Best and Worst dogs.

A spin off from this thread. I am bound and determined to get some answers.

Let’s say Jane and John are 35 years old, live in a single family home in the suburbs of Chicago with a large yard, have a 10 year old boy, a 6 year old girl and 3 year old twins.

Both Jane and John are teachers and work 8 hour days. They have hired a dog trainer who comes highly recommended as the very best in the biz.

They want a dog.

What would be the very best and the very worst dog they can choose?

The best dog would be a mutt from their local pound.

The worst would be any dog from a puppy mill or backyard breeder.

Palo, what would be the best purebreed that you would recommend, assuming you knew of a mystical place where all the purebreds were raised with perfect conditions and care.

ETA: To show that I’m not just trying to keep narrowing down the condtions to be maddening, I want to admit that I am purposely trying to get a specific answer… Is there any such thing as a breed of dog that is better or worse as a family dog. Is there an answer to that question or not.

Google this book “The Right Dog For You” by Danial Tortora.

It takes you through a series of multiple choice questions to narrow down what breed will work for your situation. The results may surprise you.

Good Luck

The top two dogs on my list to own are the Neapolitan Mastiff and another Anatolian Shepherd. Both are extremely large dogs and guardians by nature. While Anatolians need exercise I just take mine with me when I run in the mornings and he is fine for the rest of the day. Neo’s from what I’ve read are very laid back dogs who really require minimal exercise but lots of socialization.

The worst dogs would be herding dogs or hounds. Herding dogs like to herd and have high energy requirements and hounds make lots of noise which the neighbors probably won’t like. I don’t consider anything from the toy group to be a dog.

In general I stick to the working or non-sporting group for dogs but my current dog is a pound puppy who’s mom was a purbread working dog so in reality unless you have a specific goal in mind I’d just go to the pound and trying to mach size and physique.

Thanks. But I already know the best breed of dog for me. It’s called Siamese Cat! Haa!

I did tell my best friend, who is moving into a house with a yard and is trying to find a dog that I had heard that Golden Retrievers were great with kids. Dopers got me thinking there is no such damn thing as a ‘kid friendly’ breed!

A factual answer based on real data that everyone will agree on? Absolutely, positively not. No way. There just isn’t. Every dog is different, there’s huge variation within breeds, and just about everybody with an opinion is basing it on their own experiences, which will vary.

In my own opinion, breed is far less important than how it’s raised, trained, and treated. And there’s the added fun of the genetic lottery. For instance, our little Jack Russell is naturally submissive, and we’ve put in a lot of time and work getting him trained to be obedient. That said, he still has a thing for socks and rags - he steals them whenever he can and carries them around the house, and occasionally chews them up. That’s not a breed characteristic - he’s just a weird little dog with a foot fetish. My sister’s Jack Russell is a completely different dog - much more demanding, yet probably a little better behaved overall.

Getting a dog, no matter how good your research is, is at least a bit of a crapshoot. You’ll never know exactly what you’re getting.

The best dog is “my” dog. The worst dog is “that other person’s” dog.

I own Shiba Inus, most of my mom’s side of my extended family have West Highland Terriers, I grew up with a Golden Retriever, wanted a Newfoundland, almost got a Portuguese Water Dog. All of them are great breeds, for different kinds of people. I also have a mutt, as do my parents and a sister-in-law; they’re all great, too (my parent’s dog is probably too high strung for multiple kids, though).

All in all, Goldens are what I’d suggest to your hypothetical family.

With the addition of that trainer, almost any dog breed would be OK. We’d need more info on the size preferred, activity levels expected, and (frankly) what kind of dog the family thinks is cute. Certain breeds are more likely to be comfortable with fewer people around. Certain types of hunting breeds are prone to latching on to a single member of the family and almost ignoring everyone else. I think some toy breeds do the same thing.

ETA: Add my vote for Tortora’s book. I wore out my family’s copy before we got our Golden.

I have recommended that book countless times. It’s brilliant.

I would never recommend that someone get a purebred dog. 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year in shelters in the U.S. For anyone who is looking for a dog, I would tell to go to the local pound, Humane Society or rescue group. Then spend time with the animal and make sure you are getting one will a calm, even temperament.

The odder the mix of dog, the better. If you can find a lab / poodle / basset hound / corgi mix with a bit of greyhound, it will probably be the best dog in the world.

Your OP is missing key pieces of information that have been touched upon in this thread. Namely - what does the family expect from a dog? Something cute and well-behaved that sits in the corner? Something to take on their monthly camping trips? Something they can put out in the backyard instead of taking on daily walks? Few people “want a dog” - they “want a dog to ______ with”. Maybe it’s a running companion. Maybe it’s someone to bark at knocks on the door and keep their feet warm on the couch. Maybe it’s to increase their activity level.

All breed tendencies are generalizations, and nothing more than tendencies inasmuch as they are true. There is individual variation. Even if a given breed’s tendencies sound perfect for a given situation, not only might an individual dog not behave as expected, but…how to say this…the spectrum of dog behavior varies more due to the input of the family in question than it does by breed or by individual dog. While some breeds will tend toward X, a family can certainly make almost* any specific dog into X or Y by training, or mis-training, or neglect, or abuse.

*I’m not going to say you can make any dog bite by abuse, but you can certainly wreck any dog’s relationship with people and turn at least some individuals from any breed into biters.

It is because this environmental factor greatly outweighs breed tendencies and (to a lesser extent) individual temperament that this question gets the answers you don’t want.

I’m not denying that, to some extent, there are breeds which will be a tend to be a better or worse fit for a given living situation. But the variation is huge. I’ve heard from people who live in tiny condos with greyhounds who are happy couch potatoes and people who live on large tracts of land who keep greyhounds active all day.

In the scenario you present, you describe only the physical circumstances. The more relevant issues are the family’s commitment to learning, to spending time with the dog, to proper socialization, their ability to consistently train the dog (everyone on the same page and using consistent cues), how much love, sweat, and (in the case of vet care and supplies) money they are going to put into the dog’s well-being. These factors will make or break the family’s experience with the dog. In my own experience, the more I genuinely put into the relationship, the more I get out of it, every time.

Bearing in mind that the breed tendencies on the site I am about to point you toward are broad generalizations, this is one of the better online sites I have seen for talking about breeds:

You can search by clicking on the breed groups (hounds, terriers, etc.) or by using the pulldown. When you get to a page on a given breed, it’s very important that you click the link at the bottom of the text that says [Continue to Full Overview] because there’s a LOT of information that doesn’t show up on the front page.

Before you do that, notice on the front page, on the right side, the orange bulleted list of “characteristics.” You can search and sort that using the little “compare” link under each characteristic; there’s also a useful “explain” link about what they mean by each characteristic, in case you (like me) are baffled by a dog that rates high in “vigor” but low in “energy level.” So you can get a list of breeds by vigor, mouthiness, wanderlust, etc.

I’ve wandered around that site a bit since finding it and I personally find that generally I agree with their rankings, which frankly surprises me. Usually that kind of thing is a collection of either blindly loyal over-praising of a breed or ignorance and prejudice, but this site seems to be fairly clearheaded about their rankings and what I’ve read matches my experience and what I’ve read on numerous dog-themed websites. That’s why I recommend the site despite my misgivings about the whole concept of “good and bad breeds.”

Caveat: the trainer, of course, is mostly there to train the people. The dog’s behavior can be perfect for the trainer during the sessions, but is almost entirely dependent on the family’s commitment and consistency as soon as the trainer has left the premises.

While I have an undying love for mutts, mixes, and crosses, and I am totally committed to recommending shelter dogs, rescues, and re-homed animals in generally, it’s worth noting that there are many breed-specific rescues where you can, if you are hung up on breed, get a purebred rehomed animal of the highest quality without supporting backyard breeders, puppy mills, or in fact any kind of breeding-for-money operation. The reason you can get a good-quality dog is because humans (as a whole) are such poor quality – while some badly-behaved animals are dumped, millions of great animals are dumped too, and the overwhelmed rescue folks can only rehome so many, and might as well choose the best candidates. So it’s generally a myth that rescued or rehomed animals are problem animals.

I don’t know much about other dog breeds, because I grew up with a Golden and have my own Golden now.

My opinion on Golden Retrievers… They are definitely awesome dogs. They are sweet, loyal, full of personality and very smart. As far as I’ve seen, mine is at least good with children. They can be very big (mine is an 80# female who has gotten up to 90#), they can be very messy (mine loves water and mud, and their hair is harder to keep tidy than, say, a Lab), and they can be big babies. They are easy to over-feed because they are so darn cute. They are also easy to baby (and thus get into bad habits) because of their cuteness.

There is a marked difference between my childhood Golden and my current one. I’d read that since Goldens are so popular they are poorly bred. The Golden we got in the 80s was as calm as anything. My Golden who was born in 2002 is much more manic. The two dogs definitely grew up differently and were trained differently but I would venture to guess they were bred differently too.

I met the parents of my current Golden. Dad was this 100# beast who was barking crazily from a pen. Mom was the sweetest, most gentle skinny girl. I would not have wanted the father as a family pet, but mom was amazing as far as dogs go.

Anyway, I don’t see anything wrong with a Golden for a family with a yard and lots of love to give. Being away for so long will make the dog sort of sad - but to be honest my Golden sleeps 8 hours a day while I work from home. She does definitely remind me when it’s 5PM and time to play, and even tho I have a yard I walk her almost every day. We go on hikes and swims, too. She would definitely appreciate a bunch of kids to play with her.

But as everyone else has said…every dog is different, even by breed. You can’t just get a dog and have it fit into your lives. You can get one that will fit closely but every dog takes time and energy. Everyone, even the dog, needs to be trained in order for everyone to be happy.

There are golden retrievers - and all the rest.

Zipper, I get what everyone is pointing out, about there being lots of circumstances to consider. But I am getting the idea in my head that Goldens are probably a good generic choice, if someone were to put a shaky gun to our heads and tell us to choose a damn breed, already.

Sounds like a variation of this National Lampoon cover. :smiley:

I’ll put in a vote for my dog. We have a three year old Bernese Mountain Dog. She’s great with the kids and devoted to every member of our family. She’s friendly to strangers, but not overly so. She’s active enough to participate in almost any activity you’d like to with small kids, but she’s calm inside the house and is content to lie at your feet for most of the day.

Really, the only downsides I see with this breed of dog are they tend to have a fairly short lifespan, they shed a lot, and they tend to be a little bit hyper as puppies.

Goldens and labs are super popular and totally overbred. If you do choose to get one, be sure that the parents are hip/elbow/eye certified, and ask about the occurence of cancer in the family tree. Some “strains” of golden are very susceptible to cancer as they age.

If you are a young family in the Chicago burbs you are pretty much required to have either a lab or a golden - as well as an SUV in which to haul it around! :stuck_out_tongue:

Wheatens are another breed you might wish to consider. Slightly smaller. The least terrier-like terrier.

Definitely do your research before buying. If you have not dealt with breeders before, you may find that they are a rather unique - ahem - breed.

I believe the Chicago dog show(s) are next week. You might enjoy going down to McCormick place one or more days. It is a wonderful opportunity to see all of the different breeds, as well as get info from various breeders, rescue organizations, etc. If going, look around on-line or in the paper for coupons to get a couple of bucks off admission.