What should I look for in a dog?

I’ve been wanting a pet for a while, but until now I have been spending a lot of time at my boyfriend’s apartment, and it didn’t seem fair to have a pet left alone at home. Now my boyfriend’s moving two hours away, and until I can join him in a year or so, I’ll be home by myself a lot more than I have been.

I want to get a dog, but I’m not sure what kind of dog to get. I live in a duplex apartment with a yard, but it is not fenced. I will be able to walk the dog several times a day, but it will have to be content to stay inside a lot of the time. Also, it can’t get too big. The last condition is that the dog will eventually be living with my boyfriend’s two cats when we get married, so it can’t be too, uh, high-strung.

I have been reading dog books about the personality traits of the different breeds. I want to adopt the dog from a pound, and pound dogs are often Heinz 57, so this kind of information may not be too helpful. Does anyone have any suggestions about a type of dog that would be happy living with me, or about what to look for when I go to the pound that would help me get an idea of a dog’s personality?

My advice is that you get one of those dogs that has pointed ears and says “meow”.

If you can’t manage that, how about a Miniature Schnauzer? I have a friend who has one, and she has a really sweet personality and is very smart.


Go to the pound and get to know some of the dogs. Ask the folks who work there; they know each dog by tempermant, habits, etc.

FWIW, I love pound dogs. The Heinz 57’s are rarely overbred or nervy; they’re magnificent mixes. They’re also often “people oriented”, having already been imprinted by undeserving humans.

Play with them; watch them. You’ll get a good feel for personalities, etc.

And best, each really, really wants nothing more in the world than to be your best friend for the rest of his/her life. They’re pure love on 4 warm paws.

This is so great; please keep us informed on your search. I’ve had a beagle/bassett mix, and my current woofer is a lab/shep mix. How the individual dog relates to you is a lot more important than pre-limiting yourself by breed.


Get a pound puppy.

Don’t get the one that is most dominant unless you want that behavior at home.

Don’t get the one that always stays in the back of the cage.You don’t want that kind of behavior either and it may be sick.

Get the second or third to come to greet you.They are a little timid but thats a good trait as they will readily accept your domimance.They are more easily trained.

Hope this helps

I’d go with either a golden retreiver or a lab of some sort. Golden’s are calmer, but both are very friendly and easilly trained. If you could walk either a lot, it would be great, but they can deal with being left alone for a little while (just don’t leave out anything they can chew on, including most underwear and socks.) But even better than that, if you can get out to a field or forest or whatever a few times a month and can just let the dog run, he or she will love you forever.
I’m sure there’s some breed of detestably small dog out there, but I hate boring little buggers like them. As you may have guessed, I own a lab. I also have 2 cats (formerly 3), and a 2 kittens (formerly 4.) They get along well enough, though our lab is rather hyper.

I’ve known many over the years (my all-time fave was a Weimariner), but for the situation you describe (cats, indoor, etc.) I’d recommend a miniature poodle. NOT one of those obnoxious toys! Miniatures typically grow to about 2 1/2’ in length and are, for dogs, relatively intelligent and adapt well to children and cats. They’re quite sociable, usually. And you DON’T have to get the fru-fru hairdo.

Thanks, guys. I did think about getting a cat, but as I said, my new pet has to mix with my boyfriend’s cats, and they actually seem to get along better with the dogs they’ve come into contact with than with outsider cats.

My mom has a golden retriever and he is unbelievably sweet, but he has a lot of health problems. I’ve heard the Heinz 57 usually don’t have quite as many of the congenital problems since they don’t get those recessive genes. My only concern is that the golden or lab might be unhappy in my little apartment.

Veb, even before you posted I was thinking something with bassett or beagle blood might be a good choice. They seem like intelligent dogs.

Hit “submit” too soon. I was going to say that I agree that the individual dog’s personality is the key, but I just wanted to get as much information as possible before going to the pound.

I don’t mind a “toy” dog, but I don’t want something too yappy. If I did get a poodle, rest assured he/she would not get the goofy haircut. The cats would make fun of him :slight_smile:

I have never known a Weimaraner. They seem like nice dogs. Every time I think of them, I think of that photographer who poses his Weimaraners in all those ridiculous situations so they’re playing guitar, drinking through a straw, etc. :smiley:

They are intelligent, but they’re also calm dogs. They just sorta bop along w/ life; not aggressive, and friendly by nature.

Obviously I’m partial, but that’s just because of personal experience. A friend has a corgi/schnauzer mix who’s a darling.

BTW, don’t be afraid of the dog coexisting w/ the cats.
They’ll figure it all out. Sounds like the cats have already stated their preferences!


Be careful of the hounds (basset, beagle) they are trackers by nature and will wander off and be lost before they know what happened. IMHO labs are too big for the average house, if they have to stay there all the time. If you adopt a mature animal, make SURE it will tolerate cats. I spent 8 months trying to socialize a 12 lb yorkie cross. He simply refused not to torment them, i.e. chase and pull mouthfulls of fur out of them. It really broke my heart to give him up, but the cats were here first. Try to get your dog and the cats together on every possible occasion. I like the poodle idea, they are easy to train (generally) and don’t shed or mat up much. Talk to the people at the shelter, or check the ads and/or Petco boards. Lots of families give their dogs up and many are already housetrained, live with cats, and old enough not to chew everyhing! The problem with a shelter dog is you don’t know it’s history. Our local shelter says lots of people turn their dog in as a stray instead of admitting it has problems.

Everyone else has given you such good advice, there is very little I could add. Therefore I shall succumb to the temptation to give a flippant answer. Please do not take the following seriously – I experience physical pain when forced to restrain a humorous impulse. :smiley:

That depends. which end are you looking at?


We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.


P.S.: I second the advice to get a pound puppy. They need you more.

Good advice given in this thread - especially the introducing the cats to your potential dog. It sounds like you’ve been researching this thoroughly.

I just wanted to add that I’ve had three good-sized dogs (two at one time, one separately) in my small apartment with no problems. (See the bottom of my webpage for two pictures of my beautiful puppies - Kita and Ursula, and Kulta. I miss them sorely.) As you would with any dog, give them plenty of exersize and love and they are happy ANYPLACE you are.

The only drawback with big dogs is their big poop (inspired by Baloo’s rimshot).

I like cockers. (No, SqrlCub, that’s NOT what I meant!) They are smallish, lovey, indolent, cuddly, trainable, and don’t shed much; all the stuff I look for in a dog. If you get two they keep each other company while you are out and that greatly reduces the noise (true for all dogs).

I’d expect to find all the normal Vital organs and such…
seriously, see if you can get a King Charles Spaniel.
pretty quiet. or a Red Setter.

for Companionship, a Jack Russell is the best, but can be fiercely protective, and wouldnt be too good with cats.

I went through the same thing a while back, and although I decided against a dog, I learned a lot about the different breeds. I’ll try to find a link to post, but there is info on the internet about this. Browse for dog breeds and many sites list the size, common temperment, trainability, and common health risks with the different breeds.

I also ask that you keep in mind, what about in one year when you are with your B/F again? A dog is as smart as a three year old child and needs attention just like a child. Please don’t get a dog because you’re lonely know for him to feel neglected when you are back with your B/F. My mom said when I left for the Air Force, my dog sat by the window for two weeks, just like she used to do afternoons waiting for me to come home from work, and she didn’t eat or want to play with her toys when my mom tried to play with her. I firmly believe dogs can have feelings too, so please don’t get one for a quick-fix for your lonliness just to unintentionally forget about him later. And if you do get one, please get one from the pound.

Also, don’t forget that mutts make great pets. They are usually calmer, healthier and smarter than pure breeds because there is no inbreeding.

Any kind of terrier would be fine. Personally, I like Manchester Terrriers. They resemble Doberman Pinchers, but are ¾ the weight and size, and have a non-existant temperment. Here’s a link to a site about them – http://u2.lvcm.com/sbedwell/manchester.html

You need to decide what you want from a dog and why you want a dog. Then go to a pound or shelter and look for those qualities in a dog there. Or you can research what kind of dogs are like. There are books and stuff on that. Then you can get the dog that has the things you want in a dog.

Seriously, though, if you live in a small place, you just can’t beat pugs. They are non-agressive and non-yappy. They love to go for a walk, but if you can’t walk them all the time, they are just as content to be couch “pug-tatoes.” They are natural little clowns and treat every visitor like family. They get along with virtually everyone and everything. They have no long fur coat to groom and clip. All they want from you is to always be the center of attention, and they give back plenty of kisses and love. Their drawbacks: they shed, and they are sensitive to heat, so no walks in 85+ temperatures.

I’ve owned pugs for 13 years now and I’m absolutely sold on them. They are better than any other breed or mixed breed dog I ever owned, and every pug owner will tell you the same. I’ll never switch from my fat little cuddly teddy-bear dogs!

I’m gonna have to put in a vote for Basset hounds. I know that would be the ideal dog for me… lazy, content to spend all day laying in the sun in front of the window. The only drawback is the howling and that beautiful song-like bark of theirs, the neighbors don’t tend to appreciate it. I’m still planning on getting a basset pup when I get out of the air force. I’ll be living in my father’s basement apartment, so if the “landlord” doesn’t approve, I can always manipulate his wife (isn’t it CUUUUUUUTE, Theresa?) :slight_smile:

Ahh well. 166 more days before I have to start worrying about that.


Thanks for your comments, everyone.

I understand that owning a dog (or any pet) is a commitment made for the lifetime of the pet, and I don’t plan on neglecting the dog regardless of how my life changes. I think I mentioned that the reason I haven’t had a dog up until now is that I didn’t spend a lot of time at home, and I didn’t want a dog to feel lonely. My boyfriend’s cats are really our cats, and we lavish them with attention and probably spoil them rotten :smiley: I/we will do the same with a dog. We probably would have gotten a dog before this, but his building (that he’s moving out of now) wouldn’t allow them.

The dog will probably be accompanying me to visit my SO on weekends, so the cats will have time to get used to the dog and vice versa.

I was interested to see the information about a pug. My boyfriend is also voting for a pug, but I am concerned about what pugluvr said about the heat. I live in Columbia, SC, where the daytime temp in the summer is invariably in the nineties. A pug might not like it here.

As I said, I’ll probably be getting a mixed-breed pound dog. I just wanted to get information about breeds so I would have some guidelines.