Advice and recommendations for family dog

(27 Posts)
HoneyandRum Sat 01-Mar-14 18:27:58

Hello doggy lovers. I have not cared for a dog since I was a child, our three children (13, 10 and 7) have been begging on a daily basis for a dog. There is a very good chance we will be moving to a house with a big garden. We are in a small village in Germany and can walk to vineyards and very large woods (with wild animals such as boar) from our house.

Could you please advise me on a breed which you would think would be happy in our family? I know I will be the one spending the most time with the dog, feeding, walking and training so I believe my views carry most weight! I really want a dog with a happy and even temperament it could be a big or small breed. I like the Bichon Freise as every BF I have ever met has always been so happy. Also Labradoodles seem like they might be a good choice. I would like happy, trainable, and intelligent. I know that although I guard my heart now, once we have a puppy I will be putty in his/her hands so am trying to be hard-headed about choosing a dog that would fit well in our family. We are a typical active and sociable lot.

youbethemummylion Sat 01-Mar-14 21:46:42

We have a 4yr old Bichon Frise very happy and laid back and "you cant teach an old dog new tricks" doesnt apply very intelligent and eager to please.

mrslaughan Sat 01-Mar-14 22:19:20

At the otter extreme Greater Swiss Mountian dog - or Grosser Schweizer Sennenhund , amazing amazing dogs and you are in the right place to find fab breeders

mrslaughan Sat 01-Mar-14 22:24:10

Oh and don't get a labradoodle - if you want a mongrel - get one, not a designer one that you pay a fortune for (from someone who researched them as a possibility)...you could get the best traits from the cross....or the worse, and there is no telling which way it is going to go until your dog is starting to mature. Only caveat to that is if you get a rescue labradoodle.

ancientbuchanan Sat 01-Mar-14 22:28:28

Get one with good recall if you have deer or boar. Dsis had a mutt but with GSS in it, and he never wanted to come back from lovely pursuits of deer or boar in the Jura. Prob just him, but...

Likewise, we have a terrier, and once they get something in their sight, you might as well give up. Ours is a coward, but cousins'brought down a deer.
Whereas Pointers are Perfect, imv.

HoneyandRum Sat 01-Mar-14 22:46:55

We had a mix who seemed mostly Smooth Haired Fox Terrier as children and there is NO WAY I want to be dealing with any kind of terrier (as much as I love them) with all the smells and rustlings in the forest steps from our house : )

After reading a few other threads I realize I don't think I want to be dealing with any breeds that want to dig up the garden constantly. I think we just need a cheerful companion who would love to play in the garden constantly with the kids and go on local walks. I wouldn't mind a smaller dog that wants to accompany me through the day a lot of the time as Germans let you take dogs everywhere. Restaurants will sometimes discourage children but welcome dogs! Thank you for your thoughts so far, Youbethemummy did you have problems house training your BF as from what I have been Googling that seems to be a problem?

HoneyandRum Sat 01-Mar-14 22:57:34

Mrslaughan I looked up the Swiss Mountain Dog and they are absolutely gorgeous looking and seem wonderful family dogs. I just wonder if we would need to find them work to do and what that might be? Any ideas?

Cocker spaniel. smile

Will post further tomorrow, when less wine fueled!

LadyTurmoil Sun 02-Mar-14 00:16:48

Miniature poodle? Cheerful, intelligent and not a "sissy" dog at all (despite the silly haircuts imposed on them!). My brother has a bichon/poodle and she's always been very cheerful, easy going, but likes as much or as little exercise as you can give.

Must say that any kind of hunting dog type would need extra-good training if there are such smell temptations around.

catstolemypants Sun 02-Mar-14 00:18:29

border terrier very biased as we ate getting one, but research they are not your 'normak. terrietI

youbethemummylion Sun 02-Mar-14 06:24:39

Our Bichon came to us at 4 as a rescue fully house trained so cant really help there sorry.

HoneyandRum Sun 02-Mar-14 08:08:38

I am really warming to the Swiss Mountain Dog so can you all give me your thoughts?

I am reading that they are not the best dogs for new dog owners, do you think I would be unwise to get one? They are described as taking quite a long time to mature - up to three years and therefore some breeders recommend constant training when they are young. I have found by Googling that we have plenty of local dog trainers so I don't think that would be a problem. Temperamentally I think they would really suit me and the family and I know the kids would be enthusiastic trainers. They like to work so I was thinking about that, we hike a lot in the forest so I realised as they get older they could have a doggy backpack to carry some gear for the family. They also like to pull carts (what they were bred for) so I was even thinking I could so the occasional shop at the next village with a supermarket so they could trundle some stuff home! DH would love to build a cart or purchase a traditional one.

There are also a lot of local festivals here and I see that many of the regional breeders have get-togethers with other owners where the dogs pull decorated carts.

Downsides: The house we are possibly getting has stairs up to the main living area from the street (although level with the big garden at the back). I am reading threads on here where giant/big breeds have problems with stairs as they age, also getting in and out of cars. The new house also doesn't have fencing on all sides so we would need to be willing to invest in a relatively high fence.

I am around a lot during the day so would have plenty of time for training and walking - the kids would love to do all that too.

By nature I am able to be (psychologically) strong and firm so I believe I could handle this breed with advice from trainer. Am I being naive?! I was thinking I could visit some local breeders to meet their adult dogs and ask their advice and also talk to local trainers who say on their websites they are willing to give free advice when choosing a dog.

SignoraStronza Sun 02-Mar-14 08:17:23

Has to be a German Shepherd then. Ours is a straight backed (to minimise the possible hip problems that the breed standard is known for) long haired version and is extremely cuddly, well mannered, even tempered and friendly. Easy to train and very intelligent too.
Just be careful about them bounding up and down stairs while still young and their joints are developing.

WitchOfEndor Sun 02-Mar-14 08:28:23

I would go for a Labrador, but I am biased. Very trainable, friendly, robust and don't need fancy grooming, just a good brush. I looked at Swiss mountain dogs before I got my Labrador and they really are gorgeous but the emphasis on additional training and their need for a 'job' to stop them getting bored put me off. I think they used to pull carts and someone recommended getting a small cart for them to pull children/shopping in! Wasn't really practical for me (but maybe a retirement dog)

WitchOfEndor Sun 02-Mar-14 08:29:13

Ah, xposted, yes a doggy backpack would be a great idea

mrslaughan Sun 02-Mar-14 08:54:01

I have one, and he doesn't "work" as such, but spends his days with me. 3 days a week a ride so he is at the stables with me, I walk him first , then he just hangs out watching the world go by.
He is a fantastic companion, still young (20 months), but has never been a bouncy of the wall kind of dog.
When we went away on holiday he cam to a couple of pubs, snored at the side of the table.
His dad is actually German.
Loves plaing "soccer" with the kids, but the balls don't last very long wink
In the school holidays I took a bunch of boys to a pony day, in the car with 5 boys, think it was the best day of his life.

They are pullers though, so I either walk him off lead, or on a dogmatic halti, and that's what works for us.

mrslaughan Sun 02-Mar-14 09:08:13

They are slow to mature, mine is 20 months and still quite puppy-ish......but he has never been a jumper up.
Our previous house had stairs, kitchen and living downstairs, and lounge upstairs. I would just say you need to be careful, that the puppy isn't allowed to run up and down the stairs, and to start with carried, then escorted. We taught ours the "slowly" command , which we now use on stairs ( I wouldn't use a lead with him on the stairs now as if he decided to go he would take me with him!)
In terms of training, I think with most dogs it is on going, he has sit, wait....it's his recall that can be a bit dodgy......he's not a ran off and disappear kind of dog, but he is a "I'll just pop over and say hello, then I'll be write back" . I used a clicker at about 12 months and that really helped tune him into me.
Recall we make it a game, we use a whistle, and a diff times one of us, including the kids will recall using the whistle for a tasty treat. We are lucky we live on the edge of a 5000 acre national trust estate - so lots of walks away from roads.
If I can work out how to do it, I could pm you some photo's.

We fell in love with the breed in Switzerland, ...spent lots of time visiting there over the last 8 years, and DH wanted a large dog, and tbh I can't imagine a better family dog.....I have a 4 year old, and he is amazing with her. I find it fascinating that he plays differently with the kids.

HoneyandRum Sun 02-Mar-14 09:35:12

Thanks so much Mrslaughan, maybe my best first step would be visit a breeder and actaully meet some SMDs! There is one about an hour away in an area I know well.

I am still open to other suggestions for breeds!

Greyhorses Sun 02-Mar-14 09:46:07

I absoloutley adore my two German shepherds.
They are fab with the children, travel anywhere, great with dogs and people and I feel totally safe when home alone!

The bad points to consider though are the hair and also they need firm consistant handling at the beginning or they can get out of control quickly!

Definatley one of the most popular breeds for a reason in my opinion :-)

basildonbond Sun 02-Mar-14 12:55:45

I say it every time one of these threads comes up but IMO you cannot get a better family dog than a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever smile

They are happy, sociable, intelligent, biddable, highly trainable dogs - and they look gorgeous. They are medium-sized dogs so big enough to be a 'proper' dog IYSWIM (don't mean to offend small dog owners but my natural preference is for a bigger dog) but small enough to be able to fit in any car, house, garden .. Ours was easy to house-train (completely reliable by 4 months) and is fantastic with children. He loves being with people but can be left alone and has an 'off' switch so he's not constantly wanting attention

All the Tollers I've met have had a similar easy-going temperament so it's not like we struck lucky with an unusual one!

The only downside is that they're still pretty rare so you tend to have to wait for one

basildonbond Sun 02-Mar-14 12:58:20

Oh, and apart from moulting twice a year he hardly sheds at all and is pretty self-cleaning - unless he's been wallowing in really stinky mud he just needs a rub-down with a towel when he gets home and the rest just falls off in his crate (I get him to have a half-hour nap in his crate after a walk

LadyTurmoil Sun 02-Mar-14 15:15:36

If you're interested in rescues (including puppies) you could look at places like Action Aid for Animals or Rudozem Street Dog Rescue, they will adopt to Germany or in Germany Hundelieve Grenzenlos They adopt a lot of dogs from Greece/Cyprus so they have different kinds of dogs, including puppies, like Cyrus poodles (very similar to Bichons)

mrslaughan Sun 02-Mar-14 16:14:53

definitely visit a breeder.
The american lines tend to be more high energy (not in a spaniel way, just comparatively) to the European lines, that are more steady.

I now know quite a few people with GSMD's - none who work, but will happily carry a backpack out hiking, pull the kids on a sled in the snow etc. But all are dogs that need company - they like to be with you.

rhiwpix Sun 02-Mar-14 20:57:45

A Golden Retriever ticks all the boxes too. Placid, friendly & affectionate. Only -ve is the hair shedding.

Dirtybadger Sun 02-Mar-14 22:23:37

Avoid terriers, scent or sight hounds. I have a terrier but given your location you might be given the run around! A biddable gun dog breed sounds ideal. They aren't for me but there is no denying that Labradors are great family dogs. I love Tollers, as a PP suggested. No idea how easy they are to get hold of in Germany. But they are beautiful and great fun and a convenient size.
I wouldn't be getting a GSD for the first family dog. Though I love them.

I don't know much about Swiss Mountain Dogs but I'd recommend no access upstairs as much as possible. I know some people with giant breeds who let their dogs upstairs from a young age but they carried them, until 24 months. It took two people! Important to limit jumping up for the same reason. I imagine a good breeder would be telling you that anyway. Good luck!

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