When it’s time to choose a dog, it’s important that you give a lot of thought to what characteristic you want in your new companion. If you choose the wrong dog for your lifestyle, it’s quite likely that you’ll be disappointed and frustrated, and your stress levels will increase. Not only that, but the dog will suffer too. You’ll be less enthusiastic about spending time walking him, and because he’s not quite what you were hoping for in a dog, he’s also less likely to get enough attention and affection.
What is your lifestyle like? Are there enough hours in your week to train and exercise a high energy dog? If not, perhaps a herding breed is not for you. What about grooming? Do you have time to comb and clip your dog? Some breeds need more hair care than I do! Short coated breeds are lower maintenance, and much better for busy people to keep clean and tidy.
Another important thing to consider is the size of your home and yard. You may love the idea of owning a Great Dane, but if you live in an apartment, it may get a bit too cozy for you both. You may be more comfortable sharing your couch with a mid-sized breed.
Before you choose any pet, have a look at your budget. Make sure you can afford the necessities such as food, flea and parasite control, and routine veterinary care such as vaccinations. Have a financial plan in place should you have to deal with any unexpected accidents and illnesses, for research has shown that dogs can cost over $2000 a year (1) . According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the annual cost to care for a dog can range from $737 to over $1000 just for the standard care costs (2). With the average American dog living for 12 years, you mustn’t underestimate the impact of a dog on your finances (3). Why do I stress this point? Because cost is one of the top ten reasons dogs were relinquished to 12 U.S. shelters during a 1995-1996 study (1). Smaller dogs are usually less costly to maintain – they eat less, and they cost less when it comes to medications and worming tablets. Do take this into account when you choose your new four-legged family member.
It’s always better to do your homework upfront so you can avoid facing any of the other top ten reasons for relinquishment, including inadequate space/facilities in the home, behavioral problems (e.g., biting) and the amount of time required to care for him (1). If you do your research, and choose the right size and breed of dog for you, you’ll have a wonderful companion to share your life for many years to come.
- Salman, M., New, J., Scarlett, J., & Kris, P. (1998). Human and Animal Factors Related to the Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats in 12 Selected Animal Shelters in the United States. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, J(3), 207-226.
- Pet Care Costs. https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/pet_care_costs.pdf
- Harvey, A., Dr., BVSc(Hons). (2010). Choose the right breed for you.
Disclosure Note: This article only serves as a guide and is based on information obtained from research, including article(s) written by DVMs, dog trainers, groomers, and/or other qualified experts. Please check with your DVM for any questions regarding the information provided in this article. Thank you.