Picking the best breed or type of dog for you
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Picking the best breed or type of dog for you

Dogs
Life As A Pet Parent

So you've done your research, given it a lot of thought, and decided that you want a dog and are able to care for it and make a lifelong commitment to it's health and wellbeing. Congratulations! Dogs are amazingly loving and rewarding pets, great company, and can greatly enhance the life and happiness of any caring owner.But with almost 500 different breeds of dog in existence in the world today, what type of dog is best for you and your family?

Pedigree or mutt

One of the first things to consider when starting your search for the perfect pet, is whether you want a pedigree dog, a cross breed or a Heinz 57 type mutt. If a particular breed of dog appeals to you above all others, that decision is probably halfway to being made. Bear in mind that if do decide you want a pedigree dog, they are likely to prove expensive to buy, potentially harder to get, and may be more susceptible to certain breed specific health problems or conditions. Mixed breed and mongrel dogs as a general rule as less prone to inbred health problems and tend to live longer, although you may not be able to find out about their history or lineage as easily as you can with a registered pedigree breed dog.

Puppy or adult

All dogs, regardless of their age, require a high level of time commitment to their care and wellbeing, although puppies are rather higher maintenance than adult dogs during the first year of their lives.Buying or adopting a young puppy means that you will be responsible for all of their training, initial vaccinations, spay or neutering and formative development. Owning your dog from puppy hood can of course be incredibly rewarding- but so can owning an adult dog, and breed rescues and adoption centres are constantly full to bursting with fully grown dogs in desperate need of a good home. While puppies tend to be comparatively easy to find homes for, adult dogs often take a lot longer to find their forever home, so don't rule out an adult dog if you find a good match and think that you might be able to offer them a secure place in the world.

Your lifestyle

If you are out at work all day on a regular basis and do not have other family members around or provision for walking and entertaining your dog for hours at a time, then you shouldn't really consider dog ownership at this stage of your life. Ideally dogs should not be left unsupervised for more than four hours at a time, and certainly not on a regular basis.Similarly, you will need to make sure that your home environment is suitable to bring a dog into- do you have any other pets, and how will they react? Are all of the family as keen as you are to have an additional four legged friend? Are you prepared to walk and clean up after your dog every day come rain or shine, and do you have an enclosed garden or safe outdoor area within walking distance which you can take them to?

Your home

If you live in a small house or flat, a bigger dog is unlikely to be comfortable there and have enough room to move around freely and without causing damage to property or injury to themselves. You should take into account the space both inside and outside which you have available, and tailor your decision on the size and type of dog you can keep accordingly.If you live in a rented property or in an apartment complex that is centrally managed, you may need to check with your landlord or management agent if you are allowed to keep a dog at all, and if there are any restrictions on their presence in communal areas or gardens.

Activity levels

Different types of dogs have vastly differing needs in terms of their energy levels, desire for exercise and need for stimulation.Dogs like huskies as well as traditional working dog breeds will run and run and run for hours, and can be very high maintenance to keep, requiring several long and energetic walks per day and a high level of stimulation.Other types of dogs such as Yorkshire terriers, Scottie dogs or toy dogs require rather less time and energy spent on their daily exercise, although you should be clear in the knowledge that all dogs require regular daily walks.

Temperament

It goes without saying that different dogs even within the same breed or type have different temperaments, and every dog you consider should be looked at on a case by case basis. But some dogs are infinitely more tolerant of children than others, and are regarded as good all round family pets, such as spaniel, retriever and labrador types. Terriers of various types can also make great family pets, but may sometimes have a tendency to be snappy due to their genetic disposition, and apt to chase cats and other small animals. This can sometimes be trained out of them, but you should always bear in mind your dog's natural instincts and be alert for any possible hunting tendencies.There is no hard and fast rule, and some often misaligned dog breeds and types such as Staffordshire bull terriers make fabulous family pets, while any breed or type of dog can be temperamental and display aggression if provoked.

The family

Children should be supervised carefully at all times around any dog, and you should never allow your child to tease or harass your pet, both for their own safety and the general wellbeing of the dog. Children that are brought up with a healthy respect and love of animals grow up to be responsible and caring pet owners, so it's always good to involve your children in the day to day care of your dog and his maintenance.Remember, owning a dog requires a high level of commitment to them for the entire duration of their lives. Make sure that all of the family are on board with your decision and involved in the selection of your eventual pet.

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