Everything you need to know about owning a dog
Thinking about adding a furry friend into the family? Dogs don’t have the reputation of being man’s best friend for no reason; whether you want a pet that’s small and cute, or big and proud, you’ll find they will earn your love in no time at all. However, ownership has many ins and outs that can be difficult to wrap your head around, especially if this is your first pet. We’ve compiled a guide below on everything you need to know when your new canine friend joins the family, so you can be a loving and responsible owner.
Top 3 most popular breeds and their temperament
With so many different dog breeds around, all differing in size and temperament, it can be hard to choose what breed to own. These are the three most popular breeds in New Zealand, earnt through their friendly demeanour, playful spirit, and lovable looks.
Labrador Retriever: A breed you have no doubt seen before, Labrador Retrievers are commonly known as the most popular dog in the western world, with New Zealand being no exception. They are relatively large growing to about 34kg on average, with a short coat that comes in a range of colours. Known to be “famously friendly,” Labrador Retrievers are kind, obedient and sociable dogs that enjoy an energetic lifestyle, also used professionally as therapy dogs, guide dogs, as well as in law enforcement. If you are looking for an active friend that fits the very definition of ‘dog,’ this might just be it.
Border Collie: Weighing in at about 17kgs, the Border Collie is a medium-sized dog originally bred for herding livestock, which it still fulfils today in New Zealand. Don’t let that fool you, however, as their seemingly endless energy does well when channelled into fun playtime with friends or family. Their smooth, often multicoloured coat goes down well with children, who love the enthusiastic, playful, and friendly nature. Due to their original purpose, Border Collie’s are dogs perfectly suited for active individuals who can give their pet regular physical activity, which they definitely require a lot of.
Jack Russell Terrier: The smallest of the bunch weighing in around 7kgs, the dainty Jack Russell Terriers make up for size with personality. With origins as a fox hunting breed in England, and now a beloved family favourite in New Zealand, they come in a variety of coats and are known to be curious, lively and intelligent dogs. Although they require an active lifestyle as well, their small size means they are a lot easier to own and look after than other breeds, and their looks have even earnt them many roles on the silver screen!
There are many other breeds out there, and while popularity is only one factor taken into consideration; however, it is very much up to your personal preference.
Where to purchase?
Whether you have a certain breed in mind or not, obtaining your dog is a different question altogether. There are many different routes to take, with no clear cut path. Most commonly, if you have a certain breed in mind, your first port of call may be with a breeder that specialises in selling that breed of dog. Although you can find a breeder’s listing online, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with a New Zealand dog club for that breed, who can either point you in the right direction to a reputed breeder, or directly organise a sale for you. A comprehensive list of registered dog clubs in New Zealand can be found here.
If you are not too particular about breed and pedigree, traditional and cheaper alternatives exist such as pet stores or private puppy listings from fellow dog owners who have too big of a litter. Another great option is the SPCA, alongside other private dog rescue organisations in your area, where you can visit their shelters and adopt a dog from. There are often too many dogs in SPCA shelters, overlooked by prospective owners through no fault of their own. Consider playing a part in rescuing dogs from neglect and abuse, by being the final home that they will belong to.
The cost of buying or adopting a dog varies depending on the breed, and where you are getting the dog from. For example, Labrador Retrievers can range anywhere from $600 to $2000, with pure-bred dogs from reputed breeders usually being the most expensive. Adopting a dog from the SPCA can cost anywhere from $1215 to $300, although they will come with most treatments already done. On average, you can expect to spend $1686 NZD a year on ownership costs associated with your dog, so plan ahead financially too!
Getting vaccinations, chipped, and desexed
Your companion is no different from us, also requiring vaccinations to protect them from various illnesses and diseases. A vet will be able to recommend exactly what vaccinations are needed for your dog, depending on their breed, age and health, alongside a core group of vaccines all dogs need. Puppies should be vaccinated in three separate stages at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks, whereas adult dogs should get booster vaccines every 2-3 years, for a variety of diseases that can prove fatal to your furry friend. Of course, there is no correct schedule or answer, so make sure to visit the vet and obtain professional advice tailored to your dog.
In New Zealand, all dogs must also be microchipped and registered after they are 3 months old. This is a simple and easy procedure that can be carried out at your local vet, the SPCA, or even your local council. They should then be registered with the local council, so they can be identified if lost, with fees and further information to be found through your local council’s website or other contact methods.
Desexing is a popular procedure carried out by dog owners, which involves removing part of the reproductive system (for both males and females). This is usually to prevent unwanted litters, and to also control the behaviour of your dog such as the tendency to wander or male aggression. Furthermore, there are medical benefits to desexing such as a reduced risk of many diseases and health complications later in life. To get a desex for your dog, simply visit your local vet who can organise the procedure for you, as long as your dog is over 6 months old.
Daily care and ongoing ownership
In general, it is recommended to bring your dog to the vet twice yearly for check-ups, which can also double as visits for vaccinations as needed. However, it is common to usually only visit the vet once a year for a check-up, which is perfectly fine as well. Puppies usually require four meals a day if under 3 months, three meals a day under 6 months, two meals a day under a year old, and adult dogs one year or older are recommended to have one meal a day. Find a high-quality dry dog food from your local supermarket or pet store, and avoid feeding your dog too much “human food” as it can lead to diet issues as well as health issues. Of course, your dog itself will tell you if it’s hungry as well!
Remember, our furry friend needs regular exercise too, with recommended amounts which differ depending on breed. Grooming is also an important part of dog ownership, as you should regularly brush your dog’s coat and sometimes even wash them every few months. Toys, beds and other accessories are also important and left to the owner’s discretion. A guide on general dog care can be found here.
Of course, we are busy with our own lives as well — it isn’t always possible to give our dog the attention and care it needs. If you find yourself often busy, or needing one-off assistance here and there, consider finding a dog sitter through Pawshake. Pawshake acts as a platform to connect you with experienced dog-sitting professionals, depending on the exact services you need and local to your area in New Zealand. Having preparations and arrangements like these ensure that your dog is always looked after, even if you are occupied.
Owning a pet can be a blessing in your life, but it also carries much financial burden and stress. If you are unlucky, you may find yourself facing hefty surgical fees from the vet in order to keep your dog in good health. Pet insurance, like health insurance, can come in handy in these situations and allow you to focus on the wellbeing of your companion, rather than focusing on the treatment costs. For a thorough walkthrough on what you need to know about pet insurance, read our article about the most important things when considering pet insurance. Even better, getting pet insurance won’t add any extra hassle to your life with Quashed, a platform that gathers all your various insurance policies in one spot, making it easy to view and manage. Take control of your insurance, and get the most of it with as little effort possible — try Quashed now, it’s free.