Dogs can bring you so much happiness, but being a pet owner is a huge responsibility. If you’re thinking of buying or adopting a dog, you need to make sure it’s the right thing for you. You might have your eye on a dog you like the look of, but that’s only a small part of the decision. Different breeds have different needs and some may suit your lifestyle better than others. It’s a big decision – and one that could affect you for the next 15 years - so here are ten things to consider before you make a decision on which breed you’d like:
1. How big should you go?
The size of dog you choose depends on how much space you have. Think about how your home will be affected by a large breed, and whether you have enough room for him to run about outside. All puppies are cute, but remember they will grow up – can you cope when they’re fully grown? Larger breeds also eat more, so make sure you can afford to feed them.
2. Which temperament?
Match your dog’s temperament with yours and you’ll be friends for life. Be realistic – if you’re fond of a nice sit down then an energetic breed such as a Springer Spaniel will be too manic for you. But if you’re always on the go and fancy long walks they might be just right.
3. Will they be mixing with children?
If your dog’s going to be spending a lot of time with children, they’ll need to have the right temperament. Labradors and Collies are affectionate and patient, and it might be worth looking at beagles, who are gentle and would mix well with children.
4. Male or female?
There are lots of myths around different characteristics displayed by dogs and bitches. Some are true, but it’s impossible to pin them down to every dog. Bitches can be more independent and easier to train, whereas dogs may never grow out of playfulness and be more motivated by food. One thing to think about if you opt for a bitch is that she’ll be on heat twice a year, so you may want to get her spayed.
5. How much exercise can you give?
All dogs need regular exercise, so if you can’t walk them once a day think very carefully about whether you should get one. Toy dogs can survive on a short trip out and a scamper round the house, but larger breeds need longer walks. Breeds like Pointers, Setters and Spaniels can help keep you really fit, as they’ll come for a run and enjoy it.
6. What if you have allergies?
If you’re allergic to pet hair or you’re particularly houseproud and can’t stand the thought of hairs everywhere, a breed that doesn’t moult would be worth considering. Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds and Poodles don’t tend to shed their hair, so will save you hours of vacuuming!
7. Do you want some company?
Dogs are ideal companions if you live alone. If you’re older and don’t have the energy for long walks, but would like some company look at breeds like a Bichon Frise or a Pug, who love spending time with humans and don’t mind long spells indoors. If you’re looking for a dog to get you out and about and help keep you active, look at breeds like Spaniels, Greyhounds or Border Collies.
8. What about potential health problems?
Pedigree breeds can suffer from certain health problems, so do your research to get a clear picture of what could lie ahead. Dogs with snub noses such as Pugs, Shih-Tzus and Bulldogs can be prone to breathing problems, whereas larger breeds such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers can suffer hip problems and arthritis.
9. How long will the dog live?
No-one wants to think about losing their dog, but it’s good to be realistic about life expectancy. A Bulldog may make it to six or seven years old, whereas a Collie or Setter could be with you for 12 years. These are just averages, but they’ll give you an idea of what to expect.
10. Buying a dog
If you’re buying a puppy, avoid puppy farms as they may be breeding too many litters and keeping them in small cages, which can lead to stressed or sick pets. Instead, ask around and find a reputable dog breeder or look at a litter who’ve been raised in a family home with their mother. A good breeder will care about their dogs, so don’t be offended if they seem to be questioning your suitability as a pet parent. Check whether any dog you’re buying has been wormed, treated for fleas, microchipped and is up to date with their vaccination.
How John Lewis Pet Insurance can help
We know that you’re dog is like a member of the family, so you’ll need peace of mind if they fall ill or have an accident.
John Lewis Pet Insurance can insure your dog from eight weeks old and offers different levels of cover, from £3,000 to £12,000.
Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility criteria apply.
John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No.233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Pet Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Calls may be recorded and monitored.