Dog advice/opinions wanted

I’m pretty seriously considering getting a dog (it’ll be from the Dumb Friends League, or one of the <breed> Rescue orgaizations) but I’m not sure what kind to consider. I want as good of a chance for the dog as possible, so here are the issues/concerns/questions I have regarding breed choice:

(And yes, I know that breed temperments are generalizations, but it’s still a good starting place)

#1) I have two cats. Any breed that tends to not get along with other pets (for example: Hhodesian Ridgeback) is right out.

#2) I’m at work 8-9 hours a day. (The dog’ll be an indoor dog). Trainability (aka Bladder control) is important. :slight_smile:

#3) I want a “medium” sized dog, say: beagle to lab (Labs might be a little too big). I just don’t like little dogs, and I don’t have room for a truly huge one.

#4) Given a choice between a “mellow” breed or an “energetic” breed, I’d prefer “mellow”

#5) Given a choice between a dog for a companion and a dog for security purposes, I want a companion…I don’t care how good a guard dog it is.

#6) I’m going to get a grown-up dog, not a puppy.

#7) I’ve heard there are personality differences between male and female dogs (territoriality, etc). True? False? Which, if either, do you prefer, and why?

I hope this doesn’t come across as too calculating, but this’ll be my first solo dog and I’d rather do the research first.

<micro-rant>
I’ve already been bitten (pun intended) when I called the Beagle Resuce Society/Organization with some questions: the bitch (pun not entirely intended) who answered the phone, rather than answering my questions, grilled me (which, if I’d been ready to get a dog, rather than asking about breed information, would have been fine) and when she found that <gasp> I work(!!!) 8-9 hours a day, she said that these dogs “don’t need any more abuse” and asked why I’d even want a dog since I wouldn’t be able to “spend any time with it” (8 hours a day?). I can’t be the only single person who’s wanted to adopt a dog. I’m feeling a little hesitant about calling Rescue Organizations at the moment. (I will start calling again though)
<end micro-rant>

Anyway, advice, comments, ancecdotal evidence, etc appreciated.

Fenris

Everybody works. Did you ask that lady where her pets were at the moment? But really, if she didn’t love animals she wouldn’t be working there. Twisted folks abound, and they do not want to place their rescues in a less than satisfactory home. She was right to grill you, but it sounds like communication broke down. Expect future grilling.

Sounds like you need a mellow loving mutt used to the indoors. You didn’t indicate living conditions e.g. apartment/house, yard vs. daily walks, have you got neighbors to look in in case you need to work late? Can you afford to maintain a dog(annual shots, accidents etc.)?

You will hear this again: dog adoption is an extreme commitment: cats you can leave for a few days with extra food and water. Dogs are totally dependent and need to see you morning and night. They will go mental without attention. You are doing the right thing with plenty of research in advance. Good luck.

I have better suggestion. Rather than going to a shelter, try some of the smaller rescue organizations where volunteers foster dogs. This way, you can talk to the foster home and find out about the temperament of the particular dog. I’ve fostered many dogs for a Denver all-breed rescue, and I’m picky about matching dogs to owners. You don’t say where you live; if you want to e-mail me I can try to help.

Things to consider: Do you rent? Many dogs are given up because it is truly a hassle renting with pets. Are you ready for a decade or more of commitment? Why, exactly, do you want a dog? If you don’t have a yard, are you prepared to spend a good deal of your time with the dog; going on walks, obedience classes, playing with it, interacting? How will you handle trips & nights away? Can you afford unexpected vet bills, dog sitters. Have you thought about what you’re going to feed it? Do you have any idea how your cats are going to react to this? Do you have a good relationship with a vet? What does (s)he think of this? I applaud you for wanting to rescue an unwanted dog, by the way! But remember, you may be “inheriting” someone elses’ health & behaviour problems, and you should be prepared to deal with this. This is why I’m suggesting an organization that fosters out dogs, so you can get good info on the particular animal.

Dogs are very social animals. I guarantee you’ll get slammed here for working & wanting a dog. Having been involved with dogs my whole life, IMO this is not necessarily evil, but requires a lot of thought and willingness to include the dog in most aspects of your life when you’re around. Nothing is sadder than a dog left outside alone in a yard day & night. You may well end up with an unhappy, noisy, destructive dog.

Rescue organizations are going to be VERY picky about letting their dogs go. I’ve been involved in French Bulldog and Rottweiler rescue. There are certainly generalizations, both as to breed and gender, but every dog is different. You could start by going to the library or browsing a book store, or the internet, for breed descriptions.
(Beagles are a bad choice for you. They are generally high energy, “barky” dogs, BTW)

Fenris, have you considered the single greatest breed on earth, the Greyhound? Greyhound Pets of America will help you acquire one. And so will I. I’ll take the questions one at a time.

We’ve had 3 greyhounds over the years (Vector, Velocity and Calvin). They’ve gotten along famously with our 6 cats, ducks, rabbits, etc. Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) will ask you about other pets when you contact them (there may be a form to fill out depending on your local group) and will test your potential canine pal against those groups. When we got our first greyhound we had the cats and a duck so they exposed Velocity to the official testing cat (a cat so laid back you’d think it was on morphine) and a goose, ducks being in short supply.

Currently we have two greyhounds and we’re gone all day. If we know we won’t be home until late we have a dog walker come in and give them a walk about 2PM.

Greyhounds aren’t exactly the smallest dogs around. But when you sign up for one you’re allowed to specify your preferences. These can includes color, sex, size in pounds, temperment, etc. Greyhound can range from about 40 pounds for the smallest females up to about 90-100 lbs for the larger males. The largest I’ve seen is 115 pounds but he was 14 years old and just decided ‘to hell with it’ and stopped running, laid on the couch, and ate everything he could get his teeth around. A fine life.

A common misconception is that greyhounds have a lot of energy and need constant exercise. How untrue! Those ‘in the know’ refer to the as ‘45 mph couch potatoes’. Basically they like to lay around in whatever room their humans are in just kinda making the scene. When they DO get exercise you should bear in mind that they’re sprinters. Once or twice around the yard at top speed and it’s nap time.

I can’t stress this enough. Greyhounds are not guard dogs. At the breeders and the track they’ve been taught since puppyhood that if a human says it, it’s right. So if a burglar comes into your place and asks a greyhound where the good silver is…by God that dog will show them. They really are companion animals. Couldn’t guard a mouse.

Greyhounds are adopted out (or are killed) when they fail out of racing. That can happen anywhere between 18 months (Velocity) if they just don’t have the speed at adulthood to 5 years (Calvin, champion runner but not quite good enough for stud, reached mandatory retirement at 5).

In my experience female dogs tend to be more independent that males. Males are a bit more into the whole, hierarchy thing and more obedient. But it’s all really just tendencies. Establish what the rules are early and they’ll get along fine.

OK, look, I know I’m in the tank for Greyhounds but after all, they’re killed at a rate of 50K or more a year when they can no longer run. They make great pets and are very affectionate. We’ve never had trouble with the baby (when she gets too close they just leave) or the cats (ditto) and they housebreak in about a day because they’re adults. Just show them where it’s not OK to relieve themselves and they get it.

Here’s a link, just in case.

http://www.greyhoundpets.org

If you need a reference or a sponsor or anything with your local chapter just drop me a line.

Ooh, I forgot about greyhound rescue. Chance that’s a great idea. My current matriarch is a greyhound/GSD cross. When I take her out, she’ll run for miles. In the house, she’s a 40mph couch potato, all day long.

Also, I’ll second the idea that a larger dog doesn’t necessarily need more excercise. Small/medium dogs (Collies of all kinds, Aussies, Beagles, most hunting breeds) tend to be hyper & do need a lot of excercise. Some giant breeds (Newfies, Great Pyrenese, Danes) are actually quite mellow. A friend’s Newfie takes two strolls around his yard per day and that’s enough to send him back in for a long nap. :slight_smile:

I live in Golden, so we’re neighbors. Once I get closer to a decision, I may take you up on your offer. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Obviously, I left a lot of things out of my first post, so I’m going to number your questions (all of which are great, btw), and respond, rather than doing tons of quote-/quotes

  1. I own (rather, the bank owns…:D) a small house with a large fenced backyard.

  2. Yes. I’ve had cats in the past, and while a dog is different, the commitment’s similar

  3. Cats are great, but…outside of a few close friends, I’m kind of a loner, and having a dog to go hiking, or going to the park with, etc sounds great. You can’t go hiking with a cat. (At least not my two cats!)

  4. That’s the other reason I want a dog. I’ve never neglected a pet, and having a dog’ll force me to get more daily exercise (which my doctor will like :D) and it’ll make taking walks more enjoyable.

  5. My parents said they wouldn’t mind taking care of my dog when I’m on vacation (they already do with my cats), and if it’s just an overnighter, my friends are willing (I’ve worked this out with having a cat who needed to be fed a prescription food daily…I’ve never had a pet who I could forget about overnight.

6)Yes.

7)Either Hill’s Science Diet or IAMs. Something with (if it’s like cat-food) a low ash content. (Why is ASH in cat food anyway?). All the cats I’ve had have thrived on those two brands, and I can’t imagine that their dogfood would be any lower in quality.

8)Obviously not well at first. One of the cats came from a family with dogs, the other I have no idea.

9)I’ve got a great relationship with a vet. She’s wonderful. She said that there’ll be lots of stress for a while and be prepared, but both cats are young enough to handle a dog. (one of the reasons I’ve been holding off is that my previous cats were both geriatric and it wasn’t fair to them)

As an aside, I want an indoor dog. I don’t like leaving the dog outside so it’ll be an indoor dog. (I also don’t like the thought of kenneling-any thoughts?)

Thanks!

Fenris

I agree with the suggestion of looking for a group that has “foster parents” for dogs. In my area, there’s a place called The Ark - there’s no central location (yet), but dogs stay with foster homes until permanent, suitable owners are found.

Find something like this in your area, and these people will be able to match you up with a dog to best meet your needs. I work with people who do this, and in the rare instances where a dog doesn’t work out for the new owner, they will happily take the dog back.

I happen to love dogs, and btw, I’m glad to see someone who’s committed to taking care of their pets and wants to adopt from a rescue league or something similar. I’ve found that most of these dog folks are very nice, but, as with any area in life, you are bound to encounter some assholes. These are typically people who feel they are the only ones qualified to take care of a dog, so don’t let them put you off. I know many responsible dog owners, and they all work. Most dogs, especially if you get an adult, are able to hold their bladders for 8-9 hours. This is where a foster parent can help immensely, rather than something like a humane society where dogs are kept in kennels.

Of course, for the first couple of weeks with any new dog, you may want to confine it to one room, preferrably w/o carpets. Expect an accident or two…maybe you’ll be lucky and not have any. I’ve had lots of dogs, and I’ve never had any major problems. Just like with kids, the type of dog you wind up with after having it for a while has more to do with how you raise it than anything else.

Finally, there really is no one type of dog that will fit a particular profile. You can have two identical breed dogs, and one will go all day calm and content, and the other may shit on the floor and chew on your woodwork. Once again, find a foster group in your area, ask questions, and you should be fine. Also, expect to be grilled when you do decide on a dog. If you think about it, you should be glad to be asked all kinds of questions, because it shows that the person on the other end cares about what happens to that dog.

http://acmepet.petsmart.com/canine/civic/shelter.html

List of dog rescue & shelters all over the US. Also in Lakewood, call Animal Orphanage (they also have a web page.)

Howdy Fenris! Do they still have that cheesy sign in Golden? I used to live on North Table Mountain. Loved it. No bank would loan me enough to buy a house in Golden so I bought in the 'hood in East Denver.

Glad you took my questions as constructive, not grilling, too. Lots of great hiking around you…good luck with doggie!

Bassett Hound.–kind of like a fat, mellow, stubby legged beagle. Very playful too.

Fenris - I commend you for putting this much care and thought into the decision. You’d be surprised at how many people do it as in impulse buy, and don’t realize just what they’re getting themselves into. ($1000 a year for a healthy dog is the average for care and maintenance.)

I’ve been volunteering for what is now the largest no-kill organization in the Phoenix area for more than four years. We are extremely careful with the homes to which we adopt our animals, making sure that the situation is what that particular animal needs. Some dogs need someone who will be home most of the time; some don’t. My husband and I are gone from 7:00 in the morning until around 5:30 in the evening. Our two dogs (Golden Retriever and Saluki mix), once they became accustomed to our schedule, never had a problem.

Since you asked about it, R.E.S.C.U.E. is a BIG advocate of crate-training. Our animals are all euthanasia-list pound rescues, which means that they’ve been abandoned at least once that we know of. As a result, they are more prone to separation anxiety, destructive behavior, and inappropriate urination and defecation than are dogs who have known nothing but loving homes all their lives. They get over it eventually, but, in the beginning, a crate is a huge benefit. Both to you and to the dog. While it seems cruel to us humans, dogs are den animals. The crate (kennel) is a safe, happy place for them. You should never, ever punish a dog by putting it in its crate. I know a lot of owners who, once their dogs got over any separation issues, took the doors off the crates and used them as beds. AND, in the event that you ever decide to travel with your dog, you’ll be very glad that you took the time to crate train it.

As far as breeds go, I agree with the greyhound advocates. Mixed breeds are usually very good choices, as well. If you need more info, feel free to e-mail me.
Julie

I do foster care for our local Animal Welfare League and strongly endorse the comments made earlier that you adopt a dog which has been in foster care. Apart from the socialisation benefits of this, the carer will have observed how the dog behaves in a real-world environment and be aware of whther or not it is an appropriate animal for your particular circumstances.

Like you, I live in a small house with a large yard - I’ve never had a problem keeping either Newfoundlands (mellow to the point of being almost comatose and require very little exercise : however they blow their coat twice a year) or German shepherds.

While many animal welfare organisations will put you on a waiting list for a particular breed of dog or a particular gender, your requirements seem more related to temperament. Clearly you don’t want a dog which is going to yap all day during your absence, or a high maintenance dog. I also applaud your decision to adopt an adult dog.

I would suggest talking to your vet, who is already familiar with you and with your existing animals (vets also sometimes are asked to find homes for dogs which owners are unable to keep for legitimate reasons, and all-breed rescue societies. Rescue societies are generally painfully aware of the specific reasons why individual dogs and specific breeds are being surrendered and are in a good position to let you know what you’re letting yourself in for with a given animal.

You sound like exactly the kind of owner that animal welfare organisations are looking to place their dogs with, and I’m sure that you’ll eventually find the right dog for you.

Good luck, and please let us know what you eventually decide on.

Since you mentioned Beagles, let me give a few words of caution. I have one now (my second), and love the breed, but there are a few quirks that I’ve noticed. These are of course generalizations as each dog is an individual but FWIW:

  • Beagles have a loud voice for their size. They are not yappy at all, and I kind of like how they sound, but your neighbors may not!
  • They are even more of a pack dog then most other breeds, so you need to spend time with them. If you are in the house they will want to be with you 99% of the time. A lot of people even suggest getting two if you plan on getting one so they can keep each other company.
  • They are, particularily when younger, on the more energetic side of the spectrum. Yes, they will happily spend a day curled up on the couch with you, but not day after day. They need to spend at least a little time running a playing.
  • They really like to eat, meaning if they don’t get enough exercise they can get fat very easily.
  • As a breed they can be stubborn (meaning harder to train).

On the plus side they really like people and make very good companions, and once they understand they can get a treat for it they will learn to do almost any trick you can think of. I’d get another one in a second.

Beagle owner here.

Fenris, I wouldn’t describe beagles as “mellow”. :smiley: A beagle is the quintessential kids’ dog. Somebody in some dog book that I read said, “Beagles and kids go together like ham and eggs.” And I have found this to be 100% on the money.

A beagle, IMO, is NOT a good dog for being left alone in the house all day, especially with 2 cats to chase. Beagles are hunting dogs, selected for generations to “go go go!” and chase things. The only way you and the beagle and the cats are all going to be happy with the beagle being left home alone all day is if the beagle is in a crate or dog cage. Sorry, but it’s true. The lady at the Beagle Rescue Society may have been rude, but she was right.

Also, beagles are notoriously difficult to housebreak (speaking from sad personal experience). And they don’t take well to obedience or Schutzhund training. They’re bred to chase rabbits around you in a big circle so you can take a shot at them with your shotgun, so the concept of “come back here and sit down” is alien to them. At our house, Daisy the Beagle gets loose out of the back yard occasionally, and she NEVER comes back when we call her, she just keeps going. (And it’s not because we haven’t tried to train her, because we have [sigh].) We solve this by running back in the house and getting a piece of bologna or something, before she goes too far, and waving it at her temptingly. It always works.

However: not only are they superb kids’ dogs, they are also the BESTEST “burglar barkers” I have ever encountered. A stranger knocks at our door and Daisy the beagle does her best imitation of the Hound of the Baskervilles, I’m gonna come over there and rip your guts out sucka…

We live in a grungy neighborhood, and I am frequently thankful that any burglars casing our joint by knocking on the door “selling magazines”, or by strolling down the alley, will almost certainly give our house a wide berth on any future forays.

Also, you should consider hair length. Short is better. Even a beagle sheds no small amount, but at least you don’t HAVE to brush her, the way you do with a sheepdog or collie.

MHO, spayed bitches make the best pets, followed by neutered males, followed by stuffed animals. Don’t even think about getting an unspayed bitch–unless you want your house to be Horny Dog Central every couple of months. Also, I think neutered males are easier to deal with. They’re calmer, and if an entire male is ever allowed to mount a bitch, there’ll be no living with him (watch him hump the pastor’s leg during prayer meeting…)

Get an older dog that’s already housebroken. You’ll thank yourself later.

I have a thing for Corgis, obviously, and I think that it is a good breed to consider.

The Corgi is well known as one of the best dogs to have with small children and cats. We have one cat in our household, and they get along great. No problems at all.

Corgis belong to the “herding group” according to the AKC, and (go figure)they are highly trainable. I was like you and did a ton of research before I got a dog, and it seemed like the Corgi was the best for obedience with a smaller size. And the reality after I got one is that he is the most obedient and attentive dog I have ever seen. It is amazing how easy it is to train him or modify a bad behavior.

IMHO: you may think it is cruel to leave a dog outside when you are gone, but think about all the stimulus they get when outside as opposed to inside. When the dog is outside there are much more noises to listen to, birds to chase, smells to smell, etc… When they are inside there is much less to keep them occupied and as a result LOTS of opportunity for trouble. As long as you provide adequate shade and water when it is hot, and a doghouse for when it is cold your dog will be fine outside.

Depending on breed, there are two versions, Corgis weigh about 25-35 lbs. A little on the light side but most people describe them as “little dogs with big dog personality”, meaning “this aint no Pomeranian”.:smiley:

When I am at home my Corgi, Blue, usually likes to sleep at my feet. VERY mellow.

FWIW: The Corgi has been the companian dog of choice for the British royal family for very long time.

My breeder is in Pueblo and has a female that she never found a good home for, she would be about 1 1/2 years now. Let me know if your interested…

This is what the AKC sez about the two corgi breeds, unfortunately they do not provide much info on personality. I have the Cardigan vareity because it is slightly larger, slightly mellower, lots of color variation, and they don’t lopp the tails off.
Permbroke Welsh Corgi
Cardigan Welsh Corgi

I should also add that corgi.org is a great source of info for both breeds, and has links to rescue groups.

I agree with Kuwatto that Corgis are an excellent choice of breed for you. That’s where my agreement ends.

There’s plenty opportunity for trouble outside. More, in fact. Like digging under the wall and getting picked up by the pound. Like getting caught on a fence and strangling. Like falling into a swimming pool and drowning. Plus, darn it, they WANT to be indoors. That’s where they live. That’s where the smells of the rest of its pack are. Inside the home, it knows where it is. Outside the home, it thinks the pack has abandoned it. Dogs don’t think like people do. A lot of people forget that.

[soapbox]
And, Fenris, PLEASE don’t go to a breeder. At least not until you’ve given the rescue organizations and pounds in your area a try. A lot of people don’t know the quality of animals in the pound. There are lots of pure-bred dogs (no papers, but, for a family dog, who cares?) there. The average pound animal is two years old. Healthy. House-broken. Good-natured. They aren’t vicious, elderly, or sickly. I have four former pound animals, and every one of them is a joy.
[/soapbox]

Julie

Fenris - let me add to the sentiment that you please do not go to a breeder. Go tot he pound or a rescue organization.

If you’re looking for a dog, but unsure on the breed, there’s a website that runs down the different breeds for you and gives you an idea what they’re like. Give me a little time and I’ll do a search, then I’ll post the link here. I did this a few months ago when I was going to get a dog, but decided against it since I won’t be home that often. And while we’re on the subject, don’t be surprised if the dog leaves some “gifts” in the house the first couple days you have him. He may just be nervous and unsure of what’s happening, as your place is full of new sights and smells.

That didn’t take as long as I thought.

Here’s a link where you can get info on almost any breed you can think of:

Another breed you might want to consider is Shelties. (They are basically small Collies, in case you’re not familiar with them) They are great small to medium sized, extremely smart and trainable, generally mellow, but able to be a lot of fun when you want it to be. They are great with pets and kids. Plus they are everybit as georgeous as Collies. The down side is that the georgeousness takes a lot of effort to keep from getting tangled and matted. They are also very sensitive dogs. They will take whatever emotion you are feeling, and act that way themselves. On the other hand, if you lose your temper and yell at them they will often sulk for days. As with any breed, some shelties arn’t gonna like being home all day all alone, but I have never known anybody how hadf one like that.

Fenris, good luck in your search. Doing your research up-front is very wise. My favorite web site for researching doggy related things is http://www.k9web.com.

I got my first dog from a breeder for several reasons. He is my first dog and I wanted to know as much about him as possible. I wanted to meet the mother, and possibly the father. I already had two cats, so I wanted a puppy so the dog would grow up with my cats and not act agressively towards them. I also didn’t want the cats to feel threatened, and thought that bringing a dog into the house that started out smaller than they are would help this. I was also unsure of my ability to train a grown dog, and felt that I would have an easier time with a puppy. I wanted a specific breed (Norwegian Elkhound) with a specific temperament. I wanted a healthy dog, so getting with a known ancestry with health checks was important. I researched breeds for about 6 months before narrowing it down, then researched breeders for a couple of months. At the time this was the best decision for me.

Now that I have some experience raising and training a dog, my next dog will be a rescue - probably a Rhodesian Ridgeback. I don’t necessarily want to go through the puppy stage again, and I now know that being Alpha Bitch is 99% attitude, so I would not be concerned with training an older dog.