Working a day job and owning a dog isn’t always possible. So, if you are retiring, and think that you can finally get a canine companion, here are three breeds to consider.
The intelligent companion for active people
Poodles are sometimes portrayed as boudoir dogs, and there are owners who dye their coats and cut it into odd shapes, but these pets were originally bred as retrievers for duck shooters. They’re very active, love to go for long walks, and if they see water, they’ll be in it.
As companion pets, these dogs are super-smart, which cuts both ways. On the one hand, training is a snap. On the other, poodles are very easily bored and need constant entertainment. As they are also very social, they can’t be left alone. Poodles basically live for their people, and they’re miserable if they’re not with them.
If you want a constant companion who is intelligent and up for several good walks every day, the poodle is a good choice. However, do factor in that poodle coats need professional grooming every three to six weeks.
Warning: Avoid badly bred poodles, and check that they and their parents are free of these conditions: epilepsy, hip dysplasia (that means sore hips, legs and back), arthritis and rheumatism, the skin condition Sebaceous Adenitis (SA), and the eye diseases Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH).
The relaxed good-time companion
They’re nicknamed Hush Puppies because of the shoe advert, but these dogs were bred as scent hounds that were taken into forests and fields to help hunters.
They have an awesome nose and love to go for walks but these pets have a huge lazy streak. Their idea of fun is a couple of gentle walks every day in the cool of the morning and night, and to spend the rest of the day hanging out with people.
What’s also great is that bassets are quite hefty but they’re convinced they were lap cats in a past life. If you’re on the sofa, they’ll be sitting on top of you – or your feet. These canine couch potatoes are also food fanatics, which means you have to watch their weight carefully.
In addition to being social and easy-going, bassets have super-short coats that are very simple to take care of. However, they have a bark that travels miles, so they need good training from puppyhood so they don’t disturb the neighbours.
Warning: Avoid badly bred bassets, and check that they and their parents are free of these conditions: poor eye health (including glaucoma, that can lead to blindness), bad back problems with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), and hip dysplasia (that means sore hips, legs and back), arthritis and rheumatism.
The pocket-sized, low-maintenance companion
Chihuahuas are pint-sized pets with plus-sized personalities. They are clever, fun and attractive, and they take on the world with enthusiasm and verve. They love people and are super-social.
As these tiny dogs are originally from Mexico, they are quite good with warm weather, so you need not have air-cond on all the time. Also, their size means they don’t need super-long walks, and their coats are short and simple to take care of. In short, if you don’t like trekking or spending hours at the groomers, this is a low-maintenance choice.
However, Chihuahuas are very small and have delicate bones, so you can’t mix them up with pre-teen grandchildren or bigger dogs that like to roughhouse. In addition, they’re also incredibly stubborn, so you need to work with a positive trainer to make sure you have a well-behaved pet.
Warning: Avoid badly bred Chihuahuas, and check that they and their parents are free of these conditions: hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, Patellar Luxation (kneecap dislocation), a bone issue in the legs that leads to arthritis, and Open Fontanel, where a soft spot on the top of the head doesn’t grow in, meaning even a minor bump could be fatal.
If you want to avoid encouraging breeding, do look at your shelters and small rescuers for pedigree rejects. People very often buy a pup and dump it a few weeks later. So you can pick up a pet and rescue at the same time.