Easy – a rescue dog. You can have any breed or crossbreed really, as long as you can provide its exercise needs, and keep it physically and mentally stimulated.
But the best dog in most situations is a rescue dog and there are obviously lots of them out there who desperately need loving forever homes. So contact your local rescue centre and adopt a new best friend! You might also be surprised that one of the best breeds to adopt are retired greyhounds. They sleep most of the day and don’t need as much exercise as people think. It’s also worth exploring all different breeds, especially Staffies and bull-breeds, as well as considering an older dog; they're usually happy sleeping most of the day too.
"The best dog in most situations is a rescue dog and there are obviously lots of them out there who desperately need loving forever homes."
One charity I’m patron of is the Oldies Club. They rehome dogs over eight years old. That would be a really good starting point for anyone who wants a dog in a small flat, or first time owners. Go to the Oldies Club website - there will probably be a rescue centre near you that has an older dog who’s perfect for you.
Everyone seems obsessed with 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 can be prone to suffering serious health and behaviour problems if irresponsibly bred. As long as the dogs are bred responsibly, i.e: health-tested, well-socialised, and if not rescued, then always seen interacting with mum at the place they were bred - it really doesn’t matter what they are.
"Never buy from a pet shop or any third party puppy seller. You are 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 dog to take its place."
This is a really important point. People tend to think it’s just a black and white issue when it comes to ‘designer’ crossbreed dogs – like anything crossed with a poodle doesn’t shed. It does. That anything ‘cross’ is ‘healthier’. Well if you’ve got a poodle with serious eye problems and you breed with a Labrador who’s got bad hips, you’re potentially breeding a blind, severely arthritic dog requiring years of surgical treatment, or worse, euthanasia.
Breeding must be done responsibly, and in my opinion, prospective dog owners cannot do enough research to find out that it is. My advice is always go down the rescue route, where there are often puppies available too. Never buy from a pet shop or any third party puppy seller. You are 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 dog to take its place, so rather than 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 they were born well-away from their mum. They’re being told to see the mum, which is great, but they’re also being told as long as a pet shop is licensed, and the dogs they sell are from licensed breeders, often puppy farms, that’s okay.
"I and many other animal lovers are campaigning to change the law, so the public will have to go direct to the breeder and witness the breeding conditions, the environment the dog was bred in, and of course see the mum."
Furthermore pups sold via third parties are also 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 wrong. It’s legalised cruelty astonishingly supported it seems by some larger animal charities, pet food companies, as well as pet insurance providers which enable and encourage puppy farming to continue behind closed doors.
The public are put in a very awkward position – but never as awkward as the dogs themselves. That’s why I and many other animal lovers are campaigning to change the law, so the public will have to go direct to the breeder and witness the breeding conditions, the environment the dog was bred in, and of course see the mum. That would put a huge public inspectorate pressure on the breeders to either choose to improve so they become ethical, or decide not to improve and go out of business as no-one is buying dogs from them and they’re being reported for cruelty.
Make sure your flat is pet-proofed before you get a dog - 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, toys, treats, and you should be fine – and house-train ASAP if they're not already. Basically, if you want a dog, do your research and don’ t let your heart rule your head. But best of all, go for a rescue dog.