Saturday, October 30, 2010

Choosing The Right Dog for Your Lifestyle

Before even considering choosing a particular type of dog, it is important to ask yourself "Why do you want a dog?".

If you are cetain that you still want a dog in your life, then it is of utmost importance that you choose the right dog for you, your lifestyle, your family and more importantly for the dog that is going to be part of your life in the future.

Do you choose a puppy or an adult? 
Pedigree or Mixed Breed? 

A dog may well be a part of your life for ten years or more, so it's best to do your homework and consider the options carefully.
Pedigree or mixed breed?
There are more than 200 breeds recognised in the UK alone, plus all those adorable crossbreeds and mixed breeds in infinite variety. The development of dog breeds for specific purposes has led to more variations than most other species - just look at the gigantic Great Dane beside the tiny Chihuahua.

 A purebred Beagle

The major advantage of choosing a pedigree (pure bred) is predictability. You can be fairly certain that you will get predetermined size, coat length and texture, character, energy level and susceptibility to illness. So think carefully before choosing a pedigree.

For example, many people choose to have Labrador Retrievers because they seem to be very calm and docile. However, Labrador Retrievers are working dogs (gundogs), and so need an incredible amount of exercise as they have endless amounts of energy. Are you prepared to take your Labrador for 2 or 3 long walks/runs a day?

 A Dalmation-Doberman Cross Breed?

To a lesser extent, cross-breeds (parents from two different pure breeds) are predictable too, but you can't be sure which breed will be dominate. For example, a Border Collie-Labrador cross could be either laid back or brimming with energy. A Dalmation-Doberman cross could either be very playful and dopey or intimidating and fearless.

A Mixed Breed Puppy

Mixed breeds (otherwise known as mongrels) come from an entirely non-pedigree background. Sometimes you can see a few hints as to the parentage, with others it's impossible to guess. Some people consider this an advantage as they want to own a dog that is a one of a kind. Genetically mixed breeds are healthier, since they have a larger gene pool and fewer hereditary problems.

Puppy or adult?
Most people find puppies irresistible, but they may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Adopting a homeless 'teenage' or adult dog may be a good alternative.

Puppies are adorable and you can ensure your puppy is raised in a loving and kind home. You can also train them to focus on what is important to you. But they can be very time consuming in the early days, with frequent trips outside for toilet training and constant vigilance to ensure your favourite possessions don't end up as chew toys.

Homeless adult dogs can make exceptional pets and will often come with a good deal of training and socialisation. However, it is important to consider that adult dogs can often come with 'emotional baggage' and time and patience may be required to overcome timidity, mild aggression or other difficulties.

Dog or bitch?
There's a lot of difference of opinion when it comes to the battle of the sexes. Some swear that bitches are easier to train and tend to be more loving. Others argue that females are more independent and aloof. Males are said to be more aggressive, but neutering can dramatically change their nature.

Un-neutered dogs of both sexes can always present problems, which is why it is very important to spay/neuter your dog to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Males can wander off in search of females in season. Females may have phantom pregnancies and can be difficult to manage during their season. The cost of neutering a female is much greater than for neutering a male, and greater still if she is already pregnant. It's best to be guided by the breeder or other sources of expertise, such as a vet, behaviourist or trainer as to whether a male or female is best for you and your lifestyle.

Breeder or re-homing organisations?
If your heart is set on a pedigree or cross-bred puppy then a reputable breeder is your best bet. Contact the Malaysian Kennel Association, or other reputable canine societies such as Puppy.Com or Pet-N-You etc, who may have a list of litters available, or can put you in contact with breeders in your area.

Taking on a dog from an animal shelter or larger welfare organization can be incredibly rewarding. There are thousands and thousands of dogs waiting for a second chance in life as a pet, often having lost a home with their first owners through no fault of their own. Remember, reputable centres or rescue groups assess the dogs they take in carefully and will help match the best canine personality to you, your family and your lifestyle. 

Not surprisingly, puppies for re-homing tend to be in short supply. You may have to take your time contacting several shelters and might have to travel further a field. You may want to contact your local SPCA or independent rescue groups to see if they might have a dog suitable for you and your lifestyle.

Local Shelters
SPCA Ampang 03-4256 5312/03-4253 5179
SPCA Penang 04-281 6559
SPCA Seberang Prai 012-552 3447
SPCA Melaka 019-6631407/016 2714873
PAWS 03-78461087
Lassie 04-955 6787/04-955 3643,

Other Animal Welfare/Rescue Organisations
Independent Pet Rescuers 012 202 6384
PAWS Mission 012-205 2906/012-395 7217
MDDB 019-357 6477/012-373 9007

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