Browse Before You Adopt

A friend of mine is considering adopting a new puppy and she called to speak to me about what to expect when she brought the puppy home.  As we were speaking about the puppy’s first year and my friend’s expectations, I realized that she hadn’t really thought about everything associated with dog ownership.  Getting a puppy is an exciting and usually a very happy time but there are lots of considerations to dog ownership.

My friend loves English Bulldogs and was eager to have her own bullie.  She did not consider if this breed would be suitable for her lifestyle.  She is a very active person who enjoys running and kayaking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.  She has dreams of bringing her dog with her whenever she is doing these activities.  English Bulldogs are very low-activity dogs who consider power napping to be a form of exercise.  It is unlikely that my friend would be able to convince the dog to keep up with her when she was running or skiing.  The English Bulldog is also an extremely heat-sensitive breed and can overheat easily.  They are brachycephalic (which is a term used to describe a dog with a pushed-in face) which changes how effective the structures of their airways work.  They pant steadily and they have a harder time keeping well oxygenated.  This can lead to a very dangerous situation for a bulldog.  They should not be out for long periods of time in sunny or humid weather, and prolonged strenuous activity can be life threatening to them.  Bulldogs also require much more maintenance than my friend expected.  Their skin folds need to be kept clean, their ears need to be cleaned and they’re prone to eye and nose problems so maintenance needs to be a daily routine for a Bulldog owner.  My friend had no idea how much work needs to be done with this breed!  She still wants to adopt a dog but now she understands that choosing a breed should only be done after extensive research.

If you are considering adopting a dog, there are several sites that can help you match your lifestyle with a dog breed:

This doesn’t mean you only need to adopt a purebred dog!  You can use the breed matching tool to help you determine what kind of mix would work for your house.  The breed selector tools are just a starting point to get you going in the right direction.  Once you’ve determined what you are looking for, then you should do more research, such as speaking with people who own the breed, call our hospital to discuss potential health issues and finding a quality adoption source.

Once you’ve done the research and chosen the type of dog you want, you should also consider the costs associated with caring for a dog.  This doesn’t just include the visits to the veterinarian but also the cost of feeding and supplies that you will need.  Giant breeds can go through several large bags of dog food in one month and the cost of medications can be quite high because the dose is based on the weight of the dog.  Long haired breeds might require frequent trips to the groomer.  Some breeds (such as bulldog breeds) need maintenance supplies such as ear cleanser to keep them in tip-top form.  All dogs require daily exercise and the amount varies depending on breed (or breed mix) of the dog.  A dog owner has to be committed to providing the exercise (rain, shine or snow) every day or the dog will be bored and start to exhibit many unwanted behaviours. Obedience training should be done with all dogs and there are a cost and time commitment associated with those classes.

Spending time to research your needs when it comes to a dog will make dog ownership much more satisfying and fulfilling for you and your dog!

Written by Cambrian Animal Hospital