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

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

    Hi all,

    For several years my husband and I have pined after a dog. We both grew up with dogs, and love them, but so far have just never felt as if we were "ready" for one. Before it was that we were never home enough, then we lived in a place that didn't allow dogs, then we had a baby, etc. We finally feel like we're getting close to that time when we can handle a dog. I plan on getting one from a rescue/shelter/foster program rather than buy a puppy... so it may end up being a mutt! But just in case, I'd like to know if anyone has specific breed recommendations for us. We have very specific requirements for the dog that we will bring home, and it may be a while before we find the "right" one.

    Here's the situation:
    1. We have a baby. She is currently 5 months old, and is starting to become mobile. Now, our house is big enough to where I can separate the dog and baby if need be, but we NEED a dog that will be tolerant of small children. Not just tolerant, but actually like them. Because I'd rather not have to keep them separated for the dog's entire life. We also plan on having more kids in the (probably somewhat near) future. We were both raised in families with dogs and babies, so I KNOW it can be done. Of course I will do everything to be a responsible parent/dog owner and not leave child unattended, etc. but realistically, kids make mistakes and so do parents. So I'd like to know that this dog is not going to bite my child if she accidentally steps on him, etc.

    2. We have a cat, and it was her house first. So the dog will not get priority in the household. Any dog that will chase cats is not right for us. I want our cat to feel comfortable in her own home.

    3. We are pretty active, but I do NOT want to deal with a high-energy, hard-to-train dog. I work from home, so my lunch break every day will be devoted to taking dog for a nice long walk. We also have a small fenced in yard and live less than 15 minutes from a dog park. But still, low-energy is good. I don't want to have to take dog for a 3 mile run every day to get it calmed down.

    4. We would also prefer a medium to larger sized breed. Nothing against small dogs, but we just don't prefer them (I had a golden growing up, DH had Brittanys).

    5. I would prefer the dog to also be able to get along with other dogs because some of our close friends and family have dogs. It doesn't have to be a "dog park dog" though.

    We plan on getting a dog that is already mature (i.e. at least 3 or 4 years old) and already housebroken. I plan to look at fostered dogs first, because that way we can be sure of it's reputation among cats/kids. Like I said, I will be home all day every day, so a dog that requires frequent attention isn't as much of a problem for us as it would be for some. Also, the baby is not home during the day, so the dog would have that period as "quiet time".

    We are in the NoVA area - any breed or general rescue recommendations are appreciated as well!
    Last edited by Frivian; Feb. 11, 2014, 04:40 PM.

    I would go back to Golden Retriever or Lab, or some other larger sporting breed. I would go to some local dog shows and meet up with the breeders and see if they have any retired show dogs that need re-homing. This is a great way to find a mature dog that has been there done that.

    You still have to take your time introducing any new dog to a new cat and a new baby. Please don't isolate your new dog away from your baby. Teach the dog to accept the baby as a family member. If you have questions on this please bring a reputable trainer into your home to teach you how. Children and dogs go together beautifully.

    Since you work at home I think that you could very well handle a puppy instead of a mature dog. This way there is no question with the cat and the baby. Puppy will normally back off a mature cat (except for one of my idiot setters) and will be introduced to the baby as family from the start. Again go to local shows and talk to the breeders about the animals they show and go the the AKC site and read about different breeds and temperments.

    Have fun getting your new dog! I wouldn't bring a mutt from the pound into a home with a new baby. But that's just me. I don't trust unknown animals around small children or babies. I don't allow one of my setters around small children as they tend to make her antsy. Better safe than sorry!
    Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!


      I hate to tell you this, but you should really wait until your child is older.
      Off Topic Discussion about Life, Interests & Politics


        I wouldn't introduce a new dog into a household that has a new baby. Most rescues and good breeders won't place one in such a household, either. You'll have your hands too full with raising the baby to properly train the dog- and yes, any dog put into a new situation will require quite a bit of time put into it at first, even if it's an older, calm, supposedly already trained dog. And dogs that are in households with young babies/toddlers are, statistically speaking, more likely than other dogs to end up being discarded.

        when the kid gets older, look for a gentle kid-friendly adult lab or lab mix.


          Original Poster

          Sorry, but like I said we're going to have more kids. If we wait until this kid is older, there will just be another baby. If we waited to get a dog until all kids were "older", we'd be waiting 6, 7 years, really who knows. We like big families.

          Lots of people have dogs and kids. Lots.


            I would not get a lab. I work with them daily and they are very high energy and prone to obesity if not exercised regularly. They also shed a lot. I would look for a short haired breed that doesn't require much grooming since you seem like you are going to be very busy. When I was growing up we had an American Eskimo. They are medium sized. They do shed though. She just died a few years ago at the age of 14. As a kid I loved taking her on walks and she would run with me but she would also relax. She wasn't demanding in terms of exercise. We took her to the groomer every few months. Most recently my mom adopted a mastiff mix. He is really gentle with kids and small dogs, doesn't require much grooming, and loves to play but also can relax. I'm a groomer and my favorite dogs of all time I do not think would work well for your lifestyle- poodles (very smart and high energy), bedlington terrier, and schnauzers.


              I'd either adopt from a reputable rescue that really screens their dogs (i.e. several months not weeks) or buy a pup from a breeder that has suitable dogs & really socializes the pups - in either situation, be prepared for the rescue/breeder to indicate which dog/pup will be suitable.


                Original Poster

                Hi Jhein -

                I agree about the Labs. I love them but every one I've ever met has been super high-energy. Don't mind the shedding as much as we're gonna be getting a cleaning service to help with that sort of thing.

                I loved my golden growing up, but I'm wary of the health issues they all seem to have. To get a good golden from a reputable breeder costs upwards of $2k in this area, and I could get a new horse for that!


                  Originally posted by Frivian View Post
                  Hi Jhein -

                  I agree about the Labs. I love them but every one I've ever met has been super high-energy. Don't mind the shedding as much as we're gonna be getting a cleaning service to help with that sort of thing.

                  I loved my golden growing up, but I'm wary of the health issues they all seem to have. To get a good golden from a reputable breeder costs upwards of $2k in this area, and I could get a new horse for that!
                  You are right about the golden retriever. A nicely bred one won't be cheap. Have you looked into Irish Setters? They have a similar look to goldens to me and are really great dogs. American Eskimos come in three sizes. We had the miniature but there is a standard. She was definitely a hearty dog. Survived two pitbull attacks and was still friendly and loving to us kids! When we bought her my parents paid the breeder $400.


                    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.


                      We have goldens and they have been absolutely wonderful with the kids.
                      Our puppies were quite expensive; but lots of areas have golden rescues. Also sometimes breeders are aware of older dogs who may need a family.

                      Ours live on a farm and are good with the cat and horses too. They have been very trainable and love to hang out w/ the kids.

                      Lots of families have dogs and kids at the same time - even babies. The dogs don't get abandoned if the parents think the dogs are members of the household and not disposable. It's good for kids to learn that other critters exist and need care, love, attention and respect, and kids are not the center of the universe.
                      I also like bigger dogs because they don't seem as fragile as the little ones w/r/t to rough housing, biking and other kid activities. One of our goldens loves to play monkey in the middle...


                        I love the large breeds - Newfies, Bernese Mtn Dogs, Pyrs. Every one I have ever know/lived with has been perfect around kids, cats, other dogs. I have had both Newfies and Pyrs, and they are, for the most part, big breathing carpets. Downsides - they shed and drool, and they have a shorter lifespan than their smaller counterparts. I had the opportunity to have a show bred Newfie bitch a couple of years ago who ended up maturing under breed standard, and boy do I wish I would have taken it! At the time, it just wasn't good timing - we had a very sick cat who had a hard time with any change, so I passed on her. Check with breeders - they may have a show bred dog that isn't going to make the show ring.
                        My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
                        ReRiders Clique


                          I know I will get flamed, but when we wanted a dog and our daughter was little we got a puppy. That way we knew he would he would know from day 1 that she had priority over him. We picked out a weimaraner and he was the easiest dog ever to house break (as in by 8 weeks he was house broke, we got him at 6 weeks). We know there is a really good weim rescue near us but we just didn't want to risk an adult dog around our young child.

                          I would not just look at Labs and Goldens. We have had a lot of mutts over the years who have been wonderful children's dogs.

                          Good luck!


                            Another vote for a Newf.


                              Original Poster

                              Thanks everyone! Keep the suggestions coming...

                              Brooke, it sounds like you are experienced with setters - I was always under the impression that they were a bit more skittish and high strung than retrievers. Does that tend to be true?

                              Everyone that suggested puppies...I can definitely see the benefit of this, but worry about the housebreaking issue. Another big worry of mine is the chewing/destroying stage that puppies seem to go through.... we probably have lots of toys laying around that will be targets! I can handle an older dog who might need a refresher in training, but I've never personally housebroken nor trained a dog as a puppy. I guess I could definitely bring in a trainer to help me though. I was only 6 when we got my dog, so I didn't really contribute to her early obedience training (although I did try!).

                              Gloria, the Maremma looks like a beautiful dog, but I worry somewhat about getting a "working" dog that won't have a real job. I'd be afraid it'd get bored with simply being a companion dog.

                              I love the way Newfies/Bernese/Swiss mountain dogs look. They are so adorable and really appeal to me. I don't know much about those breeds though! I will look into it, thanks for that suggestion.

                              The Eskimo dog looks very cute too, but I think my husband might not be as interested by it. For some reason he is turned off by spitz-looking breeds (quite unfairly, I might add, but that's his thing). I think he may have had a bad experience with one when he was younger. Not an eskimo dog, but maybe something similar looking.

                              Thanks again everyone for the suggestions. Another question - what about some types of hounds? Would they have too high of a prey drive for cat-friendly house?


                                Original Poster

                                duplicate post!


                                  Originally posted by Frivian View Post
                                  Another question - what about some types of hounds? Would they have too high of a prey drive for cat-friendly house?
                                  Most hounds have stubborn independent as their middle names, so depending how good you are at managing that, hounds can be great family dogs.

                                  If you're worried about house training & "leave it" training, I'd suggest a "soft" dog, doesn't matter the breed but I'd avoid breeds that were developed as independent thinkers (any of the guardian breeds (such as the Maremma, while there may be individuals that are soft, most do best with knowledgeable dog people), working dogs etc).
                                  You can sometimes get older dogs from breeders but few are going to be socialized in the manner that you need.


                                    Original Poster

                                    Ah, makes sense. Thanks alto. We are approaching this with the attitude that we know nothing so as not to assume we know more than we do. Does that make sense? It's not that we actually know nothing about dogs, but we just don't want to get in over our heads. And of course we always open to hiring a trainer to help us if need be. But yes, a stubborn/independent breed does not sound right for us at this stage.


                                      When my sister was looking into adding a family dog and her four children were very young at the time, she asked her vet for suggestions. He said he believed the all around best family type dog was the Standard Poodle.

                                      I only have experience w/ the smaller toy and mini sizes but everyone who has a standard size LOVES them.
                                      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                                        The great thing about checking with breeders to see if they have any "not quite show ring" dogs is that they are typically socialized and housebroken. The one that I was offered was 9 months old, fully housebroken, and had basic obedience. Also, I can't stress this enough - no matter what you get, it needs to be crate-trained. You will be setting your house up for success making sure that your new dog has a safe place to go.
                                        My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
                                        ReRiders Clique