After asking yourself why you want a dog, you need to match the best type to suit your –
- Lifestyle – dogs, especially puppies, need a lot of time and attention?
- Character – do you have a lot patience or a bad temper?
- Home – is it large, safe and securely enclosed?
If you just choose on a whim, without properly researching breeds, their needs and temperament, you could be stuck with an incompatible dog for the rest of it’s life.
Puppy or Adult? It is very satisfying to have a puppy and see it grow into (hopefully) a well-behaved companion. But rearing a puppy takes patience, effort, time and money.
Puppies need to be fed frequently – at least three times a day for the first six months, and twice a day up to a year old. A puppy needs regular worming, vaccinations, proper feed, training, and exercise – mental and physical. Puppies go through that terrible stage of having accidents, chewing, jumping up, nipping, digging and pulling down everything in sight. A lot of spare time will have to be sacrificed for the upbringing of a puppy. Oh, and you probably will not get much sleep the first few nights.
If you cannot meet a puppy’s needs, then perhaps you should consider getting an adult dog.
An adult dog (2 years old or older) that is healthy, happy and well adjusted is a gem. Most adult dogs are calmer and more settled and should have gotten over the destructive stage. Why not visit the RSPCA, the Animal Control Centre, The Ark Animal Welfare Society, or the Hope Sanctuary and adopt a dog who desperately needs a home.
Bear in mind though, that not only the physical development of a grown dog is complete – his psyche is formed, and some difficulties may arise. An older dog may come with the previous owner’s mistakes in place – but proper training and, if necessary, behaviour modification will help you. Don’t worry though, adult dogs can and will bond with you. Give them a chance!
Whatever you choose – puppy or adult, remember dogs are social animals and cannot be locked away or left alone all day and night without regular loving attention.
What Size Dog? Large dogs cost more to feed, have larger “loads” of poo, and the cost of vitamins, flea & tick treatment, and medical care tend to be greater. They also tend to age more quickly than small breeds. The life span of large dogs is approximately eight to twelve years and that of smaller dogs is ten to fifteen years.
Dog or Bitch? Most owners have their own preferences, but both sexes have their pros and cons.
Bitches are often considered easier to train and may seem more loyal and affectionate. One drawback is that a bitch can come into heat two or three times a year. Each heat lasts 21 days and makes them very attractive to neighbouring males, who will try their utmost to oblige any bitch in season. The heat is usually messy, and accidental matings can lead to unwanted puppies that are expensive to rear. (There is a “morning after” shot though.) Bitches can also have ‘false’ or ‘phantom’ pregnancies during which they go through the motions of being pregnant, digging holes and lactating. Spaying can take care of this problem.
Males on the other hand, are easier to keep and are generally more consistent in behaviour. But they certainly will go roaming if a nearby bitch is in heat. They can also go off their food. Males also like to mark their territory by urinating all over the place.
Mongrel or Purebred? A mongrel is a dog of unidentifiable breeding or mixed parentage. A ‘cross breed’ is a dog whose parents are both pure bred but of different breeds.
Mongrels sometimes appear to be less prone to inherited and congenital disorders, but they are just as susceptible to serious diseases as purebreds and they need the same amount of care and attention. However, choosing a mongrel is like playing Russian Roulette – you don’t know what your dog will be like in terms of size and temperament as an adult.
With a purebred dog you have a better idea of what you are getting in terms of size, temperament and appearance, and what to expect regarding grooming, feeding and exercise needs. Certain breeds are prone to hereditary defects and you should be aware of what they are.
Another benefit to owning a registered purebred dog is that you can enter him in conformation dog shows, if he is “up to standard”, i.e. ‘show quality’. Who knows, you might have a potential champion in your back yard.
If you want a purebred dog for showing you must do a lot of research to help you make the right choice. Purebred dogs range in price from $800.00 to $5,000.00 and even more. If you want a purebred dog, but aren’t interested in showing, you can get one that is ‘pet quality’ at a lesser price. “Show quality’ commands top dollar. If you want to show your dog, it must be purebred and registered with The Barbados Kennel Club.
If you buy a purebred, make sure that you get his pedigree; registration certificate; and transfer of ownership form signed by you and the breeder. Do not accept a breeder telling you that “the papers are with the BKC”, this may not be so, and you may in fact never receive them. You have no proof that your dog is in fact purebred, and without his papers he can neither be shown nor can his/her progeny be registered. If you are getting a pup on breeder’s or co-ownership terms, get it in writing! Call the Registrar of The Barbados Kennel Club for advice on these, or any other agreement you have between yourself and the breeder!
Protection Dog or Family Pet? If you live by yourself, you might want the security and reliability of a trained protection dog. Bear in mind though, that a properly trained protection dog is a major responsibility – it’s like walking around with a loaded gun. You need to keep it’s protection skills – obedience and bitework, finely tuned with regular training sessions.
However, if you have a family with children and lots of friends visiting, you should consider a breed that has a reputation for being good with children. Most dogs are natural watchdogs and they will bark when people – friend or foe, come on your property.
Don’t buy on impulse, take your time since a well-chosen puppy or dog, with positive, fear free training is a joy to have.