Choose the best dog for your family

By Drum Digital
19 April 2014

Your home may feel a little full after the birth of your kids, but there’s always room for four-footed members of the family. However, before getting a pooch, make sure your family is ready for a dog, Catherine Dallas of the Cape Animal Medical Centre advises.

Take the following into account:

How much spare time do you have?

Dogs are demanding, no matter how big or small they are. If you leave home early in the morning, only return home late at night and have little time to spare on weekends, reconsider getting a dog because you’re going to have to make time to give the dog attention.

How big is your property?

It’s pointless buying a large dog if it has to spend its days trapped on a small veranda. Dallas says owners must choose between big and small dogs depending on how much space they can offer the pet. They must also take the dog’s nature into account.

How much do I want to spend?

When you buy a dog you don’t only undertake to give it time and attention, but also to spend money on it. Taking into account your dog’s size and breed, you’ll also have to budget for the following:

  • Tins of dog food;
  • Leads and collars;
  • A kennel or bed;
  • An annual visit to the vet;
  • Medication;
  • Inoculations;
  • Extra medication/visits to the vet; and
  • Kennel costs if you’re going to leave Fido behind when you go on holiday.

How do I choose a safe dog?

Dallas says dogs’ suitability for a family depends largely on how they’ve been raised. “And it doesn’t come down to just how you raise your dog, but also how you raise your children.”

She explains families often get smaller dogs because they simply accept they’re probably safer, but smaller dogs can be temperamental. On the other hand, with larger dogs you run the risk of them accidentally injuring a child because they’re so big.

Choose the right breed

Traditional breeds are increasingly making way for unique, more interesting ones. Just think of how popular Stella, the French bulldog, was in the TV programme Modern Family.

But while these dogs can be a cute addition to your family, Dallas advises parents to be cautious of unique breeds because their strange body shapes can lead to a lot of health problems.  “These types of dog are heartbreaks just waiting to happen because they’ve often got a lot of medical problems.”

So, which is the best dog?

Certain dogs have been popular for years, precisely because they make ideal family pooches. Here are nature channel Animal Planet’s top 10 family dogs:

  • Beagle
  • Boxer
  • Collie
  • English bulldog
  • Golden retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Labrador
  • Newfoundland
  • Poodle
  • Pug

Dallas agrees with this list and says the most popular choices for a family remain Labradors and beagles.

-Mieke Vlok

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