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Alternative to a labrador?

(58 Posts)
JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 19:48:11

We are edging closer and closer to getting a family dog. We are all 'dog' people, DD is an only, and we just think the time is approaching (excited!)

BUT - a big but - I don't know what type to get!!

If it was up to DH (and DD) entirely, it would be a lab, no question. He grew up with them and we all love them.

But our house is small (terrace in London), our garden small too. We have good commons neraby for long walks etc and would biuld the dog's exercise in obv, but I am just increasingly unsure about how a Lab would 'feel' around our small house... DH's labs as a child were always on the small side, it's true, and I guess we would do as much as we could to get one on the small side, but he lived in a larger house with a larger garden.

The other issue for me is shedding. I'm mildly allergic and suspect DD may be too, and would rather minimise the dog hair issue as much as is feasible. Obviously if we decided on a lab we'd arm ourselves with a great hoover etc, but if there's an alternative that is less 'sheddy' or hairy, I think we shoudl consider it.

I met an absolutely adorable cockapoo (sp?) out today and fell in love a bit but brief research shows they can be a little bit too flighty and bonkers (?) and I'm such a novice I'm uncertain of the ethics of a cross? I like labradoodles too but they are also on the large side, right, and you still have the same 'cross' issues?

Really what we need is a smaller-than-normal lab that doesn't shed too much and not sure if this exists (!!!)

Essentially we just want a great family dog and one that is good and calm with children (subject to good training obv) - DD has many cousins we see a lot of and a couple of them are nervy with dogs so we would of course want to maximise the chances of ending up with a calm, friendly dog.

Any out of the box ideas?

Thanks in advance!!

Noitsnotteatimeyet Fri 14-Apr-17 20:24:47

Toller! They're the smallest member of the retriever family and are lovely family pets. They're very bright and pick up training quickly, have friendly, happy-go-lucky temperaments, are good with children and although they shed it's nothing like a lab - ours has a big moult twice a year but other than that it's pretty minimal.

They are working dogs so need plenty of exercise once fully grown and they need a job to do so should be taken to something like gundog training, agility or obedience classes. Ours is very fizzy when out on a walk but beautifully chilled at home - he's just lovely

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 20:26:53

Oh, is that yours??!! He/she is GORGEOUS! I will research more, thank you so much.

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 20:28:24

Oh in fact also the 'job' thing would suit us really well as DH is hearing-impaired and we have always wondered about how a well-trained dog might be able to help him a bit with things like ringing phones, doorbells etc... am sure official Hearing Dogs need months of training but we've always wondered if a dog might be able to be a source of support.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Fri 14-Apr-17 20:33:51

Yes that's my lovely boy smile (we're also in London and it's fine as we're near lots of great commons so plenty of places to walk. My dog's breeder has donated a couple of dogs to the Hearing Dogs charity so they can definitely be trained to help - they're too small to be guide dogs but size isn't so much of an issue for hearing dogs. Mine's a therapy dog - he used to listen to children read in one of our local schools and now he visits a nursing home - he knows when he's got his jacket on that he's working and is Very Sensible grin

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 20:35:39

Thank you so much Noitsnot... might PM you for a couple more details if you dont' mind?

Coffeelover56 Fri 14-Apr-17 20:36:13

Miniature labradoodle! Sometimes they do she'd a little depending on their coat - the curlier the better I think. And they aren't meant to be as bonkers as the cockapoos! Don't worry about the ethics of a cross, if anything you should be questioning the ethics of a pure bred imo. Plus crosses tend to live longer due to the more variation in genes. Hth

Noitsnotteatimeyet Fri 14-Apr-17 20:36:15

No problem!

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 20:37:16

Thank you too coffeelover... mistakenly thought labradoodles were really big dogs so will have a proper look at minature ones!

CornflakeHomunculus Fri 14-Apr-17 20:37:21

Standard or miniature poodle?

The standards are often similar in height to labs they're less chunky and you do get some smaller individuals as the breed standard only has a minimum height which is a positively dinky 15". Miniatures are smaller; 11" - 15".

They both make fantastics family dogs. They're intelligent, biddable, active and absolutely love being involved in family life. Obviously they're guaranteed to be non-shedding but this does mean frequent grooming is necessary, both in terms of brushing them at home and getting them clipped every 6-8 weeks, although of course you can also learn to clip them yourself.

They really are fantastic dogs and I think a lot of people write them off as being good for nothing other than prancing round a show ring but really nothing could be further from the truth.

CornflakeHomunculus Fri 14-Apr-17 20:42:56

Plus crosses tend to live longer due to the more variation in genes.

Unfortunately it's not quite as simple as that.

I presume a "miniature labradoodle" is a lab x miniature poodle? If so then they share a number of heritable conditions with the same genetic basis.

Whilst crossing does help in terms of increasing genetic diversity it can't guard against genetic conditions which are present in both breeds.

Whether someone is breeding pedigrees, crosses or running an outcrossing programme health testing is vitally important in avoiding either producing affected dogs or introducing a condition into a population where it previously wasn't present.

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 20:43:10

Thanks cornflake.
Had just been looking at poodles before I started the thread and you're right there are some gorgeous ones... I remember a childhood friend had a large poodle and he was fabulous.
Will look into poodles more in general.
I need to get all my ducks in a row as DH will just fill the house with labradors given half a chance...
Can I be dim and follow up on your point coffeelover about the ethics of a pure bred dog? Just want to make sure we're doing everything unassailbly right in terms of animal welfare.

Drunkvet Fri 14-Apr-17 20:45:55

Lurchers are the perfect town dog. Actually they are pretty much the perfect dog whatever. Loyal, calm, low maintenance coat, good health wise. They are as happy with a 20min amble about as they are with a 4 hour hike. They love cuddles and can sleep as much as cats.

Ylvamoon Fri 14-Apr-17 20:46:21

Tibetan Terrier? They can offer you everything a poodle cross claims to be! But you'd know about size, coat type and you can buy from reputable breeders (health testing and inbreeding "control").
They make great family pets and have a big personality!

2gorgeousboys Fri 14-Apr-17 20:59:23

I know you wanted Labrador alternatives but I just wanted to say, keep your mind open to Labs. We have a terraced house with a small garden and our boy is good, as long as he gets good walks in our local woods and fields. He sheds )particularly at this time of year) but DS2 who can be susceptible has been absolutely fine and I just Hoover and sweep regularly.

I do have to say though that the first posters dog is gorgeous!

CMOTDibbler Fri 14-Apr-17 20:59:26

Its a vote for lurchers from me as well. I love mine so much I foster puppies for the rescue as well grin

They vary in size and 'bonyness' depending on the exact cross - my white one is more greyhoundy and people that like pointy dogs are attracted to him, my other has whippet and probably doberman in the mix, and as such is more solid.
They might seem like big dogs, but a lot of it is leg and they don't fill the house in the same way

monkeyfacegrace Fri 14-Apr-17 21:06:50

Yep, lurcher every time.

Labs are lovely, but aka land sharks.

Any poodle cross is a fucking mongrel that is over priced, over bred and unethical.

Lurcher rescues are BURSTING at the seams. Most are very low maintenance, low shedding, still a 'proper dog' sized animal, easily trained, happy to sleep 20 hours per day but also good for a long walk.

There's literally no drawback.

And one of the rescues I know has some teeny 7 week old pups available soon....

JessiCake Fri 14-Apr-17 21:13:43

Thanks everyone so much.

Hadn't considered a lurcher at all but there seems a lot to recommend them. Why are there so many needing rescue? sad

monkeyface - sorry to be a pain but again can I ask (totally genuine question!! Utter novice here...) what it is that makes eg poodle crosses unethical? As I said upthread, I couldn't live with myself if I was at all worried we'd ended up with a dog that hadn't been ethically produced.

monkeyfacegrace Fri 14-Apr-17 21:22:39

Because they are bred for money.

There isn't a breed called a cockerpoo or a labradoodle or something. It's a mongrel.

I think dogs should only be bred if the owner shows, so needs a puppy for the ring. In which case, crosses aren't applicable.

So people who breed mongrels do so for 'the puppy experience', to 'carry on the family line' or whatever other excuse. While us lurcher/greyhound rescues are still destroying 7000 dogs per year, I will NEVER advocate breeding.

No1HolidayPlanner Fri 14-Apr-17 21:29:20

We have a 6 month old golden doodle.. golden retriever x miniature poodle.. she is adorable,wonderful temperament, minimal shedding.. enjoying every minute with hersmile

Shockers Fri 14-Apr-17 21:31:28

We have a collie/lab cross with a Labrador type coat and she sheds continuously!

We also have a lurcher who hardly sheds at all.

She is bonkers; he is laid back.

Despite him being enormous, our lurcher is a better dog for a small house and garden because he only needs short blasts of exercise.

They're both ace dogs though!

sparechange Fri 14-Apr-17 21:31:57

Agree with PP - you'd be hard-pushed to find a doodle/poo/fucking stupid cutesy name cross that has been bred for anything other than milking money from first-time dog owners
The more they stress the lack of shedding, the less ethical they are, in my experience
Dogs mean hair and mud in the house. Less of one means more of the other...

We live in a mid-terrace London house near commons, and we have a lab

She doesn't take up much space. She needs a comfy bed to stretch out, and enough space in the garden to have a wee and sunbathe in summer. All her exercise takes place in a park...
We also have a big enough sofa for her to join us, but that's entirely optional

I also adore Tollers (and have my eye on one!) but I don't think they are first time dogs. They have spaniel levels of energy and are too clever for their own good so will run rings round anyone not experienced to give them lots of boundaries...

CMOTDibbler Fri 14-Apr-17 21:39:54

Yep, as Monkeyfacegrace says, lurchers are bred for racing (legal or illegal), and for hunting. Those that don't perform or are surplus to requirements get dumped or handed in if they are very lucky. One of mine was bred for hare coursing and was handed in when it was apparent at 6 months that he would be beaten up by a hare. The other, it was probably deer coursing, but his mum was dumped 3 days before she had the pups for some reason.
The rescue my dogs are from - EGLR - only has dogs in foster rather than kennels, and we often have puppies of a variety of ages.

DogDecision Fri 14-Apr-17 21:41:25

I've recently started thinking more seriously about getting a dog for our family now our DC are a bit older (youngest is 6). I've settled on a sight hound, preferably a whippet or small lurcher as I think this breed will fit our family best and with so many languishing in kennels and rehoming centres, thought we would fairly easily be able to adopt which would be my first choice.

However, we don't fit the adoption criteria for most adoption organisations and probably never will as I can't afford not to work. My current job allows some flexibility and the option to work from home sometimes but there will be days a dog is left alone for more than 4 hours. I could get a puppy easily enough but I want an older dog as I don't want to go through the difficult new puppy phase for our first dog.

I'm now stuck between deciding not to have a dog at all or waiting until someone decides to rehome an adult dog privately which may have issues that cannot be assessed until we have the dog with us.

@monkeyfacegrace, does the rescue you are involved with ever relax the rules at all? I've even been looking at hard to home, much older dogs, some with health conditions that they are apparently desperate to rehome but it's been a categorical no.

Coffeelover56 Sat 15-Apr-17 08:00:43

Just sticking this here...

Labradoodles came about due to people needing guide dogs but had allergies to dog hair.

Yes people breed crosses to make money but the same can be said for pedigree dogs too!

If you are concerned about people making money from dogs, get your dog from.a rescue centre.

If you choose to buy a puppy, make sure you have it checked out with a vet before you buy to check for things like hip dysplasia, which can affect crosses as well as pedigree dogs.

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