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Deciding on what type of dog to get

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  What kind of dog should I get
Photo: Different Dogs

So you have done all your research on whether you should get a dog or not and come to the conclusion that you are able to and want to give a dog a home for it's entire life. Next you need to research very carefully the type of dog that is best suited to you, your family and your home. The main questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Puppy or an older dog
    The first decision to make is whether you prefer to give a home to a puppy or an older dog. Young Puppies can not be left for more than 2 hours. All puppies are really cute, so this should not be the determining factor, as they all will grow up and most lose the appealing cuteness. Only choose to get a puppy if you have plenty of spare time to dedicate to looking after and training it.  Puppies are a lot of work and will absorb a lot of your time in training and socialising. If you are out of the house working all day and the puppy will be left alone, a puppy is not suitable for you, so consider getting a dog that has gone through the puppy stage, is fully house-trained and has had some basic training at the very least. 

If you choose to get an adolescent or older dog, then consider adopting one from a rescue organisation. Before you decide on a specific rescue dog make sure you get to know the dog, find out the reason it is in a rescue home, take it for a walk and see how it socialises with other dogs and behaves in its surroundings. There is nothing worse for a dog, than for it to be given a home only to end up back at a rescue center a few weeks later because it is not the right dog for you.

  • Small or large dog
    When you are making the decision about what size of dog you would like, remember that size does not determine the amount of exercise and mental stimulation the dog will require. It is often thought that flats and apartments are not suitable for large dogs, but they can be ok and many larger dogs live very comfortably in flats or apartments provided they are walked, exercised and mentally stimulated regularly.

    It is common for small dogs to bark at any noise, which could be a problem for you or for your neighbours and some small breeds are known to be anxious when left alone which also causes them to be noisy.

    If you want a larger dog you should take into consideration the maximum adult weight of the dog you get.  Dogs have 3 times the amount of power as their weight. So my dog, fully grown weighs in at 25kgs has the strength of approx 75kgs, which is heavier than me and he can be a little powerful if pulling on the lead.  Getting a larger, more powerful dog, will require more time spent training and teaching special skills to ensure that you can properly control it at all times.
  • High or low energy level 
    The energy level of a dog does not depend upon it's size, so don't be fooled into thinking if you get a small dog he will not need much exercise and will be relaxed and calm. If you get a dog with higher energy levels then you should have a secure outside space that it can run around in. A  flat or apartment with no outdoor space is definitely not ideal for a dog with high energy levels.

    If you are in a household where you will need a dog to be calm and you do not have so much time for long walks choose a breed that is known to have lower energy levels.
  • Best breed of dog for me
    Once you have decided whether you want a small or large dog, you need to decide on which breed (or mixture) you prefer and which breed would best fit in with your lifestyle, your home and your family.  Which ever breed of dog you opt for, remember it will still need to be trained; don't be fooled into thinking that if you get what is regarded as a "smart" dog you won't need to do as much training with it.

There are thousands of different types of dogs and choosing the right breed for you can be a little daunting as different breeds have different traits and even then you can get 2 dogs of exactly the same breed that have completely different behaviour.  A lot of how a dog behaves is down to the early training and socialisation it receives. The dog needs to be able to fit in with you, so you have to look at what type of person you are, your lifestyle and what you want from owning a dog.

Whilst all dogs can be trained to be good with kids, if you have younger children in the household you need to be aware that some dogs are known for not being able to cope so well with children and may need a lot of training. So if your home is filled with children, roommates, or visitors, consider selecting a dog that is generally extra friendly to humans. The best type of dogs for families are generally very friendly and unflappable breeds such as Retrievers, Setters, Spaniels, Beagle, Pugs, Labrador, Poodle and their mixed brethren.

A lot of breeds are not comfortable around children who can be loud,  hyperactive and unpredictable. The ones you should avoid include:  Dalmatians, Chihuahua, Pit-bull, Rottwieller, Chow-Chow, Shepherds and other Herding dogs.