Selecting your Dog
Choosing a dog is
a major challenge - it is a decision you'll live with for a decade
making the decision about what breed of dog you should buy you need
to consider the size, shape, coat type, temperament and health of
the dog you want. You need to take into account your family situation.
Once you decide on a breed you need to ask questions before you decide
on a breeder and once you have chosen the litter you need to think
about which puppy you are going to chose.
hope this guide will help you to make your decision - whatever breed
you finally choose.
dog designed by nature looks like a Dingo, a Jackal or a Wolf. They
are medium sized dogs with prick ears. There are some fabulous and
fantastic looking dog breeds but remember that extreme breeds will
be prone to problems. For example:
Extremely small - delicate
bones, teeth problems, often nervous.
Extremely large - heat stress,
short lifespan and bone growth problems.
Extremely long, droopy ears
- ear infections.
Extremely loose skin - skin
and eye infections.
Extremely short legs - back
Extremely short faces - heat
stress, eye problems and breathing difficulties.
Keep "normal" dog structure in mind when choosing
puppies look gorgeous but remember that most of Australia is more
often hot than cold and that heavy coats need grooming It is not
a coincidence that large, heavy coated dogs come from cold climates
and smaller short coated breeds come from hot climates. A large dog
also eats a lot and takes up a lot of room in the car.
Most breeds arose originally
for specific purposes such as hunting, guarding, retrieving or
herding and this can be a reasonable guide to their temperament.
Large size and guarding or hunting ability are not pre-requisites
for being a good pet. There are however some breeds which have
always been bred purely as human companions.
In reality, registered purebred
dogs are now, with few exceptions, bred for their performance in
a show ring . This performance bears no relation to their original
function. Show ring success is not necessarily a good way of selecting
for suitability as a pet.
Selection for extremes of
physical type in some breeds has damaged their intelligence and
Inbreeding has a deleterious
effect on temperament.
Studies show that children
get bitten by dominant purebred male dogs. Male dogs can make good
children's pets if they are desexed.
Puppies should be wormed
and vaccinated prior to purchase.
Many breeds have particular
genetic problems that occur commonly in that breed. Make yourself
familiar with these diseases and be sure that the breeder you chose
screens their dogs for these problems.
Rare breeds of dog come from
a small gene pool so that they are more likely to be inbred. Inbreeding
increases the likelihood of dogs having genetic diseases, reduced
fertility, neurotic behaviour and a suppressed immune system.
Most dog breeders disapprove
of inbreeding but say that they practice linebreeding for type
which is different. Linebreeding is inbreeding - the distinction
is only a matter of degree.
Crossbreds do tend
to be healthier than purebreds. When two unrelated breeds of any
animal are crossed the progeny show what geneticists call "hybrid
vigour". This is effectively the opposite to inbreeding (or
linebreeding) and it produces an animal that is likely to be more
sound, healthy and mentally stable than its parents. (For more
information about Linebreeding, inbreeding and crossbreeding click here)
WHAT IS YOUR SITUATION?
person or family is different and there are different breeds to suit
each situation. In your situation consider:
Are you strongwilled or gentle,
preferring reason to force? Only stong minded people with a good
understanding of dog behaviour should own large guard or hunting
breeds - dogs don't reason and some animals must be dominated to
be safe. A smaller, gentle, easily trained breed, is more likely
to suit gentle people.
How old are your children?
Babies and toddlers don't handle bouncy or delicate puppies well
- perhaps you should wait a bit.
Do you want an inside or
outside dog? If you don't like dogs in the house and you're working
all day you won't get to spend much time with your dog - get an "independent" dog.
If thinking of an inside dog think of hair shedding, size, activity
Do you have a large car and
a very large back yard? You should have no worries with an active
dog or a dog over 25 Kg. If not look at a smaller or less active
Do you have time for/enjoy
grooming? If not can you afford someone else to do it for you or
should you get a short haired dog?
Do you have the time or interest
to train your dog? Intelligent trainable dogs can be rewarding
but they are more likely to become destructive or neurotic if left
alone for long periods. "Independent" is usually a euphemism
for "totally untrainable" but breeds that bear this label
can still be affectionate and loyal and make great kids companions
- if your back yard is secure.
Are you comfortable with
the idea of desexing a male dog? Children get bitten by entire
male dogs. If you don't want a desexed male, and you have kids
- get a female.
TO ASK AND WHO
you have looked at a few breed guides and have decided which breeds
might suit you you will still need to do a bit more research.
to a vet.
about any problems which may be common in the breeds you are attracted
to. Vets can be relied on as independent advisers. Ask about temperament,
structural problems and the diseases these dogs are prone to.
to the breeders.
You are the customer and
you are entitled to ask questions - good breeders will enjoy the
opportunity to discuss their dogs. Ask what criteria they use to
select their dogs - if they don't mention temperament immediately,
look for another breeder. Try not to be too impressed by the Australian
Champion title - each breed has hundreds of Australian champions,
and no show breeders worth their salt would use a sire that hadn't
been through the show ring and gained its championship.
Ask to speak to people who
have bought their pups before.
If you're planning to pay
for a registered dog ask for a written money back guarantee for
genetic or congenital problems. Make sure that a veterinary certificate
is adequate and that you don't have to return the dog to get the
money (and remember that some eye diseases don't appear for years!).
Getting your money back is no consolation if your beloved dog's
health breaks down, but it will help pay the vet bills. Breeders
proud of their stock and confident of their dogs health should
give this guarantee without hesitation.
You may find that a crossbred
pup, bred in someone's back yard, played with by the kids from
the moment it was born and out of a much loved pet (ie a bitch
doing a good job of being what you want - a pet) might be the perfect
dog for you. If they don't know what the father was it may be a
bit risky but socialisation is a major factor in producing a good
Consider a reliable animal
shelter like the Lost Dogs Home. They won't sell you a dog they
think is unsuitable and if you buy an adult you'll know what you
PUP IN THE LITTER?
so you've done all the research and could write a PhD thesis on dog
breeds and genetics and you've decided on the breed, the breeder
and the litter (or you've gone next door where Sally has just had
a litter of uncertain parentage) - now you have to pick your puppy.
some time watching the puppies together:
Watch the mothers behaviour.
Is she nervous, aggressive, yappy, "hyper"? It's not
too late to think again. Check out dad too if you can. The best
predictor of your pups adult temperament is the temperament of
Don't pick the quiet pup
off in the corner because you feel sorry for it. A fearful pup
is likely to be a nervous adult. It is relatively easy to dominate
a bossy pup but making a frightened dog braver is very hard. Nervous
dogs are harder to train, they may bark excessively, they often
develop neuroses and they can be unrewarding pets.
Don't pick a pup that rushes
up enthusiastically and bounces all over you. High activity levels
can persist into later life and excitable pups are hard to live
with although they may settle with age and make excellent pets.
Pick the puppy you like the
best! Apart from the above take comfort in the fact that scientists
have yet to come up with tests for 8 week old pups that are really
accurate predictors of adult behaviour. Follow your heart.
Good luck in chosing your pup and I hope it brings you years
of loyal companionship and happiness.
sites may be of help to you when deciding on which dog breed might
The Intelligence of Dogs -
Results of a survey of American vets, dog trainers and dog breeders ranking
dog breeds according to their intelligence. From a book by Stanley
provide a questionnaire, using similar considerations to those outlined
which generates a shortlist of pure breeds which might suit you.
It's fun to work through butshouldn't be taken
Online – Website
for Australian purebred dog breeders.
Kate Schoeffel BSc(Hons) BVSc
Nyora, Condobolin NSW 2877
luck in chosing your pup. I hope it brings you years of loyal companionship and happiness.