Guest post written by Natalie Ferrera
Owning a dog is an amazing thing. But with so many breeds to choose from, it can be tricky to know where to start.
While it can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of getting a new puppy to bring home, keep adoption in mind. There are many dogs in shelters who are in desperate need of finding a loving home. So before going to a breeder pop down to your local shelter and you may be surprised to find your fur-ever friend is waiting for you there.
To help you pick the right pooch, simply follow these five steps.
1. What size dog is right for where I live?
Some dogs like smaller spaces, while others like wide-open backyards. Before you decide on a breed, it’s important to do your research and honestly assess how much space you can give your dog.
If you’re living in an apartment, smaller dogs will be a better fit, such as the dachshund, pug, or poodle. While some of these breeds need regular exercise, they all remain small and need little space while they are inside. On the other hand, there are some medium and large dogs that will also be content in small spaces, such as the bulldog or greyhound.
If you’re bringing a puppy home, set up a special area just for them. This area will teach your pup how to build confidence when they’re alone.
While most dogs enjoy cuddling up in small spaces, active breeds such as the border collie, kelpie, Llabrador, and German shepherd also enjoy bigger homes with backyards to stretch their legs in.
2. How much grooming is required?
In some way or another, all dogs need grooming. The type and amount of changes from one breed to the next, depending on their pelt-type, eyes and ears.
For dogs with reasonably long hair or curly coats, such as the Maltese or Irish setter, they’ll need brushing and combing every day. They will also need regular baths to keep the ticks and mites away. How long you keep their fur is up to you, but it’s a good idea to clip or comb away bad mats, as well as hair around their eyes, near the ears, and between the pads.
Dogs with moderate grooming needs, such as the border collie, need brushing and combing regularly, but only require baths when needed. On the other hand, dogs that need limited grooming, such as dalmatians and German shepherds, don’t need their coats clipped or regular baths. However, every dog needs their eyes and ears regularly checked and cleaned to keep infections away.
3. How much exercise does my dog need?
No matter how big, small, young or old your dog is, they need daily exercise. Without it, they can become bored and unfit, which can lead to destructive behaviour and health problems.
So, how much exercise is enough? This depends on the dog’s breed, age, size, current health, and vet’s advice. However, they generally need between 30 minutes to two hours of exercise a day. Hunting, working and herding dogs such as collies and shepherds need the most exercise, while short-nosed breeds like bulldogs and pugs don’t need as much. Often, a casual walk around the park is enough for them.
It’s up to you to pay attention to your dog’s signals. If they seem restless, they are probably just itching to get outside. Once they start to age, you’ll notice your dog becoming less and less active. While this is natural, they still need some daily activity to keep their bodies working.
You can always use this time as an opportunity to explore the local events like craft markets, dog events or one of the many dog-friendly cafes. Just make sure your pooch is properly trained and socialised beforehand!
4. What is the dog’s purpose?
Different breeds suit different needs. If your purpose for getting a dog is simple companionship, owning an affectionate dog such as a pug, staffie or poodle might be the way to go. Breeds like these are devoted, charming, and simply love being around people.
The best dogs that suit families are usually patient, calm, yet active enough to enjoy hours of playing around with the kids. While this describes many suitable breeds, some clear winners include Golden retrievers, labradors, beagles, and collies.
For the active types, breeds such as Australian cattle dogs, Jack Russell terriers, dalmatians and corgi’s will keep up with your exercise routines, while smaller and easy-to-manage breeds such as pugs, cocker spaniels, Boston terriers, and Pomeranians are more suited for the elderly. If you happen to be an allergy sufferer, it’s best to steer clear of dogs that produce a lot of dander (microscopic pieces of dead skin). Instead, you’re better to go with breeds such as the Schnauzer, Maltese, or poodle.
5. Can I afford a dog?
Owning a dog is a significant financial undertaking. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, the average cost of a pet is $25,000 over its lifetime. If you’re buying from a breeder or pet store, the initial cost will be much more than if you were to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter. Plus, you’ll likely be paying for vaccinations, microchipping, and de-sexing. After the first year of ownership, the estimated cost of owning a dog is a minimum of $910 a year.
Dogs are also prone to injuries and illness through their life. According to recent statistics, the top five most common claimed pet injuries are:
- Otitis Externa
- Skin Conditions
- Cruciate Ligament Rupture
It’s important to completely understand your dog’s physical and emotional needs and budget accordingly. This will determine the type of dog you will end up getting, as well as the level of pet insurance you might need.
The best breed for you
At the end of the day, there are no ‘best’ breeds of dog. Put simply, all dogs are the best. However, there are the best breeds for you. This means you’ll need to do your research, assess your lifestyle, and understand what kind of care you can offer your new best mate.
Natalie Ferrera loves animals and hates when they die in movies. An avid supporter of pet adoption, Natalie writes about pet care and raising to help owners keep their four-legged friends happy and healthy.