Before you get a dog, ask yourself

  • Can I afford to have a dog, taking into account not only the initial cost of purchasing the dog, but also the ongoing expenses such as food, veterinary fees and pet insurance?
  • Can I make a lifelong commitment to a dog?
  • Is my home big enough to house a dog? Do my tenants allow me to have pets?
  • Do I really want to exercise a dog every day?
  • Will there be someone at home for a dog? – dogs get lonely just like humans.
  • Will I find time to train, groom and generally care for a dog?
  • Do I want to clear up after a dog several times a day?

If you match these characteristics with your personality and lifestyle, it is more likely that you will have a happy and fulfilling relationship with your dog.

Dog characteristics to consider:

  • Energetic and lively or couch-potatoes
  • Strong-willed and ambitious or easy-going and indulgent
  • Friendly with humans or reserved with strangers
  • Playful or disinterested in toys
  • Friendly to other dogs or disinterested
  • Friendly to cats and other pets or disinterested or incompatible
  • Affectionate or aloof

Discuss with experienced dog owners, your prospective veterinary surgeon and breeders from whom you may consider purchasing a puppy, and those involved with rescue organisations.

These people will usually be happy to share their experiences and opinions with you, should give you a good range of opinions to consider.

Does your choice of dog, in relation to its size, suit your home, car, children and exercise plans, and suit friends or family that might look after it during the holidays? Large dogs generally have a shorter life span, and cost more to feed, kennel, insure and medically treat than smaller dogs.

Do you mind spending hours grooming and cleaning after your dog, or do you want a low-maintenance breed of dog? Some dogs have a strong smell; others dribble a great deal! Can you live with these things?

There are no naturally unhealthy pedigree dog breeds – but there are breeds in which certain conditions tend to surface more. It will inevitably take time for these conditions to be eliminated but where there are known health problems, which can be tested for. Tests such as hap and elbow scoring enable potential owners to have a good idea about the future health of their puppy.

Some dogs are bred for looks, others for their working ability, and the result is that you get a whole range for temperaments in between.

If you have an existing dog and would like to get a companion for it, consider the fact that many dogs prefer being the only dog in the family, and resent sharing their space, humans, attention, toys and treats with other dogs.