Choose Me a Dog

OK - in the middle of next year I’ll be moving to a new place and I’ve decided that I want to get a couple of dogs. I’m not wedded to the concept of a pedigree, but if I do decide to go down that route I’ll need to start thinking about getting on waiting lists now.

Looking through the usual sites, though, pretty much every breed I’d envisioned gets contraindicated by some limiting factor. Is there anyone who’d like to suggest a dog breed that I should be looking toward?

I’d prefer a large breed - I’ll take a medium breed, but not much smaller.

The house is an inner-suburban, two-storey terrace. The yard’s about 6 metres by 14 - mostly but not entirely concreted - and because of the security grilles the dogs will pretty much need to be outside while I’m at work. The stairs up to the second floor are pretty steep, which rules out most short-legged breeds and some of the bulkier giants.

I’m single without kids and I’ll be out of the house for about 10 hours a weekday - the dogs would have each other for company, but no supervision. Exercise would be roughly an hour’s walk a day, including playing in the dog park. I’d prefer a breed that’s intelligent, but not destructive.

I’ve had dogs before, but not in the last few years when I’ve been renting. I’m happy to provide solid training and I’m not shy about keeping structure, but I’m not going to get into agility-grade training.

I was originally thinking about malamutes, but I won’t be able to let them off-leash at the dog park in case they feel the need to eat a few terriers. Most working dogs (blue heelers, border collies, etc.) won’t get the exercise that they need. Bulky dogs (saint bernards, mastiffs, newfoundlands) won’t handle the stairs and generally aren’t as bright as I’m looking for.

I’m thinking about looking at irish wolfhounds - they seem to have the right activity level and temprement, but would anyone be able to suggest a better fit?

One thing I think of when I see huge-breed-dog + stairs is that the dogs, being that they have shorter lifespans, will get older quicker than a smaller dog and also will most likely suffer from arthritis and/or hip problems.

Then, how do you go about moving your two enormous old Irish wolfhounds around the house?

I would suggest a pair of golden retrievers (yup, I am a golden owner so I’m biased). They’ll be good playing with each other, will be great on walks, will be great at the dog park and are super intelligent. They like stimulation but don’t need it as much as a herding dog.

My golden gets an hour walk most days, and along with a healthy diet (low-fat treats, light dog food (less than it says to feed on the bag), few table scraps and no-salt canned green beans for snackies) she stays at a great weight. Goldens are very easy to make fat - they have the saddest eyes!

Other Dopers might be able to give you a better idea about how to pair the dogs gender-wise, but I do know that females will be smaller (even tho mine is 83 lbs) and possibly less destructive. I also know that the oldest female will be the leader of a group, so a female and a male might work out, or two females. Two males would be a whole lotta dog…

Good luck!

You’d actually do better with a male and female, or two males. The girls tend to have issues with dominance.

Dobermans or standard poodles. Both very trainable, loyal and loving. Good lifespan (12-14 years). Poodle has coat upkeep, but I just clip mine with my horse clippers.


I agree with StGermain on the Standard Poodle, and ZipperJJ with the Goldens. My suggestion would be for you to look at rescuing a couple of greyhounds. They would be perfect for you. I have a couple of adopted Aussies, so I’m a big believer in Rescue.

Here is a discription from Adopt a Greyhound

Where do you live? What are the temperatures?

I have to chime in with my breed of choice, the Gordon Setter. They are wonderful companions, and the coat is relatively easy to care for… if you don’t want to keep them in show-condition, they are adorable when they grow out! They can be a little bit stubborn, but are very devoted to their owner and low energy inside.

Dobermans are another good choice, altho in my experience they are VERY destructive in their younger days; once they hit about 2, they’re fine, but before that? They’ll tear up anything they can get their mouths on. That’s another good thing about my Gordons (I have had 6 all together)… they are not destructive. Out of 6 Gordies, I can count on 1 hand the stuff they have torn up. They don’t even tear up their stuffed toys! I still have a little stuffed pig that belinged to my old girl Fancy… she had it from the day I brought her home at 8 weeks till she died at 10, and the only thing missing on it is one ear… that my PAPILLON tore off!

Please, can I implore you not to buy a purebred? It’s trite, it’s corny…but it’s also true that there are boatloads of great dogs in shelters, including purebreds if that’s what you really want. Failing that, there are tons of breed-specific rescue organizations, for just about every kind of dog. Dogs are awesome, and they deserve better than what many of them get from us. It would be really great if, seeing as you want dogs anyway, you did a little bit to improve their lot.

How about going to a shelter and getting a mix of all the recommended dogs? :smiley:

Lucretia - I have two dobies, a standard poodle, english setter, alaskan malamute and wolfhound mix, and they’re all rescues. It’s amazing what people throw away. Purebred dogs need homes, too.

StG can help you find a rescue dog of nearly any breed if you’re willing to travel a little bit. Mixed breeds can often be a good thing, too - they don’t suffer from the breed-specific problems like hip issues nearly as often. A lab mix or golden mix would be a good fit for you (presuming you don’t plan to leave them outside in a cold climate).

Alternately, a lot of people at my local dog park have greyhounds due to a nearby greyhound rescue (due to the dog track here, I imagine). They are very sweet dogs as well, play nicely with others, and tend to be easily available as rescue dogs. I always laugh watching my basset hound try to chase the greyhounds, and they good-naturedly slow down just enough to encourage her. :slight_smile: They are not loud, either, that I have ever seen. Most people adopt them in twos.

If you live in a colder climate and plan to leave the dogs outside, consider a husky. They can be mean if not properly socialized, but a husky has been coming to our dog park regularly and is very sweet and gentle with all of the other dogs. In my opinion, nearly any breed can be safe with other dogs if properly socialized at a young age. I’ve seen a St. Bernard and a boxer, both full size, playing with a little Pom puppy in the most gentle way imaginable.

Greyhounds are fine but should never be trusted around smaller animals as their instinct to chase and grab tends to kick in. Also, if you want to do obedience training with them, be aware that they will stand and lay down but they just don’t sit.

Also, a breed rescue would be a good way to go when you are ready to look for a dog.

Oh, you can teach them to sit if you want, but for most of them it’s not something they do on their own very much and it tends to look a bit awkward and not particularly comfortable. I have a female greyhound that sits on her own all the time and obviously likes to, but the male only sits when he wants to scratch an itch and it’s a bit of a production for him.

I am partial to the Shiloh Shepherd. Think a super-duper German Shepherd and you have the idea (indeed the breed was formed to conform to the older “ideal” of a GSD…think Rin Tin Tin…as lately GSDs have become victim to puppy mills and unscrupulous breeders). They were bred to avoid hip dysplasia issues GSDs are prone to (although they can still get it to be sure) and have a more even temperament.

I have one and she is amazing. Smart to the point of spooky. Loyal, loving and a real sweetheart yet an amazing knack for knowing when to guard with no prompting for me.

They are exceptionally trainable (again that big brain of theirs) and and have a stellar work ethic. They can fulfill any dog “job” I can think of all the way to full blown Schutzhund but will do as well as a pet. Of course the herding instinct is there too and occasionally you will see them do it when running around a park which is pretty cool to see.

They have a thick coat suitable for most weather so get on fine almost anywhere (although exceptionally hot areas may be out for them). As long as you provide sufficient shelter, shade and water outdoors is totally cool with them.

They are also gorgeous! They will shed though so be prepared for lots of brushing.

The downsides?

  1. They are almost impossible to find outside a breeder as they remain a semi-rare breed.

  2. As a corollary to #1 they are very expensive.

  3. Early socialization and training is critical. While true for any dog it is especially true for this breed. They are too big, too powerful and way too smart to not have a good foundation of doggy good behavior behind them. They thrive on that anyway and everyone, dog and owner, will be happier for it. Once well established they are very stable and loyal. If you are a weak (as in not establishing leader of the pack) owner that allows your dogs to run your life there will be trouble…get a lap dog.

  4. Along with #3 good breeders will do temperament testing for you when choosing a dog. The testing is no guarantee of anything but at least an insight into the dog the puppy is likely to become. In this fashion you have a good chance at the temperament you want (still very much needs that good socialization).

  5. It is such a great breed and the breed founder was so restrictive in protecting the breed purity and lines that splinter groups have formed offering something similar but not quite the same. The fighting between these groups is passionate and vitriolic like you would not believe. Stay out of it as best you can. Go for the ISSR breeders if you can as those adhere to the original ideal and are passionate about producing good dogs.

Best of luck whatever you choose!

Sorry - I forgot that it doesn’t list locations any more.

I’m in Sydney. Temperatures only get down below the teens during the day once or twice a year. They’ll often be in the mid-high 30s in Summer, and very humid.

I have to say that having scanned the RSPCA’s page on and off for the past six months there are very rarely any purebreed dogs that get left there.

That said, I’m not wedded to the idea of a pedigreed dog - but getting an idea as to suitable crosses is key. I can typically get better information about a Bull Mastiff than I can about the typical “Doberman x ?” that’s out at the Yagoona pound.

The answer is “beagle”.

Would a beagle be able to cope with a steep set of stairs? The terrace was built in 1880, and as was the style at the time, it doesn’t waste much space with things like easy access.

Beagles are indestructable, very family oriented and think of themselves as a part of the family. They are prone to scrounging for food ( off a table, out of the garbage.) and can never really go off lead as when they catch a scent (which they always do) they are gone. They* may* come back, but it won’t be when they are called, it will be for food. Food, food, food. They love kids, they love people. No one as ever been mauled by a beagle. They are dog alarms and will bay (read: blood curdling) at everything and nothing ( so visit someone with beagle to get the full effect.)

I highly recommend talking to rescues for the breeds you are interested in and asking them the pros and cons of each breed.

Example of my base knowledge: Labs.


Fantastic Family dog. (None better.)

**Can be fairly intelligent. **(It’s not a shepard, aussie or poodle, however.) Very trainable ( look at what is mostly guiding the blind and helping the handicapped.)

ALWAYS HAPPY. (Yay! I get dog food to eat today! OH BOY!!!111!!!)

Loves water. (and mud)

Will catch a ball all day. (Your rotator cuff will wear out long before they do.)

Very social. (Loves everyone.)


Because it is so popular, inbreeding is rampant and spectacularly stupid dogs are out there. (My best friend has two purebred Labs that are dumber than a sack of hammers, and she shelled out $1200 for the two of them! Her rescue dog (border collie cross) is a PhD candidate compared to Dumb and Dumberer.)

**They are clumsy **( their tail can clear a coffee table full of coffee cups in a wag.)

They love food. ( However, all the labs I know have 'junk’stomachs. Meaning they can eat anything and never get sick. YMMV.)

They blow their coat twice a year.

[strike]Many[/strike] Most have oral fixations and will carry a lovey or bring you something (stick/ball/underpants) every time they can. This is in their DNA. Get use to slobbery items.

Any Bad Guy who knows his dog breeds intent on robbing your place or mugging you will know that you have picked the worst breed for territorial and personal defence. ( If your house were being attacked by tennis balls from outerspace, on the other hand, you and your house would be safe.)

Hip Dysplasia is a big problem with this and large breeds.

A book that I love to read: The Good, the Bad and The Furry. It isn’t gospel, but it gives you a great overall view of the popular breeds out there.
( If I didnt’ fear the stink eye or dealing with potential issues of freakish strength, I’d get a Staffordshire terrier in a heart beat. Healthy, great family dogs, no grooming issues, devoted. Medium sized. )

The caveat of big dogs is Vet bills and if you have to kennel them. (Food too. They can shovel alot of kibble into their pie hole and what goes in, must come out. How much to you like poo?)

Our dog ( a lab/mastiff mix of the most awesome kind. Looked purebreed lab, heaviest and stockier like a mastiff.) Weighed between 85-100 pounds. Every visit to the vet was a minimum of $100 USD. Kenneling her cost us a fortune until our neighbors moved in and are dog people. ( We take care of theirs and they took care of her. Ideal.)

Also, very important no matter what breed or size you get is looking into vet bill insurance. Some types are not as healthy as others. If they only thing that is keeping you from putting little Fido down when he sprains his paw is money ( say $500, doable, for most.) insurance may help you. What if Fido gets bloat? or cancer and the price goes to $2000 to start out for treatment.
It is mandatory to attend obedience training and then continue with this for the rest of the dogs life. Dogs, like humans, will slide to the path of slovenly behavior if given an inch. A trained dog is a happy dog. A happy dog is a tired dog. ( walks and face time, very important.)

Dogs are an awesome way to learn and meet new people.
Keep us updated with your doggie shopping!

We get to help name your newest family member(s), right?

We’ll talk… :slight_smile: I’m not permitted to actually let people know when I have the dogs, though, because I don’t have a camera and I know that board rules are pretty strict about that sort of thing.

Thanks for everyone’s help - again, I’m not looking at taking on a pet until I move in July, so the actual shopping won’t take place until then. At the moment, I’m calling everything “research”.