If we were to get a dog...

MrsCentaur

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The children want a dog, we want a dog, and I am almost minded to capitulate; the only thing holding me back is that the sort of dog that I like and enjoyed owning and working with previously is not well-suited to our lifestyle now and I'm struggling to get excited enough about any of the breeds that might work. So I'm throwing it out to the audience: what dog would you place in this family?

One working parent (whom is working from home for the foreseeable), one stay-at-home parent, five small children aged 2-6 with a tendency to be squealy, play actively and a bit rough with each other but are usually very well-behaved around animals and have experience of dogs in their house from dogsitting. Average 4-bedroom house with a decent garden, a 10 minute walk from the downs and a 20 minute walk from the sea, ability to offer about an hour to an hour and a half of exercise/day during the week and super active weekends (we don't have a car and walk everywhere, and 99% of what we do is very dog-friendly - dog will be out of the house for about ten hours and much of that time will be spent off-lead interspersed with detours into coffee shops). Will probably pop dog in daycare about two days/week to give stay-at-home parent a break from additional responsibility; there is a lovely one locally and they will pick dog up from the house in the morning and return dog exhausted in the late afternoon.

Dog experience: I had a rescued Old English Sheepdog x Bearded Collie as a teenager, competed in agility, obedience and he starred in the school play! More recently, pre-children I spent six months living in an overseas dog shelter and brought home a literally feral Beardie-ish basket case because she was dying and needed treatment (she survived for 10 months before succumbing to kidney disease thanks to her chemotherapy regime) and a fuzzy saint of a 'carpet dog' (nickname because she resembled a manky old carpet) who trained to a reasonably high standard and achieved a Kennel Club Gold certificate in obedience; she died two years ago and it's still raw. My preference in dogs is clearly highly intelligent, emotionally sensitive and very active herding things with a lot of hair - this doesn't quite work with our current lifestyle (two out of three of mine would probably have eaten my children had they been around now!). I've never bought from a breeder and my inclination is to spend a few weeks living at a dog shelter and pick the one that feels 'right' but that probably won't work with children at home! I'm not keen on rescuing a dog unless I can spend some time (days, not hours) vetting it first.

Preferences (we don't expect to get ALL of these, but we probably don't want a dog that ticks none of these boxes): typically good with children and non-suspicious of strangers, NOT a hound (the ability to train a good recall is essential - I don't shout more than once for my children and refuse to do it for a dog!), minimally shedding, not particularly slobbery, not unethically bred (no brachycephalic breeds, to the fury of one of my daughters who is desperate for a pug), a manageable size, not terribly barky, probably not a terrier.

Accommodations: willing to pay for additional exercise or training if we struggle to keep up with the needs of our dog, willing to pay for professional grooming.

Breeds that are interesting to me: another Beardie or Old English Sheepdog, a Pyrenean Sheepdog, Newfoundland, Whippet (but worry about their delicate little legs in our madhouse), Pekingese if we can find a rescue one - we absolutely will not support these being bred but I do find them sweet and intriguing, toy poodle.

We are most excited about: the training and shaping of a dog, which is something that I really enjoy and my six-year-olds are keen to play with, the companionship at weekends and in the home, there is a suggestion that my autistic daughter will find pet-ownership therapeutic. We are least excited about: juggling dog ownership and the school runs!

I think we'll probably go for an OES and just engage a professional dog walker to fill in the gaps, but I wonder what everyone else thinks? What sort of dog do you think might suit us? Or should we just wait until the small folk are older?
 

CorvusCorax

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My friend and her parents used to breed Old English Sheepdogs very successfully, there is HD, ED and epilepsy in some lines and it will need a buzz cut as they have tails now and it can get messy back there if you don't intend to show with a full coat.
They can be a bit highly strung in my experience too and they did bark a lot.

If your kids get interested in any kind of sport or past-time or competition with the dog I would urge you to go for something registered with an FCI kennel club - unregistered or cross-bred dogs can take part in a lot of activities, but not all of them, which can lead to disappointment if they show real aptitude.

I would also say a Labrador or a Golden Retriever.
 

MrsCentaur

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I think I'm put off of labs by all of the smelly badly-bred ones with hip dysplasia that one sees out and about - and then the working types seem SO worky. Maybe I need to find some breed shows and meet a few nice examples!
 
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It may seem a boring answer but I'd say Labrador.

Just what i was going to say but I am biased! I wouldn't think that a OES would be good in your situation because of all the grooming that is needed for them. Labs do shed but make excellent family dogs.

ETA working-bred ones seem to be bred smaller than the show-types. Ours are working bred but are reasonably toruble-free pets, quick to pick up training and very agile. Friend has just bought a working-bred pup, whose mum is small and will probably grow up to be the same, also appears to be very trainable. Plenty of Labs have been tested, so you can make sure that you are not buying trouble.
 

TPO

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My mum had a couple of Tibetan Terriers pre/post my birth and I grew up with them and border collies.

Both breeds were excellent with my sister and I growing up. Border Collies were a staple breed through our childhood and Mum did a lot of training and competed in showing, field trials and obedience with them. The collies and the T.Terriers were really protective of us and easy for us to walk alone.

It does sound like a very active life for a dog so what about something like a cocker?

I can't take to labs at all and don't understand their appeal but aren't they the UKs most popular breed? So plenty of people do rate them

Norfolk Terriers are great wee dogs and are easier to train a recall into than other wee Terriers that I've known.

Hopefully you can find a rescue that let's you spend plenty of time with a dog and do a trial
 

HeyMich

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Yep, my initial thought was working Cocker Spaniel too. They are awesome active family dogs and can cope with the chaos that comes with kids.

To throw in a curved ball - we have 2 lab/spaniel crosses, and they are both amazing. They were both considerably cheaper than pure breeds from a KC type breeder (both mongrels accidental love-children from working farms) as not a fashionable cross-breed at the moment. Perhaps keep you eye out for a similar mix?
 

TGM

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You say one of the breeds you are interested in is a whippet. Obviously, like all breeds individuals vary, but my whippet would tick many of your boxes:

Typically good with children and non-suspicious of strangers - mine is great with children and strangers but I made sure to socialise her very well in the early days.
NOT a hound - well technically whippets are sighthounds!
The ability to train a good recall is essential - mine is pretty good now, but I always carry tasty treats!
Minimally shedding - they do shed but their coat is so short it is not very noticeable when they do.
Not particularly slobbery - not slobbery at all!
Not unethically bred (no brachycephalic breeds, to the fury of one of my daughters who is desperate for a pug) - well they are not brachycephalic at least
A manageable size - tick
Not terribly barky - mine is not barky at all.

In addition, most have the advantage that they do not have the desire to plunge into every pond or muddy puddle like some breeds. Even if they do get a little muddy on a walk they usually dry out very quickly and the mud has often dropped off by the time you get home. Another advantage is they are happy to sleep a lot of the day once they've had their walk. I don't think you would need to use doggy day care!

The main drawback I could see is you say you are out of the house for hours at the weekend with the dog in tow. I am not sure a whippet would want to spend hours outside with you in the pouring rain, but would be happy curled up in a warm coffee shop!

However, all that said, it might be worth waiting until your youngest starts nursery school, it is much easier taking on a new dog when you have a little bit of child-free time during the day.
 

skinnydipper

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Breeds that are interesting to me: another Beardie or Old English Sheepdog, a Pyrenean Sheepdog, Newfoundland, Whippet (but worry about their delicate little legs in our madhouse), Pekingese
I would suggest crossing the livestock guardian off your list and stick with dogs who are bred to work with people rather than independently.
 
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blackcob

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Pyr sheps are just herding dogs aren’t they? Not the same as Pyrenean mountain dogs. They do seem a bit nuts but I only know them through agility so I probably see the most highly strung examples.
 

Merry Equimas

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I too feel a working lab would suit you well. You can gets ones who are not as worky hence why they’re probably being rehomed but they will still have enough of a sense of work to do what you need. My friends working lab (who doesn’t have a job is just a pet) is the loveliest dog I’ve ever met, so full of life and love and just shines with happiness at being with his family and put on the yard helping count with the horses and cows lol he’s also absolutely beautiful to look at, one of the nicest looking labs I’ve seen in a long time.

my yard also has a lab bitch and she too is just a great dog to be around, not needy or demanding happy to just follow about and be with you always without that anxious “I NEED to be with you” so yeah def look into them.
 

skinnydipper

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Pyr sheps are just herding dogs aren’t they? Not the same as Pyrenean mountain dogs. They do seem a bit nuts but I only know them through agility so I probably see the most highly strung examples.
Thanks, BC :). My mistake.

As you were, OP. Please ignore my comment about LSGs and their independent nature, not relevant.
 

Clodagh

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Labradors moult for England. If not excess shedding is a thing then do t get one!
Staffie? Active, great with kids, reasonably trainable. Hairs are so short they don’t seem to shed as much as some.
You see many happy whippets but you also see a lot of trembly, neurotic ones. And they don’t do weather!
Smooth coated collie?
 

SAujla

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I'm biased but would say a show Labrador might work well, you can get Labrador that are called dual-purpose. Normally means one show parent and one working but I don't personally agree with this type of breeding. They do shed a lot especially before winter and summer, but if you just give up and embrace it then its not so bad. No Labrador should be bred without knowing the parents and grandparents hip and elbow scores so that should give you confidence you won't get a badly bred one.
 

TGM

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Labradors moult for England. If not excess shedding is a thing then do t get one!
I must say we thought about getting a Labrador at one point. Then we went on holiday with friends who had two labs. We had been in our holiday let for only about an hour before the floor was literally covered with lab hair! Lovely dogs, but not for me! As for the comment about whippets I must say I've met loads and not seen one neurotic one, although Italian Greyhounds do have a reputation for being neurotic and can be mistaken for whippets. But yes whippets can be trembly when the weather is cold! I also think that people who are used to the manic tail wagging of breeds like spaniels and labs may not appreciate the body language of whippets - their tail carriage tends to default to between the hindlegs unless extremely excited. Whereas dogs like spaniels seem to wag their entire hind end frenetically, regardless of how they are feeling.
 

P3LH

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Smooth collie, the breed not the short haired border collie. Generally healthy, quiet, mild mannered, bright, trainable, friendly, easy going, will walk all day or sunbathe like a lion in the Savannah - depending on what’s going on.
 

Clodagh

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I must say we thought about getting a Labrador at one point. Then we went on holiday with friends who had two labs. We had been in our holiday let for only about an hour before the floor was literally covered with lab hair! Lovely dogs, but not for me! As for the comment about whippets I must say I've met loads and not seen one neurotic one, although Italian Greyhounds do have a reputation for being neurotic and can be mistaken for whippets. But yes whippets can be trembly when the weather is cold! I also think that people who are used to the manic tail wagging of breeds like spaniels and labs may not appreciate the body language of whippets - their tail carriage tends to default to between the hindlegs unless extremely excited. Whereas dogs like spaniels seem to wag their entire hind end frenetically, regardless of how they are feeling.
I definitely tend to think a dog looks miserable if it is tucked up with its tail rammed between its legs. (Every whippet ever seen at an outdoor event). I’ve never owned one though so I will try to think they are happy really, just not expressing it very well. 🙂
 

ellieb

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My neighbour's whippet is from a working line so he's on the larger side and he's super, full of mischief and character, friendly with everyone and dogs, great with kids, lives with cats, pretty robust although he's had a few run-ins with barbed wire racing about the place. He sticks reasonably close to his people - might run off to chase something for a minute but always comes back, he's never been lost. He's also really affectionate and loves a cuddle! Unlike my greyhound he leans against you and just laps up attention!
 

alibali

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In my opinion can't beat a good Golden Retriever as a family dog.

Generally child, stranger and dog friendly and pretty trainable, naturally soft mouthed. Good for obedience if your kids wanted to do that. Wouldn't be a world beater at agility but would probably be a nice steady dog for the kids to learn with. Also possibility of scent work or field trials I think?

To me they take all the good attributes of labradors and add some extra brains. Their disadvantage to labs for me would be the extra coat but looking at your previous dogs and your list of possible breeds that doesn't seem to factor so much for you. How exciting for you to be getting a dog again and great for the kids too.
 

I'm Dun

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whippet! They love kids and that sort of lifestyle and while they look delicate they are very very tough little dogs. I wont have any other breed now after having gun dogs for years. Whippets are the most loving and affectionate dogs. Dont bark, dont shed hair everywhere and usually without exception adore people, any people. They just love them and want to be around them.
 

splashgirl45

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if you dont want shedding, poodle, pick which size you want, lovely intelligent dogs and fun to train....working cocker, very lively but trainable.....border terrier ...fun dogs, usually trainable....german wire haired pointer, intelligent,trainable good fun...

you may find that rescues will not home if you have children under 11 so maybe best to get a puppy
 
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