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How to Choose a Dog & What to Know Before Getting One

Home > Perth > Animals and Wildlife | Family | Fun for Children | How To | Pets
by finy (subscribe)
A retired business owner, my passions are cooking, photography and eating. I use all three of these when I write for recipeyum.com.au which is on HubGarden
Published September 9th 2016
Have you ever wanted to own a dog?
Choose a dog
So, you decided you want a dog....or your children decided THEY want a dog.

Committing to owning a dog is often a 15-year commitment - you will need to care, clean up after, feed, walk, and keep your dog generally happy for these years, depending on the size of the dog.

For example, a Great Dane will live approximately 7 - 9 years, whereas a Chihuahua will live to be around 15 or even more.

Difference,between,a,Great,Dane,and,a,Chihuahua
By Sklmsta - Own work, CC0, commons.wikimedia.org


This photo shows you the immense difference in sizes and you will need to work out what size suits YOU and your family.

For me, the food costs alone for my two Whippets, work out at about $33 per week.

my,two,whippets
Bonnie and Dash - Whippets -Author's own photo


Costs of owning a dog
Apart from the cost of feeding the dog, there are the following costs you need to consider before taking one of these delightful pets into your home:

VET FEES
Vet fees can vary from $45 per visit to thousands of dollars if there are x-rays/tests needed.

dog,at,vet
By Staff Sgt. Stephanie Rubi - www.dvidshub.net/image/895652, Public Domain, commons.wikimedia.org


One of my dogs was recently bitten by another dog walking past, and this cost approximately $700 including anaesthetic, drugs and care, and this was without any overnight boarding in a hospital.

INSURANCE
You could take out insurance on the dog and while this varies greatly, it starts at around $500 for a young dog and climbs every year as your dog gets older - mine is now at $1000 per year after 3 years, for one dog only. This covers only 80% of visits and has exclusions.

BEDDING
There is also the cost of bedding, which needs to be regularly washed, and occasionally replaced.

bedding,for,dogs
Author's own photo


ANNUAL VACCINATIONS
There are several annual vaccinations that some vets recommend you have, and these include protection against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus (which causes infectious hepatitis), canine parvovirus, kennel cough and a general examination.

Dog,receiving,general,examination
Yearly examination - Photo Pixabay.com


MONTHLY TREATMENTS
These are optional, though some of these are quite important. They stop fleas, prevent heartworm (which CAN be a killer), control whipworm, roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and control flea allergy dermatitis. The cost of these varies depending on the size of the dog and my medium pack of 6 chewable tablets cost around $85.

Protection,for,dogs
Sentinel Spectrum for Dogs -Author's own photo


PUPPY SCHOOL
If you are buying a puppy, you will need to socialise him by taking him to "puppy school". Most vets hold classes on weekends for this, or you can join a specialised group. It is important that your dog is socialised so that he will get on with all other dogs, and without this at a young age, you could have a problem later.

puppy,classes,or,socialising,your,pet
By Canine To Five - Flickr: DSCF3515, CC BY 2.0, commons.wikimedia.org


BOARDING FEES
You may want to go on a holiday once or twice a year. If you do not have someone who can come in and mind your dog, you will need to board him/her. I take mine to a reliable place near Mandurah - Crudelli Kennels. This is a family-run business and the owners have dogs of their own, and love dogs. They have at least one run a day in a large, fenced area, and the kennels are kept very clean. Dog coats are put on all dogs in winter, and this kennel is not expensive, however, some of the Perth ones charge from about $40 to $80 per dog per day. It is imperative that you can relax and trust these people to look after your precious dog.

So these are the main expenses you will have with a dog, although I find there always seems to be other smaller things!

Purebred dogs
Which dog to pick? Purebred or a mutt? A rescue dog from a shelter? This all depends on whether you want a particular breed of dog or whether you are only interested in the personality regardless of looks.

Let me start first with purebred dogs - here is a list, with photos of many of the breeds of dogs available in Australia.

Perhaps you have a particular breed of dog that you really like? I had German Shorthair Pointers for many years, and these are my favourite dogs.

German Shorthair Pointer
My German Shorthair Pointer - photo author's own image


I would have gone on and on having this breed as they have delightful, but wilful temperaments, are gentle with children and other animals and make great guard dogs. However, they are large energetic dogs and need a lot of exercise. I can no longer give them this having moved from a 5-acre property where they could run for about an acre, to a small house with a little garden.

You, therefore, need to take into account the size of your yard, and whether someone will walk the dogs every day if you live in the suburbs. Without this exercise, an energetic dog, such as most puppies and many older dogs, can get destructive as they do not have enough to stimulate them.

Daily,walk,with,dogs
Daily walk with a friend - author's own image


If you pick a dog purely on looks, it is best to research their behaviours as certain dogs are good at certain things e.g. whippets are supposedly not good guard dogs. Some dogs are often not friendly with other dogs.

Now the big question of what will happen when/if you go out to work most of the day? Will they get bored - will they bark incessantly and annoy your neighbours?

Should you leave them inside or outside? Herein lies another expense albeit a one time one only - the dog door.

Doggie,door - photo Commons.wikimedia.org
By Unbiassed - Own work, Public Domain, commons.wikimedia.org


If you pick a purebred dog, the big advantage is that they have many physical traits that are predictable, as well as some behavioural.
For example, a hunting dog (Weimaraner, Pointer, Spaniels, Retrievers to name but a few) can be a problem as they may chase small animals. Each purebred was originally bred for a purpose so it is good to look into what this purpose is so that they will basically fit in with your family. Once again this site will tell you about each dog if you click on a picture, or else this site also gives good explanations.

Another thing to look out for is how much do they shed? Some breeds, such as a poodle, Maltese Terrier, Shih Tzu, Australian Terrier, Dachshund, Scottish Terrier have hair, and therefore do not shed like many other dogs. This is especially important if someone is allergic to dogs. However, some of these dogs need clipping, which adds another cost.

Standard,poodles
By Met20 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org


How much brushing do they need? You will need to consider this as some breeds need brushing daily, as well as having to take them to be clipped regularly.

Some,dogs,need,brushing,and,clipping - photo En.wikipedia.org
By Sannse at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=362099


Designer dogs
Designer dogs are purebred breeds which have been crossed with other purebred dogs. When you breed two different types of purebred dogs together you can get any combination of any of the characteristics found in either breed. Read the temperament and care for both breeds in the cross, and be prepared for any combination of the two. If everything about both breeds matches your and your family's personality and lifestyle, then you can most likely assume this cross will work for you. Many of these dogs are bred with poodles as poodles are supposedly one of the most intelligent of the dog breeds.

Some examples of these dogs are:

Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever crossed with Poodle)
Labradoodle (Labrador Retriever crossed with Poodle)
Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel crossed with Poodle)
Schnoodle (Miniature Schnauzer crossed with Poodle)
Puggle (Pug crossed with Beagle)
Maltipoo (Maltese crossed with Poodle)
Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever crossed with Poodle)



The Bitsa dog
Now we come to what used to be the cheapest and healthiest of dogs. The crossbreed, or dogs that their exact breeds are unknown in many cases, and particularly if you are buying from a shelter.

Dog,in,a,shelter
By This Image was released by the United States Marine Corps with the ID 090313-M-7590G-172, Public Domain, commons.wikimedia.org


The downside of this type of dog is that if it is a pup, you do not know how it will look, or its personality. Most of the shelters test for personality, and will know about the dog's temperament, however, this is in a different environment to the one you have at home. It is, of course, great to get a dog from a shelter, as in some cases you are saving a dog's life.

Cross bred,dog
By Pleple2000 - Praca własna, CC BY-SA 3.0,commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2639850


Puppy or older dog
And now - do you get a puppy or an older dog?
I used to always get puppies, however, puppies are a whole lot more work than an older dog.

There are fors and against this as, if you get a puppy, you can train him/her as you desire, to do the things you want them to do.

If you get an adult dog, they are already trained (or not) and it is not quite as easy to untrain bad habits as it is not to let bad habits get established with a puppy. You also have to consider that a puppy will probably need house training, assuming you will want to let your new friend in the house and not banish him/her to an outside life.

Dog on bed
Mine are inside dogs or bed dogs - Photo author's own image


And then you need to decide if you want a particular gender dog or if either is okay. I personally like males as I find them often more loving, but their downside is that they "pee" on everything when you walk and mark their territory.

Dog,peeing,on,footpath
By Liza - Flickr: Gee whiz, CC BY 2.0, commons.wikimedia.org


Whatever type, age, size, colour, or gender dog you get, if trained correctly, he or she can work its way into your heart and life, and you could come to love these often delightful, quirky, loving animals who give unconditional love to humans.

Dog,is,blind
Dash is blind - and Bonnie - photo -author's own image


One last thing is to be very careful where you buy your dog from and always ask to see the parents - I did not, and one of my dogs went blind at 6 years old.

There is just one other consideration - ONE OR TWO DOGS!
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Why? To get a dog
Cost: From about $300
Your Comment
Super guide. I watched a program a few months ago all about choosing the right dog for your family, and it also covered all these factors.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12398) 1045 days ago
A good article Finy. Too many people don't give due consideration to getting a dog. It is easy to let the heart rule but can make things too costly or difficult later, like the urban backyader who gets a blue heeler pup.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6529) 1045 days ago
Thank you for this article. I've been planning a dog now my daughter is five. I planned on getting one when she was about three but decided it was still too much to have a puppy thrown in the mix. I'm more inclined to go for a puppy, only because older dogs can be unpredictable (temperament-wise) with children. I don't like the idea of holes in my garden and messes in the house along with chewed toys (and everything else) but it'll be an incentive to train it up quickly ... Understanding that they're like children and take time and patience. Now, it's what to buy. I half planned to buy one through Gum Tree but I think I'll wait for one to become available at a dog rescue centre. Unless they're puppies, they usually suggest waiting until a child is about ten years old for an older dog ... Great article to write about. All things that need to be considered immensely.
by brigi (score: 1|25) 1043 days ago
Great idea for an article!
by Chloe Doyle (score: 3|1363) 1045 days ago
Great article! I think a doggie door is one of the worthwhile expenses - greater freedom of movement for the dog/s and less wear and tear on their humans...
by Janice Heath (score: 2|370) 1045 days ago
Great article, Finy - people don't realise that having a dog is like having a child, it IS a long term commitment - and the smaller the dog, the longer they live - I had two little ones: a Jack Russell, who lived to 14, then got a cat cancer, and we had to let her go, and a Toy Pomeranian (my pride and joy) who lived to 16, when everything gave in. I miss them dearly!
by Elaine (score: 3|6401) 1045 days ago
Your designer dog will almost certainly come from a puppy farm where the parents of these so called designer dogs are kept in filthy conditions shown no love never run free and suffer from all sorts of mental and physical problems.Please google Oscar's law before buying a puppy.adopt don't shop.
by Carol (score: 0|2) 1039 days ago
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