Getting a Dog - where to start?

SaddlePsych'D

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Making my first trip into the Hounds department of HHO to supplement the various Google searches I'm doing now OH and I are considering getting a dog a bit more seriously. :)

We're not about to rush in, although I'll be working at home for at least the next few months and probably not working for a couple of months after that so potentially prime time to put the work and time into settling in a new dog. It's really important to us to give as good a home as possible so we want to do our research and get plenty of advice/support as first time dog owners.

I really like the idea of 'adopt don't shop' but the rescue criteria often seem quite specific. We've got no other pets or children but we may well have children in the future so potentially that rules us out for most rescues I've seen. I've not given up on the idea and might still enquire but just not feeling that hopeful about this route. It's not that we're not prepared to put the work into training, socialising, providing exercise and mental stimulation, I think we'd quite enjoy the rewards of this, but the reality is we don't like 10 miles from the nearest road, child, person or other dogs so we won't make the cut to be selected for a lot of rescue dogs.

Looking at puppies for sale, I've no idea where to start - is KC registration a guarantee of good/ethical breeding practice and a healthy dog? Why do prices seem to vary so much? We're not into getting a 'trendy' breed so prices don't seem that wild but then I've no idea what the pre-Covid puppy situation was, I guess that might be irrelevant now anyway.

Any tips or suggested reading would be much appreciated!
 

SaddlePsych'D

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No we are both first timers.

My parents got a rescue dog when I was a child, which obviously I was thrilled about at the time. However it did not work out and I'm keen not to repeat something like this for the sake of the dog.
 

SAujla

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Health tests are more important than whether a breeder is "Assured". Depends on the breed but generally you want good hip and elbow scores (more critical for larger breeds). A good hip score in my opinion is hips that are within 3 of each other and don't add up to be more than 12. For example I'd prefer hip score of 3 and 5 to make 8 rather than 1 and 5 to make 6. Elbows must be 0, no messing about with that. Eye tests are also important and other tests can be breed specific but DM and EIC are I think are essential as well.

It doesn't matter if the breeder is official but the puppies must be KC registered, there just isn't a good reason to not do so.

Do you have a breed in mind? I got a huge amount of help on here as a first time owner so you've come to the right place
 
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I would be surprised if a rescue asked about your family plans in the future. A good rescue will support you with settling the new dog in, so rather than ruling yourself out before you approach one, I would start there and only look at buying a pup if the rescues really don't want you. Wfh will be welcomed by a rescue, I would have thought. Over the years, I have also rehomed adult dogs privately, from ads in the newspaper (obviously it's a while ago), so it might be worth keeping an eye on sites like Preloved.
 

Widgeon

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Just to add my tuppence worth - when we decided to get a dog we decided on a breed first. Rescues were no good (I did try) as we both have jobs (how dare we). We made the breed decision based on a number of factors including size, temperament, and the fact that OH's boss had a lovely little dog of a particular breed! Then I made a spreadsheet of all the KC breeders in our half of the country (there were less than a dozen for our chosen breed) and started phoning round breeders and breed club puppy liasons. The phoning round was really useful, it was interesting to hear what people said about each other and some trends started to emerge about who to follow up and who to maybe avoid. Once we'd settled on a breeder, and she and I had interrogated each other thoroughly (!) we visited her and her dogs and were put on a wait list for one of her puppies. After a false start where her bitch didn't take after the first mating, we picked our puppy up about 8 months after going on the list. They were all KC registered and for what it's worth we paid quite a bit less than £1K for our puppy. That was in the North of England a few years ago.

Although getting a puppy was a lot of initial work, it worked very well for us as our dog has no hang ups, we know all his history, and we trained him to be left alone right from the start so he's totally fine with it. But obviously there are other equally valid ways of acquiring a nice dog!
 

SaddlePsych'D

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Health tests are more important than whether a breeder is "Assured". Depends on the breed but generally you want good hip and elbow scores (more critical for larger breeds). A good hip score in my opinion is hips that are within 3 of each other and don't add up to be more than 12. For example I'd prefer hip score of 3 and 5 to make 8 rather than 1 and 5 to make 6. Elbows must be 0, no messing about with that. Eye tests are also important and other tests can be breed specific but DM and EIC are I think are essential as well.

It doesn't matter if the breeder is official but the puppies must be KC registered, there just isn't a good reason to not do so.

Do you have a breed in mind? I got a huge amount of help on here as a first time owner so you've come to the right place
We're fairly open minded to breed and would be very happy with a cross breed too. Probably looking towards the smaller end of the scale - OH loves German Shepherds and I love the idea of rescuing a Greyhound but think they might be a bit big. I've been looking at Whippets, smaller Lurchers, Jack Russells (including crossed with Chihuahua which I never thought I'd say but we spent last weekend with a well trained pair of these enjoying lots of cuddles!) but again would be open to other breeds so not fixed on these.
 

SaddlePsych'D

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I would be surprised if a rescue asked about your family plans in the future. A good rescue will support you with settling the new dog in, so rather than ruling yourself out before you approach one, I would start there and only look at buying a pup if the rescues really don't want you. Wfh will be welcomed by a rescue, I would have thought. Over the years, I have also rehomed adult dogs privately, from ads in the newspaper (obviously it's a while ago), so it might be worth keeping an eye on sites like Preloved.
Thank you, yes I think we won't give up on rescuing completely and will make some enquiries. Some profiles you see clearly that children really wouldn't be a good mix with the dog but others I think perhaps it would be fine once you've got the dog settled and you're sensible in how you manage the dog/child intros. I think we'd be more cautious than a lot of people around this.
 
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We're fairly open minded to breed and would be very happy with a cross breed too. Probably looking towards the smaller end of the scale - OH loves German Shepherds and I love the idea of rescuing a Greyhound but think they might be a bit big. I've been looking at Whippets, smaller Lurchers, Jack Russells (including crossed with Chihuahua which I never thought I'd say but we spent last weekend with a well trained pair of these enjoying lots of cuddles!) but again would be open to other breeds so not fixed on these.

Do approach a greyhound rescue.I have never had a sighthound but my understanding is that greyhounds are very laid back dogs and make good family pets. You might have to be careful around small animals but that varies from dog to dog and the rescue will be able to advise.
Small dogs are not necessarily easier than big ones. My neighbour was determined that her next dog was going to be a small one and she got a cockerpoo, which has not been a complete success. The dog is very nervous around other dogs, although neighbours' daughter regularly brings hers to visit. Then, the other day it tripped up her husband who is in his 70's and not very well, causing him to fall and injure his knees. A greyhound sounds like a better bet to me!
 

smolmaus

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Thank you, yes I think we won't give up on rescuing completely and will make some enquiries. Some profiles you see clearly that children really wouldn't be a good mix with the dog but others I think perhaps it would be fine once you've got the dog settled and you're sensible in how you manage the dog/child intros. I think we'd be more cautious than a lot of people around this.
I don't really work with the dog side of our rescue (we don't get many in) so pinch of salt here but if you demonstrate you have the knowledge (or that you are willing to work towards it with a good trainer) to socialise a dog over time, do intros properly and safely and train the future children to be respectful of the dog I think that would put you a step ahead of a lot of people. Especially for smaller rescues that may have more time to get to know you properly. I think for the larger rescues the tick-box applications they need to have to deal with the number of applications they get doesn't leave a lot of room for grey areas like "may have children in the future".
 

Penny Less

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Yes to greyhounds, my friend has had two at a time from the greyhound rescue for many years. The problem she encountered with a few was them not being used to traffic or household appliances. She never lets hers off the lead though when out and I think this is true for a lot of owners, she has never had one that didnt walk nicely on a lead. Hers get worn out after a 20 min walk, and spend most of their time laying in their beds !
 

gallopingby

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Hi if you’re going to be first time dog owners l would be wary of rescue dogs except from breed specific rescues but sadly you’ll find they already have lots of people on their waiting list who have met the rehoming criteria and are hopefully waiting to be matched with a suitable dog. Although there are lots of dogs needing homes sadly it’s just not as simple as rolling up and acquiring one. I volunteer with a couple of rescues and although we have lots of people on the waiting list we don’t have many dogs suitable for first time owners. There are a couple of websites you can look at to work out what breed would be happy in your situation you could have a play around and see what comes up. One is selectadogbreed.com but there are lots and lots some put up by feed companies and others by the kennel club. Sometimes rescues are asked to rehome older dogs and if you’re lucky you may find one who’s owner is no longer able to look after it although over the past 18 months or so this doesn’t seem to have happened and family members or friends seem to have found room for them.
I think your best idea is to decide on a breed and then contact some breeders who are well established and have bred at least three previous litters so they have experience in correctly feeding and training young puppies sometimes they may have a slightly older dog that hasn’t made the grade as a top show dog but that they have run on to see. This type of small breeder will provide help and advice and also may have signed up to their breed society standard which could include information on an agreed suitable selling price - most are around £1200 - £1500 at the moment. Lots more could indicate someone just wanting to make ££££s without thinking about the dogs future life.
 

splashgirl45

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just a point about WFH....when you do get a dog make sure you go out every day and gradually stay out for longer to prepare the dog for when you return to work away from the house, so many people have made the mistake of getting a dog during lockdown and then finding problems with the dog being very distressed and either destroying the home or weeing a pooing because they are so anxious when they are left.. there is a group for separation anxiety on facebook and some of the stories are very scarey and owners are considering giving up their dogs
 

gunnergundog

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What you want from a dog is a good place to start?

Do you want a small dog, or are you happy with a large dog? Do you want a high energy dog or a lap dog? Are you happy with something that moults for England or do you want something that you don't need to follow around with a Dyson all day long? Do you want a house dog or a kennel dog? Do you want a dog as a pet or do you wish to participate in any sporting events - agility/obedience/ working tests etc etc? Do you want a breed that is easy to train or do you prefer a challenge? How much time each day are you prepared to devote to exercise and training? Do you have any back up if you hit problems?

A puppy, in theory, you can shape into the dog you want! (Said slightly tongue in cheek!) A rescue/re-home I would probably avoid as a first time owner unless it is from a close family member where you know ALL the history - warts and all.

Decide what you want, now, AND more importantly in the future, if you know that your lifestyle is going to be changing.

Decide what breed you want and then go and visit people who have them.....not just puppies, but teenagers and adult dogs.
Buy from health tested parents. Check on the KC club website what the minimum health tests are for the breed you have selected. Then check with the breed club and see what they recommend! )
 

satinbaze

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If you need help deciding on which breed is right for you then I suggest going to one of the discover Dogs events. They will have booths for all the KC recognised breeds which experienced owners and breeders on hand to answer questions. Many breed clubs also run rescue and rehoming services. I would always use a breed club as a first point of contact as for puppies they can advise on breeders that comply with their code of ethics and perform the health tests required for the breed. Good luck with your search and well done for doing research before purchasing
 
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What you want from a dog is a good place to start?

Do you want a small dog, or are you happy with a large dog? Do you want a high energy dog or a lap dog? Are you happy with something that moults for England or do you want something that you don't need to follow around with a Dyson all day long? Do you want a house dog or a kennel dog? Do you want a dog as a pet or do you wish to participate in any sporting events - agility/obedience/ working tests etc etc? Do you want a breed that is easy to train or do you prefer a challenge? How much time each day are you prepared to devote to exercise and training? Do you have any back up if you hit problems?

A puppy, in theory, you can shape into the dog you want! (Said slightly tongue in cheek!) A rescue/re-home I would probably avoid as a first time owner unless it is from a close family member where you know ALL the history - warts and all.

Decide what you want, now, AND more importantly in the future, if you know that your lifestyle is going to be changing.

Decide what breed you want and then go and visit people who have them.....not just puppies, but teenagers and adult dogs.
Buy from health tested parents. Check on the KC club website what the minimum health tests are for the breed you have selected. Then check with the breed club and see what they recommend! )
Spot on.
 

SaddlePsych'D

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So much to think about but really helpful replies here. Perhaps we don't need to rule out Greyhounds after all which would be a positive. :D Definitely appreciate small doesn't necessarily equal easy and they still need training etc just thinking space wise.

Definitely got the longer term WFH picture in mind as it will change but we can plan and prepare for that.

We're in Surrey if that helps with identifying local centres but also will be prepared to travel.

@gunnergundog those are some great questions for OH and I to think about in more detail.
 

Thistle

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So much to think about but really helpful replies here. Perhaps we don't need to rule out Greyhounds after all which would be a positive. :D Definitely appreciate small doesn't necessarily equal easy and they still need training etc just thinking space wise.

Definitely got the longer term WFH picture in mind as it will change but we can plan and prepare for that.

We're in Surrey if that helps with identifying local centres but also will be prepared to travel.

@gunnergundog those are some great questions for OH and I to think about in more detail.
A bitch is usually smaller than a dog of the same breed, sighthounds are generally quite easy going for exercise, they prefer a short sharp walk/run than being on the go all doy, so they tend to sleep a lot between walks, generally have a good off switch. They also curl up quite small!
 

SaddlePsych'D

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A bitch is usually smaller than a dog of the same breed, sighthounds are generally quite easy going for exercise, they prefer a short sharp walk/run than being on the go all doy, so they tend to sleep a lot between walks, generally have a good off switch. They also curl up quite small!
Thank you, this is helpful and had reminded me we need to think about dog or bitch (perhaps more so if choosing a puppy?)

We've been chatting and chatting it over, and at the moment a whippet/smaller lurcher is leading in terms of what we'd like breed wise. I think being open minded is good but it does feel a bit easier to focus in on a breed when reading around. The more I read about sighthounds them more I think it could be a good fit. We don't want to rule out a greyhound but am a little concerned about space in the house/on the sofa!
 

TGM

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It is worth reading the free ebook 'BEFORE You Get Your Puppy' which is on the link below:

https://www.dogstardaily.com/files/BEFORE You Get Your Puppy.pdf

It will give you a very good idea what to expect. Puppies are VERY hard work and the more effort you put into the early days with things like socialisation, toilet training etc., the easier the grown dog will be. Don't under-estimate how much time they take up. I've had dogs all my life but the first puppy was a shock to the system! They play bite a lot until they learn bite inhibition and their baby teeth are as sharp as needles. It is not all cuteness and cuddles!

With regards to your working situation, do make sure you have a back up plan in case things change. Can you afford doggy daycare or a dog walker if you have to leave the dog for extended periods of time for work?

As for choice of dog, whippets are great and pretty easy (once out of the puppy stage). Mine is very clean, pretty chilled, doesn't need tons of exercise and is very affectionate and is great with other dogs, children etc.
 
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Also think about how much exercise you want to do/activities. A whippet will be more ‘up’ for longer walks than a greyhound (for instance). A border collie will go all day so will a lab/goldie etc. My own little dog (up until last year) was regularly doing eight miles a day (however she’s a slight oddity as she’s a Bichon but has never known any different 🤣).

Don’t discount cross breed. (There are actually some out there that work pretty well). And don’t discount a rehome/rescue.
 

laura_nash

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Thank you, this is helpful and had reminded me we need to think about dog or bitch (perhaps more so if choosing a puppy?)

We've been chatting and chatting it over, and at the moment a whippet/smaller lurcher is leading in terms of what we'd like breed wise. I think being open minded is good but it does feel a bit easier to focus in on a breed when reading around. The more I read about sighthounds them more I think it could be a good fit. We don't want to rule out a greyhound but am a little concerned about space in the house/on the sofa!
I've had 3 lurchers and a greyhound in the past and they are generally very easy dogs day to day. They do hog the sofa and won't be happy to sit at your feet on tarmac if you stop for a chat but they really only need 15 mins in a fenced field for exercise. The greyhound did like to run up the vets fees though, the lurchers were much less accident prone and more robust. The greyhound was also very difficult to train, mostly as any praise made her so excited she forgot what she was being praised for.

Our first dog was an adult collie X lurcher rescue and he was the easiest dog, perfect manners, fully trained and very trainable and never put a foot wrong.
 

poiuytrewq

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We're fairly open minded to breed and would be very happy with a cross breed too. Probably looking towards the smaller end of the scale - OH loves German Shepherds and I love the idea of rescuing a Greyhound but think they might be a bit big. I've been looking at Whippets, smaller Lurchers, Jack Russells (including crossed with Chihuahua which I never thought I'd say but we spent last weekend with a well trained pair of these enjoying lots of cuddles!) but again would be open to other breeds so not fixed on these.
Everyone needs a JR crossed with a chihuahua!
 
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Late to this thread but we've never had problems adopting from the larger rescues (dogs trust and, more recently, SSPCA).
That was with us both working (me full time and partner part time), no attached garden, small furries in the house and resident dog. Was just a case of being patient and waiting for a dog that fit our situation.
 
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