What Type of Dog is Most Suitable?
There are many different types of dogs and it can be difficult deciding which to get. The most important decisions are around:
- Length of coat
- Age (when you get it)
The first decision is whether you go with a pedigree or cross breed animal.
Pedigree dogs belong to one of several hundred breeds. Over the past couple of hundred years humans have specially bred dogs for certain purposes. The result is that there is now a wide range of dogs which appear and behave very differently to each other. For example, it’s hard to believe that a Dachshund has the same ancestors as an Irish Wolfhound.
If you buy a pedigree dog, you’ll get an animal with a standard style in terms of appearance and behaviour. The fully-grown adult version can be easily predicted – a Golden Retriever puppy always grows up to be a Golden Retriever adult, whereas a cross breed may be harder to predict.
Pedigree dogs can be expensive and you can expect to pay anything from €400 and up to €1,500 for some breeds. If you’re worried about the risk of getting a dog that ends up being unsuitable for your home, you can lessen the risk by choosing a breed that you know about. If you’re considering a particular breed, you should phone the secretary of the breed society, talk to them about your home situation and get their advice. The Irish Kennel Club will be able to give you a list of Breed Secretaries.
The secretary is usually an experienced breeder who knows the breed well and will be able to help you decide whether they’re right for you and what you want. Some breeds have a tendency to develop certain diseases like arthritis or heart disease and some are prone to skin problems, so it’s good to find out as much as you can, as early as possible so you can make a well-informed decision.
Post a discussion on the Petfix forum or speak to your local vet to find out more about the breed before you make your decision.
Cross breed dogs
Cross bred dogs (or mongrels as they’re sometimes called) also vary a lot, depending on their ancestors. They’re cheaper than pedigree dogs and prices usually range from free to around €200. If you know and like both parent dogs, then their puppies could be a good choice for you. Often the father is unknown, so you can’t be sure what the final adult version might be like, however cuddly the puppy may look.
Cross breeds tend to be healthier than pedigree dogs because their ancestors aren’t so closely bred, so they come from a much wider gene pool. Also, their appearance is often not so extreme, so their noses are not as flattened as Pugs, their backs not as long as Dachshunds and not as big as Irish Wolfhounds. As a result of their mixed breeding and general good healthy, they’re usually cheaper to insure too.
It’s important to get a dog that fits comfortably with the size of your home and garden. Tiny dogs like Miniature Yorkshire Terriers can be kept in a small one bedroomed house with no garden, provided the owner is prepared to give enough time to regular outdoor exercise.
Medium sized dogs like Labradors or Collies need a garden to play in, as well as regular walks. Giant breeds like Great Danes or Irish Wolfhounds, are better for homes with bigger gardens and more inside space in the house. They also need an owner who is appropriately sized and has enough strength to control them on a lead while out walking.
Length of coat
You should choose a coat type that you will be able to deal with.
- Short hair on dogs like Boxers is very easy to look after.
- Medium length hair like that on Golden Retrievers, sheds more and will need plenty of brushing.
- Long hair like an Old English Sheepdogs or a Rough Collies will need professional grooming to keep them looking good and ensure their healthy, which comes at extra cost.
Both male (dogs) and female (bitches) can make equally excellent pets. Male dogs can grow to be bigger, stronger and more prone to straying (but not always). Neutering of both sexes is more common now so the sex of the animal may not make all that much difference.
It’s best to get a puppy at around eight weeks of age. By this time, sufficient dog-to-dog socialisation will have taken place within the litter and with the pup’s Mother, so they will be more relaxed and confident when they meet other dogs. Socialisation should continue in your home as a strong socially supportive start for your pup will help set them up for life.