You want to get a new dog, or puppy! Congratulations, but be aware, many dogs are abandoned or brought to animal shelters simply because people did not make the right choice when getting their pet to begin with. Knowing what you are doing before being taken in by a cute face is the key to a lifelong friendship.
Adult or Pup?
One of the first decisions that needs to be made is whether or not you want an adult or a puppy. Most people only consider pups, which for some families may prove to be a mistake. Adult dogs are usually fully house trained – a huge advantage, especially in homes with young children, because house training is not only hard work it requires immediate attention (very difficult in homes with young children). Puppies are more apt to jump, chew, and even bite, than a well mannered adult dog. Again a disadvantage in homes with kids. Adult dogs are less “cute” but are still impressionable. Any bad habits can be addressed through basic training. Finally adult dogs may have a cost advantage, adult food is cheaper, and the dog may already be spayed or neutered, and fully vaccinated.
You may not be able to provide a 20 year commitment to a dog. Some of the smaller breeds live long lives. As such a person may want to select a breed with a shorter lifespan, or an adult or even a senior dog (see above).
The choice of the correct dog breed is the second major consideration. Dogs should not be picked on appearance/color alone. Temperament is a key consideration and should come to play even before size. A small active dog will be more work than a larger laid-back dog. To determine a dogs temperament consider what the breed was originally bred to do. Terriers were bred to hunt and kill, they will be active and enjoy chewing things. Retrievers were bred to be patient and gently carry game birds in their mouth, they will usually be patient and gentle. Herding dogs, such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, will be active and always looking for things to do, if left on their own they will be destructive.
Some dog breeds are safer with children than others, but no dog should be considered safe enough to leave alone with young kids.
Rather than mentioning a run down on all breeds here a person is advised to do further research on their own.
Mutt or Purebred Dog?
The reasons for owning a purebred are if a person is going to show it at breed shows, perhaps later breed it if it does well. Also a person may desire a purebred because there is a fairly predictable behavior pattern associated with the breed, and known health concerns for which a person can prepare for. Dogs must have registration papers to be purebreds, and being a purebred is no guarantee of quality. Mutts on the other hand may be purebreds (with no papers) or mixed breeds. Usually a person can make a guess as to what breeds a dog may be. Mutts experience what is known as Hybrid Vigor, a better mix of genes than in some purebreds, as such they often have fewer health issues. Learn more about mutts, purebreds, and designer dogs.
The other consideration is if a dog is a shedding breed or not. The dogs that are known as non-shedding breeds, such as Shih Tzus, and Poodles, require regular grooming and hair cuts. People who are not prepared to deal with trips to the groomers every 8 weeks, plus daily grooming sessions (to prevent painful mats) should avoid these types of dogs. That leaves the shedding dogs, it should be noted that shedding can be greatly reduced through proper feeding, and regular brushing. Click here for more help on reducing Shedding.
Where to Acquire the Dog?
Pet stores buy cheap so they can sell high. This means buying from places (puppy mills/puppy brokers) who breed and raise pups as fast and cheap as possible. Supporting pet stores means supporting cruelty and bringing home a cute, but poorly bred, pup. Buying pups from the newspaper is less cruel but the pups are equally of low quality. Both the pet store, and the newspaper, pup, are highly over priced. Factor in that their parents have not been to shows to prove their worth as breeding animals, nor do they come with genetic health guarantees, and all they are really worth is the cost of vaccination and worming (NEVER pay for a dog or pup that hasn't been vet checked, vaccinated, and wormed – get proof), so about $50-$100. The only time a dog should be taken from the newspaper is if it is a FREE (or reasonably priced) dog, ideally vaccinated, wormed, and spayed or neutered, one that somebody is unable to keep.
Other options for getting a pup or dog are the animal shelter, the Internet, and reputable breeders. The Internet is risky for certain, but can be used to find available animals but further research into the seller is suggested (both so you know you are not supporting cruelty and it is not a scam).
Shelters and reputable breeders are always the best places to acquire pets. Although reputable dog breeders are pricey it is because they have taken their dogs to shows to prove their worth as breeding animals and have them checked by vets for genetic concerns (hips, eyes, ears, etc). It is unfortunate that low quality breeders (the ones who advertise in the newspaper) capitalize on the honest investment others have made in their dogs. You will note that reputable breeders never advertise pups for sale in the newspaper, rather they get waiting lists before even breeding their dog. They may be found at dog shows, through dog magazines, dog clubs, veterinarians, and some have Internet sites for their dogs.
Animal shelters offer selection and honest information. They want the pets to get permanent homes, their available dogs/pups change weekly so a person is advised to make repeat trips if they cannot find what they want. Being non-profit their costs are reasonable in relation to what a person gets.
What ever dog, or pup, you choose, follow through and be a good owner. Make training a priority. Have the dog fixed (spayed or neutered) if it is not breeding quality. Provide it with identification and love.
*Art work by Author, not to be reproduced without permission.
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