So, you want to have a dog in your family?
Yes, dogs are very good company, and we wish every family included a dog. But having a dog is a responsibility as much as it is a pleasure, and you need to go about it wisely. Remember, a dog is for life — it is not like an on-line purchase that you can return or reject if you don’t like it or happen to change your mind. Please read all the four points enlarged below:
Are you truly ready to have a dog?
A dog will be part of your family, so it helps a lot if every member of your family likes dogs, or at least doesn’t hate dogs.
Do you have enough time to devote to raising a puppy, and then attending to the needs of the dog? At least one person in the family who remains at home most of the time should be prepared to take on most of the responsibility.
Can you afford to spend for the dog’s proper diet and medical treatment? Even a Cross-breed will cost money for upkeep.
Are you prepared to allow your dog free run of your house? Dogs are not meant to be tied up, or locked up. Your dog has the right to be wherever you decide to be in the house. If you are too fastidious about your carpets, etc., be warned: dogs will shed hair. And be prepared to accept puppy messes, and to clean up when required.
How do you decide whether to adopt one from a dog shelter, or buy a pure-bred?
The next point to decide if you should adopt a dog from the shelter or buy a pure-bred. Well, if you want a pure-bred, ask yourself why. You qualify for a pure-bred dog only if you fulfill the following conditions:
a) You buy only the finest specimen of the breed at an appropriate price.
b) As far as possible, buy directly from a reputed breeder.
c) You insist on buying the puppy only if you are also given your puppy’s Dog Registration Certificate from the Kennel Club, along with the puppy.
d) You are not going to routinely neuter or spay your dog as often mistakenly advised by Vets.
e) You preferably intend to breed from your female at least once or twice; at the appropriate time. If hobbyists like you do not breed from good specimens kept as family pets, others looking to buy good puppies will then begin to buy from puppy mills and pet-shops. The proliferation of puppy-mills and pet-shops result in cruelty to dogs, besides deception of buyers.
f) You keep in touch with the world of pure-bred dogs, and possibly enter dog shows at least occasionally.
If you do not fulfill points a) to e), do not decide to buy a pure-bred. It’s really no use getting a second-grade specimen, without a Registration Certificate, encouraging and promoting dealer/middleman, and then bluffing yourself that you’ve got something worth while. As a dog-lover, DO NOT DO A BAD TURN TO DOGS. Instead of that, why not go straight away to a dog shelter, and adopt a dog that is looking for a good home?
Female or Male?
Indians have a genetically ingrained bias against females. When they expect a child, they hope for a son, and when they’re looking for a puppy, they want a male “of course”. This is toally illogical. Females are more affectionate, more obedient and easier to train. If you still insist on having a male, please be advised that he is not going to get a mate, unless he happens to be an exceptional specimen of his breed, and has a full pedigree behind him. A pedigree is a signed certificate issued by the Kennel Club — your dog either has it, or he is not pedigreed. Every pure-bred dog is not pedigreed.
The Right Breed for You
Now, if you have qualified for a pure-bred, pedigree dog, read on:
All pure-bred dogs breed “true to type”. (Note, the word thoroughbred is never applied to dogs, but to horses and cattle). Although there are more than a hundred breeds for a useful purpose, their characteristics are unfailingly reproduced in it’s progeny.
All breeds fall under six broad “groups”. Only breeds popularly known here are mentioned:
GUNDOGS: Typically of English and European origin, they are used by hunters for bird-shoots: the small Cocker Spaniel, the larger Irish Setter and Pointer and the Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Very intelligent, easily trainable, sweet natured dogs; adaptable, and generally compatible with children. Medium-small to medium-large size.
WORKING Dogs: Guard dogs, Shepherd dogs, Rescue dogs; generally very large to medium large. Very active, mentally sharp; require plenty of exercise. Great Dane; the Apollo of the dog world, one of the tallest of dogs at 85 cms average at shoulder, originally used for hunting wild boar. A gentle giant to friends, formidable to foes. Dobermann Pinscher: generally recognized among laymen as “police dog”. Capable of outstanding performance when expertly handled, but not for beginners. German Shepherd Dog: commonly called the Alsatian. Also referred to as the wolf dog, though experts dismiss the possibility of any crosses with wolves in it’s history. Second to none as an all-round dog. Any ordinary dog with erect ears is not a German Shepherd. Boxer an ugly looking, sweet natured dog with little of its original fighting spirit left. Suitable as family pet. Collie: the rough variety of which was made famous by Lassie, the old time cine star. Extremely attractive, intelligent and sensitive. Coat requires attention.
UTILITY Dogs: Dogs used for a variety of purposes; mostly medium to small size and suitable as pets. Spitz: Often erroneously called Pom which is resembles except for its larger size. Generally white or black; liable to be noisy. Lhasa Apso: a long coated, aristocratic dmog of Tibetan origin. Can be pugnacious. Bulldog: Implying English Bulldog. Originally used for the sport of bull- baiting, when the dog’s remarkably shaped jaws enabled it to hold on to the bull’s nose without letting go. Not a large dog like the Boxer with which it is cofused. Prone to congenital deafness. Poodle Standard (large), Miniature (medium) and Toy (small) varieties, with coats clipped in specific cuts. Engrossing dogs.
HOUNDS: The sleek ones hunt by sight, and the heavier ones follow a trail by scent. Greyhound: Fastest trained dog, recorded at 41.25 mph over a 345 yd track. Commercialised by organized racing (not to be encouraged here). Saluki: Called ‘al-hor’ by the Arabs, meaning ‘the noble one’, a nomadic Arab will not eat an animal mouthed by any other dog during a course (chase hunt). Fastest dog over natural terrain. Beagle: A game little hunter, often cruelly exploited for research and laboratory experiments. A versatile and hardy pet compatible with city and family life. Dachshund: the German Dekel or sausage dog, with exceptionally powerful (though short) legs and a memorably punishing bite. Also available in a miniature variety, and in smooth, long-haired and wire-haired versions. At home in town or country, good watchdogs, but they can be temperamental.
TERRIERS: Hardy, affectionate, fun-loving, exceptionally active and typically quick-tempered. Originally developed for following a variety of animals underground (‘terre’). Fox Terrier: Smooth and Wire-haired, adaptable to city life; efficient, dedicated ratters. Quarrelsome with other dogs. Bull Terrier: A gladiator, exceptionally strong, muscular and agile for its medium size, with perhaps the most vicious jaws in the business. A dog with a strong character, loyal and an excellent guard, but only to be appreciated by seasoned dog-lovers. Whites are prone to congenital deafness.
TOYS: The tiny ones are commonly at home in small flats; need not be pampered, but are certainly not ‘toys’ for boisterous children. Pomeranian: (not ‘Pomerian’, please!): Smallest of the Spitz family, dainty, alert expression, profuse coat, making it a ball of fluff. Very popular, the tinier the more precious. (The mostly white, medium-size ones you see are Spitz, not Poms). Pekingese: Flat-faced lion dogs of Peking palaces, with bulging eyes prone to accidental injury; and profuse coat requiring attention. Chihuahua: (pronounced ‘chivava’): The smallest dog at between half to two-and-a half kg., originally from Mexico, Smooth or Long coated. Silky Terrier: Commonly called Silky Sydney: a perky little dog with a flowing steel-grey coat. Sharp, alert, active, hardy and generally long-lived.
Now you have your choice. Happy hunting.