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Choosing the Perfect dog for you

 

You wouldn’t dream of choosing your future life-partner based on looks alone and expect the result to be a perfect, harmonious and compatible relationship, yet you’d be surprised by how many people do exactly that when choosing a dog.
Dogs come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, types, and temperaments, with as many different ‘doggy’ personalities as their owners have lifestyles and expectations. It’s worth taking the time to research potentially suitable breeds and, if you can, spend some time with the kind of dog you’re considering. Weighing up factors like energy levels, coat length, trainability, and likely characteristics will go a long way towards helping you find that perfect, Happy-Ever-After Hound.

Energy Levels and Exercise

It’s essential when choosing your first dog to match the activity needs of your K9 companion with the amount of time and energy you’re willing to put into their training and exercise.

High-energy dogs, like those traditionally bred for working or herding, generally need a lot of exercise, room to play and plenty of mental stimulation. If left alone for long periods of time they can, through no fault of their own, have the potential to become bored and destructive. A high-energy dog will generally be better suited to a high-energy owner with as much love for the outdoors as their four-legged friend. And at the opposite end of the scale, if you’re after a regular running buddy, you’re dream pooch might not be to be that cute little, couch-potato of a Pug.

Puppy or Rescue?

Puppies are adorable, playful and energetic with the bonus of being blank canvases ready for you to love and train. They also require a lot of time and supervision through the early developmental stages like teething and potty training.
If you haven’t got the time to devote to a puppy then maybe an older dog would be right for you?
While some mature dogs may have issues from their past life, don’t let this put you off, most of these can usually be overcome with a little patience and consistent training. Older dogs often come with the bonus of being house trained, vaccinated and neutered/spayed too, and because you know what you’re getting in terms of personality, are more likely to be a well-tailored match to you.

Coat type

The type of coat your dog has will determine the level of grooming they’re likely to need as well as how much they’ll shed, smell and hold on to dirt, and although there’s no such thing as a no-maintenance coat, some coats will naturally need less upkeep than others.
Common types of dog coats:
Smooth and Short Coats – Dogs with short coats need minimal grooming and are relatively low maintenance when it comes to brushing. They can, however, hold more water and scent, making them potentially a little bit smellier. Examples of short-haired breeds are Boston Terrier, Whippet and Weimaraner.
Long Coats – Long-haired breeds are going to require a lot more maintenance to keep their coats healthy and manageable and often need daily brushing to prevent them from tangling and matting. Breeds that don’t shed will also need regular washing and trimming to keep them looking their best. Examples of long-haired breeds are Maltese, Bearded Collie and Afghan Hound.
Curly Coats – Curly-haired dogs again need daily grooming and monthly trims to prevent mats and tangles, which without regular attention can harbour dirt and bacteria and lead to skin irritation and infections. Examples of curly haired breeds are Poodle, Bichon Frise and American Water Spaniel.

Image by Edward Tagg

Wire Coats – The hair of a wire coated dog is made up of a soft, dense undercoat with a longer layer of waterproof, wiry hair on top. Wire coats are generally low shedding and low maintenance but need regular clipping and stripping to remove dead hair and make room for healthy new hair to grow through. The process of stripping is time-consuming and takes practice, so is usually best left to a grooming professional. Examples of wire coated breeds are Airedale Terrier, Jack Russel Terrier and Fox Terrier.
A word of warning – Studies have shown that there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Because allergens are found in a dog’s saliva, dander and urine, having an allergy-friendly coat won’t rule out the possibility of suffering an allergic reaction. The only way to know if you’ll have an adverse reaction to any prospective pooch is to spend a good amount of time in their company before committing to take them home.

Male or Female?

There’s been very little study into the effect of Sex on Canine behaviour, but the consensus across Dog experts seems to be that breed, training and upbringing all play a bigger part in determining Fido’s personality than sex. Deciding which is the fairer sex for you is, therefore, more likely to be influenced by how comfortable you are with the following physical characteristics of mature, unneutered males and females:
Adult Female dogs come into heat for 2-3 weeks at least once a year, and for some breeds as many 3 times a year. During this time, they produce a bloody vaginal discharge, which can be difficult to cope with if your home is a haven of pale carpets and furniture, although this will stop being an issue if you choose to have your Pooch spayed.
Mature Male dogs instinctively mark their territory more than their female counterparts and are more likely to ‘hump’ things or show signs of sexual excitement when petted, which can be embarrassing at times. But again, this unwanted behaviour usually reduces significantly if you choose to have your Dog neutered.

Fun with one or Double the Trouble?

If you’re already getting one Puppy, then you might as well get two, right?

Having two puppies means they’ll always have each other to play with, and company when you’re not around. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the reality of raising two puppies is a little less rosy. It’s likely to cost you twice as much money to cover things like food, insurance and Vets bills, as well as take twice as much effort on your part when it comes to training and socialising.

And Pups that spend the majority of their time in each others company tend to form a closer bond with each other than they do with you, which can make getting them to listen to you a genuine challenge and cause problems in their training and development down the line.

So while it may be tempting to jump straight into dog-ownership with both feet and buy two puppies at once, unless you have the time and dedication it’s going to take to train and socialise them separately and successfully… it’s probably not a good idea.

Sources:
Recent understanding of pet allergies:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4755411/

Adopting a dog:
https://www.battersea.org.uk/dogs/10-reasons-adopt-battersea-rescue-dog