So you have finally decided it is time for the family to grow and you are ready for the patter of tiny feet. Add to that a wet nose and a wagging tail and it can only mean one thing. Congratulations, you are going to share your life with your first family dog, and thing will never be quite the same again!
Deciding to get a dog is a big decision in itself, but it is only the beginning. The next question is what sort. Ask ten people and you will get ten answers, because each breed has its own foibles. One thing to remember, however, is that it can be a mistake to generalize. Suggesting that a spaniel will be hyperactive or a Rottweiler will be aggressive can be as inaccurate as making assumptions about a human on the basis of their race or nationality.
Remember, every dog has a unique character of its own, so see beyond the breed. In fact, some of the very best dogs are of no discernible breed at all, and there are no end of cross breed puppies for sale that will make wonderful pets and not cost you the earth.
So now that we have the question of breed disposed of, what else should you consider?
Every family has its own dynamics, and these will affect your choice of dog. Young kids in the household? If you have under fives, you need to supervise closely for the safety of everyone, but it makes sense to get a puppy that will have a chance to grow up alongside the kids. Just remember, every dog has teeth and will use them, so what’s more important is to set ground rules for everyone – whether they are two or four-legged!
As we mentioned earlier, every dog has its own character – but the breed will at least give you some clues as to what traits you might expect to see. Working dogs, such as border collies, need their own space, while breeds like Dalmatians thrive on attention and fun. Gun dogs tend to be sociable and obedient, while terriers can be more of a law unto themselves. But always remember, nurture plays a bigger role than nature, so do not get too caught up in the stereotypes!
A key aspect of a dog’s temperament is how easy it is to train. Again, there are some clues in the breeds here, but when it comes down to it, any dog can be trained with determination and consistency. With that important caveat in mind, you will usually find that working dogs – Labradors, German Shepherds, Collies and the like – are keen to learn and eager to please. Huskies are notoriously difficult – not because they do not understand, but because they have an almost cat-like habit of deciding for themselves whether or not to obey.
Every dog needs daily exercise and stimulation, and if they do not get it, they will become bored, stressed and often destructive – they are really not so unlike people. While working dogs need more exercise and longer walks than smaller breeds, even the tiniest terrier still needs to go out for a walk every day.