Dog Basics

You can’t buy friendship, but you can buy a dog for sure. And, on the loyalty scale, it is second to none. That it has earned the honour of the man’s best friend shows how close the dog is to our heart. Loyalty and unconditional love-qualities that are hard to find in its nearest rival and pet, the cat, or some would say even in people around us-make it the pet of choice for many.


Compared with other pets, dogs are more interactive. They are intelligent, easy-to-handle and can be as supportive as you want them to be. Being trainable, they can also be made to assist humans in many ways. Some breeds, for example, can guard your house. However, just like any other purchase, buying a puppy could be tricky. There are many things you would need to keep in mind after you have zeroed down on the suitable breed for you.



Different breeds are priced differently. For example, a German Spitz may be cheaper than a Pomeranian. In every breed, there are different qualities of puppies available. Puppies that are better bred are costlier.


Picking the right breed:

The right breed for you will depend on factors such as liking, breed attitude, feasibility and availability.


Liking: A matter of personal preference, mostly influenced by looks. You might want to buy a Dalmatian after watching 101 Dalmatians or a pug after watching the Vodafone/Hutch ad.


Breed Attitude: Different breeds have different temperaments and behaviour with strangers. Get a friendly dog if you have kids at home. If you have lots of strangers visiting your place, go for a breed that is suspicious of strangers. You might also want the dog to accompany you on your morning walk or to guard your home. This will help you zero down on a few options.


Feasibility: This would include size, maintenance, expenses and other factors. The consent of family members is also important.


Factors influencing feasibility:


Space Angle: If you are living in an apartment, it is best to go for a breed that needs little to moderate exercise. Avoid the ones that are very sporty by nature. However, it needs to be mentioned that the amount of exercise a dog needs has got nothing to do with its size. Some dogs may be big but still not need much exercise. But, big dogs are best avoided if you are living in an apartment. All dogs love to play. The house or the apartment should have enough space for the dogs to get the full joy of playing. Lack of exercise and space may lead to bad behaviour.


Maintenance: This has both a time and cost element. Dogs need to be fed and maintained properly for them to be healthy and cheerful.


Grooming: The length and the type of hair decide the amount of grooming required, which could be time taking and expensive at times, as it includes using hair spray, shampoo, hair conditioner, hair colour and so on.


Health: Some breeds, such as those with a short nose, require more care than others. Before deciding upon a breed, one should consider talking to owners of that particular breed and reading about specific health problems relating to that breed.


Food: Bigger and active dogs consume more food. Food can account for over 40 per cent of the total expenditure incurred on maintaining a dog.


Availability: Breeds like the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Pug, Beagle, Cocker Spaniel, Lhasa Apso and Doberman Pinscher are easily available. If you want a rare breed, it could be difficult.


Points of Purchase: After you have decided on the breed you want to buy, the next step is to get a fix on where you want to purchase it from. Three options are most common:


Pet Shops: Though the first option that strikes a pet lover, it may not always be the best. Carefully examine factors such as hygiene, health, the puppy’s pedigree and the firm’s experience in dog-rearing. Get the puppy examined by a vet. Also examine the weight, activity level, appetite and whether the puppy/its parents are vaccinated and dewormed. The puppy should be more than eight weeks of age before it is ready to leave its mother and go to a new home.


Veterinary Clinics/Reference: A good option to find a healthy, but not necessarily the best-bred dog. If you are buying from a vet, take a second opinion from another vet.


Breeders; Buying a puppy from experienced breeders that specialises in a specific breed type is the preferred way of purchase. However, one needs to carefully examine the firm’s credibility and the dog’s pedigree and check if the dog’s parents have won any dog shows. Also, the breeder should not be a puppy mill where profits, and not quality is the main concern. Try to find details about the puppy’s parents, how many litters the mother has conceived, health of the current and previous litters, vaccination/health records of the parents etc.


Breeds: A brief description of some of the breeds of dogs is given below:



Size of a Male (in Inches)

Exercise Needed

Guarding Ability

Behaviour with Children

Potential Problems

Golden Retriever

Ideal family dog. Loves retrieving objects. Good as a guide dog for kids.






Cocker Spaniel

Good life expectancy and easily trained.




Very Good

Ears tangle. Tends to become overweight.


Happy, intelligent, loving and easy to manage




Very Good

Exertion causes breathing problems.


Lively dog with an exuberant nature. Needs sound training.



Very Good

Very Good

Could go boisterous. May even enjoy scrap.

Doberman Pinscher

Fearless, needs careful training to counteract its wild instincts.




Good with own family

May fight. Not warm with strangers at all.

German Shepherd


Good family dog if correctly raised. Loyal, affectionate and obedient.




Good with own family.

Needs engagement and careful early training.

Lhasa Apso

Amusing little dog with a lively nature. Responds very well to training.







Fairly Good


Suspicious of strangers.