Before choosing a dog you must first decide that a dog is the right pet for you and your family. Taking on another family member, that has to be properly cared for, is not something that should be taken lightly. You must first ask yourself whether your particular circumstances make your family suitable as dog owners.
1. Do all your family members want a dog?
Never be tempted to fall for promises that children will look after and care for the dog of their dreams. Children lose interest quickly. No child under teenage years can, or should, be expected to take sole responsibility for a dog. Ultimate responsibility lies with adults.
Go to Question 2.
Consider a pet that can be easily cared for by individual members of your family, or one that all of your family will welcome and enjoy.
2. Are all the family members out at work or school for most of the day?
If all the family members are out all day, then owning a dog is not a good idea. Dogs, and especially puppies, need companionship and will not be happy left on their own for more than 3-4 hours a day.
Consider a pet that doesn't require so much attention and who can be left for long periods throughout the day.
Go to Question 3.
3. Can you afford a dog?
A puppy may seem quite cheap initially, however, you must consider the ongoing cost of keeping a dog. Dogs will incur veterinary costs for regular checkups and vaccinations, in addition to food and equipment, such as collars and leads. You may also need to consider if your new dog will join you on family holidays, if not then boarding fees can be expensive too.
Go to Question 4.
Consider a pet that is less expensive to keep in terms of everyday costs and potential veterinary charges.
4. Would a dog suit your family's lifestyle?
Consider the area where you live: do you have a garden that is fenced? Are there dog-walking areas near by? Letting a dog play in a garden must never be a substitute for proper exercise. All adult dogs, whatever breed, need at least one good walk everyday whatever the weather. It is cruel to keep a dog permanently in the back garden and neither is it an option to let dogs out on the streets by themselves. If you live in a flat without a garden, then this doesn't automatically mean you mustn't have a dog, but it does mean that you should be prepared to take your dog out at least four times a day.
You may now be a position to choose a dog. However, it must be stressed that dogs are a great responsibility and it is important that you research and discuss the issue in great depth before a final decision is made.
Choose a pet that suits your lifestyle both in terms of living space and the amount of money and time you can spend on it. Smaller animals can sometimes be easier to look after and may be a better alternative than a dog.
It is important to think carefully about the choice of dog which will be most suited to you and your family..
Any potential dog owner should research the subjects of breeds, crossbreeds and mongrels thoroughly before making a final decision. The choice of dog mustn't be made on looks alone, as cute and cuddly looking dogs may be far more demanding than a less appealing one. A dog must be chosen for its temperament and suitability as a pet, some dogs suit families with children better than others, while others require owners who are experienced dog handlers.
You should consider size, type of coat, whether you want a dog or bitch, or whether you want a pedigree or mongrel. The following information may help you make these important decisions.
Giant breeds - These animals are often gentle in temperament, however, they require extra room, especially in a car. Equipment and veterinary treatments can cost more, as well as requiring more food.
Large breeds can be boisterous when playing, and can be aggressive to other dogs if not properly controlled.
Medium sized dogs
Medium sized dogs are by far the most popular, as these tend to suit many families, their homes and their cars.
Small dogs tend to be quite noisy. Many of the small terriers were originally bred as small game hunters and have snapping jaws, which may make them unsuitable as pets for small children.
Very small toy dogs
These very small dogs are not really suitable for the rough and tumble of family life, as they are more inclined to become devoted to one or two adults who handle them carefully.
A dog should be considered for its coat type, as all coat types will require some attention. Smooth-coated dogs require minimal grooming, however, long-haired breeds will need to be brushed and combed daily in order to keep the skin healthy and coat clean. Other dogs, such as poodles, require clipping and bathing every 6-8 weeks.
Dog or Bitch
This is very much a matter of personal choice. Both sexes make equally good pets, however, dogs tend to grow larger than bitches. Unless spayed, bitches come into season twice a year. For some owners when a bitch bleeds this could cause problems. If this is the case, have your bitch spayed. The way in which your dog or bitch is trained and treated will have a much greater effect on the behavior than its gender.
Purebred or mongrel
It is commonly believed mongrels are healthier, live longer and are more gentle than purebred's. This is not strictly true. Dogs, like humans, are individuals. Taking on a cross-breed or a mongrel, you are taking pot-luck as to how it will turn out as an adult. Alternatively, an adult dog or bitch could be more suitable for your family than a puppy.
When buying a purebred puppy, you will normally have a better idea as to the eventual temperament and size of your dog. It must be stressed, however, that occasionally a purebred may exhibit a temperament quite the opposite to what is usual within that particular breed.