Choosing Your First Dog: 5 Things to Think About

snowy puppyDogs make loyal companions but it’s vital to make sure that your chosen breed will be a good fit for your lifestyle. Owning a dog will have a big impact on your life and while it’s all too tempting to choose the cutest option, you risk finding that your new pet is incompatible with your home and family. There are a number of things that you will need to think about before you make a decision. Here are five factors that you’ll need to take into consideration when choosing your first dog.

1 – Age

Puppies are cute but they’re also high maintenance. Regular training will resolve toilet and obedience issues but this will require a good deal of patience and attention. If you suspect that your lifestyle won’t lend itself to this, you may prefer an older dog. Be aware though that even adult dogs may also need some degree of training so they’re not necessarily a completely fuss-free option. An adult dog is also easier to gauge in terms of personality, which helps you to assess whether he or she will suit your situation. Puppies are almost always extremely sweet and enthusiastic while they’re young but there’s no easy way to tell whether this will continue to be their character as they get older.

2 – Breed

Unless you’ve specifically decided that a particular breed is perfect for you, a mixed breed may suit you well. Purebred dogs have the advantage of being a certain size and character – in most cases- so there won’t usually be any surprises provided that you have done your homework on the breed beforehand.

A mixed breed dog can look very unique, although a lot will depend on the combination of breeds that are involved. There is less certainty regarding character but on the plus side, mixed breed dogs tend to experience better health than their purebred counterparts.

3 – Grooming

How much time and effort are you willing to put into grooming your dog? If you’re short on time and/or patience, it makes sense to choose a dog that won’t be high maintenance in this department. Size isn’t always a good indication of grooming needs. For example, Pekingese dogs may be small but they need plenty of TLC to stay looking good. Low maintenance breeds include Boston Terriers, beagles, pugs and Chihuahuas.

4 – Energy

All dogs need regular exercise but some breeds are particularly boisterous. This is the case for Airedale Terriers, Afghan Hounds, Border Collies, Dalmations, English Setters and Greyhounds.

If you can’t promise more than one walk per day, a “low energy” breed such that doesn’t have as much energy to burn will be most suitable. This includes Bassett Hounds, Chihuahuas, dachshunds, Pekingese, pugs, Pomeranian and Shih-Tzu.

5 – Budget

Your choice can have a big impact on your finances going forwards. Larger dogs may well offer a greater degree of security but they’ll also cost more to feed. Will your budget stretch far enough to provide enough quality dog food? If you’re planning to provide a home for an older dog, bear in mind that they’ll most likely need more vet care. This is particularly true for senior dogs, whose health may well be starting to fail.

[Photo credit: jpctalbot]