General Question

Supacase's avatar

Advice on getting a dog?

Asked by Supacase (14563points) May 18th, 2009

My daughter wants a dog so bad, but she is only 3 and not able to care for it herself. I don’t want a puppy and I plan to get a shelter dog. My husband and I are in negotiations about scooping poop. Oh, I also have a 12 y/o cat who is probably not going to be thrilled. (She’s a bit of a princess.)

Do you have any recommendations on types of dogs that are good with kids and cats, don’t smell (my mom’s Yorkie stinks even right after a bath!) and don’t require a ton of grooming? I’m completely willing to take care of the dog and do the necessary upkeep, but I do not want a terribly high maintenance pet.

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41 Answers

Ivan's avatar

I’m not big on singling out specific breeds. Just go to the pound and search around for a dog that suits your needs.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

You may have a hard time finding one. You need to rule out pretty much anything bigger than the cat, as they would likely otherwise prey on it. But there are TONS of breeds that are good with kids (and overall good with cats, or at least livable).

I would recommend a Beagle…. but do more research on it (or whatever dog you grow interested in) to ensure it fits your family.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Big dogs are high maintenance and will kill your cat. Maybe a smaller breed would be a good choice.

Blondesjon's avatar

I’m with @Ivan. It’s not the breed so much as it is the way you take care of the dog. The most important thing to realize is that a dog can take up as much of your time as your three year old.

i did hear somewhere that a scottie is the only breed that doesn’t shed at all

Fred931's avatar

Make sure you use a proven training method, such as the one out of whatever Dummies book there is on the subject, and use it VERY EARLY. Otherwise, it’ll wind up eating your child’s face off.

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

OH, and I would probably get an older dog if I were you. If it’s already well trained and settled down, it’ll be a lot easier to manage.

Apsaras's avatar

I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m temping at a vet shelter right now. Older cats are rarely happy with new additions of any sort, so expect her to be frazzled for a while. Give her some extra attention if she wants it, but more importantly, give her her space where she’s free of the dog – somewhere the dog can’t get to.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to get a shelter/kennel dog. Be aware that a puppy is easier to train to get to do what you want than an older dog, but requires a lot of attention as well. You’ll have to ‘puppy protect’ your house as well, as any young dog can and will be curious and might find trouble in household objects (make sure you have no chemicals in cupboards that are easily accessible, poisonous plants, etc.)

Good luck! Treat your dog right and you’ll have a great addition to the family.

phoenyx's avatar

(the breed @The_Compassionate_Heretic linked is a corgi)

We have a corgi mix and he is a bit nippy, but the breed matches your requirements pretty well. He also likes to herd cats, but he’s friendly with other animals.

ccbatx's avatar

Get one that knows how to do its business OUTSIDE. Old enough to have flee shots, etc. Trust me, I got a dog a couple of years ago but I had to take it back because of my roommates allergies. There were flees EVERYWHERE, and stains from where it did it’s business. I’m sure it would’ve been trained eventually, but it was hell to clean. Like I had to turn my heat up to 90 degrees for the entire day to get the flees out.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ccbatxDid it make you feel like beating a hasty retreat?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@phoenyx Thank you. I couldn’t remember that breed’s name.

Nefily's avatar

Get a lab, they are the most gentle and kind dogs. And just make sure you keep an area for the cat where the dog cannot go the cat needs its space. And since you have a girl cat get a girl dog they will get used to each other easier. Avoid small annoying dogs like yorkies they try to take over the household and are not bright and are not enjoyable dogs. Either a lab, golden retriver, any dogs that are very intelligent is the best to get. I know all this because we have a lab and she is the most well-mannered dig here. She is the onlybdig who does not bark or chase after other dogs on the street. I also suggest a gentle leader to walk the dog because every dog will pull and a gentle leader goes around their nose and pulls their head down.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am a great fan of saving a dog’s life, but when you have specific parameters about what you expect from a dog, then you are better off going with a pure bred.

If you choose this route, I suggest you go to a dog show and look at all the breeds, when you see one you like, wait until AFTER it has been shown and then speak to the owner about that breed. They are not in the puppy selling business so will give you a straight answer about the pros and cons of their breed.

Often too, they will have an adult who didn’t make it as a show dog and needs a home. You get a house broken, trained dog with known temperament and size, grooming needs etc.. A dog like this would probably not end up in a shelter, but is already here and needs a home too.

Buttonstc's avatar

You may wish to consider a rescued retired racing greyhound. They are still quite young since they are usually retired ( a euphemism for euthanized ) once they are not winning races anymore.

There are organized groups who go to the tracks to rescue these dogs before they are put down. They then spend however much time in foster care in volunteer’s homes is necessary to acclimate them to living in a home.

The advantages to you are several. Firstly each dog is thoroughly cat tested. Some see them as prey while others are indifferent to cats. The rescue volunteers want to be as certain as possible of a forever home for them so will be very diligent about this when placement in a home with a cat is considered.

Another point to consider especially with a young child is that these dogs have had all of the aggression bred out of them by necessity. Any dog who is into fighting with other dogs or their human handlers is impeding the moneymaking process so…..

Google greyhound rescue with your location and talk to some of the folks in these groups to see if this might be a good fit for you.

Everyone to whom I have spoken who has adopted a greyhound or two has been thrilled. They are just great loving couch potatoes who love to cuddle up next to you and they so appreciate living in a home instead of a cage. They don’t need as much exercise as most people think since during their racing career their actual running time was brief compared to their time in a cage.

If after speaking to one of these groups that isn’t for you, you could do a little phoning around to the shelters in your area.

The better managed ones have adoption counselors whose specific job it is to guide people in their search as to what would be the best match for them. They know what type of key questions to as etc. You would stand a much higher chance of success in going to a shelter which specifically has an adoption counselor available. A little telephone detective work beforehand could save a lot of time and possibly heartbreak if that impulse choice doesn’t work out.

Also, once you have a more definite idea of what you want in a dog some shelters have ” wish lists ” and will notify you when what you are looking for comes in be it breed, size, temperament or whatever.

Good luck in your search and good for you that you are looking to rescue a dog instead of making some pet shop or puppy mill richer. There are some really wonderful animals to be found in shelters and rescue groups everywhere.

gymnastchick729's avatar

i have a dog and two cats. our dog is an absolute angel towards everyone (inclusing the cats). her mother was a rescue dog. shes a mix between a bernese mountain dog and golden retreiver. so, pretty big… theyre also great for the family

basp's avatar

We’ve always had big dogs and they all got along with our cats, other pets, and children. I reallybelieve that how the pet is made to fit into the family situation is just as important as the breed of dog.
We just never tolerated our dogs to pick on the cats and they never did. In fact, we had a couple of cats who could have ripped sheds out of any dog’s nose!
Stay away from high strung dogs. Dalmations would be an example. Laid back dogs would be labs or large mixed breeds.
Good luck with the experience!

phoenyx's avatar

Our local humane society lets you take the dogs outside and interact with them. It’s a great way to “test drive” various dogs and breeds. There were several dogs that seemed great on paper, so to speak, but didn’t fit our family personality-wise.

Supacase's avatar

Thank you for all of the good advice so far. The cat definitely has parts of the house that would be her domain and handy for hasty retreat.

@Buttonstc I hadn’t really considered a greyhound, but I will definitely take a closer look now. They sound just about perfect.

So far, from the shelter sites in the area, I have narrowed it down to two or three I want to go see. None of them are puppies, but are still young – between 1 and 2 years old.

One is a puggle (pug/beagle mix) at a pug rescue with papers. She is very well trained. Her owner gave her up because she didn’t have enough time to spend with the dog.

The other one is a little mutt who is kind of shy, but so is my daughter so I thought it might work well.

The third is a beagle/terrior mix, but there isn’t much information given on that website so I have call them or stop by.

My husband is not happy that I have started research as that usually means I’m not going to give up.

Supacase's avatar

@phoenyx I love the idea of going outside to interact with the dog first!

basp's avatar

Some advice about husband…. In our family it was me who was reluctant to get a dog. My husband was doing the research….
One day he had some crazy reason why he couldn’t go to the pound to check out a pup that looked right for our family so, by default, I made the trip. Needless to say, by the time I got home with that pup, we were forever friends. Maybe you could involve your husband in the process somehow that would help them bond.

Supacase's avatar

@phoenyx I took the quiz and a whippet was #1 for our family. Greyhound, beagle, pug and numerous terriors were in the 95% or higher category. Thanks for the link!

Darwin's avatar

Greyhounds are lovely dogs. However, they can be enormous.

I suggest that you look at dogs with short fur, preferably in brown to black. Short hair is much easier to care for, and dark fur shows fewer stains. Dogs that like water often have some lab in the mix – some of these can still be fairly small. I suggest nothing over 30 pounds.

phoenyx's avatar

Also, our local humane society’s website let us specify which breeds and ages we were interested in, and they’d send me an email whenever they got a matching dog in.

I’d recommend a pug mix rather than a purebred. (Common problems)

justwannaknow's avatar

If you plan on getting a shelter dog, just go down look around and see which one picks you. You may change your mind on a lot of things if you find one that wants you. You will know.

knitfroggy's avatar

I grew up with Greyhounds my dad used them to hunt and they are sweet, beautiful dogs. They are just as sweet and loving as any lab I’ve ever known. I grew up with lab and lab/mixes, greyhounds, German Shepherds and Chihuahuas. I don’t own a dog now and don’t plan to, but if I were going to get a dog it would be a greyhound or a lab.

RedPowerLady's avatar

can we see pics after you adopt your new family member?

I have a mutt and she is Fantastic! with children and other dogs. Not so much cats but that is her personality. She is a large breed and rarely smells. To combat smell you can use the dental floss ropes (and of course baths), they work really really well.

crisw's avatar

“I would recommend a Beagle….”

Probably not in this situation. Most people who are sensitive to dog odors think beagles (and other scent hounds) are smelly. Many chase cats. They are also notoriously hard to housebreak.

As for terrier mixes- be careful; many terriers are not cat or child safe! Many also require a lot more grooming than you want to do.

You might think about contacting rescue groups in your area that foster dogs in homes. They usually have a very good handle on the temperament, training, etc. of their dogs.

Good luck!

rooeytoo's avatar

I second everything that crisw said, I was just too chicken to say it!

Dr_C's avatar

From experience i can tell you i’ve had many different breeds of dogs and quite a few have been child friendly.. not all cat friendly. Cocker spaniels and huskies are great with kids… hate cats. Schnauzers (Miniature) are good with cats, kinda testy with kids…
So far the best i can think of are Labrador retrievers and MAYBE golden retrievers… the first is great with both. the second might get a little testy with cats.

At present my youngest pup is a “new breed” called Golden Labrador which is basically a Golden retriever-labrador mix. They’re making a few new breeds with labs…. (Example… Labrador + poodle = “labradoodle”). All great with kids and cats.

Hope that helped. (FYI we just took our dog camping this weekend… he played with squirrels.. didn’t chase or killl anything.. PLAYED if that’s any help).

crisw's avatar

See, we can agree on some dog topics! :>)

crisw's avatar


I have to speak up on this, as it’s one of my pet peeves. “Golden Labradors,” labradoodles, goldendoodles, etc. are NOT breeds. They are mutts; mixed-breeds bred strictly for profit. They are also NOT all “great with kids and cats.” Ask any rescue how many of these “designer dogs” are getting dumped as soon as the deluded ownders discover that their expensive mutt does shed, is extremely active, does need extensive grooming, isn’t pre-trained, etc. etc. It makes me sick.

I am sure you love your dog and he’s a great dog, but please don’t support the designer breed fad. If you want a nice mutt, adopt one; don’t pay an unscrupulous breeder $$$$ for one.

Dr_C's avatar

All i will do in response is reffer you to the following site and hope it offers some perspective

crisw's avatar


Firstly- The webpage stated clearly “A hybrid dog is not a BREED.”

Secondly- The ACHC is a for-profit site that earns its money by people paying them to “register” their mutt litters. Hardly an objective source.

If you really want some information about “designer breeds,” try these links:
Much Ado About Poo
Health Issues in Designer Mutts
Want a designer dog? Check the pound
Poo Dogs and Designer Mutts

Again- you may love your dog, but breeding mutts for profit is an abomination as long as the same mixed-breed dogs are dying by the millions in every pound in the United States. There is a huge difference between careful, responsible breeding of healthy purebred dogs and churning out puppies for profit.

Darwin's avatar

@Dr_C – Well, apparently three of our “hydrids” aren’t “recognized,” but that makes them all the more special to us. We have a Dachsweiler (a Dachshund-Rottweiler cross), a Bassechow (Basset-Chow cross), and a Pit-Lab (Pit Bull-Yellow Lab cross).

However, we do have one recognized hybrid, a Golden Pei (Shar-Pei-Golden Retriever cross), who is a sweet dog but she has inherited all the skin problems of both breeds.

Personally, they are all terrific dogs, even our purebred American Bulldog, and we refer to all of them as mutts. If we had to classify them officially they would all be FLDs (Funny Looking Dogs) (especially the Bulldog when she sleeps on her back).

crisw's avatar

For a small idea of the number of designer dogs getting dumped into rescues (and if the OP is interested in adopting one!) check out this page.

Darwin's avatar

All of our dogs, whatever their lineage, have been rescues.

rooeytoo's avatar

I never heard of the American Canine Hybrid, but some of those breeds just sound absolutely dreadful and a combination of the worst traits possible in some cases. I can’t imagine why anyone would combine those breeds on purpose.

I think if you want a dog with papers, choose a breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, then go to a reputable breeder and buy there. Pure bred dogs can be a joy. I have loved many.

If you want a mutt and I have loved plenty of them too, then go to a shelter and find the one who when you look into its eyes, there is a meeting of the minds, there is someone home in there.

Who says you can’t buy love!!!

@crisw – judging from your words I would bet we agree on more than we disagree on.

crisw's avatar

“I can’t imagine why anyone would combine those breeds on purpose.”
That’s why.

Oh, and because the names are so “cute.” I don’t think a lot of those ever have been bred, they just like thinking up the names. And some people actually buy a mutt for big bucks because these cretins gave it a cute name…

Strauss's avatar

Make sure to take your daughter to check interaction with your potential pet. When we got our dog from the shelter, youngest daughter was 3 1/2, ended up getting a 1 1/2 Y/O Aussie Shepherd mix. She was the first one we met, and daughter came back to her after checking out about another half dozen.

She was already house broken and fit right in with minimal adjustment.
From my experience with cats and dogs, I would suggest you introduce your cat to the dog outside or anywhere the cat would perceive as neutral territory. It’s a good idea, as you mentioned, to keep the cat’s territory, so it has a place to retreat when doggy-dealing gets stressful.

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