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**Update pg. 4 with pics!** What breed of dog is right for my family?

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  • Brooklyn Born
    No one has mentioned collies yet. I've had two and they are my heart breed. I have a great mixed breed now, but plan to get another collie again someday. They are fantastic with children, have a natural affinity icon them in fact. They will try to 'herd' them to keep them in the flock! Even though they are on the large side, collies generally are not high energy. Both of mine were pretty calm. They loved to run and play, but within reason. They also loved being couch potatoes. They were also good with other dogs. We didn't have cats, but they don't have a high prey drive , so I think a collie would adjust well to a resident cat.

    Because of their gorgeous long coat, they do require frequent grooming, but I have found if you keep on top of it, it isn't that hard. Also, they shed less than my border collie/pointer mix who has a shorter courser coat.

    There are also smooth coated collies, who have the same great collie temperament without the long fur. To find an older collie, you could check local collie rescue organizations, or even breeders who may have an older collie available. If you decide on a puppy, collies are very easy to train! They are people pleasers.

    Like any purebred, collies have some health issues associated with them, such as Collie Eye Anomaly, and a sensitivity to certain drugs, but these can be tested for.

    All in all, I believe collies are a fantastic family dog!!!!! Good luck in your search!

    Leave a comment:

  • Bogie
    Standard poodles are great. I grew up with them and we had one when my kids were little.

    They are great family dogs but the can be very protective of your family which is both good and bad. They are very, very smart.

    I think some of the poodle crosses are very nice -- cockapoo, labradoodle, etc.

    It is wonderful to have a dog that doesn't shed.

    We've also had shelter dogs but waited until our kids were older. For small kids, I'd rather get a dog from a breeder who has a reputation for breeding for temperament.

    Leave a comment:

  • GypsyQ
    While they can be stubborn sometimes, I will still recommend a hound or hound mix. They are kind souls, very durable with kids, and seem happy to go for a jog with you or laze about on the sofa as required. A fenced yard is a very, very good idea unless you have a large property.

    We have a Plott hound. She is excellent with our son, sleeps with her kitties, and is very easy to have around. It does seem that the hound breeds that are bred to work closely with people or in tightly controlled small groups are easier to have in a house (less stubborn)...So your Plotts, bloodhounds, foxhounds might be the best bet. From personal experience, I can't say coonhounds are easy to have around.

    Leave a comment:

  • Paula
    I think with Springers it depends on if you go for show or field breeding. Some of the field dogs I have seen I would shudder to consider as a house dog, whereas most of the show bred Springers are much saner with limited work/exercise. I personally have Clumber and Sussex Spaniels - both are wonderful breeds for the right home. Clumbers are larger and if you can live with the drool and shedding might be a good option. We have cats, go to dog parks, interact with kids, and do dog sports. They also have a good off switch in the house. My only worry would be Clumbers are very food oriented - I know mine would snatch food out of my visiting niece's hand all the time - I was terrified she would get nipped accidently. Children walk around with food and snacks, often eat at low tables, and generally just leave stuff around. Dogs quickly train themselves to see little people as mobile treat dispensers

    My concern with any dog would be how you would feel if an accident happened and the dog bit your child? Accidents happen, dogs get startled by children who aren't mentally able to control behavior. We had a great dog when I was a child - an Old English Sheepdog named Sissy. Well shortly after we adopted Sissy (she was three and rehomed due to divorce) my sister and I were both playing with her - we were probably five or six - and we did something to startle her and Sissy bit my sister in the face (fifteen stitches). My parents didn't freak out - it was an accident and they understood. She ended up being the best dog and babysitter for us living to be thirteen with never another foot put wrong. But if my parents had been less understanding she would have been sent to the shelter or put right down. You have to examine how you would react. If you would knee jerk get rid of the dog, well then you need to wait until your kids are older to get a job in fairness to the dog. Also what will you do if your child/children end up allergic? It's not all about you and what you want - you have a responsibility to the dog too.

    Also you really need to consider the exercise needs of the dog. Are you really willing to walk the dog every day - in all weather - with an infant? Or will it be more of a fair weather endeavor. I would also never consider taking young children to a dog park so unless you foresee yourself having regular babysitters that may not even be a possibility to put in the mix.

    Just throwing a few thoughts out there...

    Leave a comment:

  • S1969
    Originally posted by RiderWriter View Post
    Thank you, Saddleup, for mentioning my breed... My beautiful Springer girl is curled up next to me right now. I always wonder why folks are so quick to jump on the Golden/Lab bandwagon, when Springers are such fabulous family dogs and not as big. Especially because OP's hubby had a Brit I would think OP might be interested!
    I think because the OP said she didn't want a high energy dog. I don't know many Springers personally but the ones I have known have had similar exercise needs as my Brittanys.

    Not sure that Goldens "prefer" less exercise but it seems (anecdotally, at least) that they are not as likely to be called "crazy" or "hyper" as Brittanys (and possibly Springers?)

    Leave a comment:

  • RiderWriter
    Thank you, Saddleup, for mentioning my breed... My beautiful Springer girl is curled up next to me right now. I always wonder why folks are so quick to jump on the Golden/Lab bandwagon, when Springers are such fabulous family dogs and not as big. Especially because OP's hubby had a Brit I would think OP might be interested!

    That said - OP, I concur with everyone who said if you want an adult, go with one that has been fostered. You would *probably* get a wonderful pet from a shelter, but with a fostered purebred you will have a much better idea of what you are getting. With babies in the house a "sure thing" is a better bet.

    English Springer Rescue (ESSRA - is a terrific group, and of course there are tons of other breed-specific rescues that foster and carefully evaluate dogs. Like others have mentioned, I think Standard Poodles are awesome dogs as are Greyhounds. Heaven knows there are plenty of the latter needing homes.

    Good luck, OP, and I hope you find a new furry family member soon!

    Leave a comment:

  • bits619
    I may be biased but I grew up with standard poodles who were awesome family dogs. We got the first when I was around 4 years. My dad and mom had labs but were over the amount of shedding, so he bought a breed encyclopedia and went from there.
    24 years later and we've only been without a poodle (or poodle mix) for 12 hours (the first one died when I was 16 and I was more distraught than my parents had seen, so they kind of panicked and found the only poodle breeder within 500 miles with an available puppy! Not the most research oriented decision but hey )

    My standard poodles have been wonderfully tolerant from the start. The first one especially, I had the time of my life dressing Max up in shorts, skirts, hats, sunglasses... I could take him on walks and he didn't pull or jump, very gentle. My lack of experience training animals and my age didn't prevent Max from learning tons of tricks and happily performing them for me. He was enough of a guardian type that we felt safe with him, but he was friendly and comfortable with strangers once we invited them in.

    We took him to the groomers only when it was unanimously decided that my dad had no natural talent for grooming and wasn't about to gain any Max and the subsequent dogs have only gotten the basic puppy cut (face, toes, base of tail short, rest one length) or whole body one length with a small poof on ears, head, and tail. They need not be froofy dogs, only if you want them to be!

    But anyway, all that to say I am a huge fan of standard poodles, as they were fantastic family dogs for us, biddable and patient, and it didn't seem like we were fighting against any strong instincts (except when they saw squirrels in the yard of course!)

    Leave a comment:

  • FalseImpression
    I would wait... most rescues do not place dogs with families with children under 8 or older.
    We had a lab (here first), then two children. Well, the lab did bite my DD when she was 2 yo, left in the care of my parents who did not see it coming! You have to be vigilant all the time.

    My DS has two young children and two yorkies. They are actually the best size for the kids and have been great. I like bigger dogs, but these two have been great.

    Leave a comment:

  • pegasusmom
    Originally posted by Frivian View Post
    We actually have some very good friends who own 2 retired greyhounds and usually have a 3rd foster in their home. We adore them, and definitely would love to have one someday. However, I know that it took them a very long time to get their greyhounds to where they are now in terms of not being afraid of the outside world! I'd be worried that having a small child around would make a greyhound too nervous.
    That hasn't been our experience with any of the four we have had. Different dogs, different homes.

    Leave a comment:

  • Calamber
    Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
    I hate to tell you this, but you should really wait until your child is older.
    I agree, many shelters and competent rescue agencies will not adopt to homes with children under four.

    Leave a comment:

  • casper324
    Originally posted by Gloria View Post
    If you have sufficient land and something to guard, I am going to suggest a LGD. We have a Maremma, and I think that is about the best decision we have made in regard to dogs for our lives. Our Maremma is sort of, lazy... He perches himself on top of a little mount every day, and surveys his land and the horses around. On the other hand, he is more than happy to oblige if you want to play wrestle with him. He protects our spoiled cat, even though she swipes and hisses at him. The other day I saw the spoiled cat wrapping around his feet - I guess she finally decided that this white dog was OK after all lol. He protects our guineas - they can be pecking at his nose and he would just close his eyes and rolls over to the other side. Sometimes we have a neighbor's yippy dog coming over for a visit - no problem. He even protects him. Overall he is just very tolerant and protective of the family. One time I pulled his tail just to see how he will react. Well, he yiped, and cried and ran away.

    He does not come into the house though - refuses it. Took us awhile to convince him to come into the garage for food, and you will see him sitting in rain instead of going into the barn ten feet away.
    Sorry but a Maremma is the last breed of dog anyone should get unless they have a farm and need a guard dog. Your dog may of course be different then the others I've known so please do not be insulted but these dogs are not for the average suburban dog owning family. The ones I know are VERY protective and one attacked my friends father while he dog sat for her resulting in 100 stiches in one arm and a week in the ICU. The other one I knew cornered me in a tack room of a barn for a half hour, didn't attack just blocked the door and gave me the I dare you look if I tried to leave the room.
    Stick with a Golden or beagle both great family dogs or a good ol mutt.

    Leave a comment:

  • Frivian
    We actually have some very good friends who own 2 retired greyhounds and usually have a 3rd foster in their home. We adore them, and definitely would love to have one someday. However, I know that it took them a very long time to get their greyhounds to where they are now in terms of not being afraid of the outside world! I'd be worried that having a small child around would make a greyhound too nervous.

    Leave a comment:

  • pegasusmom
    Originally posted by baxtersmom View Post
    If you have a fenced in yard and can live without letting your dog offleash, you might look into a greyhound. Most rescues will have tested them for cats/small animals; some can and some can't share a home with one. My cousin has had a half dozen over the years, and every one has been kind, quiet (one woof if someone knocks), good with other dogs, and extremely tolerant of kids. They really are the "45 mph couch potato."

    They do have a few fussy food and vet needs (they are sensitive) but hers have also all lived to a good age for a large breed (12ish).
    A second for retired racers. I raised and showed scent hounds extensively, never thought I would ever have anything other than coonhounds or beagles. Until. . . . I met my first off the track greyhound. We have had four so far. They are quiet, clean, FUNNY (every day they make me laugh out loud), low energy - your walk a lunch would suit them just right. Some are cat zappers, many are not. Right now my husband is asleep on the bed with one of our currents and two cats. That greyhound is the track record holder at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Florida btw, so race records have little to do with prey drive.

    There is a lot of really good information out there about integrating the breed into your home (and a few whackos - just like anywhere else).

    If you are looking for a breed that sits at your feet and says what can I do to please you now mom, greyhounds are not the breed from you. I find them to be more cat-like. Very affectionate, but equally content to take up space on the couch.

    Some are a bit picky about food, and you would need to make sure your vet is up to speed on some of the greyhound quirks (for instance did you know that greyhounds are frequently used as donor dogs as they naturally have a higher red cell count?) and some are ultra sensitive to anesthetic (malignant hypothermia).

    Most come a little older (you do NOT want a puppy!!) are crate trained and relatively easy to house break. Some play, some don't. Our current girl loves to collect things - shoes, socks, toys, underwear. She carefully places the items near the front door and lays down in the middle of her collection. Does not offer to chew or destroy. Just collects.

    They are not a breed I would trust off lead unless they were in a fenced yard.

    Love my greys and can't imagine life without one.

    Leave a comment:

  • cleo570
    I had two large rescue dogs before my kids were born (now 4 and 14 months.) The first was a retired racing greyhound who, like many OTTBs, was a disinterested runner and retired young (18 months.) She had never seen children before being adopted, but after lots of positive experiences, grew to love kids. Once my son was born, she was already senior and didn't love him, but was exceedingly tolerant (however, we are very vigilant about dog-kid interactions). She was the best overall dog I have ever had. Housebroken, leash trained, low energy, and extremely trainable from day 1 off the track. We will definitely adopt another grey in the future. Sadly, we lost her to osteosarcoma a week after my second baby was born.

    My Dobie, another rescue, is actually the more tolerant of my dogs with my son and now both my kiddos. We adopted him as a young dog (probably around 2 years old). Not only is he very strong, he was very difficult when we first got him though, due to his lack of socialization and training. The only training he had when we brought him home was housebreaking. He did not reach his full adult size until around 3 (his age was unknown, as he was dumped), and he is extremely large, around 90 pounds with not an ounce of fat. Had we not had him for several years before my first baby was born, adopting him would have been a huge mistake for us and for him. several others have said, I would be hesitant to bring an unknown adult dog into your home with a baby. A greyhound might be a good fit (and are usually available through rescues that know the dog's own background and personality well), but many, including the 3 that I have volunteered for, do not adopt to homes with small children. My beloved Dobe is an angel with the kids, but it took a lot to get him where he is, and frankly so high energy that he would have been very difficult to raise with a baby or toddler.

    Although housebreaking is no fun, I have to second the recommendations to look for a puppy or a young adult dog from a breeder if you really want a dog and a baby. The breed is less of an issue than the actual dog and its background.

    Leave a comment:

  • saddleup
    My kids are grown, but two years ago I was looking for a dog and had small grandchildren, so had to decide between finding a puppy or a grown dog. I went with an Aussie puppy because I felt I would have more say in how she turned out, and how she'd be with people and other dogs. I found her from a breeder who said she was "pet quality". Worked for me, without the show quality price tag. She is gorgeous, btw, but what do I know?

    She is a wonderful dog, and has always been great with my grandsons, who were two and five when I got her. She was three months old, and was housebroken in two days. I've had dogs my whole life and have never had one that was trained that quickly.

    She is high energy, but she knows how to chill, too. Teaching her to come when called was her biggest challenge, but at about a year old she finally got it, and now will race like the wind when recalled.

    I've taken care to socialize her with other dogs, and with people, and she only dislikes my farrier. Oh well. I've decided he must smell really bad or something. Everyone else is her best friend ever.

    I like a soft coat on my dogs. I've always had English Springer Spaniels before this Aussie, and they're great family dogs, too. Wonderful with children. Smart and fun.

    Leave a comment:

  • RHdobes563
    I remember two boxers from 45 years ago. One belonged to the family of a new junior high school friend. Her brother was severely retarded, and they had a REALLY nice-good-with-everything-and-everyone Boxer. Von's Beethoven. Ludwig for short.

    Another was a re-homed dog that lived with my aunt, uncle, and 4 female cousins. She was really good with the family but had a problem with trying to (passively) protect the girls when any were being disciplined. Lady was re-homed to my grandmother, and they lived together like a couple of little old women--a great match.

    When I was little, my grandmother's neighbors had two Standard Poodles, and they were the NICEST dogs who made a great and lasting impression on me. I've always said that if Dobermans (my breed) had never been bred and developed, I would have Standard Poodles.

    I have had two Dobermans who would have fit your bill. Dante', who loved people more than anything and was exceedingly tolerant, and Moose, who loved children more than anything, was the sweetest dog I've ever owned, would NEVER bother any creature I brought into the house (the cats loved him), and would have left me without looking back if a child took him by the leash. Both of these dogs came from the animal shelter.

    I think fostered dogs from rescues can be good matches. They have been "vetted" by their foster parents. HOWEVER, many of the rescues will NOT adopt to a family with children under the age of whatever-their-requirement-is. The same could be true of a retired show dog. But there ARE exceptions, and it doesn't hurt to ask and be sure to let them know that you and your husband have experience with dogs.

    And good dogs come from everywhere. I currently have a beautiful red Doberman female. She is good with dogs, cats, and horses, and loves people. (She went to a day-long "festival" last year for the first time, and even when towards the end of a LONG day, NEVER got tired of meeting and greeting people and children.) Spicy, however, is a VERY ACTIVE canine. And she came free off of craigslist.

    Good luck. I don't think I could live without a dog in my home.

    Leave a comment:

  • Coyoteco
    One factor I would consider is the lifespan of the breed. If you have small children, you may not want a dog with a very short lifespan.

    As for breeds that work with children and cats, I, or family members have had a rough collie. several Australian Shepherds, lab mix. I love many of the breeds mentioned here, especially the poodles, but an Australian shepherd is hard to beat as a cat and kid friendly dog.

    I remember (years ago) when I questioned why someone would get an adult dog over a puppy. I don't question that any more - getting an adult dog definitely has some advantages. Working with a no-kill, rescue, or a good kill shelter where the dog has been really evaluated is a great way to go. I wouldn't be paying $2000 for a dog for a pet. My brother got show quality Australian Shepherds from a breeder with great dogs, parents on site, for $300 each. (Yes, at the same time - and those puppies are the perfect family dogs great with cats and kids.) It's sort of like the scene on the TV Show friends where Rachel had bought a cat for $1500 and she extolled its virtues - it's sweet, cuddly and purrs (or something ) to which the other character said "It's a cat. Ally cats do those things, too."

    Leave a comment:

  • suz
    Originally posted by todaysspecial View Post
    Another vote for a Newf.
    a newf mutt would be amazing.

    Leave a comment:

  • make x it x so
    Growing up, we had a great lab X shepherd type (plus something smaller, because he was only about 60#) who was a FABULOUS family dog. My brother and I were older by the time we got him (I'm the youngest and I was about 10), but he would have been the perfect dog for smaller children as well!

    Now, I have an AmStaff X hound and while I love her, she definitely falls into the high-energy category and while she's not bad with children, she is not the ideal dog for a family because of her strength.

    I recommend looking for a dog that's in a foster care situation- that is how you get the best read on their personalities because a shelter is a very different situation, and the first few days-weeks in a new house most dogs don't let their full personality shine!

    Leave a comment:

  • Peaches
    I'm currently helping my sister with a similar checklist (though her kids are older), so I'll try to run through what I've discussed with her. This may be lengthy and is chock-full of opinions!

    To start, I would not go the traditional adoption route and pick a dog out from the local shelter. The dog you see in the shelter is rarely the dog you get at home. I foster and I don't believe you get an accurate picture of the dog until you are 4 weeks+ into it. I think a foster-based rescue would your best bet, and a breed-specific rescue would be the route I'd go. Usually you'd put in an application, they'll interview you and do a home check, and then contact you when they have a dog that might fit.

    I know that's not an option that appeals to some because you aren't "picking" the dog yourself, but I've known one too many people adopt a dog at a shelter because he was "quiet and cuddly." Then they come home to a destroyed house because "quiet and cuddly" translated to separation anxiety. I'm not saying it always happens, just that it does and I'd want to avoid that especially if I was in your situation.

    If you go the breeder route, most of the reputable breeders I know have a waiting list, so this would take at least a couple months (in my experience). As other people have mentioned, a breeder may have or may know someone who has an older puppy or adult. These would usually be retired/'failed' show dogs, retired breeders, or dogs who were returned for some reason.

    I wouldn't expect to see the sire. I've been told it is even sometimes a negative, because it could mean that the breeder chose the closest stud, but not necessarily the best match. Not always the case, however. Interacting with the breeder's other dogs and talking to other puppy owners (forums are great for this) would be a good idea.

    I'm not a fan of Beagles for families, but it may have just been the people I know weren't the right fit for the breed. I like Shelties, but I'm met a lot who had bad cases of the "barkies." Since you mentioned being concerned about health issues and also mentioned looking into Bernese Mountain Dogs, I have to say that I've known several and none lived past 7. In addition, mostly because of the cat and the young child, I'd be cautious about "primitive" breeds (Shibas, Huskies, etc) and some terriers.

    I like American Eskimos for families. I recommended my sister get a Standard, because her husband doesn't tolerate small and yippy. Other ones on my list for her: Papallion (small size), Field Spaniel (probably hard to find), any size of Poodle, Brittany. I fostered a Keeshond and he was absolutely phenomenal. Ended up going home to a family with three kids between 2 and 8.

    Also consider how old you'd be willing to go. An older dog in your breed of choice might be a good fit.

    Leave a comment: