Posted : 3/31/2008 3:20:39 AM
I don't have a lot to go on, here, but I think it's uncommon for kids to be born with animal allergies. A lot of the time allergies come about when people aren't often exposed to something and the immune system over-reacts when it does encounter this something. I know a lot of people who have developed allergies in adulthood after years of living with animals, and I know people that didn't grow up with animals and had allergies, but the allergies went away when they got some animals. And it's often not as simple as being allergic to pet hair. My brother's fiance is horribly allergic to cat and rabbit fur, but not allergic at all to the coarser fur of dogs. And while I'm not really allergic to any fur, my rabbit's fine fur drives me crazy when it gets on my face. It itches and tingles. And I know one person who is not allergic to fur or dander, but is allergic to dog saliva, so slobbery dogs are out for her.
I would not worry too much about the potential for allergies. I mean, little babies are often allergic to all sorts of things, but grow out of it as they get older and are regularly exposed to those things.
If I were you, I'd consider a Boxer, although Jill, my mother's boxer cross, is a complete nutcase and it can be hard to get her to understand what you want her to do. She's fantastic when she gets it, but it takes work to hold her attention for long enough for her to understand. I would reckon you have enough room for a Mastiff, too. Big dogs are something you should think carefully about with the kiddies. I grew up with a largish dog and it was great that I could flop all over her and not bother her, but I have a very vivid memory of her bowling me over by accident and then eating the cake I'd dropped in the fall! And I also remember holding onto her leash and being dragged behind when someone teased her with some food. And big dogs lick kids' faces! All the time! And I've seen older kids buffeted and trodden on by large dogs, too, even when supervised by an adult.
I reckon Staffordshire Bull Terriers are great family pets, although they're pretty small.
Over here, Australian Cattle Dogs are the quintessential guard dog and companion. No one messes with a defensive cattle dog, but they're about as loyal a breed as I've ever come across, and the majority of them won't attack. They're super smart and easy to train, but they can be nippy and overly aggressive if they don't get enough to do. They're fine if they just get to hang out with you, though.
Also, dobes are lovely, especially if you leave their ears natural, but can be needy.