Dog Owner's Guide

Choosing a dog

There is never a bad dog, only a bad owner. That being said, the personality of a dog can differ greatly from breed to breed. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to learn as much information as possible about different breeds of dogs before deciding on one. Never choose a dog or a puppy based solely on looks, as looks can be very deceiving. It is important to be honest with yourself and know what you want from your pet and how much you will be able to provide for it. Different breeds of dogs can vary greatly from size, personality, energy level and fur type, amongst other things.

Gender

Deciding between male and female dogs can be a matter of personal preference. However, there are some characteristics that are predominantly present in male and female dogs.

Female dogs tend to be more independent and feel the need to constantly be in control of situations. They are also stubborn and are quick to respond to challenges with aggression. Female dogs mark their territories, just like male dogs. They are able to do so for their entire lives, even after spaying. This is unlike most male dogs, who will stop their marking behaviour after they are neutered. Female dogs who are not spayed will start being in heat when they are approximately a year old. During this time they will bleed and may exhibit a change in behaviour. As compared to male dogs they are also more reserved and less affectionate.

Male dogs are more likely to remain fun loving and active throughout their lives, even when they are older. They tend to be more focused on their owners and are very eager to please. Male dogs are extremely food motivated and this can make training easier when treats are used as a reward system. It is important to take note that male dogs do tend to display aggressive behaviour around other males, especially if they are not neutered. Male dogs also engage in territory marking, although most of them cease doing so after being neutered.

Personality

The personality of a dog can be influenced by breed's characteristics. If you are looking for a dog known for its strength and masculinity, then you probably will not want a Poodle. If you want a dainty pup that you can carry around effortlessly, then German Shepherds will be totally out of the question. Just like people have their own individual personalities, each breed of dog has its own personality traits. If you want an active dog that can be a jogging, cycling or running companion, you will want to consider breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds. These breeds have high energy levels and will make excellent companions for owners who love being active. Dogs like Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs and Poodles prefer to stay indoors and require less exercise.

Another important factor you must take into consideration is your place of residence. If you reside in a HDB flat, you will only be able to keep one toy breed sized dog (weighs less than 10kg and stands at less than 40cm at its shoulders). Big dogs will not do well in HDB estates as they will not have enough space to exercise and may make other residents uncomfortable. Big dogs are more suited to homes that have a garden and ample space for them to run around in.

Before choosing a particular breed as a potential pet, it is vital to consider the other residents living in your home. Will they be able to adjust well to the addition of a dog to the household? If there are small children, you will want to pick a friendly dog who doesn't mind a bit of rough play. If there are senior citizens in the house, you may want to choose a breed that does not need much exercise or extensive grooming.

Hair type

All dogs, shorthaired or longhaired, require some form of grooming. However, there are some breeds of dogs that will require a lot more effort when it comes to grooming due to their thick or long coats. If you do not have the finances or time to upkeep your dog's grooming, then you should choose a shorthaired breed. Most shorthaired breeds are easy to groom and do not require much coat brushing or special fur products. If you or any of your family members have allergies, you will want to choose a breed that does not shed much fur.

Pedigree or cross-breed

There are many different opinions when it comes to the subject of choosing between pedigree or cross-breed dogs. You may already have a particular breed in mind but before you make that final decision, you should first learn the pros and cons of owning both types of dogs.

Cross-breed dogs are known to have a higher level of immunity against canine diseases as compared to pedigree dogs, especially diseases that are transferred from one generation to the next. Breeders of cross-breed dogs are not limited in their choices when it comes to selecting dogs to be bred. Since they are not being bred to any conforming standard, breeders can choose the best and the healthiest dogs available. Cross-breed dogs are also not as expensive as pedigree breeds. Some pedigree breeds may cost up to thousands of dollars, depending on where you purchase them. Cross-breed dogs are also known for being stronger and having healthier hair.

Pedigree dogs are good for owners who plan to train their dogs to be show dogs. When you get a pedigree dog from a breeder, you should research the breeder's stock history, meet the breed pair and see puppies from former litters before making your choice. When you purchase a pedigree dog, you will have a wealth of information about the physical qualities of the dog you are going to own. Different breeds also have different personalities and this will make choosing a dog to suit your lifestyle a lot easier. If you choose to get a cross-breed, you will have no advance information about the qualities and attributes that dog will possess.

Adult or puppy

Even though it is extremely tempting to rush to a pet store or breeder to pick up a puppy, you should first consider the possibility of getting an adult or adolescent dog instead. The biggest draw to getting a puppy, aside from the 'cute factor", is the chance to mould your puppy's behaviour and temperament to suit your own lifestyle. You will be able to socialise your puppy from a young age and this will help ensure your puppy grows into a friendly, active dog. However, training a puppy is not an easy task. It takes a whole lot of time, patience and willpower for an owner to successfully train a puppy. Adult dogs may have already been trained and this will save you a lot of trouble. Furthermore, most adult dogs would have already lost their "excess" puppy energy and so you can probably expect fewer accidents around the house. However, if you get an adult dog that exhibits pre-existing bad behaviour, you may face difficulty trying to break him out of it. By the time dogs reach adulthood, most of them will be set in their ways, whether good or bad.