Thinking of adopting/buying a new pet? That’s great! As you know, there is a lot to think about and consider before acquiring your new fur-family member. I too have recently decided to get a new dog, and so I thought I would share some of my thoughts and decision-making processes.
Currently, I own two dachshunds. Maddison is a 12-year-old short-haired tweenie sized dachshund, and Arya is an 8-year-old long-haired miniature dachshund. Having these two dogs already has really affected my decision-making process for my newest addition.
So what are the big questions you need to ask yourself before adopting/buying a new pet? First, and most importantly I think, you need to ask yourself “what breed of animal is right for me?” whether you are getting a dog or a cat, it is essential to do your research ahead of time to pick the right breed for you and your family. Different breeds of animals have very different requirements when it comes to personalities, energy/exercise requirements, space requirements, general expenses and medical expenses. In general, large breed dogs have higher costs for food, medical costs and require more exercise and space. Long-haired animals often need daily or weekly grooming at home as well as routine visits to a professional groomer for coat maintenance. Higher energy dogs require regular exercise and usually require training with a well-qualified trainer to prevent behavioural challenges down the road. Certain breeds of cats and dogs are more prone to specific health problems (allergies, skin disease, heart disease, hips dysplasia, etc.). Doing your research ahead of time helps you to know and prepare for these health problems. For me, I live in a small apartment with a small yard. I work long hours and like to come home and relax afterwards. Therefore, a small, low energy breed of dog would be the best fit for me.
Once you have decided on the breed of animal you would like to get, the next questions to ask yourself are, what age of pet do you want and where should you acquire your new pet. When deciding on the age of pet you want, it is vital for you to choose what works for you and your current situation. Purchasing a puppy or kitten means that you are starting with a blank slate to raise and train the way you want. However, young animals require a significant amount of work and commitment. They need more intensive care, training and energy compared to a typical older pet. Puppies and kittens also have higher costs, not only to purchase the pet but also for vaccines, dewormings and to spay/neuter. Buying an older animal is often the cheaper option. They usually come spayed/neutered and have had their puppy vaccines. When purchasing an older pet, what you see is what you get. They have already achieved their full-size potential, and you can see their energy levels. However, older animals often come with behaviour problems/quirks that you will have to train and work with.
When it comes to the decision of breeder vs rescue, there are a few considerations. Both options have their pros and cons, so make the decision that is right for you. Often a rescue organization will require a detailed application, home visits and references. Rescues also rarely know the complete back story of the animals they are rehoming. By purchasing from a breeder, you will see where the animal came from, and they usually do not require as detailed of an application. Purchasing from a breeder will come at a higher cost, and not all breeders are considered equal. A high-quality breeder will consider each pairing before breeding to ensure a healthy and genetically sound litter. However, if you are planning on purchasing a pet from a breeder, use caution as anyone can call themselves a breeder.
Non-experienced breeders and puppy mills are out there and can promote themselves as breeders. Therefore, it is important to do your research before purchasing your new pet. This decision was a difficult one for me. The two dogs I have currently, I adopted/rescued at older ages and I do love the idea of being able to give rescued animals a home. I also have a soft spot when it comes to older pets as they often get overlooked at rescues, despite the fact that they have so much love to give. Being in the veterinary field, I have the resources to take on an animal that may have some health problems that may be more than a typical family is willing/able to take on. However, there was one more factor I had to consider, my dogs. One of my dogs does well with all other dogs, the other not so much. My oldest girl can be temperamental with some dogs. Typically, she does better with small, submissive dogs. Therefore, I decided that the best fit for my family would be a young puppy from a reputable breeder.
Once that decision was made I started looking for a breeder that was right for me. Personally, the most important trait I was looking for in a breeder was a desire to promote and improve the breed. I was looking for a breeder that makes breeding choices that will result in healthy, sound puppies, whose dogs are all tested for genetic diseases and whose goals are quality not quantity of puppies. I now have found a breeder I am comfortable with, I have spoken to their references and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my newest fur-baby.
Written by Sarah Bowyer, DVM