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Daisy, our last pup, was a chocolate Lab. Given what a lovely pup she was I might take the easy route and look for one of her kin OR I might take the virtuous route and visit the animal shelter OR I might be more deliberate and consider all the alternatives.
So. . dog people . . please tell me about your dog(s) and what the breed or mix is known for and whether the breed's reputation was confirmed by your experience.
If you would, please tell me what you love about your dog(s) and whether breed traits account for any of those lovable traits.
I'm wide open about what happens next so the greater the variety the better.
By far, the breed we've had the best luck with is "Mutt." They seem to have better-balanced temperaments and suffer fewer health problems by far than the artificially-specialized "breeds." So, the muttier, the better.
We ain't "dog people" purr say, we just like them critters... ;)
They're a hardy and overall quite healthy herding breed, not unusual for them to live into their mid-teens. Ideally they should be between 13" and 16" at the shoulder, but because variety of breeds in their ancestry they can range in size from pipsqueaks (under 12") to good, solid medium dog size (19-20" and around 35 lbs).
Drawbacks: They can be barky (easy to teach them not to do this if you only have one). They shed, but it's seasonal and pretty easy to clean up - think "tumbleweeds" :). (Unlike short-haired breeds like Labs which shed all year round and have those tiny hairs which weave themselves into your upholstery!). Coats CAN be high-maintenance, but that's not true of all of them. Coats that are the correct texture don't hold dirt (it shakes or brushes right out) and they don't mat easily. Frequently the girls have shorter "fitted" coats which are lower maintenance.
I've had them for ... gosh, almost 20 years now, and currently have 3. If you decide you want to investigate this possibility further, let me know - I think we're in the same state and I have "connections" :) - breeders and breed rescue organizations.
[edited by: MamaDawg at 9:40 pm (utc) on Aug. 30, 2008]
Never kept an indoor or lap dog even though some people dote on them...KF
the purer the dog's breed the more susceptible it is to certain health problems.
That's a popular misconception, but a responsible and knowledgeable breeder can pretty much null that out. (Aside from "designer breeds" which are deliberately bred to have strange sizes and/or proportions)
There are tests which can be done on the parents before breeding to tell if they are carriers of any number of genetic defects. Responsible breeders do these tests, and also weed out any health issues which DO arise in their breeding programs. They will spay/neuter an entire line, no matter how promising, to avoid having a serious health problem in their lines.
Bad and/or ignorant breeders don't do these tests and their entire "program" may be nothing more than "breed male of breed A to female of breed A". Unfortunately, there are a lot of these types around.
With mixed breeds you just don't know what you're gonna get. The odds of doubling up on a bad recessive are lower, assuming the dogs aren't related, but so so many other afflictions (hip dysplasia, many eye disorders, etc.) have complicated inheritance and are common across the entire species.
[edited by: MamaDawg at 10:25 pm (utc) on Aug. 30, 2008]
They're not particularly susceptible to the common purebreed diseases or large-dog disorders such as hip dysplasia. They're not bred for "conformity to the breed" -- i.e., "correct" height, color, shape of head, etc. They're bred purely for health and speed. So dogs with genetic disorders simply aren't bred, period.
[edited by: sonjay at 12:38 pm (utc) on Aug. 31, 2008]
the purer the dog's breed the more susceptible it is to certain health problems.
There are breeds that virtually require expensive vet treatment and there are very "pure" breeds of dogs that have no issues at all. There are also breeders that intentionally breed dogs with genetic disorders due to other reasons and there are breeders that put any potential breeding stock through extensive genetic tests first.
The lab/retriever breed IMHO is best known for their gentle and lively spirit. We have a light golden approaching 9 years now. Her eyebrows are gray, but she still acts like a puppy. She is a people dog. Friends bring their dogs over and she's not really interested in the dogs. All she cares about is the people's attention. And of course, THE BALL.
But a stranger knocks on the door, she's a different animal - very protective until we give here the sign, then she loves the stranger as well as anyone else.
We've recently gotten a "toy" Siamese cat (actually a runt, full grown and about mid-kitten size.) Like all Siamese, she's quite the brat, and will give the dog no end of annoyance - rubbing against her when she's sleeping, causing her to jump up, or curl up in "her spot" to sleep - but the dog takes it all in with the tolerance only a lab or Golden can take. Most dogs would get defensive. :-)
She's very sensitive to body language and reactions. If I stub my toe and shout an expletive, her ears go down as if it's meant for her. We've never had to really discipline her, outside of a few instances where we left her home alone and she didn't like it. :-)
The comments about purebreds are actually close to the truth. Keeping a dog's bloodlines within a certain set of lineage is a similar effect to inbreeding. Golden's are susceptible to hip displaysia, tumors, and all sorts of degenerative disorders. So far, ours has only shown one mobile cyst at her shoulder which I have to drain every other month or so, and she's going blind in one eye, neither of which our vet thinks is due to her bloodline - all dogs are susceptible to these.
Labs/Goldens for me. I dread the day she passes on, she's been an awesome companion and will be missed.
After Alix died there was Caine, a rottweiller, 56 kg - 124 lbs and his head was hip-high on me. Honestly, not quite as smart as Alix if you measure it in terms of the talking and such... but a really empathic dog and really, just as happy and laid back as they come so often it wasn't that he didn't have the brains for something... he just didn't see the point. Incredibly gentle with children and so aware of his size he would walk 3 feet away from my grandma because he knew she was scared of him knocking her over. Cunning when it was worth his while... He used to steal eggs out of my pantry - he'd headbutt the magnet-closed door to bounce it open.. take an egg out of the cardboard tray and put it on the floor for my terrier, take another for himself and off they'd go outside. Well, I figured out what was going on when a dozen eggs disappeared in a day, and gave him a good talking to.. emphasized by my closing the pantry door while he watched. He got the message.. sort of.. and that afternoon I watched him come in with Jonah, bump the pantry door open, take two eggs out - one for him, one for the little guy - and then, very carefully, while he held his egg in his mouth... he pushed the pantry door closed before he went outside to eat his egg. From then on I put most of the eggs on a top shelf.. most, mind you, not all of them. Dog never did a thing in anger, and I don't think he really knew what fear was. He'd not let visitors in the backyard if no-one was home, but deferred completely to whoever was in charge of him.
I'd have another rotty again in a heartbeat too.. and kind of did - my brother loved Caine so much we ended up with Titan in the family - just as lovable, but bouncier.
Thing is.. Alix and Caine.. for being about as different breeds as you can get.. people who knew both of them always commented how very alike in personality and nature they were. At the end of the day, a lot of what those dogs were came down to me. They were both raised the same way, with pretty high human interaction and firm boundaries about what was acceptable and what wasn't, and a lot of love.
If you start with a dog from a caring home with good natured parents and owners, you can have the same, more or less regardless of breed. And no, that doesn't exclude pound puppies.. but I do believe you need to get them as young as possible in that case. Over 3 months old and I think twice.
That said.. breeds I wouldn't personally touch.. any breed historically bred specifically for dog fighting or human attack - pits, presa de canario, tozas and so on.
They are protective, but not easily provoked, large enough to be comfortable around people and other dogs. Lots of muscle on them, so they need to learn to walk on a lead early. They are very loyal.
loves sleeping on the family beds.
otherwise easily trained
not aggresive but certainly protective of 'her' people and house and car
bit lazy so ideal if you don't want to go on lots of long walks
very affectionate but likes own space too - so will go off and sleep happily
once you get used to the face then a true beauty
So, this issue is a bit "layered". Traveling dog qualities? What dogs travel well? Likely smaller ones. (45-55 is my version of "smaller".) BUT, maybe we won't travel much. AND maybe, if we plan to travel a bit then we ought to put off adding to the family. Decisions. Decisions.
Might not be the best time for Mastifs or Rottweillers, due to size and travel considerations. Nice dogs. Built in home security systems. ;)
I've met a few Boxers but haven't really had a chance to engage them. They seemed a bit less socially engaging, i.e., there are some dogs that won't leave you alone (since I like dogs this has never "bothered" me) and others appear more inclined to check you out and walk away. Might just be the boxers I met, since in both cases they appeared to be dogs that spent a lot of time alone. I'm not sure many breeds are meant for that. My take on dogs is that most thrive on social engagement.
Shelties look interesting. I've always liked 'em when I've seem them in action or about. Greyhound adoption is an act of real kindness in my book, especially if they have access to whatever makes them happy.
<Argh. Was considering a Border Collie but, having just read a BC "rescue" website I've somewhat quickly concluded that a BC is likely a breed that would be happiest "being a BC" = doing what they're bred to do or living in an environment where their traits would be well known and accepted. Folks around here just wouldn't get that a BC was "herding" their runabout child. :-/>
[edited by: Webwork at 6:13 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2008]
Was considering a Border Collie but, having just read a BC "rescue" website I've somewhat quickly concluded that a BC is likely a breed that would be happiest "being a BC" = doing what they're bred to do or living in an environment where their traits would be well known and accepted. Folks around here just wouldn't get that a BC was "herding" their runabout child.
I too thought like that but wait... We lost our Border collie 6 months ago (ripe old age of 17!) and when we "inherited" her we already had 2 x Cats, so I can confirm the herding instinct is inbred in a pure breed; However she was not at all used to children so when our own son came along 8 years ago we thought (or at least acknowledged) she would maybe have to go someday if that behaviour transferred to the children.. but that never came true!
BC's are known as one of the most loyal dogs.. she had already lost one owner she was loyal to, then she quickly became loyal to me but just as quickly she adapted to protecting and playing with our son, (though she still herded Cats and Cyclists!) - we weren't expecting that having read the same literature as you have. btw in the later years once our learning curve/trust was such we took her caravanning with us and she was absolutely fine.. they're very territorial so taking them out their territory (travelling) helps tame their 'herding' instincts they trust you like you trust them
We have been visiting the the local rescue centre for the last six weeks, I was adamant we weren't getting a "pure bred" but son is adamant he wants another Border Collie.. although, thanks mamadawg!, I showed him the "Shelties" last night, so it's now looking like a toss of a coin between the two.. unless of course he falls for a "multi variety" before then
it's not easy no matter when you choose is it :)
[edited by: SuzyUK at 7:16 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2008]
I've known a few BC's who were gentle couch potatoes, but most of them need a "job" to do or they find other outlets for their energy.
Shelties are also herding breeds and the more "wired" ones CAN have some of the same traits as BC's (my youngster is pretty obnoxious to my cats), but overall they're kinder and gentler souls. If you look for one, talk to the breeder or rescue about what kind of dog you want (a good idea when selecting ANY breed).
Most travel well - I train and compete in agility (= crazy people running obstacle courses with their dogs) so we do a lot of road trips. Small-ish dogs are a plus if you're staying in hotels. Some can be pretty "territorial" if a stranger approaches your car - good at deterring casual burglers, annoying at manual toll stops.
I should mention that most of mine went through a carsick phase as puppies - 90% inner ear, 10% anxiety - they all outgrew it by 12-18 mos. Pack extra towels and don't make a big deal out of it.
Greyhounds are lovely dogs. There's a group of local rescue greyhound owners who meet every Sunday to walk their dogs in one of the area parks. Dozen of them - it's quite a sight!
[edited by: MamaDawg at 12:50 pm (utc) on Sep. 2, 2008]
Collies are excellent family dogs and always try hard to please their owners. With proper care, they can live quite long (ours have always gone 12+ years), although they do tend to have "big dog" afflictions as they get older- all of ours eventually had problems with arthritis, although all were very active.
Thanks SuzyUK and MamaDawg for the input on BCs. Back on the list. ;)
Sorry to read about your loss LifeinAsia. I've always been impressed with the gentle/gracious nature of the Collies I've known. Your's were no doubt fortunate to find their way into such a loving family. May you all meet again in dog heaven. :)
Loves going out in the car, but does need plenty of exercise, and something to do, otherwise he goes a bit stir crazy.
He doesn't really like cats or people, especially children, tends to have a sniff and walk off. Gets on well with some dogs, but hates others. We never really know what he's going to do, so we have to keep an eye on him.
Pure BC's are 'odd' They develop obsessions, ours stares for hours at a ceiling fan (which we have never turned on) and neurosis - he won't go in the kitchen if the dishwasher is on, but doesn't mind the washing machine!
True collies are hard work, we recently lost a collie/spaniel cross who was much easier to live with. Our GSD is also a better house dog, needs much less attention, as long as she can see us she's happy.
Don't let me put you off, if you have an active lifestyle, and don't mind having a dog stuck permanently to your side, staring at you waiting for your next command a BC is hard to beat - we wouldn't be without ours. Most of the time!