Vet Tips: It’s all about the breed |

Vet Tips: It’s all about the breed

Dr. Mace Dekker DVM
Special to The Union

It’s all about the breed

It’s getting toward Halloween, and from experience I know that families are starting to consider a pet for Christmas.

Between the kids’ pleading (Oh, please! I’ll take care of it, I promise!) and the thought of how cute puppies and kittens can be, it’s no surprise.

A word of caution though — think about what kind of pet you’re looking for, particularly for dogs.

A new pet is a 15-year commitment, or more.

If things don’t work out well, either for behavioral reasons or family reasons (and, no, the kids do not in fact take care of the pets), it can be a traumatic experience for both the family and the pet to have to re-home them.

The decision on the breed of dog is often based on the looks of the dog, or the experience someone else has had with that kind of dog.

Unfortunately, the looks (or someone else’s pet) does not define what your new pet will be like, and can cause real problems.

For example, most people would agree that keeping a Great Dane in a one-bedroom apartment may not be the best idea.

Each breed has its own typical temperament and needs, and the family it is adopted into should be compatible with that temperament.

For example, a border collie is a high-energy dog which needs a lot of exercise and stimulation, so it’s not the best choice for most retired couples with mobility issues.

Dogs were bred for different purposes, and if a dog cannot behave in the way it’s been bred, it will express its energy in other, more problematic ways (think digging and chewing).

A second thing to consider is the health issues found in certain breeds.

For example, while I think Boxers are great and can make wonderful pets, it is a breed that is prone to various diseases and a new owner should be aware they will likely get to know their veterinarian quite well (I should know, I have two of them).

Breed certification (like AKC registration) does not say anything about the health of the pet, or the expected temperament.

If you’re considering getting a new pet, take the time to research what you can expect — and talk to your veterinarian before getting your pet to see what they have to say about their experience with the breed.

Or better yet, consider going to an adoption organization — there are many pets out there that could well fit your family that desperately need a home.

Grass Valley Veterinary Hospital’s Mace Dekker, DVM, will answer questions regarding pets each month in the Vet Tips. Have a question? Submit it to

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