Anonymous question
June 2017.

What's the best dog for a small, inner-city flat?

2 answers

It's not so much where you live always. It's your lifestyle that you need to consider. Are you active and able to exercise a dog? Or are you more sedentary? Do you have the time needed to really care for a dog? They are social creatures (most)and need interaction. Do some research on different breeds, find a fit to your lifestyle. Then go to the animal shelter and find your new love!

Easy – a rescue dog. You can have any breed really, as long as you can give it its exercise needs, and keep it physically and emotionally stimulated. But the best dog in any situation is a rescue dog and there are obviously lots of them out there who desperately need homes.

So contact your local rescue centre and adopt a new best friend! You might be surprised that one of the best breeds to adopt are retired greyhounds. They sleep most of the day and don’t need that much exercise. It’s also worth exploring all different breeds, and considering an older dog. They sleep most of the day and don't need as much exercise as people think.

One charity I’m patron of is the Oldies Club. They rehome dogs over eight years of age. That would be a really good starting point for anyone who wants a dog in a small flat, or for first time owners. Go to the Oldies Club site, then there will probably be a rescue centre near you that has an older dog who’s perfect for you.

Everyone seems obsessed with your chihuahuas, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs etc. Then you’ve got your ‘designer’ dogs like maltipoos, cavachons, cockapoos, cavapoos etc which sound fun - it’s a brilliant marketing ploy. But, like any dog, they have serious problems attached to them if they’re not responsibly bred. They’re certainly not the solution to pedigree dog problems, and pedigree dogs are not the solution to designer dog problems. As long as the dogs are bred responsibly, it doesn’t matter what they are.

This is a really important point. People tend to think it’s just a black and white issue when it comes to ‘designer’ dogs – like anything crossed with a poodle doesn’t shed. It does shed. That anything ‘cross’ is ‘healthier’. Well if you’ve got a poodle who’s blind and you breed with a Labrador who’s got bad hips, you’re breeding a blind cripple. Breeding has to be done responsibly and you cannot do enough research to find out that it is.

My advice is to always go down the rescue route, where there are always puppies available too. Never buy from a pet shop. You are clearly not rescuing it by buying it. You may be rescuing it from the situation it’s in, which is totally understandable, but you are just making room for another one to take its place. 

You’re not solving the problem – you’re adding to it. The problem is, the law enables the public to be put in that situation, which is the real crime. On one hand, the government is saying “always see the mum when you buy a pup,” but on the other, the government is licensing establishments, individuals and business to sell pups remotely from where it was born and well away from the mum.

“The licenced puppy trade is a form of legalised cruelty sadly often endorsed, it appears, by massive organisations including some large animal charities, food companies, as well as pet insurance providers.”

They’re being told to see the mum, which is great, but they’re also being told that as long as a pet shops is licensed, and the dogs they sell are from licensed breeders, aka puppy farms, that’s okay. They’re often being sold with four weeks insurance and even a Kennel Club pedigree too, so the public are totally confused as to what’s right and what’s wrong. What they are seeing is legalised (licensed) cruelty sadly often endorsed, it appears, by massive organisations including some large animal charities, pet food companies, as well as pet insurance providers often refusing to support a ban on third party puppy sellers that enable and encourage puppy farming to continue, away from the public, behind closed doors; and currently, even in some pet shops, puppies from licensed puppy farms are sold that are registered by the Kennel Club as well.

The public are put in a very awkward position – but not as awkward as the dogs themselves. That’s why I campaign to change the law, so that the public will have to go to the breeder and see the breeding conditions, the environment the dog was bred in and see the mum. That would put a huge public inspectorate pressure on the breeders to either improve to the point to where they become ethical, or not improve at all and go out of business as no one is buying dogs from them and they’re being reported for cruelty. The only way to buy a dog is to go an see the dog interacting with its mum at the breeders, or better still, go for a rescue.

Make sure your flat is pet-proofed before you get a dog. Otherwise, just use your common sense – all the information you need is out there. Make sure you have a dog bed, that they’ve got a nice den they can retreat to when they get stressed, water food and the usual stuff and you should be fine – as long as its house trained obviously. You don’t want them peeing and pooing around your house!

Basically, do your research and don’t let your heart rule your head. But best of all, go for a rescue dog.