When you think of animal charities caring for dogs needing homes, you probably think of rows of kennels filled with all manner of ‘mutts’ – dogs of no particular breed but plenty of character.
Many people prefer non-pedigree dogs, since pedigrees can have been inbred to such a degree that they have developed genetic disorders or are more prone to certain health problems. Mongrels also have an undoubted charm and there are plenty needing homes across the country that will make fantastic, loyal and loving pets.
But if you have your heart set on a particular dog breed or breeds then you can still find your ideal pet at rehoming centres or rescue centres run by animal charities such as the RSPCA. All dog breeds are sadly represented in rescue and rehoming centres, but if there’s a particular breed you’re looking for you may have to wait until one becomes available locally, or be prepared to travel to another shelter.
All dog breeds, as you will know, have different personality characteristics and traits – aside from the physical appearance, these are what often attracts potential owners to a particular breed. But all dogs are unique and just because their breed is known to be affectionate, loyal or protective does not mean that that particular dog will be so.
Adopting a dog from an animal charity gives you the advantage of having the advice and input from a neutral party – the worker at the shelter – who has no personal financial incentive to get you to take the dog home with you. Workers at an animal charity are very careful to make sure that you and a dog will get along, so that the dog does not end up coming back to the shelter. The worker will be able to tell you a lot about the dog such as how it interacts with others. But they will also want to know a lot about you, your family and your home to be sure that the dog will be happy and settled in its new home.
Any dog adopted through an animal charity will have been spayed or neutered, regardless of the fact that offspring of a pedigree can be sold for quite a lot of money. A major aim of an animal charity is to reduce the likelihood of more dogs needing homes, and so they neuter the animals in their care to prevent unwanted or unintentional pregnancies. Spaying or neutering a pedigree reduces its value, so the adoption fee you will pay will be standard. But if this is going to be an issue for you – if you want a dog to breed from – then you would need to buy privately (though please do so from a reputable breeder).
Note that whilst animal charities such as the RSPCA may carry out tests to check for some diseases, some genetic problems do not become apparent (and are too expensive to test for) until the dog reaches middle or old age. As with any pedigree, therefore, you cannot be certain that a rescue dog will be free of genetic abnormalities.
Finally, you may not get your choice of colour or age of dog, but it is entirely possible to get a pedigree dog through an animal charity. Keep an open mind and be prepared to wait or travel and be rewarded with the pet you’ve always wanted.
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This is a guest post by Claire Chat a new Londoner, travel passionate and animal lover. She blogs about Pets and Travelling in Europe. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).