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I am going to start high school next year and am thinking about getting a dog. I live in a house with a medium sized backyard, and have no experience owning a dog. I am looking for a low maintenence, calm and affectionate lap dog. The dog will need to be left alone for about six hours a day. I have done some research and am thinking about a bichon frise, maltese, or a pug. Can you please give me some insight on which dog will fit my needs the best?
Thank you:)
 

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Well, one important questions is how much grooming do you (realistically) want to do?

Bichons need pretty much daily brushing and combing, as well regular clipping and/or scissoring to maintain their coat.

Maltese don't require as much grooming, but still need a thorough brushing and combing at least once a week.

Keeping a Bichon or Maltese clipped really short can help cut down on the amount of daily grooming, but will still require regular upkeep. Purchasing clippers and learning to do the grooming yourself will be a few hundred dollars up front expense, while professional grooming can be upwards of $100 every six to eight weeks.

In terms of brushing and combing, Pugs require the least amount of effort, but their face wrinkles require regular cleaning, and in general health issues, they are prone to elongated soft palates which can cause breathing problems.
 

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Have you spoken to your parent/guardian about this? Someone in your family would need to be financially responsible for the dog. A well-bred purebred dog is going to cost you somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000. Don't buy a dog from a breeder unless you are going to do the necessary research needed to find an ethical, responsible preservation breeder. If you'd rather rescue, there are plenty of breed-specific rescue organizations that can help you find a dog to adopt that will cost less up front. But you will also need to factor in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars you will spend per year on food, training, veterinary care, grooming, toys, etc. If you've never had a dog, you will likely need to find a professional trainer. A dog can be a 15+ year commitment - if you go away to college and have to live in a dorm, who will care for the dog? If it's your parent/guardian, for example, you may want to consider letting that person choose the breed.
 

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If you are looking for low maintenance I would not choose a bichon or maltese. They both have high maintenance coats and are prone to skin issues. They are both expensive to have professionally groomed every 4-6 weeks. The pug is lower maintenance, but depending on your climate may be prone to breathing issues. If you like these breeds you might want to visit a shelter and see if they have any adult dogs for adoption. If money is no object, then by all means find yourself a really good breeder. They will often sell dogs that do not fit their breeding program or are not quite show quality.
Your life will change many times over during the 15 year life of a dog you acquire now. As you move into a very active lifestyle in your 20's you will have an aging dog that may require a good deal of special care.
 
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