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Please help me narrow down a breed choice for a family dog.......!

(86 Posts)
muffinchops Mon 17-Feb-14 13:59:21

I have always adored dogs and have never had one. I have 3 children (10, 6 and 4) and am a sahm. We are lucky to have a relatively large house and garden. I am putting in a lot of effort into researching the various breeds but am now becoming overwhelmed by all the pros and cons.

I was always intent on getting a Weimaraner, but I think they may be a bit too flighty and not so good as a first time owner. So, currently I have narrowed it down to labrador, vizsla, cocker spaniel, whippet/greyhound ( quite a varied shortlist, I appreciate). I had also looked at cockerpoo, but am a bit wary of the whole cross breeding issue.

I would HUGELY appreciate any wisdom from you lucky dog owners. I am prepared to take plenty of time to ensure we get the right dog for our family where it will be totally love bombed!

Please help, feel my head is going to explode. Have even started dreaming dogs!

ErrolTheDragon Mon 17-Feb-14 14:01:48

How much exercise will you be wanting to give it each day?
How do you feel about hair/smell? grin

Would you prefer a dog rather than a puppy - I'd highly recommend avoiding a pup.

flowers123 Mon 17-Feb-14 14:08:09

I have two king charles cavaliers. They are lovely dogs, fab with children I would highly recommend them

LadyTurmoil Mon 17-Feb-14 14:10:13

Wouldn't advise a Weimeraner for a 1st dog, same for Vizsla. Some people love cockers and labs, I don't so much.

I would go for a smaller size dog that kids can take for a walk when the dog is 6mths old and still small enough not to pull their arms from their sockets (as a lab size would).

If you don't want a cockerpoo, why not go for a pure poodle? They are NOT girly dogs (see another thread on Doghouse). The miniatures are a great size, active as you like but also quite chilled indoors. Easy to keep clipped short (you would need to do it or a groomers every 6-8 weeks). Small enough to go in a normal sized car. Probably easier to find people to dog sit a smaller dog than a Vizsla/Lab/Retriever type.

I would also recommend an older dog, not a pup. They are 24/7 and you already have 3 kids! You could find a dog that's been fostered by a rescue and get decent feedback on how they interact with other dogs/cats/children etc. Good luck.

Fannydabbydozey Mon 17-Feb-14 14:20:55

We have a lurcher - he's a deerhound/greyhound cross. I remember distinctly telling the rescue organization I wanted an small sized dog about two years old. Definitely not a puppy...

Three weeks later we had a hairy, lairy puppy. Who just grew, and grew, and grew, and grew and who is apparently going to keep growing for a while (he's just past one)

Sometimes a certain dog finds you, you fall in love and the rest is history.

Mind you he's lovely and is incredibly gentle with the children. He does need to RUN for some of his main walk of the day but the rest of the time he's asleep in one of his three beds that the spoilt rotten pampered idiot has dotted around the house. He's very loyal and well behaved (aside from stealing slippers). He has been, and is, an incredible, loyal, loving family pet and maybe not the type that most people would think of first. But I'm completely sold. Go lurchers!

pickles184 Mon 17-Feb-14 14:22:31

LadyTurmoil is pretty spot on.
A few questions though if you don't mind as it would help tailor advice..

What time and local trainers/good dog classes have you got in your area?
What energy levels are your children and how involved do you want them to be?
How much time can you honestly dedicate to walking your new dog every day, without fail and in any weather conditions?
Are you prepared for the amount of work a puppy involves (think newborn baby almost), to achieve a well-behaved, balanced and happy new member of the family takes a huge effort from everybody?
What traits are you hoping for the dog to exhibit, temperment, activity level indoors and preferred coat type?
How much time daily do you have to give over to training/grooming/fussing and generally caring for the dog?

If you could answer these as honestly as possible it would make a big difference to pointing you in the right direction for finding your ideal hound

Countrywalks Mon 17-Feb-14 14:24:47

I spent ages reading and thinking of which dog would suit us and we went for a cocker spaniel , with no regrets. But, nothing could have prepared us for the reality of a puppy, it's like a new born baby without the breast feeding and teeth! Our girls are older 13 and 15 and life isn't so manic with after school clubs and school runs. For us, a puppy would have been too much with all of that to contend with too! Cocker spaniels like a lot of attention and I don't like to leave her for too long, and even now feel guilty to leave her to get some shopping. Now after the horrendous puppy nipping stage she's loving, gentle and quiet at home. We all suffered loads of ripped clothes the first few weeks. Good luck with your hunt your dog.

buttercrumble Mon 17-Feb-14 14:26:51

Another recommendation for a King Charles spaniel, they have the lovely temperament , and are no trouble at all smile

Isthatwhatdemonsdo Mon 17-Feb-14 14:26:56

We have a golden retriever crossed with a Labrador. Had him from 8 weeks old and now he is 2. He has a retriever coat so long haired and he sheds all the time drives me mad at times.
He is a sweet and gentle dog. Very loyal and no trouble at all. I'm so enamoured by the lab breed that we are no considering a lab puppy.
Good luck with finding the right dog for your family.

YNK Mon 17-Feb-14 14:35:27

Poodles are nice easy dogs, but if you don't want the hassle of grooming I can highly recommend Staffordshire bull terriers as great family dogs!
Facebook has loads of pages for staffies if yo want to talk to staffy owners.
A bonus is the shelters are full of them and FB also has pages of rescues so you can get exactly the temperament of dog you want. They will tell you how good an individual dog is with children, cats and other dogs, and if they are good at recall and on the lead - great if you don't want the bother of training a pup yourself. Instant doggy heaven!

muffinchops Mon 17-Feb-14 15:24:03

Thanks for such helpful replies.

Pickles184, I'm a sahm and my youngest starts reception in September. There are dog training classes aplenty in my area which is a very dog heavy community. I would have the time to train and walk. I also like jogging so it would be nice to have a canine jogging companion.

I'm very much aware that you only get out what you put in, especially at those critical early training stages. My kids are generally outgoing extrovert types ( not in a wild sense though - they are currently bombing around the garden). I was looking into low shredders too. I know that labs shed a lot, but I need to consider all factors.

MrsBennetsEldest Mon 17-Feb-14 15:27:04

Whippet, whippet,whippet,!!!!!!! smile

muffinchops Mon 17-Feb-14 15:32:40

MrsBennetsEldest, please tell me more about whippets and suitability for a family such as ours. Did you get yours from a rescue centre or from a breeder? It is quite hard to know where to start looking for them. Have looked via kennel club etc

MrsWolowitz Mon 17-Feb-14 15:39:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

excitedmummytobe Mon 17-Feb-14 16:19:31

I own a long legged staffordshire bull terrier and would recommend people forget the hype and consider them as a family pet. its a little known fact that these breeds were bred to watch children and babies in the olden days when parents went out! whilst i wouldnt advocate that it has definitely led to a calm loving loyal well behaved animal (when they are not in the hands of awful owners) if you are the type that can put your foot down and tell a dog "no" then you will create a trustworthy companion...mine sleeps next to a cat! hope you find the right dog for you smile

mistlethrush Mon 17-Feb-14 16:26:54

I've got a lurcher - we did lots of thinking about what sort of dog we wanted when it became clear that our old dog was not going to last just over a year ago. We decided that we wanted a dog that would like to play with us when we wanted to (but not spend all the day pestering us to play with them); that would be OK on a short walk and a longer walk every day, but also be able to walk all day at weekends or on holiday; sleep when we were busy doing things; and like our company. We rescued our lurcher - she was 2+ yrs old and had been in the pound 3x by the time the rescue got her. She's absolutely lovely and we wouldn't change her for anything else. And she's fantastic with DS (8) - quite happy to play with him, happy to listen to him so that he can 'train' her - and take her into junior handling classes etc.

Floralnomad Mon 17-Feb-14 16:32:11

Please look at the Many Tears rescue site ,they have loads of puppies at the moment looking for homes and they all look gorgeous , many will be in foster homes so used to children ,pets etc.

kilmuir Mon 17-Feb-14 16:33:53

Greyhound or great dane

pickles184 Mon 17-Feb-14 16:36:08

Whippets are lovely dogs, shedding is not too dramatic and they are generally easy going. The only concern would be that they can be a little nervy around too much noise?

A poodle would be a great choice for what you are looking for, thrive on being busy, but with the right training and exercise level an excellent family pet. They don-t shed or have that 'doggy' smell and although they need regular grooming, the pet clip is really easy to keep on top of yourself or a quick trip to the groomers.

It sounds like you have a great set-up and the time to bring on a young dog, but it is always worth taking a look at local rescue centres. If you can find a reputable one that puts effort in to properly checking a dogs temperament and family suitability. There are many a young dog, out of the puppy stage and just in need of proper circumstances to thrive. All breeds have pros and cons, sometimes a crossbreed gives the best of all worlds, sometimes not so much.

If you are set on a pedigree puppy then carefully research both parents and the breeder. Be wary of in-experienced designer cross-breed breeders. They have often not had the animals checked for the usual breed issues like hip and eyes, skin conditions etc.. you won't find out if a poodle criss is going to shed until they are 1-2years old and there is no way to guarantee the coat type whatever the breeder claims. My friend as a gorgeous labradoodle, mad as a hatter, high energy, high intelligence and all round bundle of fabulousness, but he sheds like you would not believe, think a cushion full every month!

Both the Vizla and Weimaraner are not ideal first dogs, they are a working breed and generally need to be with their people ALL the time and a job to do to prevent behavioural issues. From my experience of both breeds they usually tend to gravitate to one handler rather than a group, not in an unfriendly way, just a stronger bond.

Have you considered a dalmation? They usually make great family additions and love to go running. Again quite high energy, but normally fairly quiet indoors.

Labs are brilliant dogs, grew up with them, but usually strong willed and likely to pull small people over/mow them down in excitement. They are very destructive as puppies and the show lines are pretty stubborn to train. Shed heavily twice a year, stay wet forever (double coat) and have a magnetic attraction to muddy bogs and any form of water. They are loving, great fun and generally very friendly though!

Sorry for the waffle, my recommendation would be a poodle I think, I know not on your list, but really would fit in with your lifestyle very well.

MelanieCheeks Mon 17-Feb-14 16:36:41

I have a Weimaraner and a Cocker Spaniel, so I can describe my experience of those.

Weim: daft as a brush. Very hyper. Gorgeous to look at, responded reasonably to basic training but is terrible at walking on a lead. Big, but still thinks he's a lapdog. Easy to clean after walks, just a quick once over with a wipe. Hates bicycles and isn't great in crowds. He comes with me on long solo runs on quiet roads (and DH is glad I have a big dog with me for safety)

Cocker: every day is Christmas day. Constantly excited about everything and everybody, and will "chat" to you throughout the day. Easier to train, (got to Silver level!) but with a little stubborn streak. More grooming and brushing required, tats in the fur are a pain to manage. Accompanies me to ParkRuns and is pretty well behaved in busy situations - can give a few warning barks if she's unsure.

whatwoulddexterdo Mon 17-Feb-14 18:41:02

What about a golden retriever? I love mine to bits and she is brilliant with my sons.
Cons are she is big, 29kg at seven months and the hair!!
She is gorgeous though

Gooner123 Mon 17-Feb-14 19:23:57

I've got a beddyXwhippet,like most lurchers he can sleep for England,loves to run & play and with a rough coat doesn't feel the cold.have a look at lurcher link if you want to know more.

LettertoHermioneGranger Mon 17-Feb-14 19:31:18

Labs are wonderful, sweet dogs, a vet once recommended them as the best dog for a family, we always had them growing up and I agree wholeheartedly. However, they do shed a lot, and are destructive puppies. They WILL chew.

By your posts, I'm going to agree with another poster and suggest a standard poodle, or lab/poodle mix. They have many of the same qualities as labs so far as temperament, without the shedding. I don't know how destructive they might be, do some research on that, but not sure any breed chews as much as a lab!

PissesGlitter Mon 17-Feb-14 19:36:32

Another vote for Staffordshire Bull Terrier
My boy is the happiest most loving dog I have ever had in my life (and we had a few)

We had a lurcher as a child and I highly recommend them too

WookieCookie Mon 17-Feb-14 19:43:12

I was in the same situation as you and we researched our breed, and met a few people who owned them before we took him on. as PPs have said write a list of what you think you'd like in a dog & try to meet some dogs of your breed choice before deciding!
We have a flatcoat retriever. They are lovely family dogs, but he is too big for the DSs (9&7) on a walk as despite hours of training he will still disappear off if he thinks there's something unspeakable to roll in or eat. He likes to sit on our lap - he's 36kg- and honestly believes he's a human. He is a terrible thief and can open every door in the house, and the kitchen drawers. He has eaten the floor, the walls, the carpet, my cashmere, the kid's homework, a whole cake, the packed lunches, the water feature to name a few things.
However I love him more than I could ever have thought and can't imagine being without him. Not sure I'd take on a puppy again though!

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