Many people buy a dog of a working breed and expect to make a house pet out of it. While our dogs are in the house every evening, they must be constantly supervised for their own protection- they are agile and intelligent companions with a low boredom threshold (they are MUCH better in the house if they've just come back from a 10 mile sled run!).

Don't expect that just playing with a working dog a few minutes a day in the yard or taking it for a walk once a day will be enough. Dogs like Shorthairs and some herding dogs, especially from trial lines, are specifically bred to run at top speed for HOURS over all kinds of terrain. Taking it for a walk on a leash can be educational and entertaining for the dog, but it won't begin to take the edge of his or her energy. Mushing, skijoring, jogging, hunting, and SAFE free running (especially beside a bike) are more suitable. If you are thinking about getting a dog from a working breed and are not currently physically active, please consider getting an older dog from breed rescue or getting another breed altogether. Getting an active dog as an excuse to start an exercise program that hasn't materialized yet isn't in either you or the dog's best interests!

You must be able and willing to provide for the working dog's extra nutritional and veterinary needs as well. Many vets are not familiar with the kinds of injuries a working dog can sustain, so continual research on treatments and prevention is a good idea. Pointing dogs in particular can have an unbelievably high metabolism. A diet of 30% protein and 20% fat or better is a good base to start from, and under heavy work may need to be supplemented with meat. Having said that, keep in mind that keeping your pet overweight will decrease it's life span and quality of life as surely as it does in humans. Working dogs in general are kept thinner than most pets so they will not be as prone to injury and overheating.

With a little foresight and knowledge of the major commitment you're making, working dogs DO make good pets. Just make sure your expectations are reasonable so that you don't contribute to the masses of dogs that are killed every year for being what they are supposed to be- driven, active, intelligent, and athletic.