Choosing a Family Dog.
Choosing a family dog is an exciting prospect, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Would-be dog owners, especially those new to dog owning, may wonder where to start. In this Holidays4Dogs article we provide some hints, tips and information on choosing a family dog, as well as making some breed specific suggestions.
There are 222 recognised breeds of dog in the UK. That’s a big choice! Yet, it gets even bigger if you consider cross-breed and mongrel dogs, both for sale by breeders and waiting for homes in dog shelters.
It is important to consider the different traits and characteristics of various breeds – some tend to be one-man dogs, others like to be friends with everyone. This includes cross breeds and mongrels, even though this can often be a little trickier to predict. While owning any dog is a big responsibility, some dogs will be more demanding than others.
High energy dogs.
If you really want a high energy dog who will accompany you everywhere, show enthusiasm for a dog-centred sport and be ready for anything, at any time; any of the pastoral, or gundog breeds, would suit.
Most working dogs, such as Border Collies, are generally high energy dogs and, typically, demand a lot of physical exercise. In addition, they often need a ‘job’ to do, so joining a dog training club such as agility, or working trials, will exercise the dog’s mind too. However, they are a good breed for active families where the family dog can be included in most things.
Working cocker spaniels are exceptionally fun dogs, and while their size makes them handier for taking around, they are extremely fast and busy little dogs. Make no mistake, while these dogs look like chocolate box lap dog cuties, they would not accept a sedentary lifestyle.
Some small and toy dogs can be very high energy too. Jack Russell terriers, for example, can take plenty of exercise. Even chihuahuas won’t always accept being lap-dogs all the time – some will happily keep up with their larger cousins!
If it’s a giant breed you’ve set your heart on, you might want to look at St Bernard’s, Bull mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dogs, or Newfoundland dogs. These are lovely gentle giants and make endearing family pets.
However, while they are less demanding in terms of exercise, (indeed these dogs should not be over exercised while growing), they do require a reasonable amount of physical space.
You may also need to consider whether a dog of this size would fit into the family car. Also, it is worth bearing in mind, they tend to be rather ‘slobbery’. Newfoundland dogs also have a propensity to smell distinctly ‘doggy’ due to their oily, waterproof, coats.
The less demanding fellows.
If you are looking for a less demanding breed of dog, you could look no further than the Cavalier King Charles spaniel. These happy little dogs are great fun, very sociable and easy to take around. They will enjoy longer country walks, as well being happy in an urban setting, with strolls in the local park.
Another breed which can be quite sedate is the greyhound – in particular, ex-racing greyhounds. Despite their stature, they fit in well with many ordinary domestic environments. In addition, they don’t generally need as much exercise as people imagine. They are bred for short bursts of speed, rather than long bouts of exercise. Therefore, ex-racers are generally happy with a couple of twenty minute walks per day.
As with many sight-hounds, however, they are apt to chase anything that moves, including cats and even other small dogs. They are, however, a gentle and calm breed to have around the house.
Generally, they do not demand constant attention and they are less inclined to be bothered to bark at the door. They are very happy curling up in the comfiest armchair and it is surprising just how small they can make themselves, in order to secure the cosiest spot!
Some of the more unusual breeds might include the Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Hovawart, or Dandie Dinmont Terrier. There a many breeds on the vulnerable list and there are several dogs here that are sadly underrated as family pets. If you fancy helping to keep these native breeds thriving, take a look at our other Holidays4Dogs article on the subject.
Always do your homework on breed traits and characteristics, but remember the rarer the breed is, the more difficult this will make your task. You will also have less choice when it comes to puppy availability. As with any dog, though, never rush into anything. Be prepared to wait for the sort of dog which will suit you.
Cross breeds and mongrels.
It is also worth mentioning ‘designer’ dogs – crosses between two popular breeds of dog. Examples are, the Cavachon, (cavalier x bichon frise) and the labradoodle, (Labrador x poodle). In this case, it is essential to think carefully about not just one breed, but two.
While potential owners may assume a cockerpoo, for example, will have the best qualities of both breeds, this does not always follow.
Sometimes they end up with the most challenging traits from each breed!
Choose a responsible breeder.
While there are irresponsible breeders everywhere, sadly, there is a bigger saturation of unethical breeders in the designer dog world. Many pups are churned out by breeders with only profit in mind. Unfortunately, puppy farming is still a huge problem in the UK. For pedigree dogs the first port of call would be the UK Kennel Club who have lists of assured breeders.
Finally, when it comes to holidays there will always be a well suited carer with Holidays4Dogs. Our carers have experience with all sorts of breeds and types, so there will always be the perfect family to look after your dog – no matter what breed you choose to share your home with.