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What small-medium sized dogs are generally good with young kids? - Page 5

post #81 of 91
I have a totally unfair prejudice against Labs because I can't *personally* stand their whole aura--the never-ending goofiness and food-seeking and bull-in-a-china-shop movement. I want a dog who at least TRIES to think before moving.

Having said that, I know that there are kabillions of people who like nothing more. So my actual answer revolves mostly around size and exercise. Labs are BIG DOGS. A Lab takes up more "space" than a Great Dane, because they are constantly moving around and banging into things and wagging their tails and checking on you and then seeing if maybe some food has miraculously appeared in the bathroom, then coming back and flopping down and then hearing what might be a vicious zombie outside and going to make sure that the zombie is driven away, then re-checking the bathroom for that food, then taking a drink because wow was that dehydrating, and any food yet? It's all ENTIRELY good-natured, but they really do inhabit a lot of mental and emotional space.

Exercise: It takes a lot to exhaust a Lab, and it is vital that they be exhausted. They are built to throw themselves into freezing water again and again and again, and to think it's all a grand game. If they are treated like sedentary couch dogs, they gain weight like crazy (MOST Labs are overweight) and they develop destructive and obsessive behaviors. You should plan on physically exhausting your Lab at least 2-3 times a week, which can mean a five-mile run or two hours of fetch. The happiest Labs of all are the dogs whose owners get into dock-diving or other hunting simulations (or who are actually hunted).

The only other thing that it is important to know is that due to the inherent skeletal structure of the breed (large bones, relatively loose ligaments) and the tendency toward overweight (and the VERY BAD trend that poor breeders are taking advantage of toward 25", 110-lb Labs), there are a TON of joint problems in rescue Labs. It's so bad that if I were looking to rescue a Lab, I would honestly invest the couple hundred bucks in a hip and shoulder/elbow x-ray series before I took the dog home, because if I didn't I would have a very good chance of having multi-thousands of dollars in vet bills when the dog's hips give out at age seven.

The good news, of course, is that they are terribly good-natured dogs and typically you won't run into a lot of actual temperament problems (aside from destructiveness because of lack of exercise). AS ALWAYS, any dog should be evaluated/screened for temperament and with kids, regardless of breed.
post #82 of 91
Thread Starter 
Hi Joanna,
Thanks again-as always-for your expert opinion and honest reply. I grew up with a smaller mutt, but the idea of a larger dog has always appealed to me. I think it was you that said in an earlier thread or post that lots of labs are languishing in homes that didn't really realize that they need A LOT of exercise. This is a serious decision, of course, and one I do not take lightly.

For a family like mine who has never had a dog before, how do we know when the time/dog is right? It's obviously not just when we *feel* it b/c if that was the case I would have adopted a dog by now. What have you told those that have bought your dogs or want to rescue one? There's obviously a lot here on this thread alone that's good advice. But for us-we don't want to buy a dog, we'd like to adopt. And we don't necessarily need a puppy? Any other words of wisdom? TIA I really appreciate your input.
post #83 of 91
Schnauzers, do really well with kids. They also don't shed much

Where we came from dogs where free in rescues.

Put the word out that you are looking for a dog, you just never know who has a dog they need to rehome. We gave away our yorkie just by word of mouth. He went to someone who will provide him a better home than we could.
post #84 of 91
I must say we have a purebred lab who must be a fall back because shes small and nothing like other labs. She loves our kids, play well with them but also just watches them from afar. If anybody bothers them she settles hash. She's not a bull in a china shop.

Labs shed all. the. time.We have copious amounts of yellow hair even with a Dyson Every morning we should vacuum where she sleeps but we dont.

post #85 of 91
Hi BearsMama - do you lay awake and night and dream of doggies?

I had a Lab for 12 years. He was the most wonderful, gentle, friendly, smart dog I've ever met. He adored the children - when we brought out twins home from the hospital he literally grinned from ear to ear and wagged his tail for hours: "Hooray! We had puppies!" The babies could pull his hair out by the handful, and he would cry if I tried to isolate him for his own protection. I'll bet he understood a hundred or more words (he learned to spell W A L K). He would walk across hot coals for me if I asked him to. There never was a more loyal dog.

That said, when it came time for us to get another dog, we did NOT get a lab. They don't really reach adulthood until they are about 3 - and that's a pretty huge, energetic, rambuctious teenager to have in the house! Ours got at least an hour of exercise (frisbee or tennis ball) every day, 30 minutes before we left for work and more in the evening. Even with regular brushing, his double coat meant that tehre was dog hair EVERYWHERE. He was big for a lab, and we had to get a van, just so we could take him with us when we went out of town.

When he was younger, he was a runner. If the door wasn't latched, or if we were outside and didn't watch him for a few minutes, he would be long gone.

Even when he was tired out, he took up a lot of room in the house, as Joanna said. He wasn't quite as hyper as the dog she described, but he didn't miss much. No matter where we were he would be laying at (or on) our feet.

Labs are definitely high maintenance, because of the amount of exercise they require. In your case, with small kids, I think it might be hard for you to carve out an hour or more a day to devote to playing hard with the dog (ours was 5 years old when the babies were born, so it wasn't as bad). The problem with adopting an older lab is that they don't have a real long life span.

I think Labs are the greatest family dogs in the world - but I don't think it's the right dog for you. Think seriously about waves of dog hair drifting across the kitchen floor! It would have helped if we had brushed him more often, but that takes time too.

When is the "right" time to get a dog? We got a puppy, and typically puppies take a lot more time in the beginning. We waited until our sons were 7 years old, so that DH and I could devote 90 minutes or more each day to the dog, without taking a lot away from the children. The 90 minutes isn't all at once - it's 5 minutes out of 20, when he needs to go outside; it's 10 minutes of training here and there throughout the day; it's in the middle of dinner when you catch him chewing on a chair leg.

An adopted dog will probably be house trained, and more polite, but will still require a fair amount of time and energy to help him adjust to his new home.
post #86 of 91
I have to agree with Joanna about the general Lab personality. However, I tend to like it...it doesn't bother me that they're always underfoot and wagging and walking into walls I grew up with Labs and then got a Golden and have been loving both breeds ever since. Goldens tend to be, in general, not as spazzy or as clumsy. They both were originally bred to be hunting dogs. Goldens were more bred to hang in a duck blind with their master all day and retrieve the occasional downed bird whereas Labs were bred to walk with their master all day long. Both need their fair amount of exercise, that is for sure. However, when I compare our Golden to our foster Labs, he clearly is more calm in the house and knows how to turn off. Part of that could be that we trained him since day 1 and he's learned self-control, but moreso I think Labs just tend to be more active indoors than Goldens. Also, Labs shed....a lot. Their short hairs have a way of weaving into nearly any fabric.

With both breeds, there are a TON of poor breeders, so most of what you'll find in rescue and in shelters are dogs from backyard breeders or puppy mills. Any good breeder would require that any of their dogs be returned to them at any time. So keep that in mind when looking at either of these breeds. The rescue that I work for does have all of their dogs fully vetted upon intake and if there is any concern over poor hips (or anything else), they are surgically corrected prior to adoption. I don't know if that's true with all rescues though.

As far as when you're ready, well I'm not sure how to answer that one. I guess if your life is settled enough that you can devote 6 months or so to continual and consistent training, then I'd say you're probably pretty ready. The new dog will require a lot of time and energy, both in terms of exercise and training/bonding. I guess you'll need to be financially prepared as well
post #87 of 91
We had a Bichon Frise growing up. They're small-to-medium (10-15 lbs) and great family dogs-- lots of fun and energy and love nothing more than to be around people. The shedding is really good, too-- they practically don't shed.
post #88 of 91
Thread Starter 
nd_deadhead: Why yes, yes I do lay awake and dream about doggies! I'm not really kidding or exaggerating that one, either.

Thank you for putting so much into perspective for me. Joanna was able to do that for me when another larger bread mutt dog came up for adoption at a local rescue. The thing I keep thinking of is the size factor. I worry about fitting a 75lb dog in the car. That may sounds like a silly thing, but i figure I better think of everything. I like dogs of all shapes and sizes, but the ones I've known or met who have had the best personalities have been labs. The exercise thing I *do* think about, too. My older son is now in Kindergarten all day long, but I have a 3 year old here with me. So the time factor is not an issue. We do have the time. We go away once a year and very, very rarely any other time throughout the year. We have a pet sitter who we use and trust with our cat that is wonderful and an vet tech. So I feel comfortable about all those questions. But I keep coming back to size. And now, I'm reconsidering the hair factor. Did I mention that my DH is a bit vacuum obsessed? We usually end up vacuuming every day and that's just from the crumbs from the kids. I can't really imagine doing it any more. Ahhhhhhh...this seems so tough. Why is this so tough? When I was young, my dad brought home a dog and he was ours. Just ours. No decision about breeds/temperament, etc. And he was my loyal and faithful friend. Getting a dog was the best thing that happened to me!

I just don't know when I will know. Do I just start going to the local SPCA (only 10 minutes away!)? And keep visiting?

K9rider-I tend to want that sort of underfoot personality. Thinking about the hip thing is really interesting and another factor to consider. I don't know if the rescue I was referring to surgically corrects or even checks hip issues thoroughly. I have to go back and read that part of their site.

momtol&a-You know, a friend growing up had a schnauzer and she was great. You're bringing back good memories.

And weasly-I've never considered a Bichon, but I am open to any dog with a good temperament.
post #89 of 91
I sometimes wish I didn't think about things too much too. Back in the day my family would just go get a mutt from the pound too. I think you are being wise in considering everything though. It will better prepare you for what's to come. By understanding different basic breed temperaments you can make a fully educated decision when the time comes. Definitely go visit the SPCA as often as you want to/can. The right one just might be there waiting for you. Just don't do anything on impulse. Take your time and think about it. We're here for you to help with any questions anytime

The other thing that I meant to mention is that our rescue will NOT take in any "hyper Labs". That might be something to look into with this particular rescue organization as well. We really try to take in those Labs that have the tried and true Lab personality....even if they're not the most picture perfect ones. Also, since I didn't say this before consider an older dog...like 4yrs old or so. They will be more calm and you shouldn't have to deal with adolescent craziness (as I am with my current dog : ). A good friend of mine recently adopted a breeder bitch who was done being bred. She's 6yrs old and just the most lovely Lab I've ever met. Very calm and gentle and tolerant. Just something else to consider...at least in that situation you'd be fairly certain that you're getting a good quality dog (that is, of course, if it was from a reputable breeder).

ETA: Also look into dogs that have washed out of Guide Dog schools. They are often very well trained and of great temperment, but just couldn't be used as a service dog. Most often they are Labs, Goldens, or GSD's though.
post #90 of 91
Thread Starter 
K9rider-Thank you. I have really been lurking on the pet forums for a loooong time. And have just recently come out of the shadows as a dog-owner-wannabe! Joanna has been been a font of knowledge. I've been following her posts and I really respect her opinion. I've also noticed that you're a lab person and very knowledgeable, too. So I am in the right place! MDC is such a great community--that's why I've been a member for years now and hope to be for many more.

I will run any other questions by my mama dog experts here.
post #91 of 91

and so does Joanna :
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