Getting a dog
Dogs become lovable and loyal companions when we learn about their needs and behavior and implement this acquired knowledge. However, adopting an animal should always be well thought out. After all, one takes on the responsibility for a dog's entire life – up to 20 years.
Requirements to keep a dog happy
Dogs are considered to be very adaptable. However, you must fulfill some requirements to make sure you and your dog are happy together. These include:
- a lot of time
- several walks a day
- training/dog school
- permission from the landlord
- care during working hours – or permission from the employer
- vacation and emergency care
- enough money for emergencies
Our checklist highlights some crucial questions that you should ask and answer honestly before getting a dog.
The right breed matters
There are about 400 different breeds of dogs. These differ not only visually but also in their original purpose. Originally, breeds were specialized for different purposes to help people with particular tasks. Even today's pedigree dogs and mixed breeds often still show the typical characteristics of their ancestors. Therefore, before choosing a dog, it is crucial to carefully check for which purposes the breed was specialized and what character traits the dog might show.
Dog breeds can be classified into five groups based on their original use, which characterizes their fundamental traits and needs. Individual breeds likely perform different tasks. Therefore, they can be classified into several groups.
Protection and guard dogs
Protection and guard dogs were specialized to watch over the house, the yard, or cattle and protect them against strangers. They defend their home by barking loudly. Towards people, they are usually rather reserved.
Examples: Rottweiler, Spitz, Kangal, mountain dogs
Hounds were originally bred as hunting assistants. Depending on the hunt, these dogs show different hunting behaviors: tracking, chasing, or carrying prey animals. The dogs usually have a strong hunting instinct that the owner must control through training and activity.
Examples: Weimaraner, Dachshund, Retriever, Spaniel, Terrier
Sheepdogs help to keep the cattle together and herd them from one place to another. This behavior also originates from hunting behavior. Therefore, some breeds of this group also tend to show unwanted hunting behavior.
Examples: Collies, Australian Shepherd
Sled dogs were bred to put in front of a sled or wagon. They are very agile and have a strong hunting instinct, as they were sometimes used for hunting.
Examples: Husky, Malamute
Dogs for companionship
These dogs used to be bred mainly by noble and royal families as purely as companions. They are often small and rarely have protective or hunting instincts.
Examples: Pug, Maltese
It is crucial to carefully think about which dog suits you and which demands you can meet. As mentioned above, the characteristics of a dog are strongly influenced by the breed – not even rigorous training can turn around the original character of a dog.
Dogs are rarely bred for specific tasks anymore. Therefore, modern dog breeding often focuses on visual breeding aspects. Unfortunately, focusing on appearance has led to animals suffering from health issues. In particular, when body parts have been naturally deformed to make the dogs conform to a supposed ideal of beauty. While torturous breeding is relatively obvious in the case of some dogs, there are breeds where one needs to look more closely to recognize the problem.
Dogs with short noses
To look particularly adorable, the heads of some breeds are bred to be much shorter and broader than originally. As a result, these dogs suffer from narrowed respiratory systems, an excessively large soft palate, and a tongue that barely fits in the mouth. In extreme cases, the dogs regularly suffer from shortness of breath even without physical activity. Operations on the nose and soft palate can make breathing easier. However, these surgical procedures often do not result in the dog being able to breathe freely.
Affected breeds: French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Pug, Pekinese, Boxer, and others
Dogs without tails
Stubby tails, screw tails, and missing tails are part of some breeds' standard appearance. However, dogs without normal tails not only lack an essential part of their body language but often also suffer from spinal deformities. Possible consequences might be paralysis and incontinence.
Affected breeds: French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Bobtail, Corgi, and others
Dogs with short legs
Dogs with particularly short legs often suffer from herniated discs or so-called dachshund paralysis. Mainly breeds with unusually long backs like the eponymous dachshund are affected, but other small breeds may also suffer from cartilage growth disorder and paralysis symptoms.
Affected breeds: Dachshund, Basset, Corgi, Pekinese, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pug, short-legged Terrier, and others
Dogs with droopy eyelids
Dogs with droopy lower eyelids often have exposed conjunctiva – dust, bacteria, and other particles might easily penetrate. Therefore, their eyes are often watery, and the dogs suffer from chronic eye infections.
Affected breeds: Great Dane, Mastiff, Basset, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, and others
Due to their low body weight, tiny breeds, particularly so-called teacup dogs, become hypoglycemic if the intervals between feedings are too long. That could become life-threatening very quickly. Additionally, their cranium does not ossify completely, which can easily lead to severe brain injuries in the event of bumps and falls. It is also common for the cranium to be too small for the brain, resulting in severe headaches and neurological problems. Furthermore, dental and liver problems are also widespread.
Affected breeds: Chihuahua, Miniature Pinscher, Yorkshire Terrier, Miniature Spitz, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Toy Poodle, and others
The breeding of large dogs has shortened the life expectancy of the affected dogs. That can be attributed to the joints, which cannot carry the high body weight well. Furthermore, their cardiovascular system is strained too much, making them more likely prone to cancer.
Affected breeds: Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane, Saint Bernard, and others
Merle dogs with irregular patterns often suffer from malformations in the ear, which leads to deafness, balance disturbances, and correlated nausea when driving. In addition, when merle dogs mate, so-called "white tigers" are born. These are often not only deaf but also visually impaired and often die young.
Affected breeds: Australian Shepherd, Long and Shorthaired Collie, Border Collie, Sheltie, Dachshund, Great Dane, Chihuahua, and others
Breeds such as the Weimaraner, which has long been bred as a working dog in the color blue, show no problems caused by the blue-gray coloring. However, the trend towards dogs in unique colors has led to the breeding of "blue"-colored Labradors or Dobermans. The blue-black or silver color in these breeds often leads to hair loss, itching, and other skin problems in adulthood. In addition, there are problems with the immune system, wound healing, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Affected breeds: Labrador, Doberman, Great Dane, Dachshund, Chihuahua, French Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, and others
If you are interested in a dog affected by torturous breeding, take a close look at the breed. We highly recommend refraining from buying a dog that shows torturous breeding characteristics. It is not uncommon for these dogs to suffer for the rest of their lives, and even expensive veterinary interventions often cannot completely ease the suffering.
Where should you get the dog?
Have you made up your mind about the breed and characteristics of the dog? Then, most likely, the question arises as to where you should get the dog. There are several options to choose from:
- animal shelter
- private person
You can find information about the different sources as well as advantages and disadvantages in our handout "Where should the dog come from?". If you are interested in a puppy, please also refer to our checklist "How do I recognize a reputable dog breeder?".