or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Pets › What breeds are best for newbies?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What breeds are best for newbies?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
So on the heels of my border collie thread I thought I would ask for opinions on what breeds might be a good fit for an active family with a nice sized yard, but NO previous dog experience?

I really like the idea of adopting a greyhound rescue. I have read so many nice things about them and I appreciate the idea of getting a dog from a rescue agency as they really know the dogs and so you get a "known commodity" so to speak. Are they as nice as they seem?

What about other dogs. I want to adopt a dog in need of a home (human society, rescue agency, etc). I want a mid to large size dog (personal bias, not a fan of the small dogs-sorry ). I would like one beyond puppyhood. A dog that is easy to deal with for someone without a lot of experience would be preferred. We have 3 young kids and 2 cats as well.

What would you wise women suggest?
post #2 of 27
With your young kids and your inexperience, I'd recommend either a breed-specific rescue (i.e., not an all-breed shelter) or an older-dog placement from a breeder. For example, in Cardigan Corgis it is very, very common to place older dogs (4-6 years old) who have "done their job" for their breeders. Those dogs are often finished champions, have been bred a few times, and are ready to spend ten years as a family pet. They tend to be extremely well-mannered, predictable, and socialized.

If you want general advice on choosing a breed, click either of the links in my signature and then click on "articles."
post #3 of 27
You might try fostering dogs from a shelter but keep in mind that some rescue groups don't adopt or foster out to families with kids under age 5. We hit a lot of dead ends when we were adopting a few years back. That is why we ended up buying. Dd was only one at the time and none of the rescue breeds we contacted would work with us. But, also, puppies are not always the best for first timers, especially with small kids.

There have been threads like this, but here is my list of dog breeds I think are good for families. And, please keep in mind that I have only the experience of a dog owner to go from and am not an expert in the canine field.

1. labs and goldens
2. standard poodles
3. samoyed


The AKC has a lot of information on dogs and rescue organizations on their website. They also publish a lot of books about how to choose a dog.
post #4 of 27
You know- I really think you are on to something with the greyhound adoption! My aunt had a greyhound who was wonderful. She was very placid, delicate and sweet. She was less of an "issue" in the house than a housecat. The only thing about her that I can think of negative was that she could not do New England winters and required doggie clothing on walks ... and I think that's actually more of a plus than a minus.

I would encourage you to go ahead put some effort into researching that direction because it might pay off!
post #5 of 27
i believe every single greyhound rescue i've met, both at the clinics and out in real life, have been soooo sweet and docile. that would be a really good avenue to explore, imo.

i've had labs and goldens (and some pound pups) my whole life and i have to agree that they are excellent family pets. especially if you get one that is 2 years or older. the retrievers tend to stay puppies for a loooong time and need a LOT of exercise. since you're an active family, however, they would also be two good breeds to check out
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
There is a rescue group in a city 2 hours from here. I think we really want to get a greyhound. We get cold winters and the idea of putting clothes on my dog to go out is

Thanks for the input. I am excited
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by thekimballs View Post
With your young kids and your inexperience, I'd recommend either a breed-specific rescue (i.e., not an all-breed shelter) or an older-dog placement from a breeder. For example, in Cardigan Corgis it is very, very common to place older dogs (4-6 years old) who have "done their job" for their breeders. Those dogs are often finished champions, have been bred a few times, and are ready to spend ten years as a family pet. They tend to be extremely well-mannered, predictable, and socialized.

If you want general advice on choosing a breed, click either of the links in my signature and then click on "articles."

I second Joanna's advice. That's how I got my dog and it was WONDERFUL to have an older, calmer, already trained, perfect (if I do say so myself!) dog. It's a great way to enjoy a dog without having to pour tons and tons of obedience training in to it. The dog comes "ready to go"!

I have also met several greyhound rescues who were fantastic dogs. I think that is a wonderful idea!
post #8 of 27
I hate raining on parades... but I thought I should warn you of a couple of things before you get your hopes up too high about adopting a greyhound. My local greyhound resuce has many requirements for adoption. Two of their most stringent requirements: you must have a fenced in yard of a certain size and there must be no children under the age of 6 in the house.

I don't know the specific reason for the no young children rule as I have only briefly researched greyhound adoption. Your local rescue may not have these rules or may be more willing to bend the rules. I think greyhounds are usually wonderful, gentle, loving, beautiful creatures and I really really hope to adopt one someday. I'm just not sure how the timing will work out since we will probably start our (human) family before we adopt our next dog.

In any case, best of luck to you in choosing your canine friend!
post #9 of 27
Greys are nice dogs, like Galeach said above, there are strict fencing requirements and also most have strict rules on the age of children. One other thing, you can NEVER let it off lead in an unfenced area--that would be a major drawback to ME, but may not matter to you, just something to think about.
Some other breeds to look at, Shelties--many grow too big, which makes them medium sized, so if you get one from a breeder who was running him on but he turned out too tall, could be a REALLY nice dog for you.

Beyond that, can you tell us what you "expect" from a dog?
How much grooming, how much activity--what KIND of activity, shedding, etc, etc.
post #10 of 27
This is a copy of a breed selection questionaire I use when I do selection consults. (please do not use without permission, it is copyrighted)

BREED SELECTION QUESTIONAIRE
(Please place longer answers on back of page)

Which breeds do you like the look of: __________________________________________________ _

List important traits in order of importance: ( ie; amount of grooming, training, watch dog, costs)




Do you prefer male or female: ___________; Puppy or Adult: ________________________________


What is the maximum you want to spend on a dog: ________________________________________


What breeds of dogs have you had in the past::___________________________________________


What traits do you absolutely want to avoid:____________________________________________ __


How much exercise are you willing to provide the dog:______________________________________


How much training are you willing to provide: _____________________________________________


Are you prepared to seek out professional training: _________________________________________


Is cost of feeding a concern: __________________________________________________ ________


Complete this form as accurately as possible and return to your trainer. Based on this form and your interview we will compile a list of breeds to be considered. Please keep in mind that getting a recommendation cannot ensure a successful dog/owner relationship but it will increase your chances. Like people animals have broad variances in personality even within the breed and while genetics plays a large role, nurture plays an equal one.

We can also recommend breeders for you to speak with and can do a puppy compatibility test prior to your actually purchasing the dog. It is recommended that even if you do not start training immediately that you have one of our trainers in for a consult within the first couple weeks of owning a dog so that we can give you ideas for ensuring the right start for the dog and preventing problems instead of fixing them later.
post #11 of 27
I adopted a retired greyhound long before I thought of having children. He was a wonderful dog--affectionate, docile, well-mannered...he was a perfect fit for me and for my lifestyle. Five years later I had a baby.

Greyhounds are not dogs for families with young children. It was a rough and terrible adjustment when our first child was born. My grey's nerves just couldn't take all that a baby entails. He spent a lot of time hiding in the first floor bedroom. Actually, until my second child was about 4, my grey spent most of his time actively avoiding the kids.

I've known quite a few greys, and while there is a wide variety of temperment, I've not known any individuals that I would consider to be truly "good" with children. Some tolerate children better than others, but none of them truly enjoy being around toddlers or preschoolers.

Sighthounds (hounds that chase by sight rather than scent) do have the fence & leash requirement. Most of them also chase cats, squirrels, raccoons...whatever kind of prey animal you have. Being so fast, they sometimes catch what they chase. They also chase running children, and they can and will plow them down.

Greyhounds are delicate. They have thin skin and very little body fat. A small scrape or cut can be a big deal on a greyhound. They injure easily. They also need quite a bit of dental care as almost all of them have horrendous teeth.

Additionally, a lot of retired race dogs come with baggage.

I really don't want to put anyone off greyhounds, but if it's not a good fit, then it's not good for you or the dog.
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Beyond that, can you tell us what you "expect" from a dog?
How much grooming, how much activity--what KIND of activity, shedding, etc, etc.
I don't expect much. Less grooming is better. I walk 1-2 hours a day, some hiking, some just city neighborhood strolls. Shedding isn't a huge deal, my cats shed all over the furniture and we have no carpet (just an area rug).

I have been reading and learning about dogs and dog training since I started thinking about adding a dog to our family and I understand a lot more about the subject than I did even 6 months ago. I have been a lifelong cat person and the only dogs I know are ones who live with humans who treat them as furry people.

I just want to make a good decision so that we end up with a dog that will be happy with us and who we can live with. I want a dog who we can take with us on walks, one who will play games with the kids, one that will be indoors. Not a fan of the little jumpy, yappy, hyper dogs, though a high energy dog is fine. A mostly lazy dog with short bursts of energy is great too.

I don't want a puppy, I really like somewhat older animals. No more teething, a little more calm, and a predictable temperment. It would be nice to know ahead of time if a dog is good with kids, cats, other dogs, etc.

That is about all I can think of. Thanks again for all the input!
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Greyhounds are not dogs for families with young children. It was a rough and terrible adjustment when our first child was born. My grey's nerves just couldn't take all that a baby entails. He spent a lot of time hiding in the first floor bedroom. Actually, until my second child was about 4, my grey spent most of his time actively avoiding the kids.
Was it known beforehand if he was good with kids? I imagine it would be a big adjustment, it was for my cats and they live in the basement most of the day (their choice, not mine). They adjusted to #2 much better than #1 and by the time my 3rd was born they loved her from the start. One of my cats sleeps on her feet under the covers most nights. Going from a childless family to suddenly having a noisy little human could jangle anyone's nerves

Just wondering because the rescue agency we would deal with will not give certain dogs to families with kids because they wouldn't do well. Others (they say) are good with kids. If you have kids and/or other pets they will select the dogs you can choose from whereas if you don't you can choose any one you want. I figured that would mean any dog we were able to adopt would be good with kids as opposed to just tolerate them. They are so cautious with who they adopt to I would have though they would not adopt to families with young kids at all if it wouldn't be a good fit. I would want to know if my assumption is incorrect before it was too late.

Are greyhounds very playful? I thought all dogs were, but that is just an assumption on my part
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Was it known beforehand if he was good with kids?
Yes. He was known to be good with kids and good with cats.

Quote:
Others (they say) are good with kids. If you have kids and/or other pets they will select the dogs you can choose from whereas if you don't you can choose any one you want. I figured that would mean any dog we were able to adopt would be good with kids as opposed to just tolerate them. They are so cautious with who they adopt to I would have though they would not adopt to families with young kids at all if it wouldn't be a good fit. I would want to know if my assumption is incorrect before it was too late.
To me, good with kids means more than "unlikely to snap." My dog never did more than make a whiny, growly yip before leaving the scene. He reliably found another place to be when the kids were bothering him. Some people would call that behaviour "good with kids."

However, that meant he spent a lot of time lying alone in the bedroom. I always felt like kids were safe in his presence, but he never enjoyed being with them. Before the kids came along, and then anytime they were sleeping or out with dh, my dog never left my side. He really, really wanted to be with people, but he chose isolation rather than have a toddler tripping on him or bumping his bed or screeching randomly--nevermind the things kids intentionally do to dogs!

Quote:
Are greyhounds very playful? I thought all dogs were, but that is just an assumption on my part
They're not dogs who will fetch, or play lots of tug or romp for more than a minute or two. My dog cherished a fuzzy fleece teddy bear. He licked it, chewed it gently and carried it around with him. He had it for years. I spent a lot of money at the vet's office. Not so much on dog toys

Greyhounds are very good at holding down the couch.
post #15 of 27
With the amount of exercise you can provide and the fact that you want a dog who will play games, I'd look at the English Cocker. There's some grooming involved, though a LOT less than an American Cocker, but if you invest in professional grooming once every three months or so to keep the "jacket" nice and tight, all you'll have to do is bathe as often as you think the dog needs it and comb out the furnishings (the long hair on the legs and ears) a couple of times a week.
post #16 of 27
I'd seriously consider a mixed breed if I were you. There are plenty of good breeders (and therefore good dogs) out there, but there are also lots of problems with many purebred dogs.

You might contact a local vet (you'll need her once you've got the dog anyway) and let her know you're looking for a good family dog. Vets are often the first to know of dogs whose owners can/will no longer keep them. They know the tendencies of not just breeds (which are generalized!) but also of individual animals who've been in their care. My vet almost always has a line on a selection of dogs and cats who are looking for good homes.

Your choice of an older (past puppyhood) dog is a good one. Two of my dogs were adopted from the Humane Society at 1 1/2 years and 6 months. Both were already housebroken. The 6 month old still had a few teething/chewing issues to work through, but they were fabulous dogs right from the beginning.

After doing a little research and talking to your vet you could also visit the humane society or other shelter. Don't plan to adopt a dog on your first visit. Ask to take various dogs out on a leash. Play with them and get a sense of their personalities. Ask the staff about the dog's character and behavior.

Keep in mind that it's not always easy to tell which dogs will be good with kids. They're individuals just like us. We have six dogs. Four of them are fabulous with kids--don't get freaked, love to play, don't mind being yanked on a bit. Our Lhasa-terrior mix loves being dressed in doll clothes and carried around! The other two (a 12 year old female Border Collie and 2 year male American Bulldog) are a different story. The bulldog loves kids but at 104 lbs and still apparently unaware of his size is just too rough for little kids. My border collie is a sweetheart to everyone else but little kids make her nervous.

That said we're expecting our first child. Will it be a challenge--no question about it. But we figure if there's room for 6 dogs, one child will fit too. I'm guessing a healthy dose of patience and sense of humour will be required. Besides I really do believe that pets are for life. Couldn't imagine it any other way.

Good luck to you!
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by torio View Post
I'd seriously consider a mixed breed if I were you. There are plenty of good breeders (and therefore good dogs) out there, but there are also lots of problems with many purebred dogs.
Not picking on you in particular but just to clarify, the idea that mixed-breed dogs are healthier than purebreds is largely a myth. While there are certainly genetic disorders associated with some breeds, it's not like those same disorders dont strike mixed-breed dogs. Purebred dogs are tested for a million things that mixed-breed dogs are not tested for (most people with a rescue dog are not out there OFAing elbows or CERFing eyes at age 2 with zero symptoms) and are also evaluated much more thoroughly. If I have a Dane die at age 4, I'll necropsy it to find out what killed it. Most pet owners would not, so they just say "he died" and not "he had thyroiditis that led to a crisis." So purebreds have labels attached to their illnesses or deaths, which leads to a perception that they must be unhealthy.

It's very common for people to say something like "Oh, I had a neighbor whose Lab was purebred and he was so inbred that he was vicious." There are so many things wrong with that sentence that it's hard to begin--do you know what inbreeding is? Not all purebreds are inbred, and some inbred dogs are the very best in their breeds. Did this dog come from a reputable breeder? Where was the breeder in this process? Did the owner not seek help? Not receive help? Where was training involved? But nobody asks those questions; instead they shake their heads and wonder why stupid people pay $1500 for those loopy inbred purebreds.
post #18 of 27
Just to clarify--I wasn't suggesting that all mixed breed dogs are healthier than all purebred dogs. Clearly that's not true. Nor did I mention inbreeding as it's a term commonly misunderstood by people who are not familiar with animal breeding. However, dogs from 'breed' shelters often come with no more information on their past than do dogs from the general shelters. There is also considerable difference between individual dogs that is not always predicted by the general traits associated with breeds. The OP has research to do on any dog she'll consider. There's simply no reason to focus solely on purebred dogs.

I live with rescue dogs and purebred dogs--all of them are wonderful dogs and all robust, healthy creatures. All were carefully chosen, well except the little stray whose owner I tried so hard to find, but who never came forward. She turned out to be a wonderful dog too!
post #19 of 27
Havoc was a very close linebreed, which is why we kept all the pups back until a little older and we kept track of paid ourselves to OFA and complete other genetic tests on the dogs sold (not a huge hardship since there were only the 3)
Many would call Havoc's breeding "inbreeding". A good breeder though knows their pedigree inside out and combining the 2 dogs is a science, add a smidge of Lex and a tablespoon of Fluffy, kinda thing. Havoc was the closest we've ever done, but it results were frankly magical. All 3 dogs are still alive at 13 yrs and the only real health problems have been from injuries (all three were working dogs--one is actually STILL an active service dog with the RCMP, the oldest they've ever still had in service). I admit, even though we really and truley did know what we were doing, we were prepared that it COULD have been a disaster. It was going to be spectacular or it was going to be a disaster and it was unlikely to be anywhere in between.
What we got was an entire litter that was better than either parent. We got the rock solid bomb proof temperment we went for, we got 3 pups that all certified OFA excellent on hips and elbows in spite of being rather large dogs and we got the exact working attitude and mental stability that was most important. We got Havoc's mother's unbelievable tracking abilities, which Havoc has overtaken and we got his dad's stability in protection work and calmness that is hard to find in east german lines.

So, I own an "inbred" dog who is a premium example of his breed, who has gone on to again produce better than himself. That is the goal of dog breeding, to produce better than you started with, outcrosses are crapshoots, so if you are truley trying to improve the breed (and if you aren't, you shouldn't be doing it) linebreeding is necessary.
post #20 of 27
Look into getting a Shar-Pei

They are really intelligent, therefore can be trained easily, if you dont get a stubborn one. If you meet the parents and go for a breeder/rescue that goes STRICTLY for temperment and expects a decent conformation on the side, you're golden.

They require minimal grooming contrary to popular belief. Bathe once every few months with some hibitane and skin so soft, the skin moves btw.

my mom placed dogs with families who had young children when she was breeding and not a single problem with her line. NONE.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Pets
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Pets › What breeds are best for newbies?