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What Breed should I get?

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What Breed should I get?
  • Hey Everyone! My first post

    Anyway...Me and my fiance just purchased our first home. We've both been dog lovers our entire lives, and have decided to add a new addition to the family (a dog).

    I've tried all thoes breed selector quizzes and they just seem too vague. So I'll list certain characteristics about my lifestyle. If any of you can let me know what you think suits our lifestyle I'll greatly appreciate it.

    - The only dog I have ever owned was my family Toy Poodle. He livesd 15 years, and I had him since I was 10. He died when I was 25. He was trained and well behaved, but I didn't do much of the training. My father did...I did take care of him though and did my best to teach him things.

    - My fiance first had a family English Bulldog during her childhood. It dies when was a young teenager. Later on her family purchased a Beagle and then a couple years later a Shih - Poo. They are both still alive and well, but live her family. She's been around dogs her entire life, but has no history of training, teaching, or obedience with them.

    I would prefer a large breed. I love all types of dogs, but large breeds have always been my choice. The toy poodle was the families choice when I was young, but I always imagined myself with a larger, strong and sturdy dog.

    Living Conditions
    - Our new home is a semi detached house in a large suburban area in Toronto, Canada. Our lot size is about 30 X 100 feet. Not sure if that's considered an average size yard or not.
    - The dog will be living indoors, but has a fully fenced yard to run around and play in. As well as do it's business.

    Here's where the issue comes in. Neither of us or anyone close to us is allergic to animal hair. However we are planning to have children withen the next couple years, and have concerns about the small chance that any of our future children are allergic.

    Therefore it would be best if the breed didn't shed too often at all. Grooming wise, we would prefer not much brushing or taking care of the coat. But we are willing to take it to the groomer a couple times a year if needed.

    As stated we are planning to have children in the near future. So it must be a breed that is known to be good, and not harmful towards kids. We have many neighbours with children as well so this is a must.

    - Were capable of around 2 daily walks to the park around 30 minutes each.
    - It will also have a yard to romp around in.
    - At home we'll try to play with it often and keep it busy, but we also have stretches where our lifestyle is busy. So it might need to keep itself busy at times.
    - I guess were not capable of providing much excersize. As we don't go jogging, running, or live near areas it can run around freely.

    - As you read at the beggining...Both of us don't have much history training. As we both had dogs our whole lives, but they were smaller breeds that didn't need much training.
    - I believe that I am capable and know how to train a dog. But, once again that's not 100%.
    - I believe I can handle a dominant breed as I'm quite a dominant person myself. For the dog and families sake though, it's probably better not to have a dominant breed though. As I "believe" I can handle and I "can" handle a dominant breed are 2 different things.
    - If by chance we do have trouble training it, or there's dominance isuues. We are willing to try obedience classes.

    Guard Dog
    - I want a dog that can protect me, my family, and my property. However it must do so mostly by intimadation and barking.
    - Especially not to attack strangers unless were in danger.
    - overall a friendly dog, but that can protect us.

    - It must be a smart dog that is willing to learn, and easy to train. This is a must for us.

    - We prefer a hardy breed that isn't prone to many health risks.
    - Also one that preferably lives a long time 12-15 years or so.
    - I know there are a lot of great breeds out there that tend to live shorter lives. I prefer to stay away from that due to attachment. I wanna be with this pet for a long long time.

    So anyway...I know this was long, but I just want the best match possible. Obviously there won't be an exact match, as there's no such thing as a pefect dog. So please if any of you can help me I'll greatly appreciate it.

  • i would say look in to German Shepherd Dogs they are all of the above for the most part, they may need a bit of brushing like every other week in the summer when they shed but other then that just a normal dog bath will do. as for energy lvl it can be a bit high but then it may not be depends on the GSD's personality. hehe my fav. breed and i cant wait to have another one. as far as any other breeds mastiff's are pretty gental but there big and i mean BIG they take almost no grooming from what i can tell and they seem low energy. but i have never looked in to mastiff's maybe only met to but i have a mastiff pup in the same puppy class im in and she is a sweet heart i mean big calm love. hope i helped

  • Very much so GoldeeLoxx, thank you!


    I've been told by a number of friends to consider a German Shepherd Dog. I have always liked them, but was told that they shed heavily. Normally it really isn't an issue for us. However when we have kids in the near future, and there god forbid allergic, then it would be a huge issue.

    I absolutley love Mastiffs. One of my favorite breeds of all time. Do you think I have enough room for one though?? Our yard isn't huge, and our home is only 3 bedrooms.

  • Welcome and thank you for doing research BEFORE buying a dog.

    Mastiffs are a giant breed and giant breeds live shorter lives than smaller (by this I mean 75 lbs as opposed to 150 lbs) breeds. If you want a long-lived breed, go a bit smaller. Most of the larger dogs (NOT giant breeds) live about 12-14 years.

    A breed that might interest you if you decide against a GSD is a Boxer.  They have virtually no grooming needs other than regular bathing. Their coats are very short and can be brushed in a single five minute session. You can leave their ears and tails uncropped/undocked for a completely different look than what most think of as a Boxer. They WILL protect you and often excel in protection sports (French Ring/Schutzhund). Most Boxers are goofy clowns who want nothing more than to hang out with you.  They typically LOVE kids.

  • If allergies are a concern, though it's probably a pretty slim chance a child would be allergic, you'd do best to stick with the breeds known to be more 'allergy friendly': Poodles (the standard size, if you want a large size), Portugese Water Dogs, and the like. I think the Schnauzers are also 'lower allergy', but not positive.

     Also remember that it's not really the amount of hair that causes allergies, it's generally dander. And most dogs, even the smooth coated ones, shed.


  • Soft-coated wheaten terriers are considered good with allergies and are robust enough to be considered a "proper dog" without being too large. I think they would adapt to your activity level quite well and be capable of sounding the alarm for an intruder. They are on the small side, though.

    Although personally, in your situation I wouldn't worry about allergies. If no one in your family is allergic to dogs, then chances are extremely slim that your child will be. If you do end up with a child that has allergies, there are things you can do to cope with that, including allergy medicine, frequent vacuuming and grooming, hard floors, leather furniture, and so on. I know someone who is allergic to dogs and has SEVEN dogs that all shed.

    Just a side note, you should take your puppy to obedience training regardless of whether you experience dominance issues. It's always better to prevent problems rather than wait until they arise. Plus, it will be a valuable socialization tool for the puppy and a great learning experience for you and your fiance since you are somewhat new to dogs.

  • 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.


  • I'm going to say that a gsd would NOT fit your criteria.  They don't call them german shedders for nothing!  Daily, or every other day brushing is essential or you'll be eating fur with every meal, and gsds are too danged smart for first time dog owners.  And, being herders, they will try to herd any human or any being that is not moving in an orderly manner...and yep, sometimes little nips are involved in that.

    German shepherds are wonderful dogs.....very velcro to their owners, and so smart that if YOU don't give them a job to do, they will find one that might not be to your liking.  They are good with kids, BUT, the child needs as much training as the pup/dog, and too often that doesn't happen, and when little Johnny pulls the dogs tail and gets growled at, often the dog ends up in the back yard.  This is true with ANY breed.

    I'm an old broad with a heck of a lot of dog experience.  I live with 6 gsds, and I foster as well.  My dogs always go to training classes, despite my experience.  Classes really help both of you and really do strengthen the bond between human and pup.

    It might be nice for you to consider a pup from rescue or the shelter.  Any that have their pups fostered can give you a nice background on the pups and you'll be saving a life.

  • fameb

    I absolutley love Mastiffs. One of my favorite breeds of all time. Do you think I have enough room for one though?? Our yard isn't huge, and our home is only 3 bedrooms.


    We have close friends who adore Mastiffs as well, and we enjoy being around them BUT,  thier life span is tragically short. All giants in our experience, (we run with Irish Wollfhounds too) are difficult for a lot of reason, health issues, and the typically 7-8 year life span for example.

    Our friends have had 8 mastiffs in the past 10 years.  All treated with wonderful care and love, 4 are dead from old man Sam who was very dog aggressive to baby  Braddock who passed from bloat when traveling.  They have most likely speant in excess of 40 grand on thier health and care.  They have  bought from reputable breeders and shown thier dogs, only one ,Boo managed to not only champion and stay in the top 5  but produce puppies from collections for the co owners...he has yet to produce pups for the actual owners!  The new kid Garth is 7-8 months old and has pano. I really think they have had thier heartbroken enough to choose a different breed.

    We have a large breed, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and adore them , I currently have a pack of 8 and am on my way to pick up a new pup for one of our families. They are everything you mention EXCEPT .... they are smarter than the average owner.  Atheletic and fun , bred and raised properly they are the ultimate family dog.  I always reccommend a black nosed male for a first time owner as the girls are way smarter and the livers are wicked clever.  Check out my profile for photos and you'll see how they are with kids...I am raising 5 of my grandchildren from 2 years to 8 all have been around the dogs since thier birth and several have helped in the whelping box on my last litter. (the 3 and 5 yr old)

    I love poodles, smart and easy to train, shedding is not an issue and there are groomers everywhere. The Beagle , hmmm not a favorite for me, too hyper and yappy at times one of our kids has one , Shtz tus are interesting but they can be a pain around kids if you don't socialize them from the start.

    I do want to applaud your post, it is great to see you have truly thought this out, it obviously is not a whim .

    Bonita of Bwana

  • WHY didn't I think of a Staffordshire Bull terrier (smacks self on head )? It must have been because it was late,late, late when I posted.

  • You say you want a breed that sheds less, but also don't want a lot of grooming.  The problem is that the breeds that don't shed as much don't shed b/c their hair keeps growing, thus, they have to be groomed.  My GSD never has to be groomed in the sense that she needs a hair cut.  She does not shed much at all and I run a brush through her once a week or so just b/c I feel like I should.  My friend has a Portuguese Water Dog who sheds even less than my GSD, however she has to be trimmed at the groomer often b/c otherwise her hair keeps growing and she gets all shaggy and matted.

    As for breeds, it sounds like you have pretty open criteria.  In that case, I would look into local shelters and rescues and see if any dogs stand out to you.  A German Shepherd could work as long as you get the right temperament/lines for your situation.  If that is what you choose, you will either need to find a reputable/experienced breeder or look for an adult dog in a rescue.  Unless the breeder is very experienced, puppies are generally a crapshoot as far as temperament and drive.  I got my GSD as an adult, so I knew everything about her temperament and was able to decide based on that.  They often live to be 14 or 15, so there's no real reason to get a puppy and it's not true that adults don't bond as deeply/strongly.

  • Wow! Thank you everybody for you deep and insightful help. I read all your post, and all of you have been a great help.

    Anyway...Here's a couple things I wanted to ask some you from your posts.

    Boxer - Aren't they prone to not live too long as well. I love Boxers as well just like Mastiffs or any other similar looking breed. But from what I understand they usually don't make it to even 10. I can't have my families hearts broken that soon.

    Staff Bull Terrier - Same family as Pitbulls right? I have no problem with Staffs, Pitts or any similar breeds. Unfortunatly the city I live in do...They've been banned here since 2005. The only way you can have one is if you rescue one from the shelter, or owned one before the ban was put in place.

    Poodle - Great Dogs! Very smart as I've met and been around many in my life. However there just not the type I'm looking for. There not ME! If that makes any sense.

    GSD - So they've been mentioned the most. The only concerns I have about them is if I can provide it with enough excersize. Would 2 walks a day, and a romp in the backyard whenever needed, enough to satisfy there needs? I might be able to handle the shedding though..That's one thng I have to think about.


    Now about Shelter/Rescue dogs. I would love to save a dogs life, and provide it with the loving and caring home that it's never had. The question I have is since we don't know where most of them came from, we don't know how they were bred, parents temperments, genetical health problems being passed down... things like that. Do rescues actually have all this information usually? 


    Another breed that caught my eye was the Spinone Italiano...Seems perfect to our lifestyle, but one would be impossible to find around here. Do any of you know much about this breed?  

  • I don't think I'd suggest a boxer because of their life expectancy.  Most boxers I've known haven't lived over 8. :(  Otherwise they would be a great choice for you!  GSDs are good, depending on what type you get.  The do shed quite a bit, though (from my experience), though I'm sure with regular brushing it wouldn't be too bad.

     I must suggest a Dobe (though not the working type).  They've really settled down and are great family dogs, especially if socialized with children early on.  They generally are long-lived, though you would need to get a pup from a reputable breeder as heart disease, hip dysplasia, etc., are common in the breed.  I'd probably suggest a female for you, since they are generally more submissive and affectionate (although my male was, as well, and he was also not neutered).

     I'd really suggest going to a shelter as your #1 choice!  That way you can choose a pup or older dog and the shelter workers can tell you a little about their personalities, etc.

     Good luck!

  • Dogs that live longest are those IME...under 45lbs.

    Spinone have an issue with health that is something to look into. Check their breed club webpage for info about that.

    I think that trying to minimize the likelihood of problems is wise, and choosing a dog known for longer or average lifespan is wise,..but worrying already before the dog is even in the home about it's passing away might be a bit more than is necessary.

    If lifespan is truly a big issue then I suggest you look smaller...Schipperke's for ex regularly live past age 15 and many reach their late teens and early 20's.

  • No, it's not so much an issue..I'm good with 12-15 years.

    I just couldn't handle a Mastiff or Boxer living 8 years. That's mostly what I was trying to point out.