Just because a dog is popular, doesn't mean it's right for you

Apr. 29—The Northern Inuit surged in popularity after portraying 'dire wolves' on Game of Thrones.

The new streaming series "Fallout" features a Belgian Malinois, or Belgian Shepherd that is soon to become a fan favorite.

Not everyone is cut out to own an active dog like that.

Animal shelters in the past have complained that certain dogs breeds will get dumped on shelters after owners realized they don't have the time or consider everything else that comes with owning an active dog breed.

Dr. Jennifer Devine is an Associate Veterinarian at Rose Rock Vet Hospital in Norman. Originally, from Atlanta, she attended Oklahoma State for veterinary school where she graduated in 2015. She works as a rehab referral veterinarian for the Oklahoma City Metro area, Southern Oklahoma Region, and North Texas. She has advice for people considering an active dog.

1. Some dog breeds become instantly popular if they've been featured on a famous film or television program, what are some things you wish people knew before they adopt dogs?

Every owner needs to research the breed they are looking into. Hollywood influences purchase of purebreds. These breeds have decades of research behind them and the information is easily accessible online. Prospective owners need to research the three life stages of the breed: puppy, adult and senior. Each stage can come with its own behavioral and health concerns. Owners need to be prepared for the time input, emotional and financial commitment that owning a specific breed can involve. Owners need to research the breeders. Many people are trying to make money by breeding the "popular" breeds but lack concern for the welfare and health of the adults and offspring they are breeding and care for. Owners need to research their breeder and make sure they are going through appropriate health clearances for the breed. Those health clearances are listed on the AKC website.

Now before the public comes after my responses with fire and pitch forks, I do own a purebred. I do a lot of outreach (low cost spay and neuter clinic + vaccine clinics) with the community and have done a lot of work with the shelter in my past. We foster and help adopt out animals, but I elected to own a specific breed due to temperament and energy level.

We own a Weimaraner. I wanted a dog that was good with kids, high energy for outdoor exercise and activities and a short coat. We screened the parents of our dog heavily before we selected a puppy. Knowing that this breed can have orthopedic and heart health concerns, we also invested in pet insurance to help with his medical costs.

Owning an animal is a time and financial investment.

2. What are the dog breeds people really need to be the most aware of in terms of how much exercise/attention/stimulation they need?Any dog that was bred for an active job: herding, hunting, protection, etc. If it ran miles through the tundra, guarded from harm, or was bred to keep up with fire engines, a prospective owner needs to check out the energy levels of an adult dog first. Terriers, in general, are a commonly overlooked breed for their significant energy and hunting. They require daily exercises and mental stimulation.

3. What are other common mistakes people make when adopting dogs?

People almost always drastically overestimate how much exercise and energy they will be able to give a dog. Also, if your dog was bred for hunting, you cannot get angry when they kill and bring you a bunny from the backyard. Many owners get angry at their pets for traits that they were bred for. The dachshund may be cute and come in a variety of colors, but they are avid hunters and diggers.

4. If people do adopt a dog that requires more exercise or attention than they previously thought but are still committed to making things work, what are some tips for helping a dog burn off energy? Give the dog a job that works their brain as well as their body. You can run a husky 20 miles a day but they will still get in trouble if you don't keep them busy when you're not home. You can't get upset when you are gone for 10 hours and come home to find that the couch looks like a snow storm. These are active breeds that require an active style. Having your pet orally sedated every day is not the answer to keeping them "calm", an active and engaging lifestyle is the best "medicine" and training for active breeds. For example, Border Collies are meant to 'think', so give them a challenge beforethey make it their life's work to escape your house or make raccoons look inefficient at raiding trash cans. Their need to think and be active is why they make phenomenal agility dogs.

I have many owners that utilize our local doggie daycares. If an owner cannot be active with a pet, I always recommend seeking an activity for the dog to participate in — playtime at daycare or dog walker. Interviewing your daycare or dog walker is a necessity to make sure that they are the best fit for you and your dog. Many programs will have different activity groups for different ages/energy levels. Any playtime activity has the potential to result in injury or even the spreading of intestinal parasites or upper respiratory diseases. I recommend the owner consults with the primary care Veterinarian in regards to preventative care measure that can be taken and opening up the conversation about pet insurance for accidents and injuries. As much as I would like to put my dog and human children in a protective bubble, I know that they are all boys and they will play hard and occasionally get hurt. Being prepared is the best way to handle any situation that could arise.

5. Is there anything else you think people should know?

Many Vet Offices, like Rose Rock Vet Hospital, will offer breed counseling for prospective owners. We send out a detailed questionnaire, owner fills it out and then makes an appointment with one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians to go over many of the concerns listed above. Our goal is to help owners find a breed that will fit their lifestyle. It breaks my heart to see dogs/breeds surrendered to rescues and shelters for behaviors that they were bred for.

My greatest request from owners — look into pet insurance, talk with your vet about pet insurance. Pet insurance has saved the lives of many animals in my practice. Puppies with broken legs, hit by car cases, chronic disease cases, etc. We offer counseling on pet insurance as well. Everyday I walk owners through what companies are available, the type of coverage they need to look for (breed dependent), and basics on how it works.