Ask The Dog Guide: Urban Dogs

August 12th, 2007 by Dan

Question: My fiancee and I are looking to get a dog but not sure what breed would be suitable for an urban environment. Also, I’m away a lot so she wants it for some company and also safety. We live in a 2 bed. house with front and back garden if that helps.

Answer: Contrary to popular opinion, having a dog in the city is perfectly fine. That statement comes with some big ‘IF’s', though: if you choose good breed/dog, if you have the time to commit to your new pet (a dog is not a cat, after all), if you understand the added factors that come with urban life and are prepared to deal with them. If one of you is away a lot, it’s important that the other be home a lot to make sure your new dog receives adequate attention.

First, since this was the main question, avoid (some) working/herding breeds. Collies, Shepards, Hounds and Dobermans, just to name a few, are not well-suited for city life. A dog that needs a task all the time to be content will most likely not be happy in a city, unless you’re exceptionally motivated and are able to provide enough stimulation. Also consider natural habitat- Huskies and Newfoundlands, for example, are from colder climates and have thick/longer coats (which means they also shed like crazy a couple times a year). If you’re in a city that gets very hot, which most do, such dogs will not be comfortable. You get the idea- don’t go for a dog that is cute and intelligent (as so many working breeds are) without first thinking about what kind of lifestyle that dog needs to be happy and well-adjusted, or you might instead end up with a cranky, loud, destructive dog.

Some breed ideas: Greyhounds, as they’re couch potatoes; Pit Bulls, very loyal and friendly, and usually as happy to curl up in bed as well as go for a 5 mile walk or run; English or French Mastiffs, which are generally pretty calm and stable as well as natural guard dogs; Boxers; Spaniels; Labradors. Some small dogs are also good to consider, though others are not due to excessive barking and housebreaking issues common to many small breeds. Small dogs will not provide much in the way of real protection, either, though they certainly make good company. We honestly can’t recommend a Pit enough- there are plenty of them in rescue for free, and when raised/socialized well they’re amazing companions. Regardless of what dog/size you choose, crate training is a good idea.

Having a little space outside to let your dog out into is handy, but should not replace walks and other activity/stimulation. One of the reasons we often say city dogs are happier is because people in cities don’t have yards to let their dogs run around in, so those dogs get out and around more, whereas dogs in the suburbs are too often left with yards as their main outdoor environment.

As far as raising a puppy in the city, if that’s what you’ll be doing- be extra-aware of keeping him away from dog-populated areas until he’s fully vaccinated; keep treats on hand as she’s getting used to loud noises and all the other extra stimuli in your environment; and take advantage of all the dog-friendly areas you can find!





One Response to “Ask The Dog Guide: Urban Dogs”

  1. angels eyes Says:

    As an avid dog lover, I just wanted to say thank you.

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