February 9, 2008

I've never had a dog.

But if I were to get a dog — is it crazy of me after all these years to think of getting a dog? — what kind of dog would it be?

158 comments:

Omaha1 said...

Three years after my old faithful companion died, we recently adopted a “senior citizen” dog that was losing his home. He is a wonderful pet, very quiet and calm. After only two weeks he is bonding with us very well. Except for having to be walked he is less trouble than a cat. Small to medium sized, short haired, probably a pug mix of some kind. It is wonderful to come home every day and be welcomed again by a happy little face and wagging tail. The only thing you would need to be concerned about is what to do with a dog when you are traveling. It is hard for both you and the dog if you will be gone a lot. Definitely recommend against a puppy, the training phase is long and destructive.

Omaha1 said...

I want to add this - no, it's not crazy at all. A dog can give you a kind of innocent love and unconditional acceptance that you will never find in the complex relationship with another human. If you get one dog, you should probably eventually get another, so your heart will not be completely broken when one of them dies.

rhhardin said...

I don't travel at all, owing to the dog.

Though there's said to be a network of motels that accepts dogs.

A purebred is nice, because dogs don't live as long as people, and so in the normal course of things you go through a lot of dogs, and with a purebred you can get one that looks like the old dog, so when you see another dog like the old one it reminds you of the new one more; making it easier to pick up where you left off, when that time comes.

Of course one day you die first, and that's the end of it.

I'd read Vicki Hearne ``Adam's Task : Calling Animals by Name,'' the essays on Washoe and ``How To Say Fetch!'' to see if they whip up some very necessary enthusiasm. There are cat essays too, if you're more into watching the cat moving to stay in the sunlight as the shadows mysteriously move.

But that's nothing compared to what a dog is capable of.

I don't think travel can be worked in, however. Plan to stay in once place.

Palladian said...

There is no better dog than the Boston Terrier, the tuxedo-coated "American Gentleman" who's at home in town or country, not too big and not too small, intelligent, affectionate, funny, and beautiful. They're also very cute as puppies.

That's the kind of dog you should get!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I don't generally care for dogs; my wife does. On that basis, I'd encourage you to look at a breed I've really come to enjoy Belgian Shepherds.

They are sweet, unbelievably smart, playful, very focused on people, and have a long sleek coat that protects them from the cold.

There are actually four flavors of this breed, but the two most suitable are the 'Groenendal' (black) and the 'Turveren' (tan and black). If you ever wish to get one I'll be happy to connect you with a breeder who's worked for 30 years selecting for personality and smarts.

Belgian Shepherds won me over, which is going some.

Bissage said...

(1) Yes. It is crazy of you to think of getting a dog. You like your independence and freedom too much to settle down to feeding schedules, walkies and potty breaks.

(2) That said, here's my quick advice.

You’re a city mouse and you travel a lot. That means a well-mannered lap dog.

You’re not into girly, precious stuff so that rules out most of the lap dogs.

You appreciate great beauty, so here you go.

If you ever see one in the fur, it’ll steal your heart!

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Forgot to include ... the males top out at about 50 pounds, which is small enough to be manageable, but big enough to have a bark that discourages prowlers.

And they're very protective -- not aggressive -- especially of their prime human companion.

Bob said...

The traveling between Madison and NY would be problematic for a dog owner, unless you have indulgent neighbors in one of the locations who were willing to tolerate what would be de facto part ownership.

Just as an exercise, though, I think you have too much dignity to have a pomeranian or other "hairy rat" dog, though a pug might amuse you with its grotesque face. I see you having one of those breeds you only hear of in dog shows: Bouvier des Flanders, Border Terrier, Shipperke, Kuvasz.

I wouldn't mind a Border Terrier myself. If you saw the movie The Land of Oz, the dog playing Toto in that movie was a Border Terrier.

Palladian said...

There is, however, one rare breed to be avoided at all costs.

Ann Althouse said...

This would be after my stint in NY is over.

Bob said...

I predict that this will be one of the more popular Althouse threads.

Palladian said...

Boston Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boston Terrier!

Bissage said...

On a personal note, living in the outer rim suburbs (is it still called that?), with a backyard big enough for a good, long, squirrel-chasing romp, the four-legged boss of Chateau Bissage is one of these.

Oddly enough, this one’s named Simon. Ours looks identical but she’s Cindy.

Ha!

Ann Althouse said...

Bissage, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel isn't to my aesthetic taste. Those big hairy ears look like a bad hairstyle.

2 important considerations:

1. I want physical protection in the mix of dog benefits.

2. I don't want to live with an animal that seems to have mental problems — nervous, mean, etc.

3. I'm into photography.

Ann Althouse said...

Wait that's 3.

Ann Althouse said...

Bissage, you are clearly more into long hair than I am.

Irene Done said...

The Westminster dog show starts tomorrow. I suggest at least watching it on TV to see which breed you think is cute. Then head straight to a shelter to find a mutt that approximates the look of that breed.

rhhardin said...

New Doberman pup travelling in bicycle trailer.

Vicki's page if you want a thousand photos, starting with puppyhood photo flood (always take the camera when you go outside). And a link to a thousand more of the previous Doberman Annie.

Just to suggest that it becomes something of a displacing hobby.

Bob said...

Your specs rule out all lapdogs and many medium-sized dogs. Sounds like an Akita, then, or a German Shepherd. A pure white German Shepherd would go along with the blond Althouse look. I had one as a kid, he was a great dog.

Irene Done said...

You'll think I'm crazy but Great Danes are quite mellow and require surprisingly little exercise. Might be the perfect dog since they are physically intimidating to strangers, enjoy walks around town and are photogenic.

But then, any dog, once it's yours, becomes the cutest, most photogenic dog in the whole wide world.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't like the way German Shepherds look or feel. I would never get a German Shepherd.

Ann Althouse said...

Great Dane? Those jowls look slobbery to me... And the poop must be gigantic!

Irene Done said...

Yes, it would be like having a little pony.

Bob said...

Are you prepared to deal with longhairs and their grooming needs? That will rule out a lot of breeds. Shorthair protection dogs include Dobermans, Pit Bulls, that other German-named dog I can't recall at the moment; Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Greybeard said...

Are you ready for the committment?
Comments by others about travel are true... in that instance, dogs are more trouble than kids.
Eighteen months ago we found a puppy on the street. If we hadn't grabbed her, she'd have been a canine frisbee in pretty short order. Our Vet has decided she's probably a "schnoodle"... Schnauzer/Poodle mix. She's now the love of our life, and we cannot imagine life without her. We're fortunate to have friends that consider it a treat when we go on vacation for a week...
"Oh great! Lucy's coming for a visit!"

Pounds/shelters are full of dogs that are a few days from being euthanized. You'll find all sizes/colors/ages/breeds there. If you do decide to bring a dog into your life, please consider rescuing one of these animals, rather than dealing with a breeder.

My answer to your question is a resounding YES! You've shown yourself to be a student of life. I think you'll be knocked out, watching how your pet learns and interacts with you. And I agree with Omaha1...
Dogs live 12 years, +-. We're considering taking on another dog so we'll have another life to dote on when Lucy goes to doggie heaven.

AllenS said...

If you want physical protection, buy a small pistol. I have a Smith and Wesson 38. I put it in my pocket when I take it for a walk.

Bob said...

Rottweiler was the breed I couldnt' remember.

rhhardin said...

Pit Bull is actually very good. You can use your legal skills to fight off city councils.

It's just what you want, actually, as to protection and intelligence. It was America's breed, like the bulldog was to the Britain, in WWI.

Read the fine story of the media event that did them in in Vicki Hearne's _Bandit_. Dan Rather and the networks do not come off well.

(Hearne was a leftist politically who always wrote on the right in spite of herself, as I see it. Anyway she's always writing on the borderline of male and female interests and sorting them out.)

Bissage said...

Bissage, you are clearly more into long hair than I am.

Hey! Even I have my limits!!!

Bob said...

Crime writer Andrew Vachss writes often of protection dogs, there is a whole selection of them at his website.

rhhardin said...

Dobermans are self-cleaning, as to fur care. No grooming necessary. Dirt falls off somehow.

After each Doberman dies, you can go around and vacuum up the hair, and call it good.

Though you will exude Doberman hair in person. Those eyebrow hairs suddenly in the mashed potatoes aren't eyebrow hairs.

Omaha1 said...

If you are serious there are many important things to think about. A dog requires a major commitment on your part – a regular schedule of feeding, walks, vet visits, picking up poop, etc. Not as much responsibility as a child, but similar on a lesser scale. Dog hair – research various breeds and their shedding, how much mess can you tolerate on your clothes, carpets and furniture? What activity level are you looking for? Some breeds require almost constant stimulation, others are content to lie around until you decide to do something together with them. Temperament should probably be your primary consideration. I reiterate – unless you are retiring and don’t mind spending hours on discipline and training – don’t get a puppy. Puppies are cute but capable of incredible destruction through their chewing and potty accidents (my former dog in his youth ruined a sofa, and another family member’s pet chewed through the seatbelts in my car). Though I love dogs I would never have a puppy again unless I was planning to be with them all day, every day, for most of a year.

In spite of all the negatives I am grateful to be a dog "parent" once again. Nothing can replace the mutual affection of a good human-dog relationship.

rhhardin said...

Having any dog, your ideas about personal hygiene will change.

Palladian said...

I don't like big dogs! Who wants a big, stinky, smelly dog flopped on the carpet? Who wants to clean up 2 pound stools during walks?

Boston Terriers are very protective, and though they're a little small to scare a determined criminal, they have powerful jaws and a bark that doesn't usually sound like a little dog's bark. They are very friendly and aren't neurotic or weird if they're trained and socialized properly. And they have beautiful, sleek lines and make excellent subjects for photography.

Trooper York said...

I thought you kept Simon as a pet?

Mr. Forward said...

Avoid two legged dogs.

rhhardin said...

The thing about dogs is that they want to be with you more as they get older; where kids start planning their escape at about age 1 1/2.

Vicki Hearne, a technical question for my daughter

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eva said...

Support a local no-kill shelter! Mixed breed dogs are intelligent and neurosis free. Also, large black dogs are the most-underadopted because they're perceived as menacing. So, many lovely, large, suitably protective dogs are out there waiting to be rescued.

Eva said...

Oh, and I travel all the time. There are tons of house/dog sitters.

Crimso said...

You can have one of my knuckleheads (mostly boxers). Or get a basenji.

Bob said...

Shar Pei?

Trooper York said...

Have you been reading Harry Truman quotes on Wikpedia again?

fstopfitzgerald said...

If Ann really needs a dog, she couldn't make a better choice than one of the commenters drooling over the "pimping Chelsea" comment in the downstairs thread.

Becky Jo said...

Like people, dogs have individual personalities as well as traits common to their breed. I like poodles because they are smart, clean, don't shed, and aren't yappy, but while I've had two wonderful poodles, I had a couple of stinkers too. Find a dog that meets your needs, and that you love.

Assumpsit said...

I don't travel at all, owing to the dog.

Exactly.

Don't get dog.

Tex said...

If you saw the movie The Land of Oz, the dog playing Toto in that movie was a Border Terrier.

Toto in the Wizard of Oz was a cairn terrier.

Our cairn terrier is very even-tempered, loyal, and gets along with everyone. Do you want a dog that’ll yap at your guests or others around you? If so, you do NOT want a cairn terrier.

On the other hand, . . .

Mr. Forward said...

If you need protection from 9/11troofers I would recomend a miniature French Poodle named Fifi.

Jake said...

http://www.glowdog.com/bestdog/bestdog.pl?breed=30

Bob said...

Tex:If you saw the movie The Land of Oz, the dog playing Toto in that movie was a Border Terrier.

Toto in the Wizard of Oz was a cairn terrier.



I just noticed I got the title of that sequel movie wrong. It is actually called Return To Oz, and the Toto featured in that movie is a Border Terrier, not a Cairn. My apologies for the mistake.

MadisonMan said...

A practical consideration people have mentioned: Do you have a neighbor who would take the dog for a weekend while you're gone? And you'd have to reciprocate: do you have neighbors with a dog you adore that you wouldn't mind sitting for a weekend or week?

We have a smallish dog (25 pounds) after having a largish dog (60 pounds). The small dog is definitely easier, and much more welcome on any lap.

spkrmyr said...

Take a look at the Wheaton Terrier

Lawgiver said...

Look at my avatar, how could you resist a Minpin? 11 pounds of love and protection, best damn dog I ever owned. Squirrels no longer invade my back yard and I always have a warning whenever anyone is about to knock on my door.

Shepards are the smartest dogs I've seen but Dobermans are a close second IQ wise and they scare the crap out of a lot of people.

But I do agree about pound puppies. Before you make a decision walk through an animal shelter, you'll find some wonderful dogs in there and they will be eternally grateful that you saved them from certain death.

chuck b. said...

Golden Retrievers are the best big dogs and I admire German Shepherds for their wolven good looks. Both are smart, protective animals. They have long-ish hair tho' and need regular brushing. Or you have a lot of dog hair to live with or vacuum up. There's always a compromise.

Synova said...

Small dogs can live 20 years.

I'm inclined to say don't do it.

Although small dogs can be taken with you just about everywhere. They will go crazy if you have to leave them for hours every day.

Unless you have two.

I've started to really appreciate the tiny dogs lately, even Chihuahuas. A friend has a large-ish long-haired Chihuahua that actually looks like a dog. She's very sweet.

former law student said...

Akitas are extremely dog-aggressive, thus not a good choice for the novice dog owner. If you want a shorthaired dog that would make people think twice about messing with you, without actually having to worry about it, then I'd get a yellow or chocolate lab -- black males can be neurotic. Get it for a conscientious breeder that breeds for temperament. If you want an adult, the conscientious breeders have or know who has retired show dogs who need placing in new homes, and they can hook you up with breed rescue groups. I'd also suggest taking a look at german shorthaired pointers.

These dogs need exercise. If you're no longer a runner, you can buy a frame that mounts to your bike that you can leash a dog to, avoiding the risk of the leash getting tangled.

Kirby Olson said...

Have you considered a Pet Rock? They don't need to be fed. You can travel with them. And in terms of personal protection: think of what David did to Goliath with same.

I'm not sure they are still being sold, but you could pick one up off the beach if they haven't got one at the pet shop. This would keep costs down.

800,000 people every year are bitten by their own dogs in America (mostly boys aged 6-10. admittedly). Still, rocks don't bite, and won't get you into a law suit like dogs, which do bite.

Trooper York said...

former law student said..

black males can be neurotic

Why does it always have to come down to color?

Who are you, Imus?

ricpic said...

Why don't you just go down to the pound and get a mutt? I'm not being facetious. I once knew a very well heeled lady who had done that and somehow it endeared her to me. Plus, you'll probably see one that will be love at first sight. Plus plus, from what I've been told mutts are much healthier, on average, than purebreds.

Omaha1 said...

For actually getting a dog, I would visit your local shelters and give the staff some idea of what you are looking for in size, coat, temperament, etc. Watch your local newspaper for people advertising adult dogs free to good homes (for reasons like moving or allergies, unrelated to the dog’s need for more space or bad temperament). It is important to make the right decision when you are choosing a companion to share your life, so don’t rush it. Look at the various dogs available and be cold-hearted about it at first, although if a certain dog really catches your eye (and captures your heart), be willing to compromise on some of your requirements, such as coat length, size, photogenic characteristics, etc. Don’t exclude a dog from consideration because of advanced age (assuming that it does not have a lot of expensive health problems). Although its shortened lifespan could cause you additional grief in the long run, the temperament and activity level of an older dog might make it an ideal starter pet for someone like you.

Meade said...

ricpic is pretty much right.

I haven't been through this entire thread so someone else may have already mentioned it. I think what you want is a Labradoodle. A dog, not a bitch. And, if you really care, a second one to keep the first one company when you're at work because there is nothing a dog loves more than another dog and since you will be "alpha bitch," and you can't always be around, two dogs, brothers from the same litter preferably, will be two content dogs protecting your home and happy to see you return to take them for their day swim in the lake. (Warning: Your available daily blogging time will be reduced by at least one hour.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labradoodle

Now can we discuss humans' responsibilities regarding canines? Beginning with proper training.

Bob said...

Ricpic: I've been told mutts are much healthier, on average, than purebreds.

And you are correct. Mutts have "hybrid vigor" which cancels out a lot of inbreeding-related health problems.

rhhardin said...

Temperament gets too much play. You can fix any ``temperament'' with training that you should do anyway.

See Vicki Hearne (Adam's Task) on Koehler's method; it works on any dog. You do it yourself. It's one of the pleasures of having a dog.

You hear about temperament from people who can't train dogs, as if the dog couldn't handle himself. Which sells the dog way short.

Paddy O. said...

How about a lhasa apso?

My parents have one, and they make extremely good security dogs, without a lot of the bother of the larger breeds. They are intelligent, and emotionally responsive. They are a small breed, with a big breed attitude. They dig or hunt things, love a good casual walk around town. Their show coat is very long, but a groomer can keep this quite manageable and much shorter without too much bother.

My parents dog is very much a homebody. Loves to curl up, but he's also always very up for an adventure which makes for a good photography walk every day. They are aggressive, but not biters.

So if you're looking for a security dog but not looking for a fighter they are a great, great choice.

Bob said...

Ann, are we safe in assuming from your previous replies that you're looking for something short-haired, medium-to-large sized, that doesn't slobber, and is capable of filling the protection role?

Trooper York said...

That describes my cousin Vinny perfectly. I can have him over to your apartment in 20 minutes.

Bob said...

Trooper York said...

That describes my cousin Vinny perfectly. I can have him over to your apartment in 20 minutes.



Is he neutered?

Omaha1 said...

I have posted far too frequently on this thread but it is because I believe that you, Ann, would find a relationship with a dog incredibly rewarding. DO get yourself a dog, I promise you won’t regret it.

Paddy O. said...

Oh, I meant to say lhasas don't dig or hunt things. Which means you're not going to find "prizes" brought to you. My brother's boston terrier is always bringing in birds and rodents and whatnot.

Look at what the breed was originally used for. That will give a great cue in what ways the dog will potentially also be very irritating.

A lhasa is a guard dog and will bark at noises or activity by strangers. Not in a nervous way, however. But definitely consistent, which might mean would be bothered by the daily announcement the mailman is around.

Bob said...

I'd suggest a Dalmatian, but apparently they suffer from excessive shedding.

Synova said...

I think that a long haired Dachshund is about the cutest thing ever and I *think* a Dachshund won't shed, yes?

Synova said...

I think there are long haired and wire haired and I think I meant to say I like the wire haired best. ;-)

Palladian said...

Boston terrier! Boston terrier! Boston terrier!

Lhasa Apso?! No! They're yippy Ewok-faced fluff bunnies for old ladies that wear furs.

Synova said...

Dalmatians were originally bred to run ahead of carriages to chase animals out of the road.

Think about what this means about their exercise requirements.

Beautiful dogs, though.

Simon said...

Damnit, Trooper! I was wondering how long it'd take for someone to go there, and I just lost money on who'd crack first!

(re 8:30 comment)

Trooper York said...

I have had three dalmatians and they are crazier then a shithouse rat. Never stop moving, always running, very nervous, they never shut up, hyper active. We always got along great. The rest of the family, not so much.

Simon said...

As to the question at hand, my instinct would be a German Shepherd / Chow mix, but you've ruled that out, so how about a retriever?

Palladian said...

MARY: Listen, I gotta get my dog. Wanna wait? I gotta walk it. Are you in rush?

ISAAC: Oh, no, sure. What kind of dog you got?

MARY: The worst. It's a dachshund. You know, it's a penis substitute for me.

ISAAC: Oh, I would have thought then in your case a Great Dane.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Beauceron.

Elegant French name, unusual breed for the US, and fits the specs you've mentioned so far.

tjl said...

Why not consider a West Highland White Terrier? They are utterly adorable, sweet tempered, and at 15pounds or so, the perfect size for a townhouse or urban apartment.

While they're too small to be protective, they are vigilant and will never fail to alert you if a stranger approaches. But of course I can't be objective about their merits -- my Westie, Blanche, is the best of all possible dogs.

Bob said...

Every pet store in the '80's was full of Shih Tzu's and Lhasa Apsos.

Middle Class Guy said...

rhhardin said...
Having any dog, your ideas about personal hygiene will change.



Having any dog, your ideas about people will change.

titusdogs said...

I am surprised-you never talked about dogs this much until you moved to NYC (brooklyn).

Getting my dogs was the best decision I ever made. I actually enjoy the responsibility and like the fact that something depends on me. I also love the companionship. Also, the actually get me moving in the morning which I appreciate. In return they give me quite a bit of love. This morning I was laying on the "divan" with them.

If you are serious you should go to a dog show in Madison when you return.

As far as traveling many either very upscale or downscale hotels accept dogs. Also, I wouldn't travel with my dogs because I don't want to put them under the plane. Also, I am sure there are some nice doggy daycares that you could leave your dog at when you travel.

The doggy daycare my rare clumbers go to is "cratefree" and very elite. It also has an indoor gym with an agility course and an outdoor pool. Only certain dogs get accepted-kind of like Exeter.

rightwingprof said...

A shelter rescue.

Freeman Hunt said...

A standard poodle. No shedding, easy to train, eager to please, very smart.

Paddy O. said...

Palladian, lhasas aren't yippy. They have a very strong, deep bark. They sound much bigger than their size. And if they are barking they are barking at something.

Any neurotic dog might tend towards yippy. But lhasas are among the least 'nervous' dogs I've been around. Plus, they're low key most of the time though always on duty.

You're right about the rest though. Ewok-faced dogs for older women in furs is an exact description. Just the breed for women of a certain age who dress well and want something more than a canine accessory. Lhasas are smaller, but they're not at all like the usually small dog.

I haven't particularly noticed that Boston terriers are good protection dogs. Unless there's a rodent or small bird scare going on. Plus, they're really scrappy.

titusdogs said...

I could see you with a French Bulldog-they are pretty cool.

Or maybe a Japanese Chin?

Or perhaps Basenji? Their barkless.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are cool but probably to big?

Big or Small dog?

Go to a dog show and see all the breeds and talk to breeders. You will likely fall in love with a dog.

There is one thing I know more about than hog-and that is dogs.

If I was rich and din't have to work I would love to live on a farm (close to a big city so I could get hog) and be a dog breeder.

TBMD said...

Someone on the thread mentioned Bouvier des Flanders.

I wouldn't recommend a Bouvier to a first time dog owner, or one that doesn't have an adequately fenced yard.

Temprament is important - there are high energy, high drive dogs, and low energy, low drive dogs, all in the same breed.

Mystique is high energy.

We've had a bouvier for 7 years, and I can honestly say that they're not for everyone.

Mystique is about 95 lbs., shaggy (lots of coat care required), strong as an ox, has a very high prey drive (cats, squirrels, raccoons, deer, etc., are all chase items, and is pretty dominant.

She also is capable of tracking in enourmous amounts of dirt, mud, sticks, and leaves in her coat.

Requires about 1.5 to 2 miles of walks per day to keep the edge at a reasonable level.

She's not particularly snuggly, but when she wants attention, she will herd you to a chair and hold you there until she's had enough.

On the plus side, she's big, strong, rugged, great with rough play and the kids, and posesses an intimidating appearance and big dog bark that keeps strangers from the door.

Overall, a great dog, but a lot of work.

Mystique's not-maintained-in-years page:
http://www.dogsofwool.blogspot.com/

Some repeat material here:
http://boringmadedull.blogspot.com/search/label/bouvier%20des%20flandres

Zeb Quinn said...

"I've never had a dog."

And at fifty-what you're now considering doing that? Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

As someone who has had dogs his whole life and too many to accurately count, counting pups probably about 30, all kinds of breeds, let me suggest two short-haired Dachshunds for you. Like this .

They'll keep you on your toes and busy, but not too busy.

tjl said...

Re doggie travel:

Some airlines, e.g., Continental, will sell you a doggie ticket for in-cabin travel,as long as your dog is small enough to fit in a carrier that goes under your seat. Bringing your pet is no more inconvenient than managing an extra carry-on bag.

Westies adapt well to plane travel. Blanche has always behaved impeccably as an in-cabin passenger (except for one awkward time in Albuquerque when she jumped out of her bag and chased another dog through the departure lounge).

Trumpit said...

I suggest getting a pet squirrel then if you grow tired of it, you can let it go free at your local park. If you want protection then get yourself a baby bear or a tiger cub. If every one owned an exotic animal then the threat of that species going extinct would disappear. If some tigers eat their owners then they most likely weren't trained properly. There too many "owners" in this world anyway; it's not a big deal if they're made a meal out of.

Palladian said...

"The doggy daycare my rare clumbers go to is "cratefree" and very elite. It also has an indoor gym with an agility course and an outdoor pool. Only certain dogs get accepted-kind of like Exeter."

In my darker moments I sort of look forward to the possibility of economic collapse. It might help some people rearrange their priorities.

Dogs are happy swimming in a dirty pond and eating from a can of 50¢ dog food. When you have dogs getting better daycare than children you know something is seriously rotten at the core of society.

Palladian said...

If you buy even one Dachshund I'll never read this blog again!

Omaha1 said...

Palladian, I concur. Dachshunds are mean (as in, eat their own children mean), not photogenic, and have expensive spinal health problems. Not recommended.

former law student said...

A word on getting a dog for "protection": You have to be master of the dog, and train with it till it obeys you without question. Tervs, Ridgebacks, and especially the one-person Chows need to have dominant, experienced owners. Otherwise, they will protect you from the mailman, your spouse, your kids, etc. Owning a dominant, powerful dog without knowing how to handle it is like leaving a .45 lying on the coffee table.

Westies are very cool, tough little dogs. The neighbor's Westie barked all day long. Bored and lonely, it dug under the fence. One Sunday morning I woke up to a find a wet muddy Westie in bed with me -- it had dug to freedom and came in through my doggy door. One day it was no longer next door and I was afraid to ask what happened. Maybe they told the shelter they were "allergic."

"Hybrid vigor" is a myth, unless you're talking about interspecies hybrids like mules. Does anyone know any biracial people -- surely they would possess hybrid vigor -- who never get sick and live to be 110?

Getting a shelter dog is getting some one else's problem. "Moving" and "allergies" are euphemisms for training problems, temperament problems and sickliness. Any conscientious breeder will take their dogs back for the life of the dog. Conscientious breeders also put spay-neuter clauses in their pet quality sales contracts. Shelter pups will be either recycled puppy mill/pet store pups, or their backyard fence-jumping offspring.

Kirby Olson said...

Still, no dog can beat the Pet Rock for expense, upkeep, convenience, etc.

Beth said...

There are so many factors, Ann! Take some time, and visit with some dogs. I love my mixed breed rescue dog, but he has some anxiety issues that I had to be patient with. He's overall friendly, sweet and likes other people and other dogs, and as a city dog, he's good at letting me know when someone's at the door, or in the alley.

Palladian, if we meet, I'll let my dachshund bite your ankles. I wouldn't recommend one for a new dog owner, though. They're hard to housetrain, and self-centered. But you can't get anything past a dachshund, so they're fine as alarm dogs.

The finest dog I've had was a chow, but we called her the anti-chow as she had no snappish qualities. She was protective, but friendly and loved people. She liked parties, the more people the better. The coat is a drawback. You can't let it get tangled, and we'd vacuum up a whole dog's worth each week.

My mechanic has a Vizsla, a nice smooth-haired hunting dog. Every one I've met or observed has had a good temperment. They're smart, too. You should look into those, Ann, but find out about how much exercise they need.

If you get a dog, find where there's a dog park in your neighborhood and socialize your dog to people and other dogs. That helps make them confident and calm, and they love playing with other dogs. And consider a round of dog obedience lessons -- they train you, not the dog, and if you're new to this, you'll need a little help figuring out how to become Alpha dog in your house. I think you'll catch on quickly.

Beth said...

Actually the finest dog in my life was a collie-wolf mix but I'm pretty sure that's not what you want. She was ferocious to anyone except our family. And kittens. She loved kittens.

PatCA said...

Get a cat -- you don't have to pick up their poop. Yet.

Lawgiver said...

Who are we kidding, Althouse is not going to get a dog.

Dogs are needy beings, they are like small children in a lot of ways, unconditional love, attention seeking, and if they are indoor dogs, very high maintenance.

I don't see Althouse wanting or needing that. I'll bet anyone $50 to the charity of your choice she doesn't get one.

Kirk Parker said...

Ann,

Do you mean real physical protection, or just an early warning system/deterrant to the random half-hearted assailant?

If it's only the latter, my favorite, the Keeshond would do, especially a male which would tend to be a bit larger, deeper voiced, and more agressive than a female. The breed is wonderfully people-oriented. (And unlike their smaller cousin the Pomeranian, they are almost always sane.)

But the K is not a large dog, nor very suitable for training for actual defense, if that's what you meant. (It also sheds profusely--one commenter on the internet somewhere warned prospective owners, "You have to not mind dog hair as a condiment"--though I see lack of shedding wasn't on your priority list. In addition, the hot summers might be a problem. Even here in the Puget Sound area, we're careful not to walk ours too much in the hot afternoon sun.)

Palladian said...

"Get a cat -- you don't have to pick up their poop. Yet."

You just have to pick up their Toxoplasma gondii.

MadisonMan said...

If you get a dog, you'll have to resubscribe to the NYTimes home delivery. The plastic sleeves the paper comes in make dandy poop picker-uppers.

Kurt said...

We've had a Border Terrier since she was a puppy. She's well-trained and adorable. However, like any dog, she has her issues.
If you want the low-down on a breed, read up at rescue sites for the breed. When they place a dog, they don't want the adoption to fail. Therefore they tell you the good and the bad.
While I was writing this my dog walked into my office for a dose of affection. I love her for her blatant self-interest.

Beth said...

MadisonMan, yes, the daily paper serves some purpose. Those are great for the dachshund's walk, but I found out when I walked the very large lab next door, not so much for the big dogs. You'll want a plastic grocery bag for any dog over 75 lbs.

Mitchell said...

A Bernese Mountain Dog.

Beth said...

Mitchell, my dachshund, PeeWee, had a love affair with a Bernese Mountain Dog. We shared a cabin with the owner, and the dog was so big she had her own room. PeeWee sprawled on the bed and cried for a day when she left.

This was in December, in the Berkshires, and the poor big dog would go sit in the snow to cool off. We didn't keep the heat on high, but they've got a thick coat and lots of weight on them. I guess Madison's cold enough, though.

joe said...

So much work and commitment is required, especially for a puppy, but they can be so rewarding in terms of affection. I don't know if "hybrid vigor" is a myth, but I do know that the pure breds have a lot of congenital health issues. We had a Westie that we adored, but he always had skin problems and only lived to be 14. The last 4 years of his life he was diabetic (I gave him 2 insulin injections a day) and went blind, like every other Westie I knew (OK all 4 of them). Before that we had a beagle mutt who lived to a ripe 17, but she shed constantly and was virtually untrainable. And the turd size is an issue too. Small dogs leave nice little "lawn diamonds."

Paddy O. said...

Of course it does depend on the kind of personal protection you're looking for. If you're trying to keep random punching ladies away then there are the small guard dogs. If you're wanting to protect yourself against unscrupulous truthers demanding debates then I suggest a doberman. They were bred originally by a tax collector who sought to deter bandits.

But if you're more worried about invading Romans or the occasional armored knight then I recommend an Irish wolfhound. Nobody would mess with you if you have a wolfhound by your side. Plus, you can throw a saddle on it and ride it to work.

Bob said...

Former Law Student:
"Hybrid vigor" is a myth, unless you're talking about interspecies hybrids like mules. Does anyone know any biracial people -- surely they would possess hybrid vigor -- who never get sick and live to be 110?


Perhaps you know a little about law, but you know diddly-squat about genetics: Hybrid Vigor.

To use your example, if your "biracial couple" had been inbred within the same family for generations and suddenly introduced a new gene source into the family (say, from the other side of the continent) the line would probably be improved due to introduction of healthier, non-inbred genes. So it is with dog breeds.

Jennifer said...

I knew I loved Palladian! My tuxedo clad guy. Bostons are wonderful dogs, though very exuberant puppies.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and as far as protectiveness goes, my Boston is very wary of allowing anyone he doesn't know near the children. The first time I stayed at my MIL's house after my son was born, her dog - who he's known for years - was suddenly not to be trusted. Bug (my Boston) spent the entire weekend strategically placing himself between her dog and my son. He's also gone to bat for my son against a Rottweiler/Retriever mix. He has a healthy bark and can shred a chew toy with his powerful jaws in a heartbeat.

However, I do believe he would hide under a bed were anyone to really seriously threaten him and us. But, I may be pleasantly surprised one day.

Middle Class Guy said...

former law student said...
Owning a dominant, powerful dog without knowing how to handle it is like leaving a .45 lying on the coffee table.

More like giving a .45 to a six year old.

A .45 on a coffee table is an inanimate object lying on a coffee table. It is harmless; unless the six year old picks it up. (Sarcasm- in case some anti-gun nut slams me).

Blake said...

Terriers are my very favorite breed.

God loves a terrier.

I loves me some hound doggies, too, but they are jowly and drooly. (Ever seen Alien? That's the level of drool we're talking....)

All that aside, mutts are the best. You do stand a good chance of getting a "problem" dog from the pound. We got one that was returned for being "high energy" which, okay, for a puppy is expected. "High energy" was a euphemism for "attacks females on sight".

Nobody wants to say, "I'm returning this dog because it bites," because that's a one-way ticket to lethal injection. The unfortunate upshot is that you don't know what you're getting when you get from the pound.

rhodamine said...

Ann - you are a Chow person. I didn't know I was one either, until I got my first Chow. I will never be without one in my life.

They are more than dogs - they are your familiar.

Coat care is not bad at all - really it isn't (I've had German Shorthaired Pointers, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Poodles - Chows are by far the easiest). A weekly brushing is all they need. Shedding isn't as horrifying as other breeds with that short hair that gets everywhere. It's just little poofs of undercoat - and if you brush weekly you won't have that.

I have never had a "snappish" Chow. They travel well. They are cordial. They love you deeply, but are not needy. They are quiet and only bark if warranted. They are imposing visually, which is all the "protection" you really need.

I've had them in the city and in the country - they do well in apartments, houses, whatever. They are not high-energy. My Chows have gotten on VERY well with cats - probably moreso than other dogs! They are very catlike.

Chows are not for everyone. But I think they just may be for you. I mean that as a compliment!

Katie said...

Ann, not sure if it would necessarily provide a huge amount of protection, but we love our two Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. They have very kind, docile, but have friendly and playful personalities, and they are incredibly cute. They are medium-sized dogs, about knee high, and they don't have a yappy bark. Also, in case you have any friends or family who are allergic, they have hair as opposed to fur, meaning they really don't shed and they won't make visitors sneeze.

mlpvt said...

Skye Terrier - 25 lbs
In July, I took in an 8-year old Skye Terrier. She's a joy. She's a twice-a-day girl. She'll nap all day long but loves to go on extended walks through the neighborhood or explore walking trails. She's even climbed a mountain. She leaves cats alone but is a determined huntress of squirrels. She's double-coated and loves the snow. She rarely barks unless she here's someone coming up the stairs.

Photo here: Fergus

Extremely loyal, standoffish, mischievious, protective.

former law student said...

Purebreds are unlikely to be inbred unless they come from a puppy mill, where the refusal of conscientious breeders to sell them breeding stock means daughter is bred to father for generations. The concentration of genetic defects at former beagle colonies, such as the one at UC Davis (most notably, epilepsy) demonstrates this. (Beagles were inbred to serve as control groups for experiments.) There are animal populations with very little genetic diversity, such as the Shar-Pei or the Thoroughbred horse, but most dogs are not like that. Your wikipedia entry acknowledges genetic variety within a breed by mentioning the advantage of crossing different strains of White Leghorns for example. This is routinely done by conscientious dog breeders.

Excitingly, the genes linked to genetic defects in dogs are now being identified, so that the defects can be eliminated from the various breeds.

Human populations that could benefit from outcrossing include the hemophiliac royal families of Europe, and Ashkenazic Jews (Before the Holocaust, Galician parents would parade Jews of marriageable age in carriages from tiny shtetl to tiny shtetl to open up the gene pool.)

MadisonMan said...

Bob, I am unimpressed as a scientist by wikipedia entries, and I know professors who don't allow them as citations. Go to the source.

One thing althouse has to know about dog ownership: She will meet all her neighbors. Dogs require walking and people love dogs, so be prepared to stop and talk to people about your dog. I've seen dogs tied up outside stores on Monroe Street while their owners are inside enjoying a cuppa -- the ones that bark are really annoying. And make sure your dog know who is alpha.

MadisonMan said...

..and let me add before I leave for a while: Let the dog choose you. Go somewhere where there are dogs to be adopted. Wander. Ascertain if a dog is following you around.

There is usually a big pet adoption thing at the Coliseum in May. You can meet all sorts of dogs there -- different breeds -- from various rescue operations around Wisconsin. It's sponsored, I think, by Mounds. Anyway, if you're in town that weekend, check it out.

Bob said...

Madison Man: Bob, I am unimpressed as a scientist by wikipedia entries, and I know professors who don't allow them as citations. Go to the source.

This isn't academia, and Former Law Student's original argument wasn't a college thesis on genetics. I'm not a scientist, but a layman with a high school education. I recognized that FLS's argument was incorrect as stated, and went to a common reference source for confirmation. I recognize that Wikipedia is not reliable in some instances, but pertaining to a question of basic genetics it should be reliable enough to confirm what most people already know, which is that purebred dogs are often inbred dogs, and that purebreds suffer specific disorders as a result of their purebred status that mutts might not.

I further recognize that FLS's followup post shows far more knowledge and erudition than his original post did.

Kirby Olson said...

I looked up Pet Rocks and it seems they disappeared in 1975. Given that, I think you should plant a peach tree.

joe said...

FLS is technically correct that congenital defects can be avoided in purebreds. The problem is that as a practical matter the public does not have access to reputable breeders and obtains their purebreds from mall pet stores or amateur breeders. And even with reputable breeders, inbreeding is common (for the dogs at least) to strengthen desirable breed traits.

rhhardin said...

Let the breeder worry about the genetics. It's a popular worry, a hobby worry, but not one you need to have yourself.

Most people with healty dogs did everything wrong, to listen to the usual advice.

(In the case of Dobermans you have to find a breeder with pups not very old, if you want the ears left uncut like mine; it is still usual to cut the ears, for some reason, which in my opinion looks wrong and is a bother, in addition, to the owner, for a while. Still, some people like it, and if it makes them feel better about their dog, fine, it's then better for the dog too.)

Chip Ahoy said...

I've owned three Belgian Sheepdog Groenendaels. Those are the pure black ones. They're like puffy German Shepherds with much longer hair at the collars.

Their obedience is militaristic. It's a bit frightening. A "down" command must be whispered and never suggested whilst on concrete lest the darlings break their elbows in their eagerness to comply. They're super alert to their handler's every movement, every movement, every movement is a signal to them for something.

Their coats are a bit of a problem. That's why short-hair Belgian Sheepdog Malinois is usually used for police work and not the Groenendale or the Tervuren which looks more like a collie.

These sub breeds are intermixed in Europe but not the United States.

They're known to be a bit flighty. As stated, like most shepherds, they're exceedingly easy to train. The book Dog of Flanders, a literary archetype of canid loyalty, was inspired by a Belgian Sheepdog. <--supposedly

National dog of Belgium <-- 100% of fact

Chip Ahoy said...

One more thing on the aesthetics of dogs. They simply must be beautiful. They're going to be around a lot so why have an ugly one? The downward sloping tail is most attractive of all for a dog, and here the German and Belgian shepherd's tail wins. An uplifted, or upwardly curved tail that flaunts a puckered anus is unacceptable in polite company.

Chip Ahoy said...

I taught a Belgian to wee in the dog run with one single demonstration.

Requirements: 1 dog run, or specific place to wee

1 dark evening with no lights or pedestrian traffic

1 or 2 beers

1 dog that has to wee but is too scared to do it in front of anybody but wouldn't mind following someone's lead.

nina said...

I love dogs. I adore puppies. I've had many. But Ann, dogs are like children. They have personalities. Some are anxious. Some are aggressive. Some are too timid for words. Some are easy, as some children are easy, but so often, they require time, patience, work, patience, more work, time. An untrained dog, left alone for long stretches of time is an unhappy, often destructive animal. Winter is long. Walking the pooch after a day at work is tough. Dogs aren't clean. They shed. They bark. They growl. When they're sleeping on your feet you love them. When they're chewing on your best whatever, you hate them.
Bottom line -- it's a package deal. Do you really want the down side? (The travel is not an issue. There are plenty of wonderful kennels. Costs money, but they're happy there.)

Trooper York said...

Trooper York said...
That describes my cousin Vinny perfectly. I can have him over to your apartment in 20 minutes.

Bob said....
Is he neutered?

No, but he does a lot of steroids so his testicles are the size of M&M's if that helps.

amba said...

I'm still haunted by a beautiful mutt who stood up and looked hopeful when I made the mistake of wandering from the cat part of the North Shore Animal League, where we were helping a friend pick out kittens, into the dog part. That was probably 20 years ago.

All dogs are individuals, but shelter mutts are one of a kind. And they have soul because they have suffered, crazy as that may sound. They have the devotion of the drowned and saved, and they will kill for you should it ever become necessary.

Caroline said...

My husband and I decided to get a dog from a shelter. My advice if you plan to go that route: make sure the dog's temperament is known, and that it has been tested around other dogs, children, strangers, etc. Our dog, a stray jack russell terrier with no known background info, turned out to be "fear aggressive" towards other dogs, which is an issue we are still working on over a year later.

Most agencies that foster dogs, (you can find them online at sites like petfinder.com), will usually have some temperament info on the dog. You take a chance adopting an adult dog with no known history, such as ours. We knew it was risky, but we fell in love with her haunting sad eyes in the online photos, and had to save her (she was scheduled for euthanasia).

Despite her "issues" we have never regretted our decision. She is a truly loving dog, and we adore her. And I never get tired of seeing her face light up every time I say "walkies?" If you like taking walks, a dog is the perfect companion.

Ann Althouse said...

How about a papillon?

Caroline said...

When I was researching breeds, I found this site useful as a starting point: www.dogbreedinfo.com

Ann Althouse said...

Nina: Good points. I would choose a clean breed with a good personality. But these considerations may well make me decide against it. I like the idea of regular walking though.

For people who are bringing up cats: I've had a cat twice and both times it ended badly. I understand the pro-cat arguments, but I have done so badly with cats that I forbid myself to have a cat (or perhaps any pet).

MadisonMan said...

I like the idea of regular walking though.

You have to like the idea of walking when it's -10 out, and it's 6 PM and the dog needs one more walk before turning in. And then it can't find that one spot it needs to go.

My dog hates going in the rain. Those final walks of the day on Spring/Fall days when it's cold and rainy are torture for him and for me.

Paddy O. said...

Some other reasons to own a dog.

Smilin' Jack said...

Get a collie. Beautiful dogs, and if you fall down a well they know what to do.

Bissage said...

How about a papillon?

The problem with a papillon is there always comes a time when it'll sit out on your driveway hurling empty beer cans over at James Garner’s place.

Palladian said...

Have I mentioned THE BOSTON TERRIER?

No? Well... BOSTON TERRIER.

Here's what we think of your dachshunds...

Pogo said...

Dogs, like baseball, are a mystery to me.

I am somewhat jealous of people who derive such obvious pleasure from pets and pitchers. I truly wish I understood it. It's like being colorblind.

You certainly have the love a dog needs. Why not? At worst you'll be agnostic when visiting a shelter, and none of the hopeful eyes following you met a mutual recognition.

amba said...

A Papillon ain't gonna protect ya.

nina said...

Everyone wants a dog with a good personality! There are breeds that are more this way or that way, but personality is not solely determined by breed. And, I made the same arguments about walking you're making: great! I need an excuse to walk more! But you don't really walk briskly with a dog. Not for a long long time. You pause and wait for it to do its thing and take a few steps and pause again. I tell you, in the middle of February, when you are tired and hungry, it's torture.

And still, I love dogs. Well trained, secure, good natured dogs.

al said...

The Doberman has been mentioned a few times already and I think it would be a great choice for you. The intimidation factor is amazing. They are smart, sweet, and amazing companions. They love to walk as much as they like to curl up on the floor at your feet waiting for you to move so they can follow you. As for the cleanup - dogs can be easily trained to go in a particular spot minimizing the area that needs to be cleaned up. And there are services that will do that for you.

If you're serious about a big dog you have to learn how to train one. Don't even think you can do it yourself if you've never done it before.

As for the personal protection issue - move to a free state, buy a pistol, learn to use it properly, practice a lot, get a carry permit and carry it where ever you go. It's always better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have one.

Caroline said...

RE: walking the dog in bad weather;

Some dogs can be trained to go on command in your own yard. My mother's cocker spaniel is so trained. When we dog-sit him, if the weather is nasty and we don't want to walk, we can just open the door, give him a command and he will do his business in the yard and come in when he's done.

Our own dog, unfortunately, cannot be let off leash outside (we have no fence), or she will go after the first squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk, possum or other dog that she sees or smells; a terrier trait. So we have to go out with her, rain or shine, at least three times a day.

HavaneseFan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HavaneseFan said...

Have you considered a Havanese?

http://www.bichon.de/havanese/havanese3.jpg

They do not shed. They do require grooming and are a little pricey ($1200+). I wouldn't say they offer great physical protection either. Often show dogs are photographed with long hair, but their hair can be cut shorter. They are smart and have great personalities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havanese

anderson75 said...

The answer to the question is "Border Collie." there is no dog better in the world. Smarter than most little kids, they are a constant companion and they are great protectors. Since they are herders, they are always waiting for instructions from you. My dog knows the difference between a ball, a frisbee and her rubber fish. Tell her which one to get and she will bring it back.

The downside is that they are always in your face. They like to make up games where YOU are the one who does the fetching. But if you are a strong alpha pack leader, they will fall into line. Just remember, if you can't stand getting stared at, don't get a Border Collie.

For someone as smart and "in control" as yourself, you would be a perfect BC owner.

Eva said...

Interestingly enough, Jessica Valenti just got a new puppy and is getting royally raked over the coals on her blog for getting a pure-bred. And, I learned a new word today while over there: speciesist.

http://feministing.com/archives/007371.html#comments

Ann Althouse said...

Well, there's a good reason not to get a dog. I'm not impressed by the argument for adoption. Dogs are out there needing to be adopted because other people have been irresponsible. Why should that mean that I can't pick a breed that I prefer? I will live with that dog for more than a decade. Why shouldn't I get what I find most appealing? Why should I have to make up for the bad behavior of others? Human beings kill animals all the time. If it's about saving animals, if I eat less meat, many more animals will be saved. Or I promise not to swat the next mosquito that bites me. Now, can I pick the dog I want?

MadisonMan said...

Don't get a border collie. They require far too much walking. That's all well and good if you walk, say, 5 miles each and every hour of the day, but ...

The feministing thread is funny. Who knew choosing a dog was a feminist issue?!

howzerdo said...

I've had dogs all my life, and loved them all. Dogs rule! I cannot imagine my life without my beloveds. But two of them were what my sister calls "Michelangelos" (meaning they were exceptional). They have both passed away, and I still miss them. One was a cross between a Collie and a Beagle. He was handsome on the inside and out. The other was a Doberman with the most incredible temperament. Both came from the shelter (and I am a big advocate for adopting shelter pets). The beagle/collie was born at the shelter; his mother had been a stray. The dobie was discarded by a breeder because he had a too large white patch on his chest. That said, you should do research, meet some dogs and see what you like, and do some serious thinking about whether you are prepared to make the commitment, no matter what. Whether you get it from a breeder, a shelter, rescue group, or petfinder.com is a personal decision. Too many wonderful animals wind up abandoned at shelters because irresponsible people have the wrong attitude about companion animals. But if you decide that you are ready to get a dog, I believe the experience will be more rewarding than you can imagine.

Beth said...

Madisonman, I'm still wondering when it became a feminist issue, too. I think it's like when you go to something billed as an anti-war gathering, and there are forty-five other issues plastered on signs all over the place. It's that urge to make everything part of the seamless garment. What a pain!

I have a wonderful mixed breed rescue dog, and a lovely AKA registered dachshund and it's nobody's damn business how I acquired either. I loathe puppy mills, and don't recommend anyone support them, but that's a different issue.

Ann, get whatever dog strikes your fancy!

SWBarns said...

Even if you are unimpressed with the idea of saving some blameless dog's life, here are a few good reasons to adopt a shelter dog:

1) The dog knows he was abandoned and that you saved his life, he will appreciate that forever.

2) You get to pick the adult dog that you want. Pick a breed, any breed, and you can find one in a shelter. Pick an age (6 weeks to 10 years) and you can find one.

3) You can spend time with the adult dog before committing to 15 years with whatever you puppy grows into.

Based on several years of reading your blog, my impression is that an adult dog would be a better fit for you.

My advice would be to find a 5-7 year old Labrador at a shelter or lab rescue. Labs have a great personality, they have the size you are looking for, they are friendly and loyal. A lab puppy can be a real challenge and they are puppies until they hit about 5 years old. After about 5 they settle down to the point that they don't need constant attention.

I have had 3 labs in the last 15 years. Two are still around. The first was an AKC dog and he was the smartest. A found puppy grew into the most affectionate. The 7 year old that we rescued has become by far the most loyal.

Another good thing about the lab is that with a tennis ball and a pond you can work the dog to near exhaustion without breaking a sweat yourself.

Zephyr said...

I am not much of a dog person, but our family adopted a retired racer greyhound about 4 years ago and he is absolutely wonderful. He is elegant and beautiful, clean, doesn't drool, rarely barks, enjoys going for walks and the occasional run at the dog park, but otherwise needs very little exercise. The points already made about older dogs being calm, potty-trained, etc. also apply. Because greyhounds are raised to be around other dogs and people, their temperaments are great and they tend to be very good companions. Because good health is paramount in racing, greyhound breeders avoid many of the health issues other purebreds experience.

Blake said...

I find swbarns' three points to have been not exactly representative of my experience.

1. Dogs don't really abstract out into "You saved my life. Now I am bound to you, my master." They're social animals with a need for a pack leader, and that can be you or a dog or a cat or whatever.

2. You can pick a breed, but be prepared to wait for one to show up, and don't expect to be able to land a popular one, nor a pure-breed. If you're in a big city, don't expect to find a puppy. The "rescues" have agreements with the pounds to "save" those dogs before they're available to the public. They then "adopt" them out for a substantial fee--which should not in any way be confused with selling. Puppies that do somehow make it to the public end up being auctioned for prices you might as well go to a breeder for. (And, obviously, you're not saving any dog at that point, if that's your motivation.)

3) You do get to spend as much time with the adult dog as you're willing to spend at the pound. In my particular case, spending a couple of hours to realize that a dog was smart was not enough time to realize that the dog would also attack women, black people and automobiles on sight.

A Lost Wanderer said...

RE: "Hybrid vigor" is a myth, unless you're talking about interspecies hybrids like mules. Does anyone know any biracial people -- surely they would possess hybrid vigor -- who never get sick and live to be 110?

The genetic differences between different races is nothing compared with the differences between dog breeds. Take for example extreme human aesthetics like "little people" and "giants". If they got together these traits would even out into a normal healthy human. Look at recessive genetic diseases that only crop up if two healthy people who happen to carry a recessive meet up. ex. sickle cell anemia in Africans and hemophilia in inbred royal bloodlines. Mix these groups and these problems go away. Most of all however, mutts bypass a lot of behavioral issues. Behavioral characteristics are often linked with physical characteristics. So unfortunately, once you get that perfectly beautiful purebred, you also get the hidden linked behavioral genes concentrated. So basically, yes, mutts are usually healthier and more stable. By mixing you get a normal dog instead of a purebred that has issues.

Gary said...

That's easy. You absolutely need to get a cavachon. They're the cutest dog and they can be calm or excited. They're content with either.