Should you get a dog as a first pet?

I cannot remember if my first pet was a dog or a cat. The year was 1994, and because my parents had the great idea of starting a small-town restaurant, they were working all the time. Luckily for me, they picked the same small town as where my maternal grandparents were from, and, as a baby, I spent a great deal of time with them.

My grandparents had a dairy and cattle farm with a wide variety of animals, such as rabbits, horses, geese, and pigs. Every once in a while, my grandpa would find some kittens, or a neighbor would bring some pups. So I was always surrounded by dogs and cats from a very young age, as far as I can remember. 

While some people had dogs growing up or cats, I was lucky to have both, and I thought it would be interesting to discuss owning a dog as a first pet. 

Which dog is suitable for an apartment or a house?

Dogs have the upper hand when it comes to breeds, in the sense that dogs range from tiny breeds like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians to giant breeds like Great Danes and St. Bernards. 

Why the upper hand? Whether you live in a small apartment, city house, or on a farm with plenty of fields for them to exercise, there is a breed for you. 

Here are some breeds to consider if you live in an apartment: Bichon Frise, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, Greyhound, and Chihuahua. 

If you live in a bigger place, you may want to consider the following breeds: Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Tibetan Mastiff, or even Goldendoodle. 

Benefits of owning a dog

Most people like to say that dogs are good for companionship, kids, and maybe to get you out of the house! 

I like to focus on the health benefits, specifically. So here are the health benefits of owning a dog:

  • Dogs help you stay active: most dog owners will spend half an hour or even an hour each day walking their dogs and playing with them. This may not seem like much actual exercise, but daily walking is very healthy for you. 
  • Dogs support your heart health: researchers are not yet sure of why that is, but owning a dog is correlated with a better chance of surviving heart attacks. Personally, I would agree since dogs keep you active. 
  • Dogs help lower your blood pressure: dogs have a calming effect, especially when snuggling with them, which naturally reduces your blood pressure. 
  • Dogs help lower your stress levels: spending time with your dog helps with anxiety, reduces your blood pressure, and increases serotonin and dopamine levels which help with relaxation. 
  • Dogs help with depression: since dogs help you stay active, lower your stress levels, and are great companions, they help with depression. 

Personality matters

I am a very organized and tidy person. So, seeing dog hair all over my floor and on the furniture raises my blood pressure. The reason behind this is that we have to consider our personality when picking a dog. 

Because of their size or coat type, dogs will influence your daily routine differently. For example, some dogs shed a lot, so you will spend more time cleaning. Some others don't shed as much but are prone to skin issues, so you will spend more time caring for them. Ultimately, you have to pick what you think works best with your personality! 

No matter what you base your choice on, all dogs will bring the same health benefits and are great companions.

A few examples of low-maintenance dogs are:

  • Basset Hounds: they have short coats, but you will still need to brush them weekly to help with shedding.
  • Boston Terriers: these dogs don't require much grooming, but again regular brushing will help.
  • Maltese: although this breed can typically have a longer coat, they don't shed much. 

Here are a few examples of very active dogs: 

  • Border Collies: this breed is perfect for days spent running in the field or playing ball with you. As a side note, I find this breed extremely attractive. 
  • Siberian Huskies: these dogs require at least 80 minutes of exercise every day. No wonder they can pull sleds on ice for hours.
  • Labrador Retrievers: one of the most popular dog breeds. They're great for all canine sports, and they have a big appetite. A great family dog to have, as well. 

Final thoughts 

I started this article by asking you whether you should own a dog as a first pet, and the answer is a big yes. Whether it is for your kids or yourself, owning a dog has many health benefits and will make you happier. 

You have to consider your personality and what you find most attractive in owning a dog, such as running with them or having them on the couch with you, as different breeds have very different needs. 

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Written by Leo Roux

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