Choosing a Dog for Family Pet
Archived Q&A and Reviews
We are researching dog breeds. I'd love to hear what experiences other families have had with pet dogs. We have had mixed breed dogs in the past and plan on purchasing a purebred puppy or finding an older dog through rescue. Our son is now 2 1/2. We want a dog that will be ok being left alone while we both work, and will be satisfied with daily walks during the week for their exercise needs. Thanks, Laurie
We too have gone the route of having mixed breeds and then getting a pure bred. After a lot of research and observation of different breeds we decided upon a St. Bernard. On the plus side:
\t1. gentle as can be -- they love people \t2. they sleep a lot -- they are real happy to only have to walk once a day \t3. they are very loyal to their families \t4. they do not bark a lot -- we have neighbors with sensitive ears \t5. they are really good with small children \t6. they like lots of attention On the down side: \t1. they eat a lot \t2. they are really big -- ours, when it stops growing will be about 175 lbs. \t3. they get a lot of attention in public -- this may not be a negative
Good luck in your dog search David
Regarding dog breeds. We have a Belgian Sheepdog. She's fairly large (60-70 lbs) and has a lot of characteristics similar to Collies and German Shepards. They are a very intelligent breed and have been used as search and rescue and police dogs....although more-so on the East Coast. I believe there is a Belgian Sheepdog rescue org. somewhere in the Bay Area.
She is very loving and has adjusted wonderfully from being an only child to sharing the house with our 9 mo. old son. She has even tolerated hair-pulling reasonably well. They tend to be a very emotionally attached breed and are great watch dogs. She has a fierce bark (but only when there are visitors...never without good reason...she won't even bark when other dogs bark at her) and looks fairly wolf-like (black w/long hair and a German Shepard shaped face).
She is fairly high-energy, but seems to be fine with daily walks and play time, and stays home in the back yard while we're at work. When we're home she's definately a house dog and doesn't want to miss out on anything the family is doing.
I would highly recommend a female of this breed (I think the males can be a little more agressive), if you can find one. They don't seem to be that common in this area...we feel like we lucked out when we got her 3 years ago. Kelli
With regards to the question on dogs. When I was growing up, we had an english springer spaniel who, despite the fact that I love our two current muts, I call the best dog ever. I was a teenager when we got her but she was good with kids and very easily trained. She even got retrained when she was about six to not go in certain parts of the house which she had been able to go to when my mom put in new carpets and started practicing what my father called, carpet worship.
Patches did shed some but we really did not keep up with brushing or grooming her which really would have made a difference. She did alright during the day by herself but loved it when people were around. Good Luck in your searches, Janette
Re Dogs. We have a dalmatian and I wouldn't recommend it for people with small children because it is so incredibly high energy, the child could be injured by accident. Also, ours is so protective of family that she has threatened playmates. Our day-care provider has two full-size collies and, if you can deal with the maintenance of the fur issue, they are fabulous. They are docile and loving and generally place themselves between their babies and strangers at the door. The babies have learned to walk hanging onto their fur and the dogs are great watchdogs, although they bark a little too much for my taste. One of these got over that habit after wearing one of those barkless collars for a month or so (It zaps them mildly when they bark.) These are excellent kid dogs and I have seen them actually grab the sleeve or pantleg of the older children to lead them to or from. If you consider a collie, check for decent eyesight and with any larger dog, hip dysplasia. Most purebred dogs have some health weakness due to breeding for beauty and most of those are well-known and published, such as dalmatian's tendency toward deafness and kidney problems. Barbara
We are on our 2nd West Highland Terrier. These are great dogs with kids. They combine terrier energy and intelligence with an outstanding and gentle disposition. Very friendly, and also, very attractive dogs. Easy to care for, and they don't shed. The white fur can get dirty but they are easy to bathe. At 20 lbs., ours have been a bit above average in size. Michael
A dog breed that I think is wonderful for kids/families is the golden retriever. I've had a dog most of my life--from small mutts, a German shepherd to a golden retriever--and enjoyed them all. I am, however, biased towards the golden. Though a giant at 105(!) lbs (LARGE, even for his breed), Duke is the sweetest dog I've come to know. We got him through the NORCAL Golden Retriever rescue when he was 3 and we all adjusted very well. Now 8 and the eldest member of the family, he's very docile and extremely patient with our 4 yr-old and 17 mos old kids. I am impressed with his calm disposition, quiet undemanding nature, and trainability. All he really wants from us is to pet him and if he could, sit in our laps!
Dog breeds aside, I would suggest that you check with the different rescue organizations to get more info about the type of dog you're considering in terms of temperment, medical conditions some breeds are prone to, and even to weigh the pros and cons of getting an adult dog vs. a puppy.
I was a volunteer with the rescue and fostered a puppy for a short time. I was in for a real eye-opener--puppies demand a lot time, energy and patience. Good luck! Karen