Picking a puppy is to an extent an emotional decision, as your personalities have to match and you have to be able to bond with them.
However, the journey that leads you to your puppy of choice should be rather more objective, much of which means ruling out as unsuitable dogs that would not be right for you, however much you like them.
It is better to do this at the planning stage, before you set your heart on a dog and realise they’re not right for you; and this article will tell you five things you need to have clear in your head in terms of what you want and don’t want before you go puppy shopping. Read on to learn more.
Size is perhaps the very first point you need to be sure on before you start drilling down into the other specifics that longer term, will be more important; because size is the basis by which you might have to immediately rule out any number of otherwise eminently suitable dogs.
This tends to be more the case the larger a dog gets, for obvious (and some less obvious) reasons. For instance, if you have a very small home or even car, or garden, you might well be capped in terms of the size of dog you can physically accommodate.
Even if that is not the case, would you be able to handle a very large dog? Dog handling should not be a physical battle and training and management is not strength-based, but a large dog that pulls on the lead is far more challenging than a small one, for instance.
Also, moving around and other practicalities pertain to size with dogs too – like on many forms of public transport, dogs have to be carried, which is not possible with large dogs like the
There’s a significant financial element in play here too, as more or less everything for dogs increases in price as it increases in size, from beds to bowls to veterinary anaesthesia and flea and worming doses!
Every dog breed and type has a baseline activity or energy level in adult dogs, which can of course vary from dog to dog too. But when it comes to different dog breeds and types, you range from breeds that are happy with just a couple of slow half-hour walks per day if that, through to those that need to be outside walking and engaging in proactive exercise for four or more hours every day, otherwise they’re apt to become a real handful.
It is all good and well to think that getting a dog will force you to go walking or get fit, but make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew and find yourself unable to deal with the realities of things.
Matching the type of exercise in question is important too; for instance, breeds like the Border collie benefit from lots of off the lead time, and brachycephalic breeds like the English bulldog do not make for good running companions.
Intelligence is an important factor too, and not everyone knows how to determine the intelligence of a dog or a breed; and most people think their own dogs are really smart, even in the face of significant evidence to the contrary!
You might think that you would want a highly intelligent dog breed like the aforementioned Border collie; but this is far from the case for many people.
Highly intelligent dogs also tend to have high energy levels, although this is not always the case.
However, highly intelligent dogs do need significant amounts of stimulus and entertainment, and mental engagement on the part of their owners.
They can be lightening sharp and so really easy to train – but also a real challenge as they get board, or learn things you didn’t want them to know, like how to open the fridge door!
With dogs as with people, there are no guarantees of a long life or lifelong good health, and health is something of a lottery.
That said, there are broad breed-specific health and longevity expectations and hereditary health conditions too, as well as conformation types that predispose some dogs to problems more than others.
Choosing the healthiest possible example of whatever dog breed you get is important, and you can increase your chances of doing this by doing your research. You should also research general breed traits and lifespans too, and consider them as part of your decision.
Finally, dog breeds and breed groupings can have markedly different traits; and picking the right ones is important. Choosing a dog with a high prey drive is a poor idea if all of your neighbours have cats, and one that is obsessed with retrieving maybe not a great move if you have a repetitive strain injury of the elbow!
Some breeds love to swim, some breeds love to sleep, and some breeds love to get into a mess – find out things like this first and make sure you’re ok with it before you pick a pup!