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For many centuries dogs have been man’s companion and faithful servant. The dog is the only animal that has been able to adapt to and specialize in a variety of tasks to make himself useful to man.

Choosing a pup Bringing puppy home Training
Feeding Accommodation Travelling
Moving house Going overseas Problems relocating

Getting a dog

Before getting a dog consider:
  1. Do I have enough time to look after this living creature for the next 10 to 15 years? This includes grooming, exercising, companionship and training.
  2. Do I have enough resources not only for good food but also for veterinary services and possibly grooming parlours?
  3. What do I want this dog to be? A guard-dog? A watch-dog? A pet? A hunting-dog?
  4. Do I have enough space to keep the animal? A Great Dane or a Saint Bernard does not do well in a flat or town house.
  5. Where does the dog go when I go on holiday? To a kennel or is someone going to look after it at my home, or is it going with me on holiday?
  6. Where is the dog going to live? Outside or in the house with me?
  7. Am I allowed to keep a dog under my rental contract and, especially in town house complexes, will the neighbours accept the dog?

What sort of dog should I get?

  • If you are older and less energetic do not pick a dog that needs a lot of exercise.
  • If you like a clean house do not pick a dog that sheds a lot of hair, which rules out virtually all dogs that do not need to be trimmed.
  • If you do not have a lot of spare time ask yourself if it is fair on the dog to take it into your home. Every dog needs attention, and sometimes at the most inconvenient times. It is not sufficient for the animal to spend an hour or so of “quality time” with the boss.
  • If there are babies, toddlers or children in the home how will this breed of dog react to them and they to it?

Pure bred or mongrel?
A mongrel from an animal charity, a puppy from a neighbour or good friend’s litter (because they “are so cuuuuute!”), a puppy from a pet shop or a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder?

Mongrel and pet shop dogs also need a loving owner to care for and look after them and many can be very good companions and watch-dogs. However, getting a mongrel puppy from unknown parents can also often be heartbreaking as the cute little puppy may turn into a vicious, nasty character or a cowering coward or be just plain dumb. And even if the parents are known to be steady dogs some of the puppies may have inherited all the bad traits of both and not turn out like either. Alternatively the puppy can grow up to be a sickly, weird looking dog. Something like a Keeshond on a Dachshund chassis or just about the ugliest dog you have ever seen!

There are over 350 breeds of pure bred dogs in the world today, even though only 80 to 90 are available in South Africa. Surely one could find a suitable dog amongst that variety of sizes, coat texture, colours and temperaments. Buying a pure bred dog from a reputable breeder at least gives the surety that the dog’s temperament and shape and size are going to be what you expect them to be. Good breeders are registered with the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) which is the controlling body of dogdom in South Africa. A member of KUSA will give you, when you buy a puppy from him, a “Certificate of Registration and Certified Pedigree“ issued by the Kennel Union giving the dog's registration number, tattoo number and/or identity number, date of birth, any restrictions the breeder might have placed on the dog for breeding or showing and the names and registration numbers of the father and mother (sire and dam), grand sire and dam and great grand sire and dam.

To help you decide which would be the right dog for you in your circumstances look under Small dogs, Medium dogs, Large dogs or Giant dogs for a short description and characteristics of the breed as well as contact details of breeders and/or breed clubs.

Choosing a puppy
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Once you have decided on the breed of dog you want, get to know as much as you can about them. Ask KUSA for a breed standard. Speak to breeders and owners to find out about the dog you have decided on. A dog show is an excellent place to see good specimens and to speak to owners. At least once a year there is a major dog show in most of the larger towns and cities. Again you can get the information about shows from KUSA.

Having decided on a breeder, and with your new knowledge of the breed, study the mother (and if at all possible, the father as well). How well do they measure up to the breed standard, not only in conformation but also in temperament?

How are the puppies housed and cared for? Is their room and/or whelping box clean? Are the puppies clean and do they look healthy?

From a reputable breeder try to buy the last puppy in the litter. If the breeder is any good he will keep the best puppy till last in case he cannot sell the whole litter and is forced to keep the last puppy. He does not want to own an inferior dog. He is therefore going to try to sell the puppies which do not quite conform to his standard for the dogs first.

Bringing puppy home
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Before bringing puppy home:

  • Make sure that there is a “puppyproof” room or place where he can be left alone without causing damage or being damaged.
  • Have food and a water bowls for him as well as some dog food.
  • Prepare a warm and cozy place for him to sleep (he is still going to do a lot of that till he grows up!).
  • Get a loud ticking alarm clock. Wrap this in a towel and put it next to him at bedtime. The ticking will comfort him in his loneliness as he will think it is his mother’s heartbeat he is hearing.

Bringing puppy home:

From a good breeder, with your puppy you should get an inoculation certificate, a diet sheet and a quantity of the food he is used to as well as a bottle of water. Use the food and water to accustom his tummy to the water and food he is going to get from you by mixing the supplied water and food with your water and food, the first day 75% old food and water and 25% new food and water. The next day 50/50 and the third day 25/75. Thereafter he should be used to his new food and water.

Consider that the pup has just left the security of his nest and the company of his mother, brothers and sisters. He may be nervous of his new surroundings, so let him explore on his own and do not hassle him. Even though you may feel that he is never going to get out from beneath the sofa he will eventually. Speak gently to him and let him get used to your voice.

Puppy Training
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A few basic things that every dog should learn:
  • Sitting. This is quite easy to teach. Watch puppy and when he looks as if he wants to sit, give him the sit-command then praise him when it does just that.

  • Teach him to do his business in only one part of the garden. This will make cleaning up so much easier and avoid those unexpected close encounters of the turd kind. Watch when he goes out or take him out after every meal always to the same spot and again praise him when he performs. Ignore any mishaps.

  • Teach your puppy not to be neurotic about his food. Take his dish away from him while he is eating or move it about but replace it immediately.

  • Teach him to take food and tidbits only from the left hand. Few criminals are left handed and it will therefore be that much more difficult to poison him. If you have little children teach them too to feed the pup only with the left hand.

  • Teach puppy to eat only food that is in his dish and not to pick up anything from the lawn or garden. This is for his own protection.

  • Walking on a lead. When still very young put a collar or a piece of string around his neck to get him used to “being dressed”. After a few days attach a lead and let him walk around with it dragging behind him but watch him all the time to see that he does not come to any harm. A few days of this then pick up the lead but let him walk where he wants to. Eventually you can start steering him in the direction you want to go.

  • Riding in a vehicle. As a trip to the vet is inevitable it is good when a dog can travel in a car. Take him with you in the car whenever possible to get him used to it.

Feeding your dog
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If you bought your puppy from a breeder you would have received a diet sheet with the puppy. Follow this diet sheet.

When puppy is fully grown he can go onto your choice of commercial dog food which is available either wet, in cans, or dry. Smaller dogs often prefer canned food as this is easier for them to handle although many dog food manufacturers these days make food especially formulated for small, medium, large and giant dogs.

While most commercial dog foods are sufficient to maintain your dog in good condition it is sometimes nice for them to get something extra. People can survive on water but it is nice to have some wine occasionally. Table scraps added to your dog's food sometimes or some dog meat or mince from your butcher (who may let you have some sawdust from his meat saw) will make their meals more interesting and will not harm them. From time to time you could also add small quantities of a different dry dog food to their normal ration to make things a bit more interesting.

To maintain a dog's correct weight it is a good idea to let him fast one day per week, but always on the same day. Give only water on this day. This will clear the alimentary canal, food will be better metabolized and excreta will be smaller, Should your dog be over or under weight, this diet will ensure that your dog will attain its correct weight. Start this procedure at about 1 year of age by slowly reducing the amount of food on the particular day over a few weeks. He will soon learn that he does not eat on that day.

Where does he sleep?
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Your dog should have his own place to sleep. If he is allowed in the house he must have his own little place to settle. If he will be an “outside” dog he must have a proper kennel and a place to sleep. Even dogs that normally sleep in the house must at times spend days in the garden and proper facilities for protection from wind and weather must be provided. See:
Dog kennel.

Travelling with your dog
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It is illegal to travel with a dog in a car unless he is properly constrained. Small dogs may not sit on the driver’s lap or be draped around the driver’s neck or on the backrest of the driver’s seat. Travelling boxes are available from reputable pet shops and pet supply shops which make it safe and comfortable for your dog to travel. If you have very large dogs there is a car seat cover available that hooks over the headrests of the front seats and the backrest of the backseat forming a comfortable and safe hammock for your dog which will not only protect your seats but also prevent the dog from falling between the front and rear seats and getting stuck there.

When travelling a long distance be sure to stop regularly, and to take food and water with you. Many garages along the highways provide food and water for dogs but if your dog has a delicate tummy the foreign food and specially the water may cause tummy upsets.

Should you be moving to or from Natal and other rabies areas make sure that your dog’s rabies inoculations are up to date and not younger than two months. Take the inoculation certificate with you.

Make sure that the vehicle your dog travels in is well ventilated. Cars can get very hot inside and dogs can easily overheat. Never allow your dog to travel with its head out of an open window. A vacuum created by oncoming traffic could seriously damage its neck muscles or flying debris could be blown into its eyes.

Never travel with the dog loose on the back of an open LDV. It is easy for the dog to jump or fall off the bakkie while it is moving and be seriously hurt or even killed. It could also cause a serious accident. If it is inevitable that the dog has to be transported on a bakkie make sure that it is secured to the vehicle in such a way that it cannot jump over the sides. Never use a check chain (choke chain) to secure a dog to a moving vehicle. Dogs do not have enough sense to move forward when they are scared or excited by something and have come to the full extent of their lead and collar. They will simply keep on pulling to be rid of the constraint and so choke themselves to death. If at all possible let someone sit on the back of the bakkie with the dog.

Moving house
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It may be exciting for people to move to a new place and meet new friends but for your dog it may be a very traumatic experience.

Their new environment can either be very exciting or daunting to them. Moving dogs from a farm to a townhouse or vice versa could create difficulties. Make sure that the new premises you are moving to are “dogproof” so that your dogs do not decide to return to their old home on their own.

Show them around the new premises. Allow them to explore various parts of the garden and house and be with them as much as possible. It may take them several days or sometimes weeks to settle into the new place, so be patient.

Relocating overseas
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When relocating overseas consider:
  • Quarantine regulations vary from country to country.

    Australia: Dogs must be quarantined in South Africa for 90 days prior to travelling and will be quarantined in Australia for 120 days on arrival.

    New Zealand: Dogs must not have been in quarantine kennels in South Africa but will be quarantined for 120 days.

    England: The regulation is that the dog will be quarantined for 6 months.

  • Is the dog permitted in the country? American Pit Bull Terriers (Pit Bulls) amongst others are not allowed in Australia or New Zealand and in many other countries.

It is best to make use of a reputable
Pet Travel Agency when relocating overseas. It is expensive!

Problems with relocating
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If you cannot afford or are not allowed to take your dog overseas or, for that matter move it with you locally, you will have to re-home your dog. Most breed clubs have rescue schemes in place and even those who do not will be happy to help you find a new owner for your dog. Failing this, contact the nearest animal welfare agency branch for help.

Under no circumstances reply to advertisements in newspapers along the lines of “free dogs wanted for good homes” or even think about placing an advertisement for a “good home wanted”! A lot of these dogs land up with dog brokers who export the dogs to be used for security in countries like Malawi.


His Apologies

Master, this is Thy Servant. He is rising eight weeks old.
He is mainly Head and Tummy. His legs are uncontrolled.
But Thou hast forgiven his ugliness, and settled him on Thy knee...
Art Thou content with Thy Servant? He is very comfy with Thee.

Master, behold a Sinner! He hath committed a wrong.
He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long.
Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt, and his self-respect has been bruised.
Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly loosed.

Master, again Thy Sinner! This that was once Thy Shoe,
He has found and taken and carried aside, as fitting matter to chew.
Now there is neither blacking nor tongue, and the Housemaid has us in tow.
Master, remember Thy Servant is young, and tell her to let him go!

Master, extol Thy Servant, he has met a most Worthy Foe!
There has been fighting all over the Shop – and into the Shop also!
Till cruel umbrellas parted the strife (or I might have been choking him yet),
But Thy Servant has had the Time of his Life – and now shall we call on the vet?

Master, behold Thy Servant! Strange children came to play,
And because they fought to caress him, Thy Servant wentedst away.
But now that the Little Beasts have gone, he has returned to see
(Brushed – with his Sunday collar on) what they left over from tea.

Master, pity Thy Servant! He is deaf and three parts blind.
He cannot catch Thy Commandments. He cannot read Thy Mind.
Oh, leave him not to his loneliness; nor make him that kitten's scorn.
He hath had none other God than Thee since the year that he was born.

Lord, look down on Thy Servant! Bad things have come to pass.
There is no heat in the midday sun, nor health in the wayside grass.
His bones are full of an old disease – his torments run and increase.
Lord, make haste with Thy Lightnings and grant him a quick release!

Rudyard Kipling.

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The Kennel Union of Southern Africa

Dogs common in South Africa

Small dogs
Medium dogs
Large dogs
Giant dogs

Alphabetical listing

Afghan Hound
Airedale Terrier
Alaskan Malamute
American Cocker Spaniel
American Staffordshire Terrier
Australian Cattle Dog
Basset Hound
Bearded Collie
Belgian Shepherd Dog - Groenendael
Belgian Shepherd Dog Laekenoise
Belgian Shepherd Dog Malinois
Belgian Shepherd Dog Tervueren
Border Collie
Boston Terrier
Bouvier des Flandres
Bull Terrier
Cairn Terrier
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Chow Chow
Cocker Spaniel
Collie, rough and smooth
Fox Terrier Smooth
Fox Terrier Wire
French Bulldog
German Shepherd Dog
German Short-haired Pointer
Giant Schnauzer
Golden Retriever
Gordon Setter
Great Dane
Irish Setter
Irish Terrier
Irish Wolfhound
Italian Greyhound
Kerry Blue Terrier
King Charles Spaniel
Labrador Retriever
Mexican Hairless
Miniature Poodle
Miniature Schnauzer
Old English Sheepdog
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Red Setter
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Saint Bernard
Scottish Terrier
Shetland Sheep-dog
Shih Tzu
Siberian Husky
Springer Spaniel
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Standard Poodle
Standard Schnauzer
Toy Pom
Toy Poodle
Welsh Corgi
West Highland White Terrier
White Swiss Shepherd Dog
Yorkshire Terrier