Getting a puppy should be an exciting time, but too often we get it wrong. Yet experts estimate that 120,000 dogs are rehomed every year and thousands end up being destroyed. So how do we make the right choice? Dog trainer Louise Glazebook (see image below) joins Kate Humble in a two-part BBC2 guide, Choose the Right Puppy for You, that aims to help dog lovers pick a breed that suits them.
“A dog is a lifestyle choice: it doesn’t just sit on the shelf until you fancy picking it up and playing with it,” says Glazebrook. Common problems when it comes to choosing a puppy include not realising how often it needs to be walked, or the expense involved: over its lifetime the average pooch costs between £20,000 and £30,000, including pet insurance, food, holiday care and vet’s bills.
Another pitfall is being in too much of a rush to buy, and not researching the breeder properly. Glazebrook says: “You need to do your homework. Puppy farms are on the increase and the internet has made people think dog buying is a really quick decision, like buying a book with one click. You can even have puppies delivered.
“You must meet the puppy’s mother when you pick a dog, and check that you really like her. If there is any aggression or fear in the bitch, you shouldn’t take the puppy.”
She also recommends that you start looking for a puppy up to a year before bringing it home. Most respected breeders will only let their dogs produce litters at intervals: yet one breeder she investigated had registered 19 litters in one year, akin to a puppy factory.
“Dogs bred in puppy farms may have health problems, and may have been kept in dark containers with no socialisation. A dog like that should be not be placed in a family.”
But when you do decide to pick up a pup, which breed should you go for? Well, that all depends on you…
Snuggler = The Staffie
The dog is man’s best friend: so what do you do if you want the most loyal pup imaginable?
Glazebrook says: “Get a Staffie [Staffordshire bull terrier]! They’re one of my favourite breeds — I love them. They want to be with you, they want to snuggle, and they want to be part of the gang.
“Another good choice is a whippet, because they are real comfort bugs. Lurchers are great for a cuddle, too, although people should be aware they are sighthounds and that comes with certain issues, because they can be sensitive and can have a high chase instinct.”
Fitness Fanatic = The Vizsla
Want to walk for miles, or combine your dog walking with some other exercise? The Hungarian Vizsla could be your pup of choice.
“The Hungarian Vizsla is a really fun, energetic dog,” says Glazebrook. “They would love to run and go cycling with you. Or you could pick a Border terrier — they’re great for town and country: they’ll walk for miles with you, but they’re equally happy having a snuggle on the sofa.”
City Slicker = The Dachshund
If you live in the city and want a dog you can take with you on the bus, to the office or to the pub, which pup do you choose?
Glazebrook advises: “A small dog like a French bulldog or a dachshund can be great, although you do have ￼love to be aware that dachshunds can be barky.
“Strangely, Great Danes are great in the city. Although they’re massive, they don’t need loads and loads of exercise. But you need space at home for them to sprawl out!
“And pugs are good city dogs, too, though they can have a lot of health issues so you have to make sure they’ve been bred for health and temperament rather than because they’re fashionable.”
Show-off = The Cockapoo
“Poodles are totally underestimated because people think of them as being frou-frou dogs,” says Glazebrook, “but they have great temperaments, they’re clever, and very trainable.
“There’s a reason why they’re used in cross-breeding so much. But if you want something like a cockapoo, it’s worth checking you like both cocker spaniels and poodles, because your cross might have attributes from either or both.”
House-proud = The Whippet
There’s no denying that dogs make a bit of a mess. If you don’t want to spend all day grooming your pooch, what’s the best option?
“Stay away from anything that’s drawn to water and likes to roll around in mud,” says Glazebrook. “So that means no labradors, no spaniels, no Newfoundlands.
“And you need to research how much they moult, because you can’t tell by looking. Something like a chihuahua is classified as short-haired, but it moults a lot.
“If you’re very house-proud, I‘d advise you to get something quite short-haired that doesn’t moult very much, like a whippet or an Italian greyhound. They’re very gentle dogs so they don’t really like to get dirty.”
And finally – is it for you?
If you want all the health benefits of stroking a dog, but don’t fancy walking it much then don’t even consider getting a puppy.
Glazebrook says: “The fact is that no matter what the breed, young dogs need a lot of walking and if you can’t walk for a couple of hours a day, it’s not going to work out for you.
“People make the mistake of thinking that little legs equal less exercise, but that’s not the case. The reality is, puppies are hard work.”