Laura said:I think that one of the most important things to do before getting a pet is to decide what you want, expect, and can give in the pet-human relationship. Then, think logically and coolly about the kind of dog that fits in that slot. You need to consider space available vs the size and energy of the dog. You need to consider your time available and how much you are at home. How much energy do YOU have to give?
Some people seem to have some "self image" fantasy of themselves and their trusty dog of one sort or another... maybe they read about such a dog in a book, or saw it in a movie, or somebody else had such a dog and it looked good. So, they imagine themselves with this type of dog without giving one minute of thought to the reality.
The worst thing I see over and over again is people trying to make house pets out of hunting type dogs. Herding dogs are great family dogs if you have the space for them. They don't do well in apartments or small places. They like to have work to do.
There are some very small dogs that are able to entertain themselves a good deal if provided for, that are okay in small places where the person has minimal time and energy to give, but still, the dog needs a person to BE THERE too. If you can't be there, don't torture a critter by locking them up alone in a house or apartment all day.
Remember that a pet is a companion - that means keeping each other company. So figure out what you like and do and find the dog that is the right fit.
Thanks Laura, this makes a lot of sense. We are toying with the idea of getting a hunting-type dog for quite a while, but didn't do it so far for many of the reasons you gave. If we were to get one, we surely would go to a hunting dog training class and do the necessary official audit/test so that we can actually use it for hunting. Needless to say, that's a huge commitment, you have to go to classes every weekend for months, do the audit, and train the dog as much as possible in your free time. You also need to have a firm authority over such a dog, not spoil it, not give in etc., all very difficult. Of course, for that you need to spend a lot of time with it. Anything less is cruel for hunting dogs and will lead to many problems, and that's why so far we have decided against it.
I've seen it again and again how hunting dogs are bought as mere pets, and they become unfulfilled and problematic. In one case we know, the dog suddenly started chasing deer for miles and killed it, with the owners totally helpless. Another common problem for terrier and dachshund type dogs is that they chase and enter foxholes (that's their very purpose!), where they can die quickly either by being killed by the fox/badger or by getting stuck, especially if untrained. It's really not a good idea to have such a dog just because 'he looks sweet'.