When choosing a dog the breed is very important as the dog should fit in with your lifestyle not be chosen on looks or social status that a breed may represent. There are a lot of considerations that need to happen before making such a big decision dogs can live up to 15+ years; it is huge commitment to make. Here are some things you need to consider:
1. A suitable environment – including having a bed, a safe place to exercise, toys/mental stimulation and someone or somewhere to look after them if your away.
2. Other pets / children– Some breeds are better than others for smaller, other animals and children, if rescuing this is a key thing to consider and you should speak to the centre for advice as older dogs may not be good with other animals.
3. Temperament – dogs should be socialised and training is recommended. Certain breeds can have particular behaviour traits as some were bred for looks, others for working. These traits should be considered and you should be prepared for extra training if needed.
4. Time & companionship – You could consider how your work commitments affect the amount of time spent with your dog or how long you leave them alone. Many rescue centres will not allow you to rescue a dog if you have to leave them for longer than a set amount of time. If you are getting a dog but will have to leave them for long periods of time, you should consider other arrangement such as dog day care or a dog walker to visit them while you are out.
5. Protection from pain, ill health or suffering – It is your responsibility as a pet owner to provide regular vaccinations/health checks, identification and microchip, possibly neutering if you are not going to breed and ongoing treatments for medical issues.
6. Exercise needs – high energy breed such as Border Collies and Huskies need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. If they are not challenged mentally and physically you can soon have problems from hyperactivity including excessive barking and chewing furniture. It is important to consider the breeds exercise needs.
7. Grooming – most dogs need little to no grooming however some breeds, such as Lhasa Apso, need to be grooming regularly to avoid matting or other problems. Other breeds such as Labradors shed twice a year however will need less grooming.
8. Size – Some large to giant breeds may not be suitable for smaller housing, also does the size pose a problem when you need someone to look after them while you are on holiday or when you travel in the car?
9. Health issues – many breeds have specific genetic problems such as hip dysplasia in German Shepherds and Newfoundlands which need to be considered and researched when choosing a dog. These issues can be very expensive to treats, most reputable breeders will also have information showing the likelihood of these issues, be sure to ask for hip or elbow scores for example.
10. Commitment – Are you committed to taking care of a dog? Too many dogs are abandoned or given to recue centres for the most awful reasons especially after Christmas when pets are bought for presents without the proper research, these include: ‘it wanted to play too much’, ‘I’m a vegetarian but he always wanted to eat meat’, ‘he was too friendly’. Having a dog can be expensive, especially with grooming, a good balanced diet, vet checks, food and possible day care. Be sure that owing a dog is right for you and your family.
A dog is a lifelong commitment so it is important to consider all option and make an informed decision.
Good luck with your search!