Our Internet is now filled with cute puppy photos and so many people from our family and friends are getting home a cute little fluff ball home in an instant. Friends who you never expected till a few years ago to even be near a dog are suddenly seen raising a Labrador puppy. With the rapidly increasing number of dogs and variety of breeds being added to our homes every day, we are also seeing a huge increase in the abandonment of the very same dogs in a few months or years.
One major reason for this is choosing the wrong breed for our house. A breed that does not match our family lifestyle will definitely be a huge challenge in raising correctly and effectively.
Before you go ahead and buy the first puppy you see from the nearest store, here are a few questions every prospective pet owner should ask themselves.
How many hours in a day can I spend with the dog playing, training, and exercising for the next 10 years at least?
How many members of my family are supportive of getting a new dog home?
How many responsible members, besides domestic help can I count on to help me out with the dog?
What kind of energy level and excitement can we manage in the house?
How much grooming and medical attention will we be able to give to the dog?
How much can we afford to spend on the dog every month on food and other additional expenses?
To help with the best way to choose the right breeds for our home, here are a few tips and factors to consider
Big Dog or Small Dog?
There is a popular misconception that all big dogs need more space and smaller dogs are more suited to the city and apartments. This may be true for some cases but there are many small breeds like Beagle and Jack Russell Terrier that are totally not fit for apartments and smaller areas as they need much more exercise than many breeds. On the other hand, dogs like Bullmastiff do not need a lot of space due to being inactive indoors, and can even live in a small apartment if taken out for regular walks.
Hyper or Lazy?
The energy level for me is one of the most important points to consider when I choose a dog and also the most ignored by new pet owners. We see so many people going ahead with breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and Beagles due to looks and popularity. All of these breeds require at least 3 hours of structured exercise every day to keep calm and healthy. When our interest in the puppy reduces and their energy increases, we start to see behavior problems in our adolescent pets, many cases ultimately leading to abandonment.
Pugs, French Bulldogs, Bullmastiffs, American Staffordshire Terriers are medium and low energy levels which means they will be more suited to apartments and people with long working hours or busy schedules.
We normally just consider the ‘buying price’ of the puppy (I am personally a huge advocate of adopting more than shopping for pets); but we often ignore the monthly expenses after getting a puppy home. In addition to the feeding costs, certain breeds will require regular visits to the groomer or the vet, which we will need to consider in our costs before deciding on the breed.
Male or Female?
In male-dominated patriarchy, there are a lot of social gender biases that have been sadly passed on to canines. Somehow, it is widely and wrongly assumed that female dogs are ‘unclean’ or ‘tough to manage’. It may come as a sweet surprise that in fact, female dogs come in heat only once or twice in the year and it is completely manageable for those days.
Personally, I prefer female dogs of any breed as an ideal pet due to their closer affinity to the family, slightly smaller size, and less notorious during the growing months. Although there is no scientific evidence of one gender being a better fit than the other, males tend to have a higher likelihood of getting dominant, aggressive, or disobedient as they grow older and are not trained properly.
Is Training Really Important?
As we are a very new yet rapidly growing pet parent population, most people are considering training of their dog as a luxury expense and almost always they consult a professional trainer once the dog has become severely difficult to manage.
If we always accommodate a budget of hiring a credible trainer for the first few months as soon as we get a puppy, we end up saving a lot on future damages due to a badly raised or badly trained dog for many years thereafter.
Some breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs are more obstinate and certain breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers are easier to train, but we must not mistake ‘easy to train’ as ‘needs no training at all.
Early rules and reward-based training results in a happy and lasting relationship between the dog and the owner for the decades ahead.
The most ideal way to get the right breed would be to consult a trainer BEFORE you go ahead and decide, as they have the best experience with breeds compatibility.
Looks Don’t Matter
Our current dog breed selection system is extremely volatile and dangerous for us. Most new pets are being chosen based on their looks or popularity and that too without prior research and consideration. A Beagle looks cute and got featured in cinema, but it definitely should be such a popular choice with new dog owners as it is supposed to be a hunting dog and needs an experienced hand. Dogs like Akita, Dalmatian, Pug, Golden Retriever, Saint Bernard, etc are all extremely different from each other but have become famous in a short span of time due to being featured in the media like movies and TV ads.
We must consider many other factors, a few of which have been suggested above before getting a pet. Choosing a breed to impress a neighbor or because ‘it may look good with you in photographs’ will be a short-term reward but a long-term commitment. Energy, Exercise, and training level are much more important factors to keep in mind.
Wish you a happy puppy selection and raising experience!