What to know before getting a new pooch

Pondering a new pet? We help you find the right breed to suit your lifestyle

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The pandemic has prompted a surge in households taking on new pets as people find they have more time to devote to a dog, cat or other animal now that they are spending a lot more time at home.

In fact, research by the Dogs Trust shows searches for ‘buy a puppy’ have seen a 115% increase since the start of lockdown in March 2020.

Companionship and comfort

Many of us have become increasingly reliant on our furry family members, turning to them for companionship and comfort as we work from our kitchen tables or makeshift bedroom offices during the Coronavirus crisis.

Lots of people will also say their four-legged friends have helped the third lockdown feel a little less lonely.

Think carefully about lifestyle changes

If you are thinking about getting a puppy – or a dog of any age for that matter – it’s vital you think about all the care a new pet will need. You also need to factor in all the costs, including food, toys, grooming equipment, beds, cages, training, vet bills and so on.

You also need to think carefully about how your lifestyle may change after lockdown. You might, for example, be at home less, meaning your pup will not have as much company. You may also be busier, but still need to be sure you can find time to exercise your pooch.

While dogs can be a great companion and bring a lot of comfort, owning a dog is a big responsibility, and not a decision to take lightly. You need to be sure you can give that pooch the time, care, love and attention it needs.

Get the right cover in place

As a pet-owner, one of the first steps you need to take is getting insurance for your four-legged friend.

No matter what breed you are considering, insuring your dog will give you the reassurance of knowing your pet is covered – meaning you avoid the shock of future vet bills. Read more here.

Pet cover is particularly important for puppies which can often find themselves in sticky situations. For example, a broken leg could easily set you back as much as £1,200.

With pet insurance premiums costing as little as £24 a month, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

A pet policy will also cover you for any damage your dog causes. Find out more here.

Get two months free, exclusively to MoneySuperMarket, when you take out pet insurance with Waggel. Available with any new dog or cat policy, for new customers only. Your must be over 18 and live in England, Scotland or Wales. Offer ends 31 March, 2021. T&Cs apply.

Choose your breed with care

It’s worth noting that the breed of your dog can affect the cost of your cover, as some breeds can be more susceptible to illnesses.

With this in mind, it’s worth doing your homework before buying a pup and bringing it back home with you.

You need to be sure you can comfortably afford all the costs associated with owning – and caring for – that type of pooch. A dog is a life-long commitment.

To compare pet insurance policies, head here.

Which dog breeds are proving most popular?

Here at MoneySuperMarket, we’ve carried out some research to find the top ten most popular dog breeds in the UK.

According to the findings, while Labrador Retrievers are still coming out on top, with German Shepherds remaining a perennial favourite, smaller breeds such as French Bulldogs and Cockapoos are among the ‘most upcoming’ canines.

We’ve also been researching the characteristics of some of the most sought-after mutts, to help you understand which pooch may be best for you – and help you make the right choice.

Top breeds in the UK:

1) Labrador Retriever – perhaps better known as the ‘Retriever,’ this dog is one of the most popular breeds in a number of countries and is famous for being friendly and easy-going. A retriever could make a great companion as they will gel well with the whole family, while also getting on well with other dogs.

But you need to be willing to get your wellies on, as this breed needs a lot of exercise.

2) Cockapoo – this cross between a Poodle and a Cocker Spaniel is well known for its friendly nature. Cockapoos are easy to train and have moderate energy levels – so may be well suited to those happier doing a little less exercise. They have a sweet and loving temperament, and with their curly coats, can be the ideal option for allergy sufferers.

3) Cocker Spaniel – spaniels make a great playmate for all the family and can be easily trained. The breed is big enough to be sporty, but also small enough to be compact and portable. With a full coat, you need to be prepared for some serious grooming. You also need to be up for lots of brisk walks and plenty of playtime.

4) French Bulldog – this fun-loving breed, which resembles a Bulldog in miniature form (apart from the large ‘bat’ ears) is known for being playful. While Frenchies are also known for being charming, they can make a great guard dog. They don’t need a huge amount of exercise, but are prone to health problems and can face common ailments such as allergies, heatstroke and ear or eye infections. It’s important to bear this in mind before taking on one of these dogs, as you need to be prepared for the high level of care required, and potential vet bills.

5) Jack Russell – they may be small but they have a big personality, and are commonly defined by stamina and determination. As Jack Russells have a drive to chase prey, they may be better suited to a home without small children or other pets. That said, by investing in some training – and by taking steps to keep your dog occupied – you can help prevent behavioural problems.

6) Border Collie – these intelligent, athletic and graceful dogs have an instinct to work. They thrive when they have a ‘job’ to do, such as agility, herding or obedience work. While they can be reserved with strangers, they are very faithful and sociable among friends. But before taking on a Border Collie, you need to ask yourself if you can be sure you have the time, energy and means required to keep this breed entertained.

7) Staffordshire Bull Terrier – small yet stocky, ‘Staffies’ were once the dogs which ruled fighting pits in England. But today, breeders are producing family-orientated and sweet dogs with a reputation for being patient. As an owner, you are going to need to be willing to put time and effort into training – and also regular interaction with other dogs – to ensure your dog learns good manners.

8) English Springer Spaniel – these spaniels are easy to train and known for being people pleasers. They come in a number of colours and patterns and have long, luscious ears. Spaniels can crave company so before taking one on, you need to be sure you can spend quality time with your furry friend. They get on well with people and other dogs, and love swimming, fetching and playing games.

9) Shih Tzu – these cute little charmers are known for being particularly affectionate with children. As they were bred to spend most of their day inside royal palaces, they can be a good option if you live in an apartment or don’t have a great deal of outside space. Playful by nature, some Shih Tzus love to dig holes and chase cats, but at the same dog, these pooches are equally happy being a lapdog.

10) German Shepherd – also known as an Alsatian, this gentle giant is known for being loyal, courageous and confident. If you are thinking about taking one on, you need to be willing to head out for lots of walks, as German Shepherds are large, agile and muscly and need lots of exercise. As they are also highly intelligent, they require lots of stimulation. But these dogs remain very popular, and can make for a very loving family pet and loyal guardian.

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