Choosing your first dog can be daunting. As a first-time owner you are about to embark on one of the most rewarding relationships of your life. It’s easy to be swayed by the adoring eyes of the first pup you see but with these tips you can be sure you’re making the right decision.
First, you need to think carefully about what you want from a dog. Do you see your and new companion hiking through the backwoods? Will it be a guard dog that sleeps in the yard? Or do you envisage it curling up on the sofa or being toted around in a bag all day?
Next, think carefully about each breed’s size and temperament, and its exercise requirements. Then consider how these needs will fit into your family’s lifestyle. This is one time when your head should rule your heart. After all, your new friend may well be with you for the next 15 years!
Just as some dogs are bred to be good retrievers or strong swimmers, some are bred to be calm, biddable and easily trained. A strong-willed and clever dog is likely to be too independent for someone without the experience to put all that intelligence to good use. Breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Bearded Collie and Welsh Corgi are good bets for those new to dog training.
Do you live in a 6 bedroom villa or a gardenless, city flat? Imagine a 160lb Mastiff stretched out on your sofa. Is there any room left on there for your kids? Will a Chihuahua’s little legs be able to keep pace with you on your 10K jog? For many first-timers it’s best to steer clear of both size extremes and stick to medium sized breeds such as the Beagle or Bulldog.
Your new pooch will need walking at least twice a day, every single day. Don’t be fooled into thinking that small dogs need less exercise. In fact racers such as Greyhounds, bred for short bursts of speed, are happiest with a 20 minute spin and the rest of the day spent curled up on the sofa. Smaller breeds such as terriers are full of energy and have been bred to spend all day on the go. If their energy isn’t directed somewhere useful by you, most will take it upon themselves to direct it somewhere else!
4. Joining the Family
They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but who else will you expect yours to befriend? If you are a small household with few visitors, a Tibetan Mastiff makes the ideal one-man dog, but can be difficult with strangers it doesn’t consider part of the fold. For homes with other animals already resident, a Greyhound’s high prey-drive won’t be ideal! If your house could pass for a menagerie, choose a happy-go-lucky pack dog, such as a Beagle.
5. Three To Consider
Labrador Retriever – Not for nothing is this the most popular dog breed in both the USA and the UK. These sociable, hard working and cheerful dogs are medium-sized, easily groomed and well-suited to a busy family life.
Border Terrier – For those who want a smaller dog, this hardy, unfussy and friendly breed gets on well with children and even with cats, if introduced to them as a puppy.
Greyhound – Although not for those with small pets in the house, Greyhounds can make delightfully calm, loving and lazy dogs for those who can’t devote too much time to exercise. They are the coach potatoes of the canine world!