What kind of dog should I get?

The kids want a dog. I’m not opposed, but I’m not prepared to have my life turned upside-down and my furniture shredded by some untrainable, high-maintenance mutt. I’m looking for a fairly even-tempered, well-behaved, short-haired, trainable, mid-sized dog that’s not really slobbery. By mid-sized I mean smaller than a lab but larger than a toy poodle, maybe the size of a small boxer. Oh- and it can’t be a yappy barker.

I proposed a goldfish instead, but that idea didn’t go over well. Assuming we take the plunge, can anyone recommend some breeds that fit the criteria? Does such an animal exist?

I don’t think you can guarantee that any particular breed will behave a certain way. I have known beagles that were extremely yappy and others that weren’t nearly as much. I think it has to do more with the training than the breed. I suggest you go down to the local SPCA or Humane Society and take a look a the various breeds and mixes they have.

In general I have found that mutts or mixed breeds tend to have better temperments than most purebreds but others would strongly disagree with that assessment…

I would strongly recommend going to a shelter and having them educate you on dog selection.

But the following could help as well, although there are no guarantees




We got our lab from a breeder in NY who specializes in small dogs. Most that come from this particular kennel grow to around 55-60 pounds, or so (as opposed to the 80-100lb dogs most associate with the breed). We did so b/c we wanted a dog who would be faithful, easy to train, good with kids, and who wouldn’t bark. We got everything we wanted.

They tend to be more puppy-ish than a lot of dogs for the first couple of years, but that wasn’t a big deal.

Getting a dog just past puppy stage may give you a better idea of how the dog will continue to be as adult. Behavior stuff really does tend to be more of a training issue than ingrained personality, IMHO.

The description you give really doesn’t sound like one that will be difficult to find. Your local shelter probably has lots and lots of youngish-not-puppy-anymore dogs who will love to have a new family!

The dog that I have would fit your description.

She is (we think) some sort of poodle cross havanese. or something along those lines. I adopted her from the city pound when she was about 2 years old, so I missed the puppy stage.

She is non shedding, but you regularly have to brush her hair and cut it.
She rarely barks and will give a little gruff instead.
The worst thing she ever destroyed was a newspaper, and is great with kids and strangers.
She is small enough that you can easily control her and pick her up if necessary and big enough that you can play with her without fear of breaking her.

You need to decide if you want to deal with vacuuming hair all the time, or regular grooming that will help pick what kind of dog you should get.

(I recommend the grooming, I never have to worry about my clothes being covered with hair, she is hypoallergenic so there is no issue with friends coming over, and she doesn’t get that dog smell.)

Springer Spaniel?

Weighs about 40-50 pounds. Hair is medium to long, but shedding is not a big problem.

Along with labs and retrievers they are among the friendliest and most laid back dogs, and they are great with kids.

Shetland Sheepdog

VERY smart and trainable, great with kids, medium dog (especially if you can keep its weight down), very loyal…great family dog

barking however is a problem…its not really a “yippie” type dog, but it does bark a lot

My dog meets all of your criteria… Whippet

Very docile and friendly with everyone

No barking problems

No shedding

Short hair


30-35 lbs.

The only thing I would say is be prepared to exercise a whippet almost daily by hard sprinting. If you have a nearby school yard, dog park, or field, that works. They must run or they get really antsy and fidgety. When not sprinting, however, they are content to sleep all day.

My obligatory photos…





Shelties are wonderful (I have two). It’s true that the are extremely trainable and very loyal.

However, they shed buckets! There is more hair on those dogs than on beasts twice their size. And the undercoat… it comes out in clumps! And, yes, they bark. They bark a lot. They’re pretty good about learning the “quiet” command. However, at least for my dogs, that means “stop barking”. It doesn’t include “and don’t start up again!”
Smooth collies are a good option, but they’re a bit larger than your preferred size. Still they are the sweetest tempered dogs, extremely loyal, and they have short hair!

Whippets are also great. They’re fast when they run, but (similar to greyhounds) they can be couch potatoes when not running! They like to have a good morning nap in preparation for that strenuous afternoon nap!

As mentioned, there’s no guarantee with any breed. You can plaly the odds, but dogs don’t always follow the breed standards. For example: My brother has a basenji–a supposedly barkless dog. It barks. A lot. (BTW: don’t look at a basenji as a first dog for a family. They’re great, but they’re rather independent and strong willed. Not ideal family dogs for newbie dog owners. Still cute though) So you may prefer to look for an adult dog if you’re particular about your preferences. You have a much better chance of getting what you want.

I have a basset hound, which fit most of your requirements.


  • No yappy barking, though some will grumble or howl. An anti-bark collar was all we needed for separation howling.
  • Short hair, little shedding. Way less than any other dog I’ve had or seen.
  • Very loving and trainable. They’re not that smart, so it takes repetition, but having a less than clever dog has its advantages.
  • Even tempered - mine has NEVER growled, ever. I mean ever.
  • Low energy in general - it’s a crapshoot though.
  • Loyal and loving, gentle with kids.
  • Expressive face, lots of personality.


  • Can be slobbery, but it depends on the dog (mine doesn’t at all).
  • Prone to fatness and laziness if you don’t get it enough exercise.
  • People will ask you if your dog melted.

But, yes, that’s only trends. I’ve seen a lot of whippet love in this thread, but whippets are the only dogs I’ve ever seen become actually violent at the dog park (bloodying dogs by ganging up on them and biting them even when they’re submitting). As such, I’ve never really liked whippets, but it probably had a lot more to do with the owner than the dogs. The same goes with any dog. People are amazed that our dog’s belly doesn’t drag the ground, but bassets were intended for hunting - they can be athletic, too.

I’m partial to the Portuguese Water Dog, considering I have two of them.


  • Extremely intelligent and intuitive. They’re quite easy to train, and eager to learn.
  • Not yappy. They have multi-octave barks, and will also “chortle” like Basenjis, but they don’t yip for no reason, bark at people walking across the street, or sound out frequent false alarms like many other breeds.
  • Non-shedding; they’re usually included in lists of hypoallergenic breeds.
  • Love kids. One of my PWDs, Bailey, will always seek out the youngest person in a small group.
  • Affectionate, but not slobbery. They need to be close to their humans, and they’ll follow you everywhere.
  • Perfect size: about 60 pounds. Not too big, not too small.
  • Cute as all hell.


  • Need regular grooming. It’s difficult finding a groomer that is familiar with PWDs, and often you’ll return from a new groomer with a Portie that looks more like a Poodle. The PWDCA has printable grooming cheat sheets online; I’ve had decent luck when I’ve given them to groomers.
  • Very expensive. They’re a rare breed, litters are infrequent, and they seem to be a popular “yuppie puppy” among the urban upper middle class. Expect to pay about $1500 to $2000 for a pet-quality PWD.
  • They’re okay in small spaces, but they do need a good amount of exercise.
  • If you get one that is especially water-oriented, they’ll try to swim in their water bowls, join you in the bathtub, and splash in random puddles. For some reason, I ended up with two PWDs that aren’t water nuts; they like to wade in creeks and shallow ponds, but not swim.
  • Mouthy. You’ll need to puppy-proof your house. They like to have a favorite toy, and they’ll carry it everywhere. They have a very “soft” mouth, and prefer soft toys over Kongs and the like.

Definitely bad owners there. I cannot imagine that from a whippet.

I was also going to suggest basset except the OP said no drool. Otherwise, I agree a basset is a great breed. Another drawback though is they get pretty heavy for a mid-size breed. They are very sturdy.

I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way, but have you ever had a dog before? It just doesn’t sound like you are that interested in having one, and in any house where a dog has been got “for the kids”, the dog has usually been the one to come off worse in some way or another.

A dog requires a huge amount of time commitment, and you, as parent, would be the one responsible (sorry, you don’t say how old your kids are). If you don’t have the time to properly exercise a dog (you did not indicate whether this dog would be left for long periods or not), then a lot of the problems you are trying to avoid may become inevitable, through no fault of the dogs.

You may have already considered the commitment issue, and if so, please accept my apologies. I just would hate to see another dog be taken into a household that doesn’t fully appreciate what it takes to create a well-adjusted pet.

If all that has been taken into consideration, I would say that looking at a shelter dog would be a good option. The people who work in these places will have a good idea of the temperament of the dogs in their care, and will be able to match you up with one that is suitable for your circumstances. It may not be the one you would have chosen, but will probably be a better match given that they have the time to get to know the dogs and their personalities. Often, if you are looking at a dog in a shelter, they are somewhat stressed, and their true personalities will not be on show. Better to go with the expert opinion.

Oh, and PS, the most hassle I have ever had with a pet has been with the fish that I kept for several years. You almost have to have a degree in chemistry to make sure that their water doesn’t kill them!

Neeps- yes, we’ve considered all of that. I have never had a dog but my wife had them her entire life until going away to college. I always wanted one too but wasn’t allowed when I was a kid, then for many years my living situation wasn’t conducive to keeping a pet, then when we got married we both worked so couldn’t take care of one, then we wanted to have kids first. At this point the kids are the driving force but I’m not resisting very hard. We know about the commitment and have gotten past that as an issue, now we’re down to trying to find the right breed and temperment that will work for everyone.

It’s also important that we can leave for 3-4 days at a time & the little guy can fend for himself.

That last part was a joke.

Broadly speaking, I’d shy away from hounds and working dogs unless you’re prepared to manage them and keep them occupied.

I’m going to take a more general tack here.

The more learning you can acquire, the better prepared you’ll be. The thing about pets that’s stuck with me most over the years is that I get more out of a companion the more effort I put in.

Give thought to training and discipline, inside and outside time, on or off furniture, crating or not, and whether all humans in the family can agree to staying on the same page in these methods.

This is a good opportunity to do something as a family, and to get the kids involved as stakeholders in the dog’s well-being. Lay out your list of desired and undesired characteristics – understanding that all dogs are individuals and breed traits are only generalizations – and get input from the kids on what breeds interest them (but make sure they recognize that falling in love with an individual dog often trumps one’s preconceived breed preference).

Go to the library and check out books on dogs – general ones, ones on training, and ones on each breed in which you’re interested. I also strongly recommend that you look up some dog-oriented forums – both general ones and ones specific to your chosen breeds – and read, read, read.

The kids can then advocate for the types they fancy – I suggest a ten-page paper or a PowerPoint presentation! (OK, maybe that’s going too far).

Then go to shelters and/or breed-specific rescue organizations, and, for God’s sake, rescue an animal in need, don’t buy. You’re not going into breeding show dogs; you won’t need papers. Teach the kids compassion, not that love can be bought with cash. It wouldn’t hurt for the kids to be aware of the shelter crisis, depending on how old they are.

And lastly, remember you’re not “getting a dog” as much as you are “expanding the family.” The right dog with a properly educated, fully involved family can really add a lot of great experiences that will stay with the family forever.


How old are your kids? A pug is a perfect all-around dog. We’ve bred them for many years, and sold tons to city people who want a sturdy little dog who has plenty of personality but needs little maintenance. They don’t need a lot of walking, but they are great people dogs. The only thing I would not recommend is that if you have small kids (2- 4), the puppies are very small and can get stepped on and injured or dropped by unknowing toddlers. We had one tragedy where a small boy was running down a hall and accidentally kicked a tiny puppy into a wall, killing it. Over 4 or 5 (or calm and careful kids) would be fine, and they grow into sturdy, chunky tanks that are very hardy if you choose a breeder carefully.

You guys are giving some good advice, thanks. My kids are girls, 5 & 7. I don’t think there’s a danger of inadvertently squashing a pug.

I’ve always thought the lab is a handsome dog, but they’re generally larger than I’d like. And I’ve known a few purebreed black labs that had the energy level of a ferret on a double espresso; don’t know if that’s a function of overbreeding or what but it’s a deal killer.

(bolding added)

I beg your pardon? You can brush them all day, but springers still shed like crazy. (Possible exception: when they have their summer clips and look like hound dogs. :slight_smile: ) I love ours to pieces, but I had to give up wearing black wool coats.

I agree with everything else you said, though. Springers are loving and loyal and eager to please.