First time dog owner

(34 Posts)
MeSoTooSo Sun 23-Jun-19 16:18:17

What breed would you advise for a first time dog owner?

I would really like an adult dog (I've been reading how challenging a puppy can be) - but would I be naive to consider a rescue dog?

Thank you!

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AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sun 23-Jun-19 17:14:32

There's no one good breed for a first time owner - it's very much horses for courses. For instance,
- how much time can you dedicate to dog walking on weekdays (not just weekends!)
- how much grooming are you prepared to do?
- do you prefer small / medium / large dogs or no preference?
- do you have kids or other pets?
- which breed traits would you find hard to live with eg yappiness, digging, prey drive, high energy levels etc etc?
- what's your lifestyle like?

There are some dogs that are less well suited to first time owners (eg huskies) but many can work well for a first time owner with a corresponding lifestyle.

However, as you're looking for a rescue I would think about what characteristics you're looking for and then keep an open mind about breed as the perfect dog may come in an unexpected package. You're certainly not mad to consider a rescue dog, but be prepared for challenges - just different challenges to a puppy. I'm a first time dog owner (had dogs growing up but had no real responsibility for them) and my accidentally acquired rescue dog came with a variety of issues. However, I've really enjoyed learning about canine behaviour as a result and I think I've ended up a much better dog owner than I might have been had I ended up with an easy dog. Avoid the dogs that are listed as "needing an experienced home", and tbh I'd avoid the ones that say they "need to be walked in an area away from other dogs / people" as it probably means they're fairly reactive and that can be nigh on impossible to fully resolve. There are, however, some lovely dogs that come into rescue through no fault of their own with no major problems - owner has died, eviction, change of working hours, pregnancy (hmm), emigration etc etc., and some that come in for reasons that might not bother you (eg not getting on with the resident cat might not bother you if you don't have a cat or not liking small children wouldn't bother you if your children are older and you're not planning any more)

MeSoTooSo Sun 23-Jun-19 17:49:07

Thank you so much for your post, that's really helpful.

I would be completely honest with a rescue in the hopes I wouldn't be placed with a high-issue dog and be out of my depth. But I understand sometimes the assessments are restricted to behaviour in a kennel environment and some problems might not become apparent until you have them.

Lifestyle wise, no DC and no pets. Just DH. I work from home, I have a calm and quiet home - I'm quite an introvert, no big social life. I do love travelling twice a year and the odd weekend away. I would get a dog sitter for abroad holidays, and look to book dog friendly weekends away.

I run 5-10k every weekend and love long, hilly walks with DH once a week. I live in an urban area but looking to move much more rurally soon.

My ideal fantasy dog would be - no bigger than a spaniel, have great recall, happy to come along on walks every day and trot along off lead and be unreactive to other dogs/sheep/horses but happy to sleep lots when home. A loyal, laid back sort of personality!

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GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sun 23-Jun-19 19:42:47

It might be helpful to you to look into rescues that foster dogs in people's homes before they adopt them out, as this gives the rehoming organisation a much better idea of the dog's personality and issues. A middle-aged spaniel might suit you - some of the mania should be reduced by maturity.
Spaniel Aid
English Springer Spaniel Welfare

I'm sure you know this, but always be very cautious with a dog around livestock. My young dog is fine with cattle at 100yds distance, but I wouldn't trust her that close with sheep.

florentina1 Sun 23-Jun-19 20:29:44

I was a first time dog owner when I got my Rescue. I wanted an older dog as I thought it might be calmer. She is 9 and very energetic on walks but quite happy to be lazy at home. Be honest with the Rescue and I am sure you will find the right dog,

I have a Terrier and although I love her to bits, it is not a breed I would recommend.

MeSoTooSo Sun 23-Jun-19 20:38:36

That's such a good idea looking at a foster - those spaniels are gorgeous!

A lot seem to have guarding issues, is that a spaniel thing generally?

It doesn't put me off - we had a collie X when I was young (still class myself as first time dog owner though as I had none of the responsibility) and we were always told never to approach the dog when it was eating or sleeping or take a toy if it hadn't been dropped by our feet by him.

I think I'd try and bite someone if they woke me up suddenly or tried to take my dinner away grin

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Morticiaismystyleicon Sun 23-Jun-19 20:38:49

Greyhounds are lovely dogs, very unique and quirky but generally fabulous pets. If you get a young one that didn't take well to racing (like mine) they can absolutely walk long distances, they don't tend to like rain and you need coats for winter and they don't do well walking in the heat though. They generally sleep, walk, sleep, snuggle, sleep, take over your sofa, sleep, walk, sleep, do a zoomie for 5 minutes that is insane for the uninitiated (you soon get used to it), sleep, eat, sleep, walk, sleep. They are known as 0-40mph couch potatoes because they can and will- given the opportunity run very very fast but do more sleeping than a newborn baby.


MeSoTooSo Sun 23-Jun-19 20:39:31

@florentina1 would you say no type of terrier at all? Thank you for posting!

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MamamaMadness Sun 23-Jun-19 20:41:52

A rescue greyhound is a great dog for the first time owner.

Alternatively, some other easy dogs are CKC spaniels, pugs and Border Terriers.

Please really thoroughly research breeders though. Make sure the parents are health tested and the puppies have a contract where you can't breed from them or sell them on. A good breeder will make you sign something to say that if there's a problem with the dog, it must be returned to them.

MeSoTooSo Sun 23-Jun-19 20:43:20

@Morticiaismystyleicon my friend has a greyhound and he's lovely! Love it when he roaches, or leans against my leg. His smiles are so sweet, he's like a cross between a dog and a cat.

Sadly I'd have to rule out Greyhounds/lurchers types as recall is vital. They're just a little too big for me to handle, too.

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florentina1 Sun 23-Jun-19 20:50:16

This is only general, from listening to other terrier owners, and I am happy to be corrected. They are generally bred for hunting and have a very strong prey drive. The rescue told me she could never be off lead as she would bolt. I do manage her off lead as we have a lot of open park land. She is extremely good for me but not anyone else, I have to put her on the lead if I see another dog as she goes nuts. She can be over protective and I have to be careful with her. My DH walks her but she will not come back to him so she stays on the lead with him. At home she is well behaved, very intelligent, but has a stubborn streak . From talking to others, she seems typical of the breed.

She is a PatterjackX

florentina1 Sun 23-Jun-19 20:51:39

This is her

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Sun 23-Jun-19 23:27:24

My ideal fantasy dog would be - no bigger than a spaniel, have great recall, happy to come along on walks every day and trot along off lead and be unreactive to other dogs/sheep/horses but happy to sleep lots when home. A loyal, laid back sort of personality!

Most of this sounds perfectly achievable, though I think the thing you'll struggle with most is the livestock as I don't know many rescues that specifically test around livestock. I'd avoid any breed with a significant prey drive if being good around livestock is a priority - as a terrier owner, there's not a chance I'd ever trust my dog around livestock! Is this a 'red line' or more of a nice to have sort of feature?

Recall can be taught fairly easily, but some rescue dogs won't have had the input beforehand. 6 weeks after first meeting DDog (c. 16 months old), I taught him recall from scratch in an afternoon and he has never got lost - he's always checking in with me and comes back when called (though weirdly his ears stop working when he's chasing a squirrel or rolling in something vile... You can't win them all!)

A staffy might fit the bill very nicely - and there are lots in rescue so there's a good range to choose from. Lovely dogs for the most part, despite what the tabloids like to suggest!

Have you come across the sport of canicross? It sounds like something you'd enjoy.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Mon 24-Jun-19 07:24:12

If a dog had guarding issues, a reputable rescue/foster should certainly tell you.

If you go down the puppy route, check out any health issues to which the breed is prone (pugs for example can have a sorts of issues owing to their flat faces). And I'm not sure greyhound/lurcher types are really designed for canicross - the short sharp burst is more their style.

You also need to think how you're going to fit the dog's exercise needs into your daily routine. I get up at 6 on the days I work to get mine walked, and I'm out there at 6.20 even in the middle of winter.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Mon 24-Jun-19 07:39:06

With regards to PP - I wouldn't touch CKC spaniels due to the syringomelia prevalent in the breed, and a pug is never going to be able to keep up with someone who likes running

Re spaniels and guarding - not my specialist area but I've heard that cockapoos are increasingly having resource guarding issues and that it comes from the cocker side of the family. However, resource guarding issues around humans shouldn't be too difficult to manage and work on with no other pets and no DC, with some help from a behaviourist. You seem pretty sensible to me - like you, I'd be pissed off if someone kept taking my dinnerplate or phone away for no reason! Mine decided to start resource guarding sticks around other dogs hmm As getting strange dogs to engage in a training programme for the benefit of my dog isn't going to happen, I've managed it by banning him from picking up sticks in the park, backed up by teaching a really strong 'leave it' command. The resource guarding is still there, but it's not a problem due to management if you see what I mean.

MamamaMadness Mon 24-Jun-19 08:17:18

Well bred cavs are fine. Well bred pugs are fine - my BIL pugs do cani-x.

Wouldn't touch a designer doodle breed with a barge pole.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Mon 24-Jun-19 10:34:28

Well bred Cavs are fine. Well bred pugs are fine
The disease burden in these two breeds is huge. Personally, I'm happier opting for a breed or cross where you have almost zero risk of mitral valve disease or syringomyelia (widespread in Cavaliers) or BOAS (common in pugs).

Purplecatshopaholic Mon 24-Jun-19 10:45:04

Defo consider a young adult rescue - mine is fab! A lot of work though as he took a lot of time to settle in - but he was a stray before and god knows what he had been through. Let us know how you get on.

MamamaMadness Mon 24-Jun-19 10:56:16

Each to their own. Never had any problems with either breed in my family.

GRoe91 Mon 24-Jun-19 10:58:41

Definitley have a chat to your local rescue centre(s)smile try Dogs Trust if you have one nearby. All dogs are assessed before they're made available for adoption and whilst they can't always know everything about a dog they do spend a lot of time with them and know their personalities, whether they're good around other dogs and any other needs they think they have. They're also always on the look out for foster carers for dogs that may not be coping with kennel life.

stucknoue Mon 24-Jun-19 11:21:55

So depends on you. A dog that's 3+ tends to be calmer but they can come with serious issues so it's hard to say that a rescue is always a good idea. Some breeds are better being left alone than others though, so your work pattern matters, some need more exercise but even the smallest dogs need an hour a day usually split into 2-3 walks, mine gets an hour - 90 mins weekdays and longer at weekends but loves his own company so leaving him is fine (he ignores me most the time at home)

stucknoue Mon 24-Jun-19 11:25:03

I was going to say consider a collie, super lazy dogs in my experience (mine couldn't care less if you open his month and remove his bone, totally unreactive)

longtompot Mon 24-Jun-19 13:34:24

Whippets are lovely dogs. They only need a good run or two a day and spend the rest sleeping. You can get Italian Greyhounds which look like small whippets. I have a show cocker and love her, but she is challenging at times. Some friends have whippets and a lady I know from dog walks has an Italian greyhound who is the sweetest dog.

Greyhound22 Mon 24-Jun-19 14:23:13

Whippets are fabulous family pets. I'm a greyhound person (obvs) but recognise they're not for everyone. A whippet will generally do as much or as little as you like - they like to walk/play but are lazy too and like snuggling up.

MeSoTooSo Mon 24-Jun-19 17:43:22

Thanks for the replies! What's a whippet's prey drive like? I assume as a sighthound it's high but I'll research more now.

I do love staffies, why are so many put up for adoption? Rescues seem full of staffies, huskies and collie crosses.

I believe in bad owners, not bad dogs, it's just some traits might be more difficult than others with some breeds?

@florentina1 she's gorgeous!

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