FINDING YOUR SOUL MUTT
Written by Nicola van Ass
Photograph by Liv Stirling Photography
Asking yourself and your family some basic questions about what kind of dog or puppy would best suit you will make the whole choosing, adoption and family integration much easier. There are so many types of dogs in shelters that most of the time it’s almost impossible to know what you’re looking at. While it’s never a guarantee, as there are always exceptions to the rules, it will help you to know what to look for in a new puppy or dog at the shelter.
The first question to ask is: do you want a puppy, adult dog or golden oldie? The benefit of adopting an adult or senior is that you know exactly what you are getting – size, energy, health problems, if any, as well as most of their likes and dislikes. The advantages of owning a puppy is that you get to mould them to what you specifically want.
Once you have decided on the age of the new addition, the next step is to look at the kind of dog. The majority of shelter animals are mixed breeds and this is what makes it so hard to know what you’re getting. However, there are some breeds that are very common in the mixes in the shelter dogs.
- If you are looking for a running partner, an agility contestant or one who likes to play a lot , then look for dogs with one (or more) of the following breeds: Jack Russell, Fox Terrier, Border Collie, Labrador, Husky, German Shepherds and Beagles.
- For more relaxed, lap-orientated dogs, look for Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers (although many need quite a lot of exercise), Maltese Poodles, Spaniels, Miniature Pinschers, Pugs, Pekingese and Golden Retrievers.
- The power breeds consist of Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pit Bulls, Bull Terriers and Rottweilers. These are very strong dogs, but also make amazing family pets. With the right training, positive reinforcement and a family bond, you can’t go wrong, although being an experienced dog owner is best!
- Dogs that need quite a lot of grooming have Maltese Poodle, Spaniel, German Shepherd, Border Collie, Husky and other long-coated breeds in their make-up. They may need parlour visits to keep them in top shape. Don’t forget that short-coated dogs like Jack Russells, Pugs, and Chihuahuas all shed throughout the year, so brushing weekly is recommended.
Deciding whether a dog needs to be ok with cats, children, other dogs, farm animals and anything else they may encounter while in your care is very important. This is an advantage of adopting a puppy, as you can teach them to enjoy all the things mentioned above. Many adults will have been exposed to one or more of the above, but you may need to look a little harder to find one that loves kids, cats, horses and birds! Don’t ever give up though – there are so many choices; your Soul Mutt is out there waiting for you!
All dogs, whether puppy or adult, should have positive reinforced training. Puppy socialisation as well as adult dog training and walking is imperative in forming the bond between you.