will be happy with 20 minutes or so twice a day, but some high energy breeds and dogs bred to work, may need a good 3 hours a day off lead exercise, especially as a young dog with loads of energy and enthusiasm to explore the great outdoor wilderness of rabbits and birds. Breeds such as herding dogs, gun dogs, spaniels and some terriers will need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and relaxed at home.
Then there’s the hair!
Would you be able to cope with a long haired double coated dog that will require daily brushing or costly grooming bills. Not forgetting the shedding or ‘coat blow’ two or three times a year. Can you put up with that in the house?! Short haired dogs are a lot easier to look after and probably only need a weekly brush, however, they still shed hair and it should not be under estimated how much that can be! The long haired coat also gets matted and will need attention every time it gets wet. Silky coated dogs can get matted coats as well, especially Spaniels who love to get into undergrowth and water emerging with grass seeds, burrs and twigs stuck in their coat! Non shedding breeds such as poodle type coats will need to be clipped. Whatever breed you choose, some amount of grooming is part and parcel of dog ownership – it just depends on how much time you have to give to keep them looking good.
Having said all that, owning a dog is wonderful. It’s therapeutic, gets you out of the house to keep you exercising and that four legged mischief maker will give you unconditional loyalty and love. There is nothing like having a dog in your life – just be prepared for what you are getting!