View Full Version : Looking for a family dog - need input on Jack Russells and others?

Nov. 27, 2009, 10:49 AM
After several years of being dogless we are looking at getting another dog. I'm just not sure what breeds to consider so thought I might post here for some input.

- we have a 100 acre horse farm so lots of room to run etc but house is also very close to the road. Thinking about getting the wireless fencing but our frontage is like 2000 ft and then what about the sides?!

- we are home 24/7, can't often get away from the farm lol so dog won't be alone.

- have a 3 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter. Daughter likes to cuddle, son is active and would love a dog that he could play with, throw balls for etc. He would keep it very busy but I'm concerned about safety with a young child like that. We do have a housecat that he's great with, he's not rough.

- our house is not overly big so I don't want a big dog we will all be tripping over.

- dog needs to be good with horses as we have a pile of them :D

SO what dog breed (realizing they are all individuals but in general...) is tolerant of and gets along well with children, likes to play, is good with cats and would be OK around horses, isn't too big and is not prone to wandering (i.e. I've had a hound before that would follow his nose without thinking).

Personally I've always wanted a Jack Russell and the size would be great but I'm wondering how safe they are around little kids and cats? Are they just a bad idea?

My other first choice would be a Border Collie but I'm thinking too high energy in a smallish house perhaps and also might be more prone to wandering and maybe not so good with little kids?

My husband is a bit of a neat freak too so wouldn't be crazy about something with long hair/major shedding.

Suggestions anyone??

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:26 AM
You can never go wrong with a good mutt. Lots of beagle crosses can be a great size and temperament for families and at least at our local shelter, there seems to be loads of them lately.

We have a West Highland Terrier who is a fun family dog. His only downfall is that he can be kind of yappy. But he's a great size, has a wonderful disposition, and has more of a "big dog" mentality. He does fine with our toddler but I'd say on the whole, they may be more suited to older kids. They can also be plagued by allergies though knock on wood, in 12 years our has had no issues.

But hands down our female Golden is the best kid dog ever. She is so, so smart. And she has a very confident but submissive nature to being with and has never gotten the least bit agitated with anyone or anything. I know you should never trust any dog 100% but she is pretty darn close. Her and m 3 year old are two peas in a pod.... Lots of hair though!!!

Whatever you do, don't get too hung up on breed... treat every dog as an individual. There are good and bad examples in every breed and even the notoriously good "family dog" breeds will have individuals that have been over-bred and have poor temperaments or issues.

Take your time and good luck!

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:42 AM
I am a serious poodle fan. The vast majority of poodles I've met (with over 30 years of serious dog experience) are solid gold: embarrassingly easy to train, long-lived, non-shedding, active but not hyper, fantastic with kids...I could keep going. My favorite size is the mini at around 13" (I find toys a bit too small for outside farm life) but a standard poodle would have a very similar temperament to a golden.

Don't bother with a doodle, though. That mix gets huge and hyper, and 1/2 the time the non-shedding qualities are lost.

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:45 AM
Australian Cattle Dog. We have one and she's a delight and pretty much sounds just like what you're asking for.

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:46 AM
as I listen to my jack bark at nothing, I am reminded what my DH said last night- Jacks are a love to hate kinda dog. We adore her, but she also makes us NUTS. Yes, she ended up at the shelter for a reason (we had some aggression issues when we first got her, never mind housebreaking) and you have to be really firm with them otherwise they can go in the wrong doggie direction with ease. Obviously this is not all of them, some Jacks are great. But a lot of them, well, love to hate 'em. Football shaped for a reason...

Out mutt, adopted the same day, is easy and kind and loves kids. We adore her! She is not nearly as smart as the Jack, but, that's okay.

Look at the thread about adoptable animals and check out the site at 4Martini has listed. LOVELY dogs there, and trained!!!

Here are my girls- one year after being picked up from our humane society- the bigger one was at the end of her stay. Can you imagine???

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:51 AM
I do hope you'll save a doggie at the shelter. I took one in that was within an hour of euthanasia ~ had fleas, worms, bruises, a respiratory infection, was snappish, 50% underweight, and un-neutered. And he is hands down the cutest, funniest, most charming & fabulous dog I have ever owned. He just needed a chance and some TLC.
Not advocating a project dog like this, but just an example to keep an open mind & not focus entirely on a particular breed. Check your local rescues that foster dogs and see if there's a good match for you. Craigslist is usually chockful of these. I wish I could take in more.
Good luck! I hope you find a wonderful new family member to love.

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:54 AM
I have recently adopted a dog from a rescue. She is a chihauhau/rat terrier mix but mostly looks rat terrrier. LOVE HER, love everything about her. She is 13 1/2 pounds, about 15 inches tall, can bark (have heard her bark a total of 7 times in 3 months) but doesn't bark, is so so so smart and training is coming along very quickly, is fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you view it) glued to my side, does very well at horse shows as she loves other dogs, the horses, the people, and going. Is perfect in the hotels, in the car, in restaurants that I sneak her into. :) She is great with my three feral cats and my teenage children and all their friends who are not quiet and very in her face. She does need walks every day but that only serves to keep me healthy and fit. Did I say she was adorable as well?

Rat Terrier look this breed up as they are everything a Jack is but more...

Nov. 27, 2009, 11:59 AM
Currently have 5 in the house..
A complete mutt who is thought to be a lab, aussie, begal, husky mix.. she is very neruotic.. sometimes I wish i believed in debarking a dog...
a border collie mix( the mom is mutt above a complete pature oppps) quite, cuddlie, shedds like there is no tomorrow.. During shedding seasion I believe i get another complete dog from his shedds...
germand sheppard. unknonw age as she was left here at the house when we moved in. quiet devoted but that took some time to achieve, getting to where she can cuddle with the humans in hte house and to where she will look but not touch the cats...
jack russell... well cuddles, but a wimp.. always whining about something. will bark if the #1 mentioned dog starts barking. hasent a clue that he was bred to do large rodents...
and a pit bull.. wh has hte grace of an elephant. her head alone must weight what the border collie weighs. think she rather lick to death than bare teeth... actually she is snoring while 'resting' head on my elbow at hte moment head weighs a lot so expect typos on this thread... difficult to move wrist and hand only...

Nov. 27, 2009, 12:02 PM
These are good web pages to browse and I do so all the time because I fully expect to adopt a second ratty in about 6 months or so...




Nov. 27, 2009, 12:06 PM
Another vote for the Cattle Dog.

Cattle Dogs are very easy farm dogs. They don't stray (ever), are loyal to their family, like to play, like to participate in family life. They have a built-in moral code and are very honest dogs.

Most cattle dogs are not yappers. If you get one that is, they are very easily trained to quit barking. I had a terrible yapper and we went from time-outs with a soft muzzle to just saying the word 'muzzle' and she'd stop.

I don't recommend a border collie. There's a lot to like about this breed but they're often very quirky, difficult and sneaky. I would not choose to have one again (and I had one, for almost 17 years).

Daydream Believer
Nov. 27, 2009, 12:10 PM
- have a 3 yr old son and 9 yr old daughter. Daughter likes to cuddle, son is active and would love a dog that he could play with, throw balls for etc. He would keep it very busy but I'm concerned about safety with a young child like that. We do have a housecat that he's great with, he's not rough.

Many reputable JRT breeders will not sell a puppy to someone with a child as young as 3. JRT's are not the sort of dogs that will take any rough treatment or teasing from kids but with older children they are great playmates. If he's not rough natured with the pets, you may be OK.

Nov. 27, 2009, 12:17 PM
I second the poodles, and there are lots of them at rescues (that came from puppy mills). I've had 5, two currently. Very cuddly, smart, easy to train, active but not hyper, good with kids, but I wouldn't get a toy with younger kids. I also prefer the minis, between 13-15" tall. Not so yappy but still very portable. My latest is a rescue and he is so much fun! Loves to play with other dogs, can entertain himself if you give him a squeaky toy, but will lay down by my feet quietly for hours too.

Good luck and hope you can find your "perfect" dog from a rescue.

ETA: this is my rescue poodle, 16" tall, just the right size for me:

Pelican Bay
Nov. 27, 2009, 12:28 PM
I have had several Jacks and I do not want any more. The majority of them have very strong prey drives and your cats would not be safe. You would also not be able to have other small farm animals safely. Chickens, ducks, goats and the like would not be safe with a Jack around. I do LOVE the breed but I would like a flock of hens. They would never be safe with a Jack around not even in a fenced yard. That darn Jack would find a way to dig in, crawl in, or jump in their pen. I once found my Jack in the rafters of my barn, and she could not figure out how to get back down. She was chasing a cat and followed it into the rafters. We had to get an extension ladder to get her down. I want something with less prey drive after all these years.

Perfect Pony
Nov. 27, 2009, 12:31 PM
I have had JRTs for 20 years, and right now I have 2. The love-hate thing is true. I adore both my dogs, they are wonderful and fun and great to play with, but even my incredibly well trained dogs have a hard time listening when they want to chase something. They are really tough, so they need to fear their owners a little bit in order to mind, yet like already mentioned, they will not tolerate teasing or abuse.

I have one that is great with kids and is not aggressive in any way, but my female does not tolerate children AT ALL. It's just her personality, she takes forever to trust anyone. We have friends she has known her entire life and it still takes her an hour to go near them.

I owned a Queensland heeler as a teen and I agree with others, they are really cool dogs, a good size, not typically hyper, great farm dogs, and good with kids. My next dog will be another Queensland Heeler/Australian Cattle Dog.

Go Fish
Nov. 27, 2009, 01:08 PM
I would stay away from Jacks if you have cats, particularly if the cat runs loose on the property.

In your situation, I'd probably stick with herding breeds, maybe a couple of the working breeds. Generally speaking, they are one-family dogs, don't wander, are good around livestock, and are smart/easy to train. They come in all sizes.

Nov. 27, 2009, 01:14 PM
my vote Lab-border collie cross. mellow with good drive.

Nov. 27, 2009, 01:35 PM
Didn't read all the replys, so sorry if I'm repeating anyone.

My mom bred Siberians for over 30 years, and together we bred Russell Terriers (the UKC short legged variety). We refused to sell any puppies to a house without a fence. Not gonna do it, you're asking for trouble. You could train that dog to the nines and something terrible can still happen. A friend of mine had a wonderful dog, beautifully trained. Didn't have a fence, and he let the dog out to go potty one night like he always did. The dog was hit by a car and killed.

So my first piece of advice, get a fence.

And I agree with whoever said Jacks are a love to hate kind of dog. I adore my Russells, I enjoy having them. But after these ones, I don't think I'll ever own another one. I've owned 8 Russells, love and loved them all. But they are high maintenance.

If you want a family dog who will be active for your son, but come in and be quiet in the house, I would go for a Poodle or Greyhound. I have a Saluki (so same sighthound temperament) and he's hyper and active on our daily romps and as gentle as a lamb in the house. When he's inside, he tiptoes around as if he's afraid to disturb anything. Now I know people will say, but people will say sighthounds are terrible with small animals, like cats. It's all about socialization. None of our Jacks or Huskies or my Saluki (all breeds known to be cat attackers) ever chase our cat. We introduce the cat to our puppies at a young age. Never had a problem. My Saluki plays with young Husky and Jack pups and has never made one puppy yip. But sighthounds are not for everyone. They can be very cat-like and aloof, yet they bond deeply with a family unit. Greyhounds are lounge-lizards, and I just love the sighthound temperament.

Poodles are amazing family animals. I know I'll be getting one when I have children and a family (if the hubby will let me ;) ). A Dalmatian could also be a good choice, you just have to be very careful when choosing a breeder (lots of health problems). Dalmatians were bred to be a carriage dog, they know how to handle themselves around horses. And the ones I've met are very similar to the Poodles I've known.

I would also wait until your youngest is a little older. Three years olds don't know it's not okay to pull the doggy's tail and even the nicest dog may react harshly to that. (Trust me, I know from experience. Ah, my toddler years.)

Nov. 27, 2009, 02:40 PM
I actually would not recommend a working breed, unless you have the job they are bred to do. They are great, great dogs in the right home. And high energy, frustrated dogs in the wrong one.

I have a herding breed dog, without the proper job. He's an English shepherd, and an amazing dog, but living on a farm is not enough for him to really shine. In a perfect world he'd have sheep or chickens to herd. Having said that, I've made it work but it took a bit of doing.

What about something like a lab? (though really I second the mutt recommendation most!).