So you’re going to adopt a puppy. Congratulations! He can grow up to be the best friend you’ve ever had. No animal is more lovable, or more loving, than the dog. He is a gentle protector and playmate for children, a superb companion for adults. He is an incomparable pet. But there are some enormous ‘ifs’ in dog ownership and choosing the right match. Let’s look at a few of them before you take the plunge.
- Your dog will be with you for a very long time (the average dog lives to be 12 years old, and many live much longer).
- Your dog will become an intimate part of your family household (or he will not be a good pet).
- Your dog will require constant care, companionship, and training (or you should not own a dog).
- Not all dogs are suited to all people or all places (and vice versa).
Choosing a pet can be a highly emotional affair. All puppies are appealing, and it’s easy to fall for the first set of liquid brown eyes and winning ways you meet. But if you act on impulse, you might regret it later. And so might your dog, if he could only talk.
The German Shepherds, St. Bernard’s and Great Danes confined to city apartments, the delicate Chihuahua who cowers under the bed to avoid well-meant manhandling by the children, the feisty little terrier whose owner thought she was getting a lap dog – these and many more mismatched pets should have their own liberation movement.
The point is that pet ownership is a genuine responsibility, and before you accept this responsibility you should give time and thought to choosing the right pet for you.
Before Choosing, Ask Yourself Some of the Following Questions:
- Why do you want a dog? As a companion for children, a solace for loneliness, a household guard, a hunter or a status symbol?
- Do you have room for him? If you live in an apartment you should choose a breed that does not require a great deal of exercise. If you live in the suburbs, you should choose a dog that will accept backyard confinement. If you live in the country, your choice is almost unlimited.
- Do you have time for him? All dogs need some companionship and play, but the young puppy requires lots of attention. If you’re not willing to give it to him and to put up with a certain amount of puppy mischief, you should consider adopting an older dog.
- Will he be an outdoor or indoor dog? Some breeds can carpet a house with dog hairs. Others, such as Poodles, Dachshunds, Bulldogs and most of the wire-haired breeds, shed very little.
- Do you have small children? You have a wide choice because most dogs patiently endure the trauma of children. To be fair to both children and dog, however, avoid breeds that tend to be fragile, temperamental or high-strung.
- What kind of people do you Like? Lively, animated, aggressive, or quiet, relaxed and low-keyed? Dogs have dispositions, too. Remember when choosing that you’re matchmaking, and select a dog that will suit your own temperament.
The answers to these questions will give you an approximate profile of yourself as a pet owner and make choosing easier.
Let’s say you’re a suburban family with two small boys who are long on roughhousing and short on patience. Then you probably should choose one of the sturdy working dogs, hounds or sporting breeds with even dispositions and physical stamina to take rough-and-tumble play.
If you’re looking for a burglar alarm, you can’t do much better than choosing one of the terriers. These lively, alert, aggressive dogs will take on all comers. Terriers adapt well to apartment living, and so do the delightful and decorative toy breeds.
Toy dogs make superb companions for adults, but most are too fragile to be suitable pets for young children.
Mongrel or Purebred:
There is a right dog for you, and probably many right choices among the approximately 120 breeds currently recognized by the American Kennel Club. And there are, of course, the mixed breeds – the mutts or mongrels that for many years have been America’s favorites. They seem to be on the decline now, perhaps for good reason.
Mongrels can make superb pets, as their loyal owners will testify. But many mongrels grow up to be unattractive, unhealthy and unreliable indisposition. These are the dogs that end up in city pounds and animal shelters by the millions. Unwanted and unloved, most of them must be destroyed.
A mongrel may be a risky choice unless you know something about his ancestry. This is not difficult to trace with a crossbreed (a puppy whose dame and sire were different purebreds), but the true mutt bears a motley mixture of genes.
Of course, you may be lucky and get the smartest and most lovable dog in the world. But you do have a better chance of getting a pet of predictable size, appearance and temperament by buying a purebred animal.
Purebred dogs are listed by the American Kennel Club under six general groups-sporting dogs, working dogs, hounds, terriers, toys and nonsporting or companion dogs. While there are exceptions in every category, the animals in each of the six groups do share certain general personality traits to help you make your selection.
Visit dog shows and breeding kennels in your area. And as you narrow your choice down, do some further reading on the breeds you are considering. You’ll find ample material at your local library. A little homework on the fascinating subject of dogs can be a lot of fun and very rewarding in making the right choice.
For further information on purebreds, write to the American Kennel Club, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. l0010. This organization, which exists to promote fine breed standards will not recommend a specific kind of dog but will put you in touch with reliable breeders in your area.
There are many fine purebred dogs not recognized by the AKC. Some of the great hunting hounds, such as the Bluetick, Redbone and Plott hounds, are listed under a separate registry. England’s Cavalier King Charles – Spaniel, a court favorite as long as, 300 years ago, is not on the AKC list. Nor is Scotland’s famous herding dog, the Border Collie.
These and many others (authorities estimate that there are as many as 400 separate breeds throughout the world) are fine blooded animals that have long been recognized in their homelands and are gradually gaining popularity in America. Two of the most recent breeds to be recognized is the Tibetan Terrier and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
Male or Female?
Generalities about the personalities of the male vs. female are tricky and always subject to exceptions. As a rule, the female is little more tractable, easier to handle and train, and more of a homebody than the male.
Unless you’re going into the business of raising dogs, however, the female should be spayed, an operation that should be performed at between 7 to 10 months of age.
Spaying, incidentally, will not greatly alter your pet’s personality or necessarily lead to obesity, all legends to the contrary. It is part of the dog owner’s obligation in these days when the pet population explosion has become a matter of national concern.
If you choose a female, do not have her bred unless you can guarantee homes for all her puppies.
The male dog is usually more aggressive than the female, more inclined to roam, and tends to make strong one-man attachments. Both make fine pets. Because male dogs are more in demand, they usually cost a little more than females.
Authorities disagree on the ideal age for adopting a puppy, though they all do agree that the puppy should not be younger than 6 weeks old. Two months is probably about right for puppy’s own health and personality development; he’s ready by then to leave the litter and join the world of people.
If you are investing in a very expensive animal, it might be wise to wait until 4 to 6 months, when he will have received his inoculations and survived the ailments that can attack the very young. But then, no doubt about it, you will have missed a lot of the fun (and hard work) of puppy’s first year of life.
Where to Buy:
Don’t buy, adopt if you can! Shelters are full of beautiful loving dogs that need homes first. Always check your local shelters for a good family match before you look elsewhere.
If you are going to buy, by far the most reliable source is an established breeder or kennel recommended by the AKC or your veterinarian.
You can get good dogs from private owners, too, but be sure to investigate both sides of the dog’s family tree. The pet shop adds one extra step for a puppy, sometimes a traumatic one, between the comfort of his litter and the adventure of his new home. It is much better to choose a puppy directly from his own litter. This is not always possible for city dwellers, however. If you buy from a pet shop, make very sure it is a clean, reliable, long-established operation; and take special pains to check out your prospective pet’s health and disposition. You can never be too careful when choosing your companion.
This is no time for bargain-hunting. A puppy is one purchase that. you won’t turn in for next year’s model, and your initial investment can assure you of a healthy specimen.
Wherever you get your dog, he should be examined by a veterinarian before final purchase.
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AUTHOR BIO: Imad LB is the founder of a dog blog called Howpup.com. 37-year-old, entrepreneur, dog lover and passionate blogger. He loves to write about dog training, health issues, dog tips, and advice.
= = = = = Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/puppies-golden-doggies-688425/