Choosing your dog

There are many reasons to adopt a dog rather than buying one from a breeder. There are no reasons at all for buying a puppy from a puppy farm. For further information on selecting a good breeder, this pdf from the Humane Society will help you make the right decision. You should also read this article by Zazie Todd on Companion Animal Psychology which will help you make your choice if you are looking for a puppy.

Rescuing a dog rather than buying one from a breeder does not mean you have to sacrifice your love for particular breeds. At any one time, about thirty percent of the dogs at the Refuge de l’Angoumois conform to a breed standard, if they do not come with pedigree papers (called LOF papers in France).

If you have a love for a particular breed, please feel free to contact us and ask. Whether you have a love of Yorkies, German Shepherds or Newfoundlands, we may have a dog at the refuge that is perfect for you. Please bear in mind that pure-breed dogs move more quickly in some circumstances than mixed-breed dogs and that you may have to wait. You may also want to check out Seconde Chance, a website that allows you to search for dogs by breed and links to all refuges and associations across France. Another way to find an association that specialises in the kind of dog you love is to type in the name of the dog breed, plus ‘association sauvetage France’ into Google which may help you locate your favourite woofers, especially if they are more rare and less likely to find themselves in a refuge. You may have to wait a while, but you get the added bonus of getting the kind of dog you know well or love dearly, as well as the benefit of rescuing.

If you are looking for a labrador, a beagle or a scruffy griffon, look no further! We’re certain to have something that you’d like.

For those of you who are less particular or who have their hearts open to whichever dog they might fall for, these simple questions may help you define the dog you want. These are questions we often ask at the refuge to help narrow down which dogs will suit your lifestyle. Sadly, taking on ‘any old dog’ if you are not equipped for this may lead to a swift return for the dog and will leave you wary of future adoptions.

  1. What level of exercise will you be able to provide for the dog over the next fifteen years? If you are ‘of an age’ (excuse my diplomacy) will you be wanting to walk a hound who is still in the prime of his life when you are eighty or eighty-five? If you are uncertain about your job, will you be able to guarantee that the two hours’ walk a day that you can offer now will be available to the dog in two years’ time? If you have a family, though you might think your children will be happy to play with the dog for hours at a time, will they still feel the same as grumpy teenagers? Choose a rescue dog that not only suits your needs now, but your needs in the future, and think carefully about what you can offer a dog. A big garden is not exercise. It is just another room to a dog. Many dogs will see the garden the same way as they view your dining room: just another space that they won’t use unless you’re in it with them. Getting an energetic dog because you have a big garden is often a recipe for disaster. Energetic dogs need you to exercise them, not to leave them unsupervised in the garden, hoping they will tire themselves out. Make sure you ask about the dog’s energy levels and explain what kind of a life you can offer to your future pet.
  2. Are you able to groom high-maintenance dogs, like Newfoundlands, or do you want a dog like a collie that just needs a brush every now and again? Are you prepared for shedding? Will you be prepared to take the dog to a groomer if you cannot clip it yourself? If a dog doesn’t shed, it may need clipping or stripping so bear in mind how much time a week you want to spend grooming your pet. Don’t be afraid to rule out particular breeds and cross-breeds, or to prioritise them.
  3. How much space to you have to offer a dog? Do you have a small apartment and would prefer a small dog, or do you have the space for a larger dog? Many large dogs have lower energy levels and are happy to live in smaller houses, but you might not be so happy to have them constantly under your feet. Think about how secure your garden is and whether or not a dog would find it easy to escape from. You can specify what kind of life you can offer and ask for a dog to suit your home needs.
  4. How many dogs do you encounter on a daily basis? Do you need your dog to be well-socialised? Do you live in an urban area where many people walk their dogs? Do you live in a space where you can walk your dogs frequently without encountering other dogs? You can ask to see dogs that are well-socialised if you need a dog that will not be reactive on the lead when you pass others, or a dog that enjoys the company of other dogs.
  5. What are your family’s doggie needs? Do you have young children that need a dog that has good bite inhibition and is restrained and confident around children? Do you have older children who are looking for a dog they can interact with? Do you have visitors who are afraid of dogs? Make sure you are clear about your family situation and make sure you explain this clearly. Taking the whole family with you when you go to meet your future pet may seem like a bit of a chore, but it will ensure that everyone feels happy around the dog.
  6. Do you have other animals who have particular preferences? If you have cats, make sure you ask for a dog that has been tested with cats, and make sure you have explored ways to introduce new animals to each other. A dog that has previously shown no signs of interest in a cat may give chase if the cat runs off. A cat that has previously been fine around dogs may feel threatened if the dog sniffs too vigorously. If you have other dogs, make sure you take them to meet your new pet and follow guidance on integrating new animals.
  7. Have you researched dog breeds carefully, once you have narrowed down the kind of dog that you are interested in? Although breed characteristics are no determiner of personality, they can help you understand your dog and its behaviours. Whilst you should never make judgements about behaviour based on stereotypes, it is worth considering these when you have fallen in love with a particular dog. What are the likely behaviours, both positive and negative, of this breed?

With these seven questions in mind, you are more likely to be able to pick out a dog that will be your perfect family pet. A little consideration at the adoption stage makes all the difference.