General Question

eadinad's avatar

What kind of dog should we get?

Asked by eadinad (1278points) November 16th, 2010

My girlfriend and I want to get (another) dog. We already have two small dogs – a boston terrier/chihuahua mix and a pomeranian.

My criteria:
MUST be friendly with our small dogs and preferably most small animals.
Must be trainable: obedient and fairly quiet indoors, not aggressive, etc.

Her criteria:
Bigger: 30 – 50 lbs
Must make a good running companion
Must be a fairly good guard dog/protector (or at least look capable of it!)

So we want a medium/large dog who will be friendly and calm with our other pets and visitors, but who will love to go on runs with my girlfriend and would protect us/our home if necessary.

She likes german shepherds, siberian huskies, and shiba inus. We don’t need a purebreed – we will be adopting – but we want to know which general direction to look. Would any of these breeds (perhaps mixed with something else…?) work for us?

There will be someone home with the dogs most of the time. We will have a small/medium fenced yard.


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31 Answers

marinelife's avatar

A Dalmatian is about the right size (perhaps a female), is friendly with other dogs and can definitely keep up with a runner. They were bred for war and have good guarding defensive instincts.

jaytkay's avatar

Whatever dog you fall in love with at the pound or animal shelter. I would at least go and look, I’ve known a lot of happy, healthy and loyal dogs that were foundlings.

Coloma's avatar

First, there are no gaurantees with any animal.

I’d say your first priority is to determine if you are willing to keep and care for an animal that may not be your perfect dream dog.

Are you willing to invest the time, potential money in training, bringing in a professional if needed?

If the dog fails to meet all of your criteria are you going to get rid of it, replace it, or otherwise reject it?

Are you aware that it may take YEARS for a dog to morph into the ‘perfect’, idealized version of what you desire?

Dalmations are notoriously dingy, hyper, stubborn and often hard to housetrain.

It’s a crap shoot with any dog, so I’d suggest really looking at what you are and are not willing to do to attain this illusionary ‘perfect’ pet.

If you get 2 out of 4 wants on your doggy wish list will that be good enough?

Going into pet ownership with unrealistic expectations is a travesty waiting to happen.

Good luck!

mrlaconic's avatar

@marinelife I have to disagree. I don’t recommended a dalmatian to anyone who isn’t a fire fighter. Don’t be fooled by what you see on 101 dalmatians. They like to play hard… and I know I have one. I’ve trained him and he listens to me and everything but he still plays hard.

I am going to suggest a Lab of some kind.

Judi's avatar

Golden retriever. They are pretty mellow and easy to train,will be nice to the smaller dogs and are loving companions.
I love my Weinheimer, he is gentle, and sweet, but very curious. They are supposed to be great running dogs. He is also absolutely beautiful. He’s still a puppy and driving me crazy, that’s why he was not my first suggestion.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ll second the warning on dalmations. They are a high energy dog. Nothing wrong with that, but they play hard.

eadinad's avatar

@Coloma – we are already pet owners. We know that all dogs need training! But there’s no point in getting a dog breed whose natural instincts are opposite of the traits you desire and trying to train it out of him/her. What I’m really asking is which breeds would most likely be able/easy to be trained into, as you say, the “perfect” dog. No dog is perfect.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

An Australian Blue Heeler is a very good breed for protective behavior and a good hard worker. They can get a little over protective sometimes.

Judi's avatar

My queensland heeler eats little dogs for lunch

Blueroses's avatar

Retrievers and retriever mixes are generally smart, friendly and energetic but also love their “sofa time”.

squirbel's avatar

Go to your local rescue and choose the one who resonates with you. Do not support puppy mills :(

Getting a dog to match your criteria isn’t a good way to get a pet who you’ll love till he passes away.

Coloma's avatar


Of course you should research all the breeds and look for the best fit as is possible.

I just wished to make a point that many animals are cast away for failing to meet unrealistic expectations of uninformed and inexperienced people.

I agree that a retriever or lab might be a good choice, active but mellow and very much into pleasing.

A dog with a high desire to please is going to be more easily trained than an independent breed.

German Shepherds are nice also, maybe a small female would be a good blend.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

You might want to look into a Brittany Spaniel.(dog) I grew up with four of them, and they are very loving, easily trained, and protective dogs when it comes to alerting owners to someone approaching. They do best when they go on a walk/run once a day. Our parents fostered a Schipperke at one point, and the dogs adapted well.

6rant6's avatar

Get a rescue greyhound.

If she wants a runner… well come on, doesn’t get any better.

They are quiet dogs indoors; almost never bark. Eager to please. Trainable (although being sight hounds, they never seem to get over the overriding interest in things running in the distance). Smart, clean, gentle. They love to run, but only for a few minutes a day. “45 mph couch potatoes” is what my fiance says.

The only problems you’re likely to encounter: they get cold, so depending on the weather, they may need coats. And they tend to cede authority pretty easily; they’re very passive. They will probably find your boston terrier/chihuahua intimidating. And you might have to deal with a sixty pound dog wanting to crawl up into your lap.

We had two which lived with rabbits, cats, and birds roaming freely in the house. The only time either of them showed any aggression was when one got too near the other’s food bowl. Raised as they are on short rations, they are protective of their food bowls.

Scooby's avatar

Personally I’d go for the German shepherd , they love to run , after all they’re a working dog…… I had them most of my life, up until a few years ago, some can be over bread though with hip problems in later life, if you can, check out parents! :-/ if they’re too low on the haunches their offspring may have problems with hip displacer……..

JilltheTooth's avatar

My sister has a couple of Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers and they seem to fit your size and temperament requirements. They’re smaller than Goldens, very good with other dogs, and very trainable.

Winters's avatar

Heelers tend to be a BIG no go if you want something playful and nice with other animals.

They are often noted for also nipping at the heels of running children as well, not that they’re trying to hurt the kid but its instinctive as they’re bred for herding livestock.

However a Heeler mix tend to be amazing dogs, I have a Heeler/Border Collie/Everything from down under mutt and she completely adores people, but she still has the “I am the alpha” attitude and will attack any other animal without discretion, but besides that one little aspect, she is the smartest dog I’ve ever handled.

Try a Bernese Mountain Dog perhaps, they’re very friendly with everything but unfortunately tend to have a shorter life span, I had a Bernese Mountain dog and Border Collie mix and he was probably the best dog I ever handled, lazy as hell, but more than willing to go on a run, and when I walked him, he was one of those dogs you can trust without a leash.

I’ll also throw a vote in for a German Shepherd, great dog. And I also warn against the Dalmatian with your criteria, My family has bred them, they’re the energizer bunny of dogs, and is it just me or are all the male Dalmatians horny as hell as well?

Best thing I think about the first two dogs that I mentioned is that they both had soft mouths…and I think I’ve rambled long enough.

Anemone's avatar

I second all those who suggest finding a dog at your local shelter. If you’re really committed to a certain breed, try a breed-specific rescue. The great thing about shelters and rescues is that the people there often have a great sense of what a particular dog is like, rather than what they’re “supposed” to be like according to their breed. Temperament varies so much by individual, it makes more sense to base your decision on what actually exists rather than what you assume or expect based on breed. Good luck with your decision, and enjoy your new family member!

Winters's avatar

I forgot, a properly raised pitbull makes a very loving and gentle dog, screw the jerks who train and raise them to be ridiculously aggressive.

MissAusten's avatar

You might find this dog breed quiz helpful. You answer a series of questions and are given a list of dog breeds (including mixed breeds) that fit what you are looking for.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting specific criteria in a dog. It’s actually quite responsible to know what general breed characteristics are. If everyone took the time to know what they were getting into with specific breeds, maybe fewer dogs would be dumped along the side of the road or left at shelters. :( My parents once brought home a puppy from a shelter. She grew to be enormous and we did not have the room for her. We had to give her away. So, bringing home whatever puppy you fall in love with isn’t always a good idea.

Once you know what breed, or breeds, would fit your lifestyle, you certainly aren’t limited to buying it from a pet store. I was recently at a big dog adoption event, with all shelter dogs, and there were quite a few pure bred dogs. Even most of the mixed breeds were recognizable, and in many cases the shelter staff knew from previous owners exactly what kind of mix the dog was. Local breeders are great because you can visit them, see the parent dogs, and be sure the puppies are coming from a good place.

Supacase's avatar

Based on what I have seen of my friends’ dogs through the years, my suggestions would be a golden retriever or a border collie.

jaytkay's avatar

@Winters a properly raised pitbull makes a very loving and gentle dog

Agreed, I know some really lovable pit bulls. Pete the Pup, of Spanky and Our Gang fame, was a pit bull. That was an extremely popular family dog in the US, so he was the iconic “every dog”.

xxii's avatar

I second (third? fourth?) the warning about Dalmatians. They are great dogs, but they definitely play rough and can be quite hard-headed in training.

Retired racing greyhounds are great dogs, but they’re more sprinters than long-distance runners. (Boy, can they sprint, though.) They’re also not good with small animals, which can but doesn’t always include smaller dogs, and which definitely includes animals like cats, rabbits and rodents.

Huskies are also not terrific with smaller animals – this can be changed with extensive training, but I would hesitate to ever call a husky 100% reliable (ie. no matter how much I trained a husky I would never leave him/her unsupervised with a cat).

Shiba Inus have a good reputation for being good guard dogs – which they are – but I would not recommend them to inexperienced trainers. Which is not to say that I think you guys are inexperienced – just something you might want to bear in mind. They are not the easiest dogs to train.

It looks like your requirements are fairly unspecific, so I would just stop by your local shelter and check out the dogs there. It sounds like a generic Heinz 101 type dog might fit the bill. Look for personalities that appeal to you. Stay away from huskies, malamutes, hounds and mixes thereof if you’re really wary about them being good with small animals. Labs and Goldens are pretty safe bets when it comes to trainability and happy-go-lucky type temperament.

I also wanted to ask, how much exercise are you planning to provide? Huskies, German Shepherds, retrievers, and most herding breeds need a great deal of exercise compared to the smaller dogs you have now. I would estimate at least an hour walk/run a day, more if the dog is young, and that doesn’t include playtime. All the breeds mentioned are also quite mentally energetic and will need at least one solid training session a day to keep them from climbing the walls and generally wreaking havoc on your house. Again, not making assumptions, just pointing it out in light of the fact that both your dogs now likely do not need that much physical exercise.

Sorry for the wall of text.

eadinad's avatar

@xxii – thanks for the information. It does seem like we will have to steer away from Huskies, even though we both love them (especially my girlfriend). They just don’t seem like the right fit for us. Likewise with Shiba Inu’s – if they’re hard to train, that’s a dealbreaker. I’m fine with training a dog, but I don’t want it to be a part time job.

Like I said, she wants a running partner, as she runs every day, so I’m not concerned about the physical exercise. We will probably take your advice and just try to meet a bunch of mixed breed dogs until we find the right one.

Kayak8's avatar

Most pounds have an excess of BBD’s (big black dogs). These are mostly lab and meet all of your criteria. Save a life and get a great dog in the bargain! Labs are very biddable, fun to train, easy to live with . . . .

I have a German Shedder and you have to be prepared for DAILY sweeping.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Don’t get a Puli, you’ll never sleep again. :-)

rooeytoo's avatar

I always suggest you go to a dog show. There you will see all 100 and something breeds recognized by the AKC. When you see a look and size that you like, go and speak to the owner but wait until after they show. They will give you the truth about their breed, its good and bad points.

Most breeds have breed specific rescue. If you adopt an older dog from a breed rescue, you are still saving a life but you are sure of the size, demeanor, grooming requirements, etc. than if you adopt a pup from a pound. Don’t get me wrong I am all in favor of that as well, but since you have such specific needs to fill, a pure bred would be a better choice.

So many of the dogs mentioned above are too big to live comfortably in a small area with little dogs. I was fostering a chihuahua and unfortunately my bouv tripped over it and broke its leg, big and little don’t always mesh.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe : Think of a dozen Border Collies on crack. Way too smart for my own good, very energetic, incredibly cute. This is what they look like (mine has short hair, I didn’t want to mess with the corded coat). He’s a good guy, though, very happy and sweet natured or I woulda kilt him long since!
Edit to add: @Rooeytoo, that’s why I mentioned the Toller, they’re a perfect size

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JilltheTooth Thanks, I’ve seen them in shows but didn’t know anything about their personality.

Blondesjon's avatar

I vote for one with four legs, a wagging tail, and a big, panting smile.

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