We asked practicing small animal vet and well known journalist Pete Wedderburn for his view on the best breed of dogs. Here’s what he had to say:
Pedigree breeds can be an excellent choice of pet, but as a vet, when I'm asked to recommend a breed of dog, I usually take a different view: my advice is often: "Choose a cross-bred rescue dog". By all means, look through the list of breeds to get some sense of the type of animal you'd like, but don't feel bound to choose a pedigree animal.
Ireland produces far too many dogs: every year, thousands of dogs are euthanased in local authority dog pounds because they're not wanted. If you choose a rescue dog, you have the feel-good opportunity to give a dog a second chance at having a good life. And there's a bonus: you could save yourself hundreds of euro at the same time.
If you look at the costs of a pedigree animal, you might be surprised. First, the purchase price, which can be anything from €300 to 800. Then there's the vaccine costs (€60-80) - plus parasite control (€10-20), and spay/neutering (€150 -300). The total can be as much as €1200. In comparison, a top quality rescue dog can be obtained for the price of a donation to your local animal welfare group, with recommended amounts around €150 or so. For this money, your new dog will usually be fully vaccinated, microchipped, treated for parasites and often spayed or neutered. So there's an immediate financial saving.
And the benefits of a rescue dog don't stop there. When you visit an animal rescue group, there are three advantages over many pedigree dogs.
First, the charity workers have a genuine interest in matching a dog perfectly to your needs. They want it to work out well for you. They don't just want to sell an animal and move on. They want the best possible outcome for their rescued dog, which means that they want to be as sure as possible that you and the animal are well suited to each other. Of course, many private breeders are just as concerned about the future of the animals that they sell, but this isn't always the case.
Second, the animal rescue group provides a helpful back up service for you. If it doesn't work out, or if you have second thoughts, or even if you just have settling in issues, they'll be there to talk to you and to help you through the situation. And if necessary, they'll take the dog back from you.
And third, when you go to get your new dog insured, you'll find that cross bred dogs generally have lower insurance premiums compared to pedigree dogs. This is because, on average, cross bred dogs are healthier than pure bred animals, and insurance companies are happy to pass that saving on vets' fees on to you.
So yes, certainly consider choosing a pedigree breed but don't feel bound to do so: there really are plenty of lovely rescue dogs out there, just waiting to meet you.
The opinions and information provided in this article are those of an experienced veterinarian Pete Wedderburn. Information correct as of 06/01/2017.