Help Me Choose a Dog Breed

Please help me choose a dog breed. I’ve looked at breed selection websites with no real luck, so I’m hoping some of you might suggest to me some dog breeds that would fit well with my preferences.

Up to now I’ve been a cat person, so this would be my first dog since childhood, when the prevailing wisdom was that dogs were an ornament that lived alone in the backyard, were fed, and scooped-up after. Thankfully times have changed, but I’m not current with what dog care entails. If you know of a good, recent book for beginners, I’d appreciate your input too.

I’m a stay-at-home mom with an emptying nest, and a difficult adolescent son who I’m raising alone. I think a dog would be great for both of us for the following reasons: it would require us to get outside and exercise, it would be someone new to love and focus on, it could be a “social ambassador” to help us with our shyness and meet new people, it would provide us with steady doses of unconditional love, even when my son is angry and sullen, and it would be a good friend for me when my nest becomes truly empty.

I don’t want a huge dog, nor a tiny dog, probably about the size of a border collie or smaller. I’d like for it to be happy living indoors much of the time, not be yippy, nippy, or a barker, not a nervous dog, not knock things over with its energetic tail-wagging all the time. Low-maintenance grooming would be best, especially for cleanup after beach play. A dog that’s especially high-energy might not be great for us, and I want a dog that will respond to training and have good manners for the most part.

I have two cats, one of which is an ardent fetch-cat, and they are inseparable. I want to be careful not to disturb this relationship too much. I’m guessing a puppy would grow up learning to leave the cats alone, but I’d prefer not to have a breed that would remain puppy-wild for years and terrorize the household.

I’m hoping that the perfect dog for me isn’t a cat! Can you suggest breeds that I should avoid or ones that I should look for? Mutts are fine, but the right temperament is important to us, and I’d still need to pay attention to breed.

My recommendation would be a doberman. Not a little breed, but trainable, calm, devoted, protective but not aggressive, low coat maintenance. My dobies have always gotten on well with my cats. I would also recommend an adult dog, not a puppy. Puppies take more skill than an adult dogs, and are disruptive to both your cats and your household.

I presently have fout cats, and a doberman, a giant schnauzer, a standard poodle, an alaskan malamute and an english setter. Standard poodles are exceptionally good dogs, but a lot of coat care.


My sister has a Bichon and she keeps him clipped down with a puppy cut like this. No noticeable shedding, small and portable, cute as a button, not nippy, not yappy though he will do the protective bark thing, and he LOVES people. LOVES them.

I never used to like small dogs, but I love this one.

I might just reconsider a small dog, jsgoddess! How long can a little dog walk before being tuckered out?

I recommend a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. They’re great all-around family pets, medium size. Bred for family companion, vermin catching, herding, and guarding, they’re good all-around dogs. They are very cute when they don’t have the classic haircut, and they don’t shed.

Growing up, we had a couple of terriers. They were nervous, hyper, and unbehaved. Is that their nature or just a lack of proper care? (That’s an adorable dog too!)

We didn’t think we wanted another dog after Boomer died a year ago, but a puppy fell into our laps in July, and she’s the best thing that happened to us since, well, since we got Boomer. :slight_smile: We really weren’t sure we wanted a puppy either – if anything, we were going to adopt an older dog. But a friend had one puppy left from a litter (farm dog, not a breeder), and since we’re both home most of the time, we decided to try it.

Sadie is a retriever-setter mix with maybe some lab and poodle in there somewhere. She’s medium size with curly hair, but the hair doesn’t mat or tangle and she doesn’t shed. And she’s really cute, which is dangerous, because there are probably times she needs correction and doesn’t get it because she’s just so damn cute!

We’re older and not in great physical shape so we worried about whether she’d get enough exercise. But she’s a fetcher and a chaser, and she gets a good workout a couple times a day, indoors even.

She house-trained easily, gets along with the cats, loves to snuggle and lay on our laps, loves kids (what puppy doesn’t?) and shows no aggression, except to the vacuum cleaner.

A good book is Puppies for Dummies. If you have Animal Planet, a good informational program is Dogs 101. They’ll tell you all about the different breeds, their personalities, health issues, grooming needs, etc. Animal Planet also has a good program about training – It’s Me or the Dog. Lots of good tips for correcting negative habits.

ETA: Photo of Sadie at 3 months.

You want a mutt. Or a pug. A pug is a lot of dog in a larger package than you might think.

He can take some pretty long walks, but I’ll have to ask my sister about what his upper limits are.

Here’s pictures of him in a sweater I knitted for him, showing off the cut I’m talking about.

There are so many different types of terriers that it really depends on which breed you’re referring to.

The best part of having a little dog is that if it gets tired you can just pick it up and carry it home. Bichons, though great dogs, require a lot of grooming – as in brushing almost every day and professional grooming once a month.

A counter intuitive suggestion would be something like a greyhound or whippet. They are remarkably low key when not running 45 miles an hour and require almost no coat care. But, since you have cats, just be careful if you adopt a former racer since they were trained to chase after fast furry things.

Also, if don’t need to get a purebred, it might just be easiest to go visit a few kennels and see if you meet a dog that you like.

Don’t get a purebred. Go to and take a look around at who needs to be adopted. Mutts are great dogs and very often can be easier going, and thus easier to take care of, than their often-high strung purebred counterparts. Often healthier and longer-lived as well. Plus you can really shop around and find a doggie who is right for you, as there will most likely be a ton of doggies who need your lovins just waiting for you to come along and adopt them.

PS I have two chihuahua mixes. Not sure what they are mixed with. Friendly and loving to all, sturdy and adventurous (can hike 5 miles if it’s not too hot), and best of all, act just like any other dogs, bark at the mailman, roll in stuff, sniff butts, etc. All in 4-pound packages.

Plus they are big snugglehounds, love to be in your laps. Much more affectionate than my damn cats. God I love them. Never never thought I wanted small dogs, but now I can’t imagine having bigger ones.

I don’t need a purebred, but knowing its general heritage would help me guess whether it’s likely to work out.

I actually really like the looks of Australian Shepards and Border Collies, but have been advised that they are hard to live with, herding goldfish in a bowl and such.

Zomg, jsgoddess, teh Cuteness!

If you keep a long coat on a Bichon, this is absolutely true. The long coats are the most adorable thing, but they are a PAIN. If you keep a short coat, the grooming isn’t extensive at all–at least for my sister’s dog. It’s possible she has an atypical Bichon.

After enticing my son with pics of the Bichon, he votes thumbs down for a little dog. No respectable 6’1" 16 yr. old would be caught dead walking one.

The Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier looks like about the right size. You got me with the soft-coat, heh.

What do you all think about various mid-sized spaniels or the shepherds I mentioned?

It sounds like a retired greyhound would be a good choice for you, if you made sure to get a cat-compatible one. They tend not to be boisterous or barky, and they are low maintenance. [On second glance, I see that someone has suggested this already. Well, I second the suggestion.]

Stay away from herding breeds; they are very high maintenance and they get neurotic if not given herding work to do.

Ha! My BIL calls Popcorn his “vicious German Shepherd.” :smiley:

I don’t know much about the other breeds. We had giant dogs when I was growing up and I don’t think you want a Saint Bernard or a Newfie!

It sounds as if you want a cat in dog’s clothing. That is a dog who does not require constant attention, is happy to see you but not out of control, and generally neat, quiet, and easy to care for. This does not describe a terrier.

If you are very sure you want a specific type of animal, then a mutt or a petfinders dog would be a real gamble. Absolutely don’t believe a dog listed on petfinders as some non-common breed is a purebred, or even distantly related to the breed it is listed as. Usually a shelter just lists a breed the animal looks a little like.

I’d suggest a sight hound - basenji’s are the size you like. I’ve had several and they are very sweet. I had them along with cats (lots and lots of cats) and they might chase one that was running past its nose, but generally ignored them.
A whippet is perhaps the most “people” oriented of the group. A rescue greyhound would be a wonderful choice, despite their size they are couch potatoes. The cat-chasing thing might be a problem. Also, depending on the rescue, you might be adopting a bunch of nosy know-it-alls along with the dog as the folks who got the dog might see it as their role to drop in on you without notice just to check.

The Shiba Inu is a wonderful little cat-like dog as well, exactly the size you’d like. I’d suggest looking into that breed as well.

From wikipedia:

“Shibas should always be on leash, unless in a secured area because of their strong prey drive…A distinguishing characteristic of the breed is the so-called “shiba scream”. When sufficiently provoked or unhappy, the dog will produce a loud, high pitched scream.”

Gaah! Prey drive with cats…hmmm. They’re pretty.

A dog in cat’s clothing is close, but the walking, exercise, and social elements are lacking in cats.