Dogs have always taken the role of mans best friend. Many portraits of Kings and Queens though out history have also shown a trusty dog at their feet.
Many of the old breeds have been around for thousands of years, for example the bulldog breed can be traced back to the Molossus, the fighting dog of the ancient Greek tribe in Athens.
During World War II, 14 dogs were assigned to undertake search and rescue in London. These dogs braved fire, smoke and collapsed buildings to rescue many hundreds of people. Five were awarded the Dickens medal (the animal version of the Victoria Cross) for their bravery.
Even now, dogs are working right at the heart of disaster and war zones throughout the world along side man, and continue to remain loyal and trusted friends.
In 2004, the UK dog population was 6.8 million and was broken down as follows:
The top 3 dog breeds in the UK are:
1. Mongrel at 23%
2. Collie at 7.8%
3. Labrador 6.5%
A dog can be a most rewarding pet but is also one of the most demanding to keep. If you are considering getting a dog it is important to think very carefully first. A dog could be with you for 15 years or more and will require time, commitment and a lot of money.
Before you start to look for your dog, consider the following:
Does the whole family want a dog?
Do you have enough time to provide exercise – both walks and play? Are you happy to be out in all weathers and on dark nights?
Can you afford a dog? Vets bills are incredibly expensive, and your dog will also require annual vaccinations and insurance. Other expenses include providing a proper diet, and boarding kennel costs etc if you are planning to take holidays without your dog.
Do you have enough time and patience to train your dog correctly? You are legally responsible for your dog’s behaviour so must ensure that it is properly socialised and is well behaved.
Are you prepared to commit to the care of a dog for its whole life – this could be 15 years or more?
If you have decided that you really want a dog and if none of the above factors will be a problem, the next step is to choose the best breed of dog for your circumstances.
All dog breeds have different temperaments, for example a guarding breed will have a different temperament to a toy breed or a herding breed. There are many books and magazines available, as well as websites that will be able to tell you all about different breeds and put you in touch with recognised breeders, who will be able to offer you advice about the breed that you are considering.
The next thing to consider is whether you want a puppy or would prefer an adult dog.
If you have decided that a puppy is not for you, and would prefer an older dog, you may want to consider a rescue dog. If you decide to do this – be guided by the staff at the rescue centre, they will know the dogs far better than you and will be able to match you to the right dog.
Always read as much information as you can before committing to a dog and if buying a puppy, only buy from a reputable breeder, where you can see the puppy with its mother first.