Which Is The Right Breed For me?

Having known something about the instincts and senses of dogs, many of would be dog owners must have already started thinking ‘which is the right breed for me?’ Well before answering your question I would like to ask a few questions. Since this is a blog, a kind of monologue, I think I will have to ask questions and answer them as well. My questions are: Why do you want a dog? How much time you can spare? What is the composition of your family? What is your budget like? And how much space you can spare in your house for the dog?

Answers to all the questions are vital for you and the dog both. A dog is not a toy which you buy for your kid and discard it soon after he is fed up playing with it. A dog is the responsibility of the family, which you are heading. He is a living being with an average life span of 12 years. From the moment he comes to your house till he dies he is a part and parcel of your house and family. A good dog can be an asset and a bad dog can spoil the best neighbourly relations. However, personally I am of the opinion that there is nothing like a bad dog, it’s the owners only who are either good or bad.
In case you want a dog for yourself or for the family as a playmate, guard, general purpose dog, show dog then you have to take in to consideration your budget. A thumb rule about the price of the dogs is inversely proportionate to size. Larger the breed, lesser is the price (in general) and smaller breeds are always costlier. Larger breed will involve a greater maintenance cost and will need to be exercised a lot.
Most people buy a dog because their kids pester them a lot. Yes I know kids love dogs like anything. I started my tryst with dogs as a kid only. When a child demands a puppy there is always a tussle in the family. One of the parents is always supporting the child, may be indirectly. Problem with children is that they imagine rearing a puppy when they see an adult dog closely at some friend or relative’s place. They find it so easy. Dog gets up early in the morning and goes out on a walk with the owner. They never find the dog making puddles in the carpet. Sadly the scene changes as soon as a new puppy comes home the first thing he does is to soil the plush carpet in the sitting room. Often the pup play-bites the child and the child either gets so scared that he avoids going near the pup or the pup is thrown out of the house to elk a living on the road. Therefore, if you are buying a pup for the sheer satisfaction of your child, please understand all the pros and cons before jumping in to the fray. The pup is bound to cry, he is bound to soil the carpet and he is bound to chew off your best sandals. But still he is not at fault, because all that is natural for him. Puppy’s teeth are sharp and pointed and child’s skin is tender and delicate. Accidents can not be ruled out. And before you buy a pup you must take this also in to consideration.
In case you want a dog for yourself or for the family as a playmate/guard/general purpose dog/show dog then you have to take in to consideration your budget. A thumb rule about the price of the dogs is inversely proportionate to size. Larger the breed, lesser is the price (in general) and smaller breeds are always costlier. Larger breed will involve a greater maintenance cost and will need to be exercised a lot. You should be physically fit to handle a large breed, else the possibility of the dog pulling you down on your wrists can not be ruled out. Broken, healed wrist hurts life long.
A larger breed requires large area in the house to roam around and to play. A Spitz (A small sized dog often miscalled a Pomerian in North India-there is no such breed) needs minimum 40 square feet area to live in. On the contrary I find people living in tiny single room dwellings go for German shepherd (again an irony-people feel an Alsatian is perhaps punier than a German shepherd!) or a Great Dane. For these people a dog is their source of income and that is why the attachment. Both these breeds need a very large compound to roam about and need lots and lots of exercise.  
Let us presume that you have the space available for the breed of your choice. Obviously it means you have a wallet which can spare the kind of money required to buy the breed of your choice. It is a simple rule that if you have more money you have less time. That is why the question, how much time you can spare. A dog is neither a horse which can be left tied in the stables after a morning run, nor a bird in a cage. The pack instinct of the dog is so strong that he goes crazy alone. No dog can live alone for more than two hours at a stretch. Now this is again a kind of thumb rule. Therefore in families where both partners are working and kids go to school, the duration in which the pup is left alone is often enough to turn him a crazy dog. In addition, a dog needs to be walked, exercised, fed, played and groomed as well 24 X 7 without fail. Do you have time for that? Think over it well before turning a normal pup, crazy.
If you have positive answers for all the questions you may think in terms of acquiring a puppy.
But the first question remains to be answered yet. The choice of a right breed of course depends upon all the above points enumerated, but it also depends upon your personality and the breed characters. For example if you are a very cool, person with an academic bent of mind and prefer a sedentary, quiet life then a Doberman may not be the right choice for you! You have to think in terms of a reasonably placid breed like a Labrador retriever. People who can not tolerate dog’s barks should not think of rearing any of the terrier breeds. They are bred for barking the day out of the prey to flush it out of hiding.
Before deciding a particular breed, it is better to know about it in detail. Often lack of prior information leads to problems. For example, some people develop a fancy for Dachshunds, without knowing that they are born diggers. Hence your garden and a dachshund can never go together. In addition when it comes to house training they are one of the difficult breed to teach toilette manner. Some strains of Dachshunds are sometimes are prone to skin ailments adding to your veterinary bills. Toy breeds like a Chihuahua are very nice to look at, appear easily manageable. They are highly perky, always ready to attack anyone-may be a Great Dane or a visitor in the house. They bark incessantly to scare away a possible enemy! But they are adorable, if you realize how it feels to the see the world from their point of view. If you go down to their eye level you find this world a forest of walking pair of legs and each one threatening to trample you any moment. In case you buy a Chi, then you must be prepared to train him to live in his box, away from the fear of getting trampled.
Thus it boils down to fact that the breed of your choice should suit you physically-means you should be able to manage the full grown specimen and of course you should have enough space and money to bear the expenses.
People think in terms of disciplining their dog from day one. In fact what they should think first of self discipline. A dog is a creature of routine and his biological clock is one of the most precise types. People who lead irregular lives, go for late night parties and get up late in the mornings often find a dog quite a nuisance. In case you wish to keep a dog you have to make adjustments with your routine to mould him to fit in to that for his life. People who frequently travel with family are another headache for the dog. Either they take their dog out with them in the car or lodge him in a pet boarding. Many times it is not possible to take the dog to all the places. Then boarding is the only alternative. Such places in small towns of India are still not in vogue and in metros they are not easily affordable. A stay in a boarding is quite a trauma for your child, and how it feels for a poor dog to stay in a boarding- wish you knew his language! As I said earlier dog has strong pack instinct. A stay with a strange pack for a few days is too much for him to withstand. Once back to his original pack, he is always apprehensive of being sent to boarding again.
If you are all set to welcome the first puppy home and have questioned and answered to all what I tried to convey today and you are satisfied with your replies, you start preparing for the D-day. Next time I will write about welcoming the puppy, the articles that you may need etc.

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More By  :  V. K. Joshi (Bijji)

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Comments on this Blog

Comment Yes Dharmendra-its a difficult job which breed to buy. One must think over it deeply then go for it.

13-Jun-2010 10:09 AM

Comment It is wonderful article about the selection of dogs before adoption. Must be think these basic questions of this article before acquiring the puppy. Thanks a lot sir.

13-Jun-2010 08:35 AM

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