The dog is one of the country’s most beloved pets, treasured by children and grown-ups across the nation. When it comes to choosing a dog it can be a very personal decision, one that will depend greatly on your individual circumstances, preferences, and lifestyle.
There may be no right or wrong answer to suit everyone but there certainly are some tips and guidelines to follow or consider when it comes to choosing a dog that is suitable for the whole family. So if you are in the market for a new family pooch consider this guide when making your decision.
Firstly it is important to know the difference between a purebred dog and a mixed breed dog;
what is a PUREBREAD dog?
Purebred; A dog that is from a single breed. So, purebred chocolate lab puppies will be bred from a chocolate lab male and a chocolate lab female dog.
A purebread dog is a dog that is from TWO purebred parents. For example, two registered chocolate lab puppies will be bred together if their litter contains a chocolate male and a chocolate female. It is referred to as a ‘backcross’ because the pup has been back to the original bloodlines of its ancestors.
Should I get a mixed breed dog?
Mixed breed; A mixed-breed dog is bred from a combination of breeds. A Goldador for example is a dog bred from a Golden Retriever and a Labrador.
A Mixed breed dog is a dog that is not from the same breed. The term mixed breed does NOT specify whether it was bred purposely or if it is an accident – unless you know the history of the dog’s parents and grandparents. Mixed breed dogs can be healthy or unhealthy because they are not selective in their breeding process.
Next, there are a few lifestyle considerations and questions you need to ask yourself when choosing the right dog for you and your family.
Dog Breed TEMPERAMENT
Temperament; The temperament is the dog’s personality and this is vitally important when welcoming a dog into a house of children. Children who may be young, excitable, and not understand the needs and temperament of a dog.
If you opt for a purebred dog you can usually be safe in the knowledge that the dog should have a typical temperament common of dogs in that breed. Whereas mixed breeds will usually have traits of both breeds with one breed potentially taking precedent over the other. It can be a good idea to match the temperament of your family with that of the dog.
For example, families, where children are more cautious and calm, might be better suited to a dog of a similar nature, such as a French or English bulldog.
Conversely, families that have outgoing gregarious children may take to a friendly and approachable dog such as a Golden Retriever or Labrador. That said, before you take any dog home it is a good idea to introduce it to the whole family to ensure everyone is comfortable with the choice.
What Size Dog Should I Choose?
Size; It might not seem like it but this is a very important consideration when choosing a family dog. Size can play a part for many reasons.
Perhaps most obviously a large dog such as a Great Dane may not be practical for young children who might be unsteady on their feet but also if you plan on taking your dog out in the car and on holidays you have to think about the practicalities of fitting the dog in the car with everything else a family needs to take.
It is also a good idea to consider the size of the dog in conjunction with the temperament and energy levels of the dog you choose together with the size of your living situation.
Should I Get A Large Breed Dog?
Larger breeds such as German Shepherds and St. Bernards will not be very well suited to a small apartment. Ideally, they need lots of space for them to play and exercise so easy access to lots of open space and parks is key. Further, they may not be welcomed in shared living accommodations such as apartments as other homeowners may feel intimated or uneasy around them.
Do I want a high energy dog?
Energy levels and lifestyle; This is a really important consideration when choosing a dog. Some dogs will have reams and reams of energy and it is important these dogs get the adequate amount of exercise they need.
Dogs such as Working Cocker Spaniels need long regular walks and if you do not feel your family is in a position to do this then it may not be the dog for your family lifestyle.
Contrary to popular belief the Greyhound is actually a bit of a couch potato so if you don’t have the time or lifestyle to dedicate lots of walks and exercise to your dog a more low maintenance dog such as the Greyhound will be a better match.
Cost Of Grooming Your Dog
Grooming and coat; When it comes to dog maintenance some will require more than others. Dogs with longer coats will generally need more grooming and aesthetic care. Moreover, they will malt and catch all the mud and dirty water on their longs walks. The practicalities and financials of this need to be considered.
As loving and gentle as a Retriever is they are notorious for leaving their hair everywhere and needing a good bath and shampoo after a muddy walk. Moreover, dogs that require regular trips to the groomers will cost you more. If you are conscious of the trail of coat the dog may leave behind in your family home or you have a family of allergy suffers the Bichon Frise is a great option as it is almost shed-free.
We have a lovely Bichon Frise called Casper and I love the fact he never sheds. We also groom him ourselves saving money on haircuts as his hair grows fast.
Can I Afford A Dog?
Affordability and healthcare; Dogs can be very expensive to buy. Purebred dogs will cost you more than a mixed breed. In fact, certain purebred dogs can be very expensive indeed, costing you several thousand.
What is more, the cost of a dog goes much further than the price you pay when you purchase them. Large breeds are likely to cost you more as they require more food, and have potentially higher healthcare bills. When it comes to healthcare you need to factor in the cost of pet insurance or vet bills that you may face.
Another factor is that purebred dogs often carry genetic predispositions to health problems which can have financial and emotional implications.
Which dog should you choose?
Make it a family affair; When choosing a dog that is intended for the entire family it is important to ensure the entire family is part of the decision-making process and is happy with the final choice.
When deciding on the type of dog you all want sit down and discuss the types of breeds that not only you would like but that would be suitable for everyone, taking into account all of the factors above.
Choosing The Type Of Dog That Is Best For Your Family
Deciding on the type of dog you would like is only just the beginning. Once you know what type of dog you want you to have to choose where you are going to get it from. It may be that you dream of homing a rescue dog, if this is the case then you will be required to meet certain health and safety standards put in place by the rescue home. This is to ensure that the dog is in fact going to a better home where they will be safe and adequately looked after.
If however, you are looking to buy your dog from a breeder then ensure you do your due diligence and be satisfied that the breeder has all the appropriate paperwork and healthcare measures in place. You will not be able to take your puppy home until they are at least eight weeks old so ensure this is the case from the breeder you are buying from.
You will also need to ask for proof of any vet checks, vaccinations (if applicable), microchipping and or pedigree papers. If the breeder you are buying from falls short of this then be wary and consider shopping elsewhere for your puppy.
Dogs for medium sized families
When it is time to take your new puppy home the fun really begins. Make sure you have everything you need, including food, water bowls, leads, beds, and treats. Write a checklist so you don’t forget everything. Once your dog is home, spend time getting to know them and letting them get familiar with their new surroundings, it might take a little while for you all to settle in but once you have you won’t be able to imagine life without your new canine friend.