At the end of the month, I will be picking up my very own little westie to bring home- while I promise that I will not overload you with dog posts, I’m hoping to be able to share the things that I find useful along the way of dog ownership! This post is all about choosing the right breed for you, and what kinds of things to consider when you are looking into getting a dog.
1. What Do You Want in a Dog?
The first question to ask yourself is what you want in a dog- do you want a dog that will primarily cuddle with you on the couch, or one that will hike mountains with you? Do you want a small dog that you could carry with you, or one that could pull something themselves? Would you rather have a dog that has to be groomed periodically or one that sheds on it’s own? Obviously the questions are unlimited when it comes to pet ownership, but I would focus on these four to better decide what you want in a dog!
1. What is this breed’s typical activity level?
You should be looking for an animal to match your activity levels! If you love walking/hiking/running, a dog that prefers to be a couch potato isn’t your best option. Conversely, if you hate exercising and would rather put a dog in the backyard for short spells instead of going on multiple, longer walks, a working breed that requires hours of exercise should perhaps be avoided.
2. How can you cope with hair and/or fur?
Realistically, animals (and people) shed- depending on the dog’s coat, they may shed less but require grooming 2-4 times a years, or they may shed more but not need grooming. (And within your heavy shedding dogs, there are some that shed a small amount of hair continuously, and others will blow their coat a few times a year with more hair than you can imagine in a two week span.) Are you willing to either invest in a quality vacuum cleaner or pay for grooming?
3. What kind of temperament would you prefer in a dog?
While there is no guarantee on a dog’s temperament, you can usually expect specific traits with most breeds. For example, labs will often be people pleasers, always happy and enthusiastic with their family, while a husky may be more independent and prone to mischief. Everyone looks for something different, one is not better than another, but you have to be honest with yourself.
4. What do you want your dog to do?
Most dogs will default to the behaviours common to their breed; terriers will dig and hunt vermin, sled dogs will run, and herding dogs will herd. It is what they do! If you don’t want your dog to do anything particular, this may be less important, but you will still have to remember that they may default to these behaviours anyways.
This is the famous Agnes who will be home with me in two weeks!
2. Rescue vs Breeder
I fall strictly in the middle with rescuing a dog and purchasing one from a breeder- as long as you’ve done your research, you should be able to choose what you want! I volunteer at the local humane society and regularly support different local rescues and hoped to rescue, but unfortunately, rescuing a Westie here in Winnipeg was not in the cards for. They are incredibly popular dogs and people don’t want to give them up, so a breeder it is! There are certainly pros and cons to both rescues and pure-bred puppies; as long as you have educated yourself, you should be fine.
-rescuing an animal in need
-if they are older (a year or older), you may have a better idea of their personality before adopting
-mutts tend to have less genetic medical issues
-you may not see some personality traits/issues when you first adopt
-it may be more difficult to know what expect if there are multiple breeds mixed
-you may not know what their previous situation(s) is, and what may result from it
-if they are still puppies, you might not have any idea of how big it will end up being
-there is typically a family tree of parents/grandparents, and may know if there are any genetic issues (although they shouldn’t be breeding them if they are)
-if they are pure-bred, you may show them if you wish to
-you can generally expect some personality traits based on the breed
-cost (including any travel you may have to do to collect the puppy)
-pure-bred dogs tend to have more health issues
-you may have to wait months (or longer) for an available puppy
3. Having a Dog and a Job?
I would be hesitant to read online about owning a dog and working full-time- dog-owners on the internet will disparage anyone who dares to own a dog and work more than about 2 hours away from home. Well, I have a full time job, and don’t see any problem with it! Dogs sleep anywhere from 12 to 16 hours a day, especially when they are puppies. If you are home, yes, they will want to play with you. If you aren’t home, they might be upset for a bit but they will eventually go to sleep! While they are a puppy, you will want to contain them to a small space to keep accidents limited to one area of the house, and also to make sure they don’t get into anything dangerous. Blocking off a small area in a kitchen or bathroom (typically rooms with easily washable floors) or crating them will help with both accidents and destructive behaviours! Ideally, if you can have people stop by to check on your puppy and let them out, that would be fantastic, but sometimes it isn’t always possible. Do your research and have a plan!
(This blog post is a great example of people who work full time and are raising a puppy!)
For those of you that have pets, how did you decide upon the pet you have? Are you a researcher who spent hours looking and waited, or were you out one day and an adorable doggo caught your eye?