A few weeks ago, a lady reached out to me. She wanted to get her kids a dog for Christmas and had a few questions. I get asked these a lot of times, so I decided to turn my response into a blog post.
I hope this helps a family make the best decision.
Please I need your advice. I’m considering getting the girls a dog for Christmas. They will be 5 and 2.5 by then. My questions are:
1. What breeds are best suited for kids?
2. Is it a good idea to adopt a dog and rehome it rather than buying a puppy?
P.S: I’m not a lover of small dogs but I’m willing to compromise if you feel they are better for young kids.
Thank you in anticipation of your prompt reply,
I think it’s a fantastic idea to get your daughters a dog. A lot of breeds are quite suitable or good for kids. At the same time, some major factors should be considered when choosing the best breed for you and your girls.
Here are some:
1. Friendliness: it’s important to get a friendly breed.
2. Energy levels (Exercise Requirement): The energy level of said dog should be considered. Some dogs require lots of exercises and some don’t.
3. Coat Maintenance: some dogs need to be groomed every so often. This can be time-consuming. Some dogs also shed more than others. This is very important especially if a household member is allergic to pet dander.
4. Sex: it’s usually advisable to get a spayed/castrated male/female dog. This is usually best if you don’t intend for your pet to reproduce. Another alternative is to spay the puppy when you get it. Spaying is necessary.
Unneutered young males can be an issue when their sex hormones are in full force. Females come with the extra responsibility of dealing with heat. They get advances from males. This can potentially lead to unwanted puppies.
Also, important to note that the males of most breeds are usually bigger than the females.
5. Health of the dog: Vaccination history; deworming and health risks of a breed should be considered. E.g. bull dogs make great kids/family pets, but they are susceptible to heat stroke because of their short muzzles . Also, they tend to need caesarean sections when whelping (giving birth).
6. Breeder Reputation: it’s important to buy a dog from a reputable breeder whose major concern is dog welfare and not just profit making. That means doing a lot of research. Asking owners with the same breed of dog you like where they got their dog from. Also, go to dog shows and ask around for recommendations.
Expect a good breeder to ask numerous questions as well. He/she should want to know the kind of home the puppy is going to. If they just want the money that should raise red flags.
7. Housing for the dog: The kind of suitable accommodation and space you have in place for the dog is an important consideration. This will depend on the size, age and exercise requirements of the dog.
8. Common and available breeds in your location: this might influence the type of breed you get.
All these should be considered when thinking about getting a dog.
ON ADOPTION, these are my thoughts:
Adoption is a great way to acquire a dog. Albeit, some factors should be considered as well:
• Puppy/adult: my advice will be to get a puppy rather than an adult. This applies to buying a dog from a breeder as well. Often, adult dogs have already-developed character. This makes them difficult to retrain. But you can train a puppy the way you want it to be. It’s a much easier process. Also, your children will have a great time bonding and watching the puppy grow and learning how to feed and take care of one.
• History of the dog: you will want to know the dog’s history. E.g. if the dog is a rescue dog, it’s previous abuse or negative experience can affect its temperament and behaviour and the dog might need some rehabilitation and retraining ( if this hasn’t been done already).
Based on your unique requirements, if I were to choose a breed, I’ll go for a Golden Retriever. They are average-sized to fairly large dogs, very friendly, quite energetic and very easy to train. Thus, they are used a lot as helping dogs. They require fairly regular grooming. (Note: This breed requires plenty of exercise and sheds often). In addition, since you don’t particularly fancy small/toy breeds, this should be perfect for your family. They also have a relative long lifespan 10- 14 years so they can grow old with your kids.
Conversely, you can get a mixed breed dog as long as you know their breed composition. So, you don’t end up getting a dog with an aggressive trait based off its gene pool.
Other breeds that are good for kids are:
Poodles: but they require extensive grooming.
English Bull dogs
Lhasa Apsos- (require regular grooming)
Newfoundlands- massive but gentle
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
Experts agree that Christmas morning isn’t usually the best time to present a puppy gift. Christmas mornings are usually hectic and this could overwhelm the puppy. Also, children will be interested until it poops. Instead, it’s advised to get your children educated on the work involved in caring for a dog. You can present them with a dog handling book for kids. This helps to prepare their minds for the work ahead. Then a few days/weeks afterwards, you can present the puppy.
Sorry for the long epistle. But I wanted to give a clear overview. Please, if you have further
questions don’t hesitate to ask.
Hope these points have been helpful?