What is the best breed of dog for a family pet? (1 Viewer)

Keith Nichols

Registered User.
Local time
Tomorrow, 00:40
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Messages
431
My children are 2 and 3 years old. Pretty soon (when we return to Perth Australia in the new year) I would like to get them a pet dog. The children will be too small to take any of the responsibility of looking after/exercising the dog so it will all be down to me and my lovely wife. That being the case, we are a little on the lazy side and would like the minimum of amount of maintenance (short hair) plus a breed that is happy with less rather than more exercise. And, of course, it must be absolutely assured it will not harm my children or anybody else's (no rotwielers!).

My thinking is that the dog will live outside in a kennel all year round or in the laundry with a dog flap entrance. Out house has a modest garden but we live adjacent to a 70 hectare reserve (parkland) with lakes, streams, cycle and walking paths much used by dog owners for walks etc. Lake Gwelup for those that know Perth.


Neither of us has much experience of dogs although my family had a Lab/Boxer bitch that was very good with children. When we get the pet, I plan to go to puppy walking classes so that there is some obedience (the dog, not me).

All suggestions, tips, ideas etc gratefully accepted.
 

ColinEssex

Old registered user
Local time
Today, 22:40
Joined
Feb 22, 2002
Messages
8,411
Hi Keith

As you require a "low maintenance" dog, I would suggest a smaller variety. Avoid the alsations / great danes etc.

Our dog we had for 15 years was a border collie cross. Easy to train, we did obedience shows and won many trophies. They love people and children.

My recommendation is to get a "rescued" dog. Go to the local RSPCA (or whatever) kennels. Don't get a pedigree, they can be highly strung due to inbreeding, and bloody expensive. Get a cross breed or mongrel mutt, they are brilliant, they know they've been rescued and respond well to being well cared for. Don't get one that has been abused, it could be nervous and with kids it may snap at them if they tease it. Make sure you know as much history as you can.

Sadly short hair doesn't mean you don't have to hoover everyday, dogs can just walk into a room and cover the place in hairs just standing still:rolleyes: Get a "dog hair" coloured carpet (a dark pattern, not plain and definately not a light colour). Your hoover-bag expenditure will triple overnight. There are some breeds that don't shed hair, but these are usually pedigree.

Don't just go to puppy training, do the higher classes, the dogs love it. It makes them think, and they adore it when they do well and get loads of praise. Remember the dog training classes are just as much to train the owner and the dog. I was a trainer with our dog as the "model" to show how it can be done.

Remember they key trick. Bribery will get you everywhere with a dog. Always have a dog sweet handy in the pocket.
Have one "pack leader" at home, then the dog knows its standing in the family, if the dog is unclear who is boss, it will assume the boss position and be difficult. Always be consistent with commands. Dogs will not respond if they get confused messages.

Good luck

Col
 

MrsGorilla

Rat Race Participant
Local time
Today, 16:40
Joined
May 6, 2003
Messages
1,745
Our last 2 dogs have been Boxers and we love them. We have a 3 year old male Boxer now, and he's great with our 2 1/2 year old daughter. Just yesterday he was laying in his bed in the living room and she crawled on top of him and straddled him like a horse and started bouncing up and down like she was riding a horse and he just sat there and took it. He licked her face when she got off and she gave him a hug. We wouldn't trade him for the world.

I've only taken him for walks a few times but we do go out in the back yard and play with him, throwing ball and sticks, etc. He does like the activity so I'm not sure if he's for you or not. We trained him when he was a puppy to be out in the front yard without a leash so he comes out front with us too when we're doing something out there.
 

Vassago

Former Staff Turned AWF Retiree
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Dec 26, 2002
Messages
4,751
Breeds don't necessarily dominate how the dog will behave around children. Remember that the way you raise the dog means much more than blood.

Labs are very patient and gentle dogs as well. I have a black lab and he's lazier than I am, but also very affectionate and he loves kids, even though I don't have any.
 

Mile-O

Back once again...
Local time
Today, 22:40
Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
11,312
Vassago said:
I have a black lab and he loves kids

My dog doesn't. Says they give her bellyache.
 

Vassago

Former Staff Turned AWF Retiree
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Dec 26, 2002
Messages
4,751
SJ McAbney said:
My dog doesn't. Says they give her bellyache.

You have to make sure he washes them down with cold water, room temperature water causes the acid in his stomach to over digest. :D
 

FoFa

Registered User.
Local time
Today, 16:40
Joined
Jan 29, 2003
Messages
3,672
Golden Ret. are always good with children and people, too much so (ours sucks as a watch dog). Love to play and swim.
Collies seem to be pretty good, and smarter. Our old Collie (god bless his soul) was smart as a tack, got along great with kids and others, was a good watch dog and got along with other dogs. But I don't think a Collie would take to being locked up to well. Our dogs are part of the family and share the house. They are our burgler alarm, friends, dropped food cleanup, and door greeters. I would NOT recommend an Akita (ours was OK with kids, but not near as good the Collie or our Golden. There are web pages and book to help decide on the tempermet you are looking for. I was just telling you what I had experience with. Oh, most MUTTS are great. Seems their temperment is more even. Our Hienze 57 is great with kids, and at around 40 pounds, not to big nor to small. She was a rescue, hence a little older, and they take WAY less work than a puppy.
 

Luddite Lad

Registered User.
Local time
Tomorrow, 07:40
Joined
Aug 23, 2005
Messages
177
Try this Web Site you answer a number of questions and then it will give you a list of breeds that could be suitable based on your responses.
 

RichMorrison

Registered User.
Local time
Today, 16:40
Joined
Apr 24, 2002
Messages
588
We have had a good experience over the years with terriers. In general, they are healthy, friendly, and are good indoors and outdoors.

We have had 3 Welsh Terriers and all were/are good companions. We got two from breeders and one from animal rescue. They have 'wiry' coats that need grooming, but they don't shed and are fairly non-allergenic.

RichM
 

MrsGorilla

Rat Race Participant
Local time
Today, 16:40
Joined
May 6, 2003
Messages
1,745
FoFa said:
I would NOT recommend an Akita (ours was OK with kids, but not near as good the Collie or our Golden.

We had some friends that had an Akita. It was fine before they had their daughter, but they had to get rid of it later because it wouldn't recognize that the baby was higher up in the food chain than it was. It was a little aggressive toward her, particularly around the food bowl (didn't bite, but barked and growled). My parents have a Dalmation that is usually OK, but snapped at Emily once when she thought Emily was trying to take food away from her. I don't completely trust her either.
 

emcf

Member
Local time
Today, 22:40
Joined
Nov 14, 2002
Messages
209
my family had a lob and then a cocker spaniel when i was a kid...both breeds are good with kids (although what vass said is true....the upbringing has an awful lot to do with it...go for those lessons). if you can find it there is some uk programme called dog borstal which is pretty good entertainment and good for info. not sure if it bbc or itv/c4....

labs moult a lot of hair so prob not ideal for you, not sure re retrievers. cocker spaniels are meant to not moult but i always managed to find a dog hair in my food when we had him. cockers like a fair bit of exercise too....they're small but are happy to pull at the lead for hours on end.

my sister had an alsation (not sure i would recommend one of those with small kids unless it was on police dog levels of training and attitude) and a gordon setter. the setter was daft as mince but a big softie and was v'good with kids. he was a bit clumsy though....he easily managed to knock me flying in the park when i was 13/14 age.

anyway, good luck whatever one you choose (mongrel maybe? they can have delightful temperaments with none of the drawbacks of pedigree inbreds). your kids will love you for getting a dog! you'll have a good time too.
 

Vassago

Former Staff Turned AWF Retiree
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Dec 26, 2002
Messages
4,751
Labs don't shed that bad, at least mine does not. They shed less if you keep them indoors than out though.

If you are worried about sheeding, choose a dog with a single layer coat, so you'll have less to clean up. The more layers of fur they have, the more shed.
 

Keith Nichols

Registered User.
Local time
Tomorrow, 00:40
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Messages
431
thanks folks. Some good food for thought. :)

I like the idea of a mongrel from the shelter. The puppy walking and continued education sounds like good advice and a way to meet new people, not that that is an issue when you have small children. There is a dog walking club round the lake I live near so we should be into that I think.

I will check out the link from Luddite Lad - ta.
 

Vassago

Former Staff Turned AWF Retiree
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Dec 26, 2002
Messages
4,751
The dog walking group sounds like a great idea, not only would you be getting exercise, but your dog would be getting the exercise he needs. It would also give him a chance to be around other dogs, which might make him less aggressive since he won't be AS territorial when he's in constant contact with other dogs, especially if you start young.
 

Keith Nichols

Registered User.
Local time
Tomorrow, 00:40
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Messages
431
Vassago said:
The dog walking group sounds like a great idea, not only would you be getting exercise, but your dog would be getting the exercise he needs. It would also give him a chance to be around other dogs, which might make him less aggressive since he won't be AS territorial when he's in constant contact with other dogs, especially if you start young.

I hadn't thought of that but I am hoping to get a dog with little or no aggression. Having said that, they are desceded from wolves and I have seen even the nicest of pets start barking furiously when another canine is within reach. Thanks for the tip.
 

Cathii

New member
Local time
Tomorrow, 05:40
Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
4
Keith Nichols said:
they are desceded from wolves and I have seen even the nicest of pets start barking furiously when another canine is within reach.

I have a malamute (about as close to a wolf as you will get without being a wolf) which is fantastic with kids and other dogs. Unfortunately she is 50kg and sheds hair ALL year round. But I wouldn't trade her for anything. She loves our saturday mornings down at the Bayswater foreshore playing with other dogs, my friend's 6yo and anyother children in the area.

I have also had border collies and whilst they are wonderful dogs they do require a great deal more exercise than most other breeds. A big oval, tennis ball and tennis raquet is a great way of making them run.

For my money though labradors that have been well socialised with other dogs (and cats!) and brought up with children and a definite pack leader (ie you), are hard to beat for a young family. They will protect your kids when you aren't there, they don't require a great deal of walking, they are friendly to EVERYONE (ummmm licking people is always a problem though) but most of all they are affectionate, loving and loyal to the family. But most of all the labs in Perth don't suffer from many of the problems that they do elsewhere thanks to a good breeding program by the local breeders association.

All of the above is just my opinion, but having had a lot of dogs (4 dogs at a time is not unusual) and two daughters, I think I have experimented with almost every breed. Either way dogs or cats make a family home complete. :)

Cathii
 

Keith Nichols

Registered User.
Local time
Tomorrow, 00:40
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Messages
431
Hi Catthi,

Interesting. I like the lab idea and had in mind getting a mongrel with lab in him/her but from what you say, it might be an idea to go for a breed if buying in Perth.

Out of curiosity, what problems could you find from a non Perth bred lab?

Also, do you have any opinions as to the sex, i.e. do you recomend a dog or a bitch? Do you think they should be speyed, if that is the right term for dogs?
 

Bodisathva

Registered User.
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Oct 4, 2005
Messages
1,274
Like Bob says "...remember to have your pets spayed or neutered". My wife has worked for animal shelters and been an animal activist for years. I have spent time in the shelters and have to admit, it's a much better option than going to a breeder. Breeder conditions are usually along the "puppy-mill" lines which have a tendency to produce genetic problems and health problems that the breeder usually won't compensate for...so you're stuck. Shelters are cheaper, do contain purebreds as well as mutts, and when you adopt one to their "forever home" it gives you a warm fuzzy :D

We adopted ours last year, a German Shepherd / Catahoula Leopard mix. He's still a pup and has lots of energy :)eek: ), personality, and is incredibly smart. Wouldn't trade him for the world, even though he can really work the nerves from time to time. After graduating from advanced obedience training, he's much easier to control and that makes a lot of difference. I'd recommend the training to anyone, regardless of breed.
 

Autoeng

Why me?
Local time
Today, 17:40
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
1,302
2nd vote for a Boxer. Very good around kids. Tough dog so that when Junior pulls on Fido's tail the dog just ignores them. I will warn you thogh that it is just like having another child when they are around kids. They love to play but if all is quiet so are they.
 

CraigDolphin

GrumpyOldMan in Training
Local time
Today, 14:40
Joined
Dec 21, 2005
Messages
1,583
Well, for what it's worth here's my input.

No dog breed is without some potentially negative points and there can be individual exceptions to all the generalisations I've made about each breed.

Your lifestyle seems to indicate that you need a low energy dog breed. In that case, I strongly advise against Border Collies, Aussie Shepherds, Blue Heelers, and most herding dogs. They are great dogs but they are usually very high energy dogs. It's simply not fair to the dogs to not give them the exercise they need. The number of dogs I've seen that have become neurotic through insufficient exercise is very sad. That said, they make great Agility dogs and if you can give them enough exercise and mental stimulation then they're awesome to see at work.

Labs and Boxers are great dogs but also require regular exercise...especially in the first 2 - 3 years. I'd classify labs as a medium energy breed. Boxers a little more active than labs. They do shed too.

If Labs appeal, but shedding is an issue, then look into Flatcoated retrievers instead. Longer hair, but they shed less than labs because they don't have the thick undercoat. They are similar in energy to a lab. However, they are very people oriented so if you don't want an indoor with-the-family pet then this is not the breed for you.

Golden Retrievers are great, moderate energy, family pets too. However, Golden Retrievers and Labs are both victims of their own popularity (as are German Shepherds). Unless you spend a lot of time checking out the background of a breeder and their ancestral line, far too many suffer genetic health issues thanks to endless puppy mills pumping out as many as they can. Examples include hypothyroidism, allergies, hip dysplasia etc.

Oddly enough, some of the large/giant breeds are actually medium or low energy dogs. Great Pyrenese, English Mastiffs, and Bernese Mountain dogs are fairly sedate once they reach adulthood and make good family pets and are good watchdogs. If you socialize them well from an early age, they are not aggressive to people although they will bark at people entering the property. Be aware that Giant breeds live shorter life spans and are prone to some cancers such as Osteosarcoma. Given your yard space though, these may not be the best choice.

Bloodhounds are, surprisingly, quite low energy dogs and make great family pets. However, they do have a powerful tracking instinct and their nose can cause them to go walkabout. Also, as with any 'wrinkly' dog, you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time on skin issues: you need to be prepared to clean out the folds on the skin routinely or risk potential infections etc.

Terriers are some of my favorite dogs but they do have their down sides. They dig. A lot. If you are a gardener or want a perfect lawn then forget it. They are small but they are like energizer bunnies and need regular exercise. They are inclined towards aggression to other dogs and this needs a lot of work in puppyhood to overcome.

They can also become snappy with young children: this is also true of most toy breeds like Maltese, Bijon Frise, Chihuahua etc.

My favorite terrier breed is the Norfolk/Norwich terrier which tend to be less dog aggressive than most other terrier breeds. Hard to get though. Border Terriers are also good choices.

Whatever dog you choose here's some advice:
1. Socialise your puppy as soon as you're able to take the puppy into public (after shots). Introduce your puppy to a minimum of 100+ friendly strangers within the first couple of months. Take a bag of tiny treats to give strangers to give one to your puppy. After a few days of concerted effort, your puppy will come to /love/ people.
2. Introduce your puppy to as many friendly dogs as possible in the first year of life. Dog parks can be great but be careful if you seen unbalanced/aggressive dogs in the park and don't go in if you see problems between dogs.
3. Read a book on dog training. I'd recommend 'Good Owners, Great Dogs'. It teaches you to 'think dog'.
4. Go to as many dog training classes/puppy kindergartens as you can.

As for buying from a breeder or getting a rescue dog, it's a risk either way. I'm sorry to quibble but rescue dogs cannot rationalize like people: they do not understand that you rescued them and decide to behave in eternal gratitude as a consequence. Often times, rescue dogs have come from a bad home and have not received early socialization and proper training. Even if they behave ok in the pound, problems usually arise one the dog has become a fixture in the new home as they begin to decide that it is their new territory. Which is not to say rescue dogs aren't a good choice. Just be very careful. Also, pure breeds that are found in rescue situations are not necessarily a good bet. Dogs that end up in pounds typically were obtained by owners who didn't care much about the dog. Such owners are usually the ones who buy from puppy mills. Dogs produced by puppy mills are far more prone to genetic disorders and inbreeding than those produced by responsible breeders.

You may get lucky, you may not. There is also a myth that mixed-breeds benefit from outcrossing (or hybrid hardiness). What you typically get is entirely unpredictable and is usually a mix of the problems of both species. This is partly because if it were easy to get rid of genes that cause the problems by outcrossing different lines of dogs, it would have been done long ago by the early breeders of each breed. Which is not to say that there aren't some awesome mixed breed dogs: just that there really isn't much health advantage in selecting a mutt over a pure breed (unless its a puppy mill-produced pure breed).
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom