Which Dog For Me?
A dog is for life, not just for puppyhood! For many years to come, he’ll be at the heart of the family: a constant source of energetic fun, love and affection. So, long-term, choosing the right dog for you and your familes lifestyle is vitally important. Do you choose a puppy or an adult? Pedigree or crossbreed? Let’s explore the options:
Pedigree or mixed breed?
There are more than 200 breeds recognised in the UK alone, plus all those adorable crossbreeds and mixed breeds in infinite variety.
The major advantage of choosing a pedigree (pure bred) is predictability. You can be fairly certain that you will get predetermined size, coat length and texture, character, energy level and susceptibility to illness.
Cross-breeds (parents from two different pure breeds) can be predictable too, but you can't be sure which breed might dominate your dogs basic character. For example, a Border Collie-Labrador cross could be either laid back or brimming with energy!
Mixed breeds (otherwise known as mongrels) come from an entirely non-pedigree background. Sometimes you can see a few hints as to the parentage; with others it's impossible to guess – particularly when they’re puppies – they simply just look cute!. Infact, genetically mixed breeds are often healthier, since they usually have a larger gene pool and fewer hereditary problems.
Puppy or adult?
Puppies are adorable and cute, however they are also very time-consuming in the early days, with frequent trips outside for toilet training and constant vigilance to ensure your favourite possessions don't end up as chew toys!
Homeless adult dogs can make exceptional pets and will often come with a good deal of training and socialisation. However, it is important to consider that adult dogs may also come with 'emotional baggage' and time and patience may be required to overcome timidity, a lack of social skills or other difficulties.
Dog or bitch?
Un-neutered dogs of both sexes always come with a few extra challenges. Males can wander off in search of females in season. Females may have phantom pregnancies and can be difficult to manage during their season. The cost of neutering a female is much greater than for neutering a male, and greater still if she is already pregnant. It's best to be guided by the breeder or other sources of expertise, such as a vet, behaviourist or trainer as to whether a male or female is best for you and your lifestyle.
Breeder or Rescue dog?
If your heart is set on a pedigree or cross-bred puppy then finding a reputable breeder is really important. Try contacting The Kennel Club or a breed club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or can put you in touch with breeders in your area.
Adopting a dog from an animal shelter or larger welfare organisation can be incredibly rewarding. There are thousands of potential ‘family friends’ waiting for a second chance in life, often having lost a home with their first owners through no fault of their own. Reputable centres assess the dogs they take in carefully and will help match the best canine personality to you, your family and your lifestyle.
Not surprisingly, puppies for re-homing tend to be in pretty short supply. You may have to take your time contacting several shelters and might have to travel further afield. Consider contacting the larger organizations such as Dogs Trust, The Blue Cross, Battersea Dogs Home or Dublin SPCA.