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We have never had a dog in our family. One of the breeders of Australian labradoodles is trying to find a home for a 5 year old female.

The fact that it’s a more mature dog and it is already house trained is a plus for us.

What advice would you have for our family? Are there things that we should know before applying for adoption? Do we have to have her spayed?

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First you need to make sure that you're able and willing to carry the financial burden of a dog. How much does the dog food for a year cost? How much is the charge for the annual vet checkup and shots? Depending on where you live you'll need to deworm your dog every 3 - 4 months. As the dog grows older, the risk of costly operations or a need for medication rises. Ask your vet for the cost of the most common medical procedures and the most common long-term medications.

The question of spaying comes down to your preference. If you're certain that no runaway dog can have a rendez-vous with her, you don't need to spay her. It's usually advised to spay a young dog to avoid cancer, but since she (presumably) already had babies, that risk is neglectable. The big exception is if the becomes fake-pregnant (meaning: she produces milk) during her menstruation then her risk of mammary cancer is high. (Source: my former dog and my vet.)

Next is the question of the character of your dog. Labradors and Poodles are usually calm and friendly dogs, Australian Shepherds are high energy working dogs. But you should never forget that the breed has only a limited influence on the dog. Every one has their own personal character and even a Labrador can be packed with energy. I suggest scheduling a meeting with the breeder where you have at least an entire hour to get to know the dog before committing.

There are signs in a dogs body language that are hard to interpret correctly if you don't have experience with dogs. I'll try to list some that are easiest to see in a first meeting.

  • If the dog immediately jumps at you and will barely let you take a step before jumping at you again or shoving a toy in your direction, it's a high energy dog that will require a human with equally much energy to play and go on extended walks. If you come home after a long day of work and just want to relax, this dog will demand that you get up and play with him or she'll take your entire house apart out of boredom. (Source: my former dog. He was a real bit of work until old age calmed him down.)
  • If the dog has her tail between her legs and won't approach you for more than 5 minutes, it's an anxious dog. I usually see this kind of behavior in rescued street dogs and they need a dedicated owner with much time and patience to come out of their shells. They can be lovely dogs, but they require an initial investment in time and training. A big family with small children might be too much stress for them. (Source: the dog of a friend and several other rescued street dogs.)
  • If the dog is glued to her current owner and doesn't venture too far from them, she might be socially anxious and have separation anxiety. These dogs can become very lovely and cuddly, and they are the perfect companions you can take with you everywhere. But you cannot leave them alone for 8 hours a day while you're at work and some even refuse to eat if left at a dog hotel for a week while you're on vacation. (Source: my current dog and the dog of a friend.)
  • In general, look at the behavior of the dog and expect more of that. If the dog cuddles with you, who are basically strangers to her, she's most likely a very social and cuddly dog. If she shoves a toy at you, she's most likely toy oriented and sees you as her walking ball throwing machine. If there's a mix of play and calm interactions, the dog is more likely to be balanced like that. Also ask the current owner about her quirks and anything you should be aware of.
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    In addition, you want to make sure she’s properly socialized. There are a few backyard breeders that just try to churn out plenty of puppies and then discard the bitch after a few years. So ask about her history and do your research on the breeder, just to be sure. Follow the same principle you would when choosing a source for a puppy.
    – Stephie
    Dec 23, 2022 at 13:08

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