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  1. #1

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    Finding the Right Doggie

    My family and I may want to adopt a dog from a shelter. However, I have never had a dog, and am not really a dog person. My husband has had dogs for most of his life.

    I've been doing a lot of research on dog breeds, to try to find out which might be a fit for my family and myself; and I figured I'd ask here as well - what dog breeds might fit with our family? Which breeds should we absolutely not look at, as they are not a match?

    Our family is not home during the weekday, so a priority is a dog that is okay being alone until we get home. My husband often gets home early, so it's not like the dog will be alone for 10 hours or anything, but the dog needs to be able to spend several hours on weekdays alone. My daughter is age seven, so the dog would need to be okay with young children who want to hug and cuddle the dog. We have a cat, so the dog needs to be okay with cats.

    I'd prefer a dog that doesn't shed a ton, but I'm willing to give on that if we can otherwise find a dog that suits us.

    Is such a dog breed possible? Or am I really looking for the SONY Aibo? Link to Aibo here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKAeihiy5Ck
    And so, dear Lord, it is with deep sadness that we turn over to you this young woman, whose dream to ride on a giant swan resulted in her death. Maybe it is your way of telling us... to buy American.

  2. #2

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    The thing about adopting a dog from a shelter is, you don't get much choice of breeds. Few of them will be purebred, mostly there will be Heinz 57 mixtures.
    Getting a small dog is even harder, if that's what you want.

    You will definitely want one that doesn't need a lot of exercise, since you will be away from home most of the day. Bored dogs can cause a lot of damage.

    I suggest you see what is available, then do some research on that breeds qualities. That will be less disappointing than going in looking for a particular breed.
    You can check online for the shelters in your city. Most of them have photos and bios of their adoptables.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Not sure where you live, but you can try this website and go from there.
    http://www.petfinder.com/index.html
    it shows you what mixed breeds are available so you can do research based on that. Don't get too attached to a particular breed/dog/gender/age/look etc, as sometimes it may not be the best fit.

  4. #4
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    My family has had several Fox Terrier mixes, adopted from shelters or people didn't spay their pets. They're great at handling rodents, tenacious little property defenders and they're short-haired, so shedding isn't as bad as a sheepdog. They're also smart and don't get much taller than 2-3'. You have to really crate-train them (like beagles and certain other breeds) because they're spite-wetters, but if they're trained well, that problem doesn't start or continue.

    We had a number of dogs growing up.

    My late father always said to first look at the dog's temperment. If he is skittish or doesn't want to approach you, it's probably been on the street too long or abused. It would take too much work (in his opinion) to overcome that problem, so he wouldn't adopt a dog like that. (I have inherited my father's lack of patience. We own the World's Greatest Cat.)

    My sister (who owns a terrier mix that looks just like the dog I had as a teen) believes that you look at a puppy's paws to judge size. If they're way too big for his body, that pup is going to grow larger than you might think. With mixed breeds, the dog may look like one thing as a pup, but grow up to bigger than expected.

    I have a neighbor who adopted a purebreed little dustmop dog from the shelter. Someone had just signed her over because the owner died and the nieces/nephews who handled the estate didn't want to take her across the country to their home in New Mexico. Coco even has AKC paperwork! She's really cute and well-behaved, plus she suits her new owner perfectly!

  5. #5
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    We had the same concern about leaving a dog alone, and as I did my research, one thing I found out is that most toy breeds do not do well by themselves for long periods of time. You didn't mention how big a dog you wanted, but I thought i'd mention it.

    However, I did find one of the few toy breeds that does OK by itself. We got an English Toy Spaniel http://www.akc.org/breeds/english_toy_spaniel/

    The problem is that this breed is not common in the USA. I had to hunt a bit to find ours, but it was well worth it, he's quite the charmer.

    As for the shedding, that's certainly possible to find a low shedding dog. If you haven't done it yet, use one of the many breedfinder tools you can find on the web, like this one : http://www.eukanuba.com/en-US/dog-breed-selector.jspx

  6. #6
    Corgi Wrangler
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    If you like an English Toy Spaniel, consider the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel--they're basically what the ancestors of the English Toy were before they had their faces 'pug-ified.' Essentially, you get a spaniel in a toy-breed-size package. They're more popular in the US so they might be easier to find. (However, a good one will cost you.)

    But I do suggest going to a shelter. And do be careful judging too much on what you see the dogs doing--they're not in a home environment. They can be more aggressive or more timid than they'd be in a quiet, one-on-one setting. The one thing I did check, though, since I have cats, is how the dog handled them--we took them into the shelter's cat room to see how they handled being around them. The "winner" got bopped by a kitten we hadn't realized was loose and she just hid behind me.

    And sometimes you do find purebreds. I ended up with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from the county shelter. (Spayed and no papers, obviously, but she's still a Corgi.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    Our family is not home during the weekday, so a priority is a dog that is okay being alone until we get home. My husband often gets home early, so it's not like the dog will be alone for 10 hours or anything, but the dog needs to be able to spend several hours on weekdays alone. My daughter is age seven, so the dog would need to be okay with young children who want to hug and cuddle the dog. We have a cat, so the dog needs to be okay with cats.
    Rule #1: Don't get a puppy, no matter how cute it is. Puppies need to be let out every few hours.

    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    If you like an English Toy Spaniel, consider the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel--they're basically what the ancestors of the English Toy were before they had their faces 'pug-ified.' Essentially, you get a spaniel in a toy-breed-size package. They're more popular in the US so they might be easier to find. (However, a good one will cost you.)

    But I do suggest going to a shelter. And do be careful judging too much on what you see the dogs doing--they're not in a home environment. They can be more aggressive or more timid than they'd be in a quiet, one-on-one setting. The one thing I did check, though, since I have cats, is how the dog handled them--we took them into the shelter's cat room to see how they handled being around them. The "winner" got bopped by a kitten we hadn't realized was loose and she just hid behind me.

    And sometimes you do find purebreds. I ended up with a Pembroke Welsh Corgi from the county shelter. (Spayed and no papers, obviously, but she's still a Corgi.)
    Yes, don't judge the dog by how they behave in a shelter. I mean, aggressive is obviously no good, but a shy dog will open up considerably once they're settled in a home environment, and a hyper dog will mellow out. Our first dog as a family, he was listed as not housebroken at the shelter because he regularly peed all over the floor, but once we brought him home, we discovered to our delight that he WAS housebroken after all. It's just that being in the shelter stressed him out.

    And yes, if you can't get a purebred, you can get something that looks like one. Our aforementioned dog looked like a golden retriever, but he must have had something else in him because he was tiny for a golden.

    That dog was also marvelous with children. You could pull his tail or bother him while he ate (dog no-no's) and he wouldn't care, but he was TERRIBLE with other animals. Taking the dog to the cat room at the shelter is a great idea. Otherwise you don't really know.

    Shelter is best IMO because those dogs need homes and if it's a good facility, the people there can tell you the personality of each dog. But it's a crapshoot in terms of getting a purebred. If you know which breed you like and are adamant about it, you could always go to a rescue.

  8. #8
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    There are a lot of breed specific rescue groups. Your local kennel club can put you in touch with them once you narrow down your choices. Petfinder is an excellent resource (listed upthread, love that site).

    Go to your local PetsMart or Petco or large pet store and talk to the rescue groups. Ours are out in force every weekend. Is there a dog park near you that you can go to?

    A good shelter/rescue group will know how the dogs do with cats and children. They test them.

    I've got 3 dogs. The girl is an Akita Newfoundland mix, runt of the litter, sheds like a fiend, but gentlest dog ever. 2 boys are non shedding - a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and a Schnoodle (Schnauzer and Poodle). Wheaten was a puppy mill/pet store rescue and the Schnood is a love bug lap dog who wants to play with the cats - they want no part of him.

    The Wheaten came home when we were looking for a new Shepherd. My son saw him and fell in love. So, thinking you want a specific breed is good, but once you see those eyes staring at you, you'll know which one is Your Dog.

  9. #9
    Corgi Wrangler
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    Just be careful picking a "rescue." Some are fine. Some are loony quacks with adoption contracts that make adopting a Chinese child look simple by comparison (and those often come with hefty fees--I looked at some "rescue" Cav. King Charles pups--they wanted a $600 "adoption fee.")

    I go to the county shelters. They're cheap, and the animals are, in most cases, going to die if no one takes them. But if you have small children you might not be willing to gamble on that. You might think about a rescue that fosters in home settings--they would have a better idea how the dog behaves around children, other pets, etc.

    And oh god, no puppies. I ADORE puppies but I am not home enough nor do I have that kind of energy. (And my senior dog would probably run away. He is PATIENT with neighbor puppies, but he has his limits...)

  10. #10
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    First--kudos for choosing to rescue a dog from a shelter.

    My husband and I had 2 rescue dogs--one an Australian Shepherd mixed (we don't know what the mix was but she was slightly bigger than usual Aussies) and an Australian Sheepdog/German Shepherd. These were two of the most well behaved, loving, entertaining, and intelligent dogs I have ever come across. They handled being home alone for up to 15 hours a day (we did have a neighborhood boy let them out during the day) and never did any kind of damage to the house. They are very calm dogs and extremely laid back. The only time there were any accidents in the house was right after we got the second dog until she got into a routine (a few weeks) and in the last week before we had to put her down due to advanced cancer. Unfortunately, we lost the other dog a few months later (just last month) due to cancer as well.

    Aussies do tend shed quite aggressively but I have nieces and nephews from infant to 21 years old and they were great with everyone. They are very aware of moods and are very protective as well. I could go on and on about what amazing pets they are. Let's just consider this my endorsement of Aussie's.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    My husband often gets home early, so it's not like the dog will be alone for 10 hours or anything, but the dog needs to be able to spend several hours on weekdays alone. My daughter is age seven, so the dog would need to be okay with young children who want to hug and cuddle the dog. We have a cat, so the dog needs to be okay with cats.
    How many hours will the dog be alone? "Often" isn't always, so need to consider the standard scenario.

    My dog is rarely left alone for more than four-five hours and IMO it's best not to leave a dog alone for eight hours a day five days a week. But I know that some people have no alternative and the dog gets used to it.

    But in that case you need to consider the dog's exercise needs. Even a dog with low exercise needs would need a walk in the morning and evening, and you'd need to be sure that someone was home after the eight hours. It would be unfair to the dog to just go shopping or out for dinner - not only because the dog would need to go pee, but because it's already more time alone than is idea.

    A puppy or a high-energy breed like a retriever is probably not a good idea. My golden retriever is six and she is still loaded with energy.

    A senior dog would be an option, but they may have health issues and also, you won't have as many years ahead as with a younger dog. That said, senior dogs in shelters are desperately in need of homes and they can be companionable in a way that younger dogs aren't.

    Dogs are social, not solitary creatures, but some manage better on their own than others. A little dog is an option, some of them at least don't need that much exercise and would sleep most of the day if they got a good walk in the morning. And I believe the basset hound is a relatively sedate breeds?

    Be honest with the people at the rescues you visit. Learn about breeds and if find one or two that suit your family best, seek out rescues for those breeds.

    As so children, many dogs are good with children and rescues often know if they aren't. And more is know about dogs that have been fostered.

  12. #12

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    Congrats (in advance) on the dog. I hope you will be able to find one at a shelter that fits you. The advice about taking the candidates into the cat room is great. My suggestion is that you also talk to the volunteers about the dogs' personalities. Even better if you know someone who volunteers at a shelter. When I adopted my first cat, I knew a cat volunteer at the shelter, and I asked her who would be good. She pointed out Patches and said she would be a good lap cat, which she totally was. In fact, SHE was The Best Cat Ever. Shhh.... don't let Callie hear that, LOL.

    I know someone who is a volunteer foster for a golden retriever rescue group. The last dog that he fostered he ended up adopting, because the poor thing had been so traumatized he didn't want to put the dog through adjusting to another family. The dog seems to have calmed down now, so it's good for both of them.

    Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Let me voice some more support for various rescue groups. A friend is very active in Airedale rescues, and the group will take dogs from high kill shelters and foster them with families. Their adoption people have experience with the dogs personalities and traits and they really want to place them with a match that will work.

    But don't assume a mixed breed won't work. Often they can combine the traits of a couple breeds to come up with a mix that works. And while foster families know more about a particular dog, there are lots of great shelter volunteers and employees so if you choose that route, find one you trust and they'll be able to give you a lot of good info about a the dog. But I do agree an adult dog is best in your circumstances. I adopted an adult cat because I wanted one who could handle it when I was at work during the day, and a kitten deserves more attention than I could give.

    for trying to get a rescue!
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

  14. #14

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    Please adopt from a shelter or a rescue group. "Breeds" are waaaay overrated, and inbreeding has caused many purebred dogs to have serious health problems.

  15. #15
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    Congrats in advance on your new dog!

    The best two dogs we have had in terms of being all around great dogs was a collie/shepherd/golden mix and our current purebred (rescue) shepherd. The downside of the shepherd is that she sheds constantly. The mix used to shed in clumps a couple of time a year, but was ok most of the time. We have also had a lots of beagles - they are great little dogs - but they can be challenging in terms of exercise and housetraining.

    My parents have a rescue English Springer Spaniel. He is not to big, has a great personality, and doesn't shed too much as long as they keep him groomed. He's also perfectly happy being an only dog, and gets along well with the cats.

    I would personally steer away from a pit bull/mix at a shelter. I know people who love the breed, but you don't know their background and I personally wouldn't trust the breed. That's just my opinion, of course.

    I agree with those who say get an adult - and crate training is not a bad thing. I used to think it was, but it really helps and I think the dogs actually like it. Oh, one more thing. Do an obedience class. Both you and the dog will appreciate it.

  16. #16
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    Crate training for a dog left on it's own during the day is critical. You and the dog will both be much happier when it doesn't destroy the house and you want to give the dog back. I've always had purebreds because I wanted a specific dog so I can't speak for shelters. (I wish there was no need for shelters because people neutered their dogs, but there is.). I've also known the temperment of the puppy and it's parents and usually grandparents. That's something you cannot know about a shelter dog. However, certain breeds tend to have certain personalities. I would not go with a really small breed if your daughter has never been around dogs. Mid-sized to larger dogs tend to do better with children.

    I 2nd the idea that you should find an obedience program even before you settle on a dog and that the entire family should attend and learn. Most instructors will let each of you work with the dog. It's critical that everybody understands what is acceptable behavior so the dog doesn't get mixed signals. Good luck and enjoy your dog.
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  17. #17

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    A rescue group can be very useful, because dogs are usually fostered, and the foster family can tell you about the dog's personality (good/bad with kids, friendly/not, tendency to bite/not, mellow/hyper etc). I have had Labs and lab mixes all my life and they are usually good temperamentally, but it isn't always the case. Take time to visit. Visit with friends' dogs, too, if possible.

  18. #18
    Uncle Dick's Beyotch!
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    I found my dog with Pet Finder. She was a stray found along a road one day. She required surgery to her back leg which the adoption agency handled the cost of. They estimated her to be a mix of Schnuazer, Poodle, and a little terrier mixed in. There was absolutely no question in my mind that I would adopt a mixed breed rather than go to a breeder. She's been a joy to have. In my case, my mom lives with me, so the dog is not home by herself except every once and awhile. On those occasions, she accepts being crated.

    I believe PetFinder allows you to narrow your search for dog based on age (puppy, young, adult, etc), size, and allows you to request dogs that can function well with kids and cats. Also check off ones that are house-trained. That will narrow down the list within your zip code radius.

    I hear good things about Havanese dogs, although I have no personal experience with them.

  19. #19
    Tranquillo
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    The AKC website has a list of breeds with temperment descriptions including a section on "is this the right dog for you"
    "The Devil is joining in, and that's never a good sign." Phil Liggett

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    We knew the breed and breeder we got our dog from so I do not feel I can advise about shelter dogs. Consider a rescue dog, not all rescue dogs are from bad situations. I know a few which were 'rescued' when the owner went into a nursing home.

    The real reason I decided to reply to this thread is to remind people to consider the area the dog will be living in. We have eagles and great horned owls in the neighborhood. Very small dogs/puppies have been grabbed by predators.

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