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Help - where to start when looking for/buying a family dog.

(28 Posts)
azteccamera Sat 10-Nov-12 15:12:27

I'm looking for advice from those much more learned about dogs than I am!

We live in the countryside, have a three year old daughter and I work from home apart from one day a fortnight. Fields to walk dogs are just through the back of our garden, and we have a utility/enough space to keep a dog.

DP & I both grew up with dogs, and we'd like to have the same for our daughter, and we are also in a position now where we have the time to give to a dog for walks, training and so on.

We've started to look, but are pretty stumped with all of the choices out there! I guess my main questions are:

Which breed? With a three year old and nieces/nephews plus potentially more children of our own in the future we need a breed that's good with children.

Secondly, where to buy? Do we go for a rescue dog, what do we have to take into consideration? Or do we buy a puppy? If so, how do we tell who is responsibly breeding them etc?

I really appreciate any responses!


D0oinMeCleanin Sat 10-Nov-12 16:20:10

Rescue. Look for one who has been fostered in a home with children. Definite no to puppies with children that age. Look for an older, calmer dog.

Wrt breed how much time do you have for walking/training? Labs are good family pets but need a great deal of physical and mental stimulation, Greyhounds also make excellent family dogs and need much less walking and training, staffies again excellent with children and need a moderate amount of walking.

azteccamera Sat 10-Nov-12 16:45:44

Thanks D0oin, really helpful advice.

We have a couple of hrs a day realistically, is that enough time for these breeds? Does it matter what age rescue we get ?(probably a silly question) And are there any rescue centers recommended or to avoid? Sorry for all the q's!

D0oinMeCleanin Sat 10-Nov-12 16:49:28

Age again depends on breed, different breeds calm down at different ages but I'd be looking at 18 months plus.

Where in the country are you?

A couple of hours a day is more than enough for all of those breeds. For most breeds actually.

Even the puppy of baskerville (my foster pup, he's lovely really) only needs around 1hr off lead per day.

ijustwant8hours Sat 10-Nov-12 16:54:00

Having just got a puppy with a three your old I would recommendthinking hard before getting a pup! They do love each other but they have very tense moments!

azteccamera Sat 10-Nov-12 17:31:53

We're on the Dorset/Somerset border - Wiltshire/Gloucester are also within travelling distance so quite a few rescue homes from what I've looked at. I've heard bad things about Dorset Dog Rescue - but I don't know if it's just rumour rather than truth.

I'm glad 2 hrs is long enough - we're pretty outdoorsy as it is, and I think we could give a dog a good and loving home with lots of outdoor time.

ijustwant sounds like it's been challenging! I hope it all works out for you- and thanks for the input. We weren't set on puppy/rescue either way, so I'm swaying even more towards rescue now smile

Scuttlebutter Sun 11-Nov-12 00:07:17

Azteccamera, may I strongly recommend a rescue dog? In your area, I'd recommend Greyhound Rescue West of England, and Scruples Whippet Rescue covers the whole of the UK.

LadyTurmoil Sun 11-Nov-12 00:54:15

I would look at some of the other threads on here which talk about getting a dog/puppy. If you look at the ones re. puppies, you'll see that they're incredibly hard work, it's often emotionally as well as physically draining. You might want to look for a slightly older dog, say 2-3 years old, who is past the chewing/housetraining stage. Puppies look incredibly cute but quickly grow up and need a lot of attention and training which is very time-consuming, something which might not fit into your lifestyle. This is general "stereotypes" and of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but I would say don't go for collies or collie crosses, they need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, same with springer spaniels. Labs tend to love water/mud - would that suit you? My brother has a bichon frise which always comes out top (or near) in family dog surveys. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are also supposed to be lovely family dogs but have "in-built" health problems (heart murmurs etc). Bigger dogs like labs/retrievers would be very strong on the lead, so your daughter wouldn't be able to participate much in walks etc (by holding the lead). Smaller dogs would be easier for her (obviously with your close supervision) but care would have to be taken so your daughter wouldn't be too enthusiastic when handling them (goes for all dogs obviously but maybe more for the smaller ones, esp if you did get a puppy in the end). Do others agree with this??? You can find surveys online (can't remember where exactly, sorry!) which ask questions about your lifestyle and match you with suitable types of dogs. You could also look at sites like , to see if they interest you, although it's important (as others here on MN will tell you) to make sure they have sufficient backup/support if things did go wrong.

LadyTurmoil Sun 11-Nov-12 00:56:10

Sorry, forget to tick convert links automatically! ,

LadyTurmoil Sun 11-Nov-12 01:45:08

what about Phil?

azteccamera Sun 11-Nov-12 11:01:23

Thanks Scuttle and LadyTurmoil.

Phil looks absolutely gorgeous! I will have a good look around for a questionnaire for lifestyle/breed matching.

I also love the greyhounds on GRWE.

Having had a good look around and having called some rescues, it seems the fact that we don't have any experience with dogs/another dog/and have a 3.5 year old makes us unsuitable in the eyes of a lot of the rescue centers. I don't want to get a puppy given what you have all told me and from what I have read, it sounds like it would have a high probability of ending in tears.

Perhaps we just need to wait a few more years until DD is older. It's very sad, as I think she'd get so much out of a dog (as would all of us) but I don't want to be irresponsible. I'm going to keep calling around other rescues and see what they say about her age with some of the dogs, but there is the possibility of a new baby in the next couple of years so I'll give the rescues the full picture.

azteccamera Sun 11-Nov-12 11:02:57

Sorry Lady I forgot to answer your question - we'd be more than happy with the water/mud fun - my DD is also a great lover of that grin. My Mum has two labs so have a good idea of how much attention/training they need.

D0oinMeCleanin Sun 11-Nov-12 11:13:18

Which rescues were those, many smaller rescues do not have blanket bans on children and experience, particularly the sighthound rescues, there is no need, pointies are so laid back they are easy to cope with, they are imo, the ideal first dog.

They will walk all day if you want them to or be happy with 20 minutes, they're not that keen on weather, they spend the vast majority of their time sleeping, legs akimbo on your sofa and they are happy to do that, they are very gentle and rarely suffer with behavioural issues or health issues.

They're a bit like giant, dog shaped cats really.

Whippets are awesome too.

Contact the rescues Scuttle recommended. GRACE are based in the NE but they are really struggling to keep up with the amount of dogs they are being offered and so are rehoming around the country atm. They definitely consider people with young children.

Isandri Sun 11-Nov-12 11:50:44

Setters are good if you have children. Irish setters are a bit crazy and hyper but English and Gordon setters are more calm. They are lovely dogs, very loving with loads of personality. The only down side is they are quite intelligent, vocal as in they talk to you and they do not have good recall. You never hear about setters doing well in obedience smile as long as you are fenced in the recall is not a problem and after the dog has checked the entire field for birds etc it will come back, eventually. My parents got an English setter when I was 5 and I have an old rescue Gordon/lab mix now. They are wonderful.

dimondeyes Sun 11-Nov-12 21:35:44

ok, being a small time hobby breeder, i think a small breed is best, now a west highland terrier is a very good breed, though being a puppy will need training, but will grow into a loving dog, a siberian husky are a medium breed and are very gentel with children, and are so loving they are not to be used as a guard dog, a good walk and some puppy social classes are brilliant for this breed and will want to please you, even more so if you have a little bit of chicken in your hand, hope this helps

Scuttlebutter Sun 11-Nov-12 23:05:55

Aztec, I'd urge you to consider applying via Scruples and GRWE don't have a blanket ban on small DC as far as I know - they sensibly base their judgements on a dog by dog basis. There is a MNetter who posts occasionally on here who is a volunteer with Scruples - I hope she sees this.

For the love of God, please DON'T get a husky - they really are not suitable and should be considered a lifestyle rather than a pet.

Please take a look at the RGT Hillview kennels in Upottery, East Devon - Vicky, their co-ordinator is lovely, hugely knowledgeable, and incredibly helpful and has some beautiful dogs in at the moment, many suitable for families. See [[ here]] for link.

SpicyPear Sun 11-Nov-12 23:35:49

Just to add to the views, I have an older rescue dog (approx 3 when we got her) and a 12 week pup (rescue but accidental litter).

I don't have children, but would hands down pick the older dog if I did. The puppy would be a real struggle with a little one in the house. I really wouldn't want to do it!

RedwingWinter Sun 11-Nov-12 23:58:08

I am rofl at the thought of a husky wanting to please. If and only if you have some good chicken/sausage etc in your hand. (sorry dimondeyes).

LadyTurmoil Mon 12-Nov-12 00:12:36

I have to say I am amazed at anyone recommending a husky! From other threads on here I've learnt that they are not a dog for the faint-hearted or inexperienced

D0oinMeCleanin Mon 12-Nov-12 00:21:46

Oh but Huskies do want to please. Themselves that is.

A man where we walk has four. All on lead, all the time. He does bike joring and cani-x with them and has just bought them a scooter to pull. He is out with them for around 4 hours a day.

They get off lead twice a week in a secure, fenced field. He can only let them off twice a week because he needs to have time to wait for them to decide to come back, if they decide recalling is not their favourite thing to do that day.

SpicyPear Mon 12-Nov-12 08:58:05

I am rofl at the image of a man in a field looking glum while four huskies run rings around him for hours. There is a man near me who has his pull him around on a skateboard. He goes like the clappers and it's absolutely terrifying to see! OP, don't get a husky!

PersonalClown Mon 12-Nov-12 09:05:16

Please don't get a husky. Friend of mine had 2 because the husband thought they looked pretty, they have been rehomed within 3 years through the devil of FB.

Rescue is the best way. Some on here have knowledge far beyond me and know who/where to go. A good rescue will check everything out and be on hand for any advice.

Dooin-Where do you live to be able to do Husky racing??

mistlethrush Mon 12-Nov-12 09:09:54

I often see small dogs going round the park pulling like crazy at the ends of their leads whilst the larger ones are walking much more nicely (the one I'm fostering is currently acting like a loaded spring on the end of hers but rarely pulling hard despite the gymnastics) - you have to train the small ones not to pull in the same way as you train the large ones and so many people don't manage it. When walking with my ds and dog when ds was little (2) the dog had a harness with a lead for ds to hold - and I held another lead attached to her collar. She wasn't small - collie ish sized - but she was an absolute star with him.

We've now chosen to go down the lurcher route - because ds is 7 and very energetic and we can do with a dog that likes to have a decent amount of exercise most days and can cope with longer walks on occasions - but will also like to slob out at home in between. We chose the one we're fostering as we thought that she had the potential to cope with some robust play with ds (and she's doing admirably - they normally end up in a heap of legs and giggling with her trying to lick him anywhere available).

Many greyhounds I know walk beautifully alongside with no pulling - but I would always want a 2 lead option just in case they saw something to chase. However, with a child aged 3, I think that this would be the sensible option whatever sized dog you were to get.

toboldlygo Mon 12-Nov-12 09:12:30

Personal, there's about a dozen husky racing organisations providing rallies all around the UK and Ireland. You don't need snow! smile

Also, LOL at the biddable huskies. They are generally great with children, incidentally, but not suitable as a family pet because of their exercise requirements.

If I wanted a quiet life I'd be looking for a rescue greyhound/lurcher/whippety type.

PersonalClown Mon 12-Nov-12 09:20:53

Oh they were wonderful with the kids. He just couldn't be bothered with the amount of exercise they needed and it all fell to her. Throw 3 kids into the mix as well and unfortunately something had to give.

Wonder if I could enter my Staffy for racing?? When he's not sniffing or sleeping!grin

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