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When thinking about the breed of dog to get it’s important to consider whether your lifestyle, location and home is suitable for their needs. If you have a garden is it suitably fenced in and is the fence tall enough? Some dogs when they grow easily jump over fences. Dog’s are sociable creatures and can’t be left for hours on end as they will need the bathroom and will find their own entertainment if they don’t have suitable outlets for their energy.

Labrador with his tongue hanging out

An animals temperament is a result of both its genetics and early experiences so it’s important to ask about the mother and father (dam and sire) temperament and what experiences they’ve had in terms of handling, sounds and sights. It’s important to ask how many litters a dog has had and any stress they have experienced. When picking a puppy pic one that is not over boisterous but not too shy and moving away either – they should be comfortable with being handled.

The Kennel club have categorised breeds in to main types. These are:

The gun dog group – these dogs include the spaniel and Hungarian Vizsla. They were originally bred to retrieve game such as ducks. They will chase birds and rabbits.  Just by looking at a cocker spaniel you will see they have sloping shoulders, and straight Red Setter with tongue outlegs that look powerful so they can chase after prey – they will do this on walks!

The working group – these are dogs such as the Labrador retriever – a breed of guide dog. They were originally bred to work so they will need mental and physical exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

The toy group – these include dogs such as the pug. These breeds are smaller and were originally bred to be companions and lap dogs, but just because they’re small it doesn’t mean they don’t have needs that need to be fulfilled.

The pastoral group – these include dogs that were originally bred for herding and include the Shetland sheepdog or ‘sheltie’. They have an innate desire to herd so you need to be really mindful of sheep – which you need to do anyway as sheep worrying is illegal and you can get fined if your dog is worrying sheep.

The hound group – hounds have a narrow skull to track prey – this gives them a greater field of vision. They have a large muzzle so they have a good sense of smell which makes up for their hearing (they have floppy ears). They will need lots of scent work opportunities to keep them stimulated.

The terrier group – terriers were bred to hunt hare and rabbits above ground. They have hind legs and an arched flexible back. Terriers are fearless, persistent and energetic so therefore great for hunting. The name terrier originates from the Latin word ‘terra’ (earth) and relates to dogs hunting vermin such as rats that live above earth. They have inherent traits so they require mental and physical simulation otherwise they may get bored.

Also as well as pure bred dog’s that is one breed, crossbreed dogs are dogs that have been born by two different breeds of dogs that have intentionally been bred together – such as a cockapoo for example. A crossbreed is a dog of mixed blood – so two different purebred but different parents, or more, mixed together. An example would be a ‘Pomski’ – a mix of a Pomeranian and Husky. There are sometimes health and welfare implications for this breed as potentially their tongue is very large and too big for their dolichocephalic face shape. Moreover, the combination of genes that determine the size of the legs may be at odds with one another – as husky’s have long legs or sledge pulling, whereas Pomeranians have shorter legs. This may result in gait problems.  If you’re getting a cross bred dog think of both breeds and what traits each have originally been bred to do.

A mongrel is a dog that can’t be defined in terms of breed. It’s a mixture of different dog breeds.

What breed is for me?

Think about your home do you have the space for a large dog? How often are you out at work – are their suitable pet carers near by? Do you have access to a garden? How do you feel about dog’s that are prone to barking? Are there locations nearby that you can walk your dog to allow them to let off steam? Will you be able to provide the mental stimulation that a dog needs so they don’t get bored and can fulfil their innate instincts and do what they were originally bred to do.

Larger breeds may be physically stronger and pull on the lead so you will need to teach them loose lead walking so they don’t themselves or hurt you and your neck. If your dog was originally bred to hunt then you will need to work on their recall to ensure they’re coming back to you. It’s really important to do breed research and consider any health implications that the breed may be prone to – dog’s such as the French bulldog for example can suffer from brachycephalic obstruction airway syndrome. Does your dog have long hair? Will they need frequent trips to the groomers? These are all things to consider.

When picking a puppy make sure they don’t have any eye discharge, scabs on their skin or coughing alot.

Do you have a cat?

Get your kitten used to meeting a variety of calm and not overly boisterous and playful fogs dogs from a young age. A cat’s natural instinct is to run and hide as they are smaller than most dog’s. Some breeds have an innate instinct to chase such as a greyhound so they may not ever be suitable for life living with a cat because it’s in their nature to chase and it feels very self motivating to chase. While it’s really important to consider the dog’s individual behaviour and temperament and not just breed, dogs that like chasing, stalking and herding may not be a suitable fit for life with a cat especially if there’s no time to train them. Cat’s that are naturally apprehensive may not cope well with living with a dog.

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