Have you seen the latest Channing Tatum movie ‘Dog’ yet? Although we love a movie featuring a canine lead actor, it’s important to keep a few things in mind while watching. The dogs playing characters in movies are highly and specially trained, and often feature more than one dog playing the part (three separate dogs play Lulu in this movie). Dog features a beautiful Belgian Malinois, a working breed that has very high drive, often high levels of anxiety, and requires a ton of exercise and mental stimulation. The Belgian Shepherd is not a dog breed for the inexperienced or faint of heart. So how can you know what dog breed is the right fit for you?
Every time a Hollywood blockbuster featuring a dog is released, a few years down the road there is a marked uptick in surrenders to local shelters of the breed in the movie. It happened with Dalmations after 101 Dalmations, and Chihuahuas after Legally Blonde was released. So rather than looking to Hollywood for inspiration, check out these suggestions for finding the right dog for you!
Check Your Budget
The cost of purchasing a dog is much lower than the cost of caring for a dog. It’s important to budget out how much it will cost to train your dog, feed them, and pay the regular veterinary bills. It’s important to ensure that you also either have funds set aside for emergency veterinary care or insurance. Keep in mind the duration of a dog’s life as well - you are committing to 10-15 years on average with a dog, so make sure you are prepared for the time and financial commitment needed.
Determine Your Must-Haves
Sit down and make a list of the things you’re looking for in a dog. You may want to consider:
-size (some landlords and buildings have size limitations on dogs, and you want to be mindful of your housing situation)
-type of coat and the upkeep required
-energy levels and what would be a good match for your lifestyle
-do you have other pets or children that you need to be mindful of?
-are there specific tasks you would like your dog to do (obedience training, agility, etc)
Do Your Research
Once you know what you’re looking for in your new four-legged family member, it’s time to start doing your research! There are many different breed finder quizzes and tools available online, which can help suggest a suitable breed based on your requirements and lifestyle. Consider whether you want a puppy or an older dog.
If you want to go through a breeder, it is important to find an ethical breeder. Look for a breeder that:
-reputable and ethical breeders use their own websites, word of mouth, and breed clubs rather than sites like Facebook or Kijiji
-they look to better the breed and compete with their dogs
-they screen potential buyers and oftentimes will have a waitlist
-will show you their dogs include the mothers and their housing situation, their dogs are healthy and socialized and the facilities are clean
-they keep the puppies with their mother until they are weaned (8 weeks of age minimum)
-they ask you questions about your lifestyle to ensure that you are a good fit for the breed
-screens their breeding dogs for genetic issues thoroughly
-will always take back a dog and has a strong contract that lays out their health guarantees and both the buyer and seller’s responsibilities
Rescue is also a really great option! This can be a great solution if you are looking for a dog that is older than a puppy. It gives you a chance to meet a dog who has been exposed to other things, and who has a personality that is already developed, as well as giving a home to a dog in need! However, just like with breeders, not all rescues are created equal! It is important to make sure that rescues also:
-have contracts in place detailing your responsibilities as the adopter and the rescue’s including a return policy
-governed by a board with set protocols rather than a single individual
-have the dog examined by a veterinarian once in their care
-have a set assessment / decompression period before they are listed for adoption (2 weeks is average but the time period varies between groups)
-there is a strict application procedure involving reference and home checks that is followed for every application
No matter whether you are getting a pup from a breeder or a rescue, make sure to ask questions. Although it can be so tempting to pick a dog based on their looks (because helloooo, what dog isn’t adorable?) make sure to select the right dog for you and your lifestyle.
At healthybud, we’re here to help you with every stage of caring for your dog! Have a pet parent question you’d like us to answer? Get in touch!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
-The healthybud team