Dogs and cats are the most popular domesticated pets. Some dog breeds are more work than others though; and some cat breeds require different attention to others.
Caring for your cat or dog should always start with understanding the differences between breeds; and if you are able to: choosing a breed that you are capable of carting for properly.
There is an enormous variety of cat breeds. Choosing a tabby will often mean you have no idea of their breed, however, pure breeds are much more expensive and many have congenital and genetic problems that you must be aware of. On purchase ensure you have verification that the cat or kitten does not suffer from any of these conditions, as once you have the animal, the veterinary bills should they develop complications can be very expensive. An example is the ‘pushed in’ face of the pure breeds Chinchilla and Persian. These cats are bred to accentuate this feature, which many consider nice to look at, however the same feature leaves them much more susceptible to conjunctivitis and other eye infections. Some of the short hair pure breeds are susceptible to feline flu virus, while white hair cats are susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.
Keep in mind also the practical aspects of your situation. A long haired cat may be aesthetically pleasing, but will require regular grooming to keep them looking that way. Neglecting to groom a long haired cat can result in matted fur, severe skin irritations and other problems. It will also be much more difficult to detect a tick or flea infestation, and much more difficult to eradicate infestations.
Some breeds will drop more fur than others, an important consideration if you have someone with asthma or allergies in the household, as well as from a cleaning perspective. Some breeds, such as Siamese are more aloof than others, which is not ideal if you want a family pet to play with and pet. Also consider you climate when purchasing a cat – it is not ideal to have a breed with a long thick coat in a tropical climate, nor is it ideal to have the hairless sphinx breed in a very cold climate.
In most cases, the easiest to care for cat is the common short haired tabby. They are the obvious choice in warmer climates; and they require little grooming. Although there is no scientific evidence to back this up, some owners find their tabbies to be far less affectionate than their pedigree counterparts. They are also much less susceptible to several diseases that can plague pure breeds (eg. viral infections in the upper respiratory tract). The tabby has virtually no hereditary or congenital abnormalities. If you want to rescue an animal from a shelter, most often you will get a tabby. Animals from shelters are usually cheap, and often will have had a general veterinary exam. Some places may even have them desexed for you.
Dogs come in many sizes, shapes and colours. Those conforming to specific standards are classified as breeds. Various breeds have been developed over generations for specific purposes (eg. sport, work, appearance or lap dogs).
Size and Temperament
Size and temperament differ according to the breed you select. Small dogs are more appropriate in urban areas because of the space restrictions. They are also cheaper as they require less food and they excrete less faeces (which is a serious problem in urban areas). While issues of size are generally pretty clear, it is also essential to understand the temperament of a particular breed. Some breeds are prone to biting; such as Dobermans, Rottweilers and other dogs that have been bred for security, hunting or farming work. Some smaller dogs can be ‘yappy’ and will have a tendency to ‘nip’. This can be resolved with training, however in dogs bred for hunting/security/farming work, this can be a genetic trait and will always remain an underlying issue.
While a small dog is generally ideal for young children or the elderly, some breeds, such as terriers do have this nipping tendency, which can be very dangerous with these people. It is rare for a dog to bite its owner, but it is an owners responsibility to prevent the dog from biting other people.
As with cats pure dog breeds are also susceptible to hereditary abnormalities and disease susceptibility. While buying a pure breed will give you some confidence in your pets temperament, final size and appearance there are a number of mental as well as physical problems you need to be aware of. Some examples include dogs such as Corgis and Dachshunds suffer from back problems which can lead to paralysis of the rear legs. This is because they have been specifically bred to have much longer backs. Paralysis may be temporary, and treatable however it can also become permanent.
Aggression is probably the most well known inherited trait in dogs. While breeders of ‘aggressive’ breeds will often be passionate about the loyal and friendly nature of the dogs, it will take time to breed this trait out of the population.
Deafness and eye problems are associated with some breeds including Poodles, Cattle Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Border Collies and Golden Retreivers. King Charles Spaniels, and also Boxers and Dobermans can suffer severe inherited heart disease. Joint problems are also a concern in many breeds, with larger breeds at risk of hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, while small and miniature breeds can suffer patella (knee cap) dysplasia.