• Louise Kyei-Balffour

The Whippet is a medium sized, short haired sighthound. They are usually 17 – 20 inches tall and have a lifespan of 12-14 years. They are quiet, sweet, affectionate dogs and make great family pets.

Whippets are generally considered to be a very healthy breed, with no genetic illness or hereditary conditions. Because they are lean and muscular dogs they are structurally sound, so they are easy to keep fit and healthy.

Whippets are sighthounds which means they were originally bred to course hare and like most sighthound breeds can take off in a moment if they see something small and moving in their eye-line. They are generally easier to train than most sighthound breeds and quite often happy to chase a ball. Training is advised to get that recall up to scratch though!

Whippets are quiet dogs, not known as barkers and after they’ve had a run, very happy to sleep the rest of the day. They don’t like going out in the rain and cold and usually need a coat to cope with the elements. Because they have no body fat when fit (and no-one wants to see a fat whippet, so keep them lean!), they can need an extra layer of fleece in the winter at night.

If you are happy to adopt a dog, then there are often whippets in rescue, but even more so whippet crossbred lurchers who are usually similar in size and temperament, depending on what they are crossed with.

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  • Louise Kyei-Balffour

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier (commonly referred to as the Staffie) is a short coated, medium sized terrier. They are usually between 14-16 inches tall and have a life span between 12 – 15 years. They are warm, loyal and affectionate dogs and make very good family pets.

They are considered to be a generally healthy breed although can suffer from a hereditary eye condition (not overly common). However this can be identified through DNA screening so if you are getting a puppy make sure both parents have been tested.

Staffies have a reputation for being fighting dogs, however this is not in their nature and although, sadly, some people do still use them as fighting dogs, if you have your dog from a puppy and get it well socialised with people and other dogs, you will have a friendly, steady and loveable dog for life. They have lots of energies for fun walks but are just as happy to doze at home once they’ve had their exercise.

They were recently declared the favourite dog breed of the UK and a Eukanuba survey revealed that they were one of the most communicative and affectionate breeds. They also have a smile to die for! Sadly, they are one of the breeds that suffers from over breeding in the UK, so lots of Staffies end up in rescue. So, if you are open to adopting a dog then find out where your nearest reputable rescue is and see if your new best friend is waiting for you!

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  • Louise Kyei-Balffour

Cocker Spaniels are small gun dogs with a long, thick coat that needs regular grooming and clipping. They are usually between 14 – 16 inches tall. Their life span is usually between 12 – 15 years. Despite their sweet appearance these dogs were bred to hunt and so need an active lifestyle. They generally have a good temperament but usually need a decent amount of training as they can be quite head strong and skittish if left to their own devices.

Cocker Spaniels are predisposed to ear problems, due to their long, thick ears which are easy traps for parasites, foreign bodies and yeast and bacterial infections. These are usually treated with a course of antibiotics and ear drops although in some cases surgery is needed. Keeping the ears clipped short and frequently cleaned can keep any nasty infections at bay. They are also prone to PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) which can lead to blindness. Again, if you are going to a responsible breeder for your Cocker Spaniel then make sure the parents have been tested for PRA.

Be aware that there are three types of Cocker Spaniel in the UK. There is the American Cocker Spaniel which has a smaller head and body to the English Cocker. There is also a Show-bred Cocker Spaniel (these are the most common type), and the Working Cockers. Do not get a working Cocker Spaniel unless you have a very active lifestyle. They want to be on the go all the time and therefore do not make easy pets. The show-bred Cocker is more relaxed and an hours walk a day should be enough to keep it happy.

Cocker Spaniel’s also like to retrieve toys and go swimming when they can. They are also pretty easy to train as they are very motivated by food. But again, due to their thick coat and love of the outdoors, remember that as pretty as they look in the pictures on top of chocolate boxes, they were originally bred to work, so they want to get down and dirty with their doggy friends! Frequent trips to the groomers to clip their coat is necessary and because of their ear issues, it’s good to get into a daily routine of brushing their coats, checking and cleaning their ears.

They make excellent guard dogs as they are very vocal if they hear an unfamiliar noise or knock at the door. If you prefer a quieter breed they may not be for you!

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