I wasn't too sure if this would be the right place for this post, but here it goes:
Hey everyone, I am new here, and I hope to soon to be a first time dog owner, I have been doing plenty of research online for a few different breeds and have narrowed my search to two possible breeds, 1) border collie or 2) german shepherd.
I've come here hoping to get some people who have had personal experience with both breeds that could help guide me to buying a dog, which I will be able to give the best quality of life too.
I've read that both breeds are active and require a fair amount of exercise and stimulation/interaction, border collies more than german shepherds, I dont think this would be an issue, I have much experience handling and working with racing thoroughbreds, so I dont think working with a dog and teaching them would be so difficult.
I am currently a university student, so this means two things, a) there will be times where I will be unable to dedicate my full attention to my dog for a few days (exams, assignments etc.) this wont mean I wont take him/her for walks, it just means I can not do as much as I would like. Also this means b) Money is an issue, I dont want to buy crap food for my dog, as mentioned above, i worked with racing thoroughbreds and I understand quality is everything, giving an animal quality attention, diet, environment will result in a happier animal.
Also grooming requirements, I understand that all dogs shed (I have a family cat that sheds year round, she hates being groomed, let alone bathed). With this is mind, out of a border collie and german shepherds what would the requirements be? and what would be an easier coat to look after?
Please, anyone who could help with my situation based on the information I have given, it would be much appreciated. I forgot to mention I do have a large backyard, and I do not live in a rural area.
Also some additional info:
The backyard is fenced. A fair amount of exercise would be 2 walks a day, as well as teaching tricks/obedience, this may change on weekends if I have time to go to a dog park/beach then I will definately go there.
WELL, I'm currently a full time student at PSU so I feel like this might be my expertise. I'm a senior, not sure what year you are, and I'm also a chair of an organization and work a part time job (to give you an idea of my workload). I already have one GSD who is four, and since she is conditioned to have a huge yard at home, my parents watch her during the semester.
SO, I decided to get my second GSD while I was down here (at school). I got an 8 week old DDR (East) male GSD. He is now 6 months old. In my honest opinion, if I could go back I would probably have waited until I graduated. To explain why, I'll break down your two concerns of time and money.
First, time. I'm not sure if you are also working, but you need to take in your class schedule in account. The first month for potty training is crucial. Is your schedule set up that you'll be able to run home every one to two hours in-between classes to let the little one out? If not, do you have someone who can let them out? As young puppies, they can NOT hold it very long (and honestly shouldn't be forced to).
If you also have a job, is someone going to be able to exercise and take out your puppy for those longer class-straight-to-work days?
What about your homework ? You know that once the beginning of the semester is over you will eventually have homework every night. What about that ? Are you going to be able to go to class, get your homework done AND exercise, train and bond with your puppy? What about the nights that your friends will want to go out, are you willing to stay in?
And lastly, finals week. Is a distracting puppy going to affect your grades?
You should really evaluate these questions.
In my opinion, an answer to most of these questions is no.
In my experience, it was a "yes" for me because 1) I have a wonderful vet assistant as a roommate and 2) I pulled outrageous time efficient nights, never went out, and pretty much sacrificed everything to make my life work with my puppy. And let me tell you, it was NOT easy and I don't think the normal person could do it. If I wasn't a crazy animal lover it probably wouldn't have worked for me.
If you don't think you can devote a huge chunk of time, I would say wait. Because your time in college will most likely correlate with their puppy stages. And those are the most crucial stages you need to spend with your puppy. Your life will be MUCH easier if you wait until you graduate.
Second, money. First of all, if you're considering a purebred, especially a GSD, you must choose a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders put a lot of effort and money into ensuring they're raising quality dogs, and in return their puppies will not be cheap. My first GSD was $900 and my second GSD (the puppy I've raised here) cost me $1200. I also spent almost $180 on gas to drive and pick him up.
Next, you have the astronomical initial costs of first getting a puppy. You will need to invest in a crate, leash/collar, dishes and all the supplies that you will need. The large crate I got was $80, and he's almost out-grown it. All the random supplies like dishes,leashes, shampoos, and bed are about another $100 (that really depends on the bed).
And then of course the biggest initial expense : the vet. The puppy will need not just a couple, but a SERIES of shots. At least 3 parvo/distemper shots (I went with four to be safe), two Lyme (optional but highly recommended in tick infested areas), bordatella (sp?)(optional but highly recommended in large dog populated areas ), and of course rabies. They will also want to do an initial exam as a new puppy, and a check up later. This will add up immensely. And since they are all 3-4 weeks apart, the cost will be practically right on top of each other. Then, you will need a flea and worm preventative EVERY month. Since your puppy will constantly change weights, you will have to buy them individually (instead of bulk sale). Revolution is $20 a dose (depending on your vet).
At one visit (yes, ONE), my bill was $137. Mind you he had three visits in a row.
After your puppy receives all this, his vet bills will begin to lessen because the boosters are farther apart. However, what if he was to have a medical emergency? Would anyone be willing to step in and front you the money?
Then of course, we have food, bones, and toys. Dogs, of course, eat the most as puppies. I was going through a bag every two weeks. I fed him Blue Buffalo, which averages around $55 a bag. It's slowed as I have changed his portions but again, it still isn't cheap as you know. Bones and toys, well you'll probably want to replace those weekly for awhile as he's exploring his teeth, I think I spent about $20 a week on new bones and toys.
And since you are a first time dog owner choosing between the most intelligent breeds, you would probably want to enroll in a puppy class. More time and more money.
Puppies in general are IMMENSELY expensive, and at one point I donated plasma to be able to afford his Blue buffalo one week while I was in-between paychecks.
As for shedding, they shed a decent amount. As for the comparison between the breeds I'm not sure.
What I'm trying to get is all the things I DIDN'T think about before getting him, and wish I had. Though my parents would happily intervene cost wise, the time was never irreplaceable. Granted I am VERY happy with my puppy, sometimes I think about all the time and money I would have if I would have waited a little longer to get him. I hope you'll consider all of this before making your decision.
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