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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

My wife and I are looking to get our first dog and would like advice. We both have a little bit of experience with dogs (both families have kept dogs successfully). We want to choose the type of dog that will suite our lifestyle, along with address the breeder vs. adoption question.

We live in a 1250 sq ft house with a small backyard and 1 flight of stairs. We work long hours, usually out of the house between the hours of 7 and 5, excluding weekends and typical school holidays (wife is a teacher). We need a dog who is comfortable, or can be trained to, stay by itself during the day. We are somewhat sedentary in our lifestyles, but will surely enjoy playing with a dog at a moderate level. However, our demeanor is more along the lines of a lap dog. I realize not all dogs have the same personality, but it helps me to narrow down some breeds.

I've spent a little time with a miniature Dachshund and really enjoyed the demeanor of the one I was exposed to, however, after reading about their back troubles, I'm not sure that an environment with stairs would be suitable for this. Would it be a good idea to obtain insurance for a breed like this? We would not be able to manage a multi-thousand dollar hospital bill.

Are there any breeds we could look at that would suite the following needs?:

smaller size
little to moderate exercise
prone to having a lap dog demeanor that enjoys people / strangers

I've also considered looking at shelters, but am afraid of ending up with a dog that is too large for my needs through not getting a strong handle on the breed of the dog. I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into and how to properly raise the breed before getting one. Maybe this concern is not grounded in reality?

Any advise? Thanks!
 

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I would be looking into a middle aged dog for your situation. Working that many hours, you might have a hard time getting a dog from some rescues. Is there anyone you can have come let the dog out for a short potty break during the day?

I don't think an older Dachshund would be a bad idea. I don't know of any that have crippling back issues. Maybe also look into Mini Poodles, or maybe even Beagle. Rescue isn't the only option, either. You could try contacting some show breeders and they might be able to point you to retired show/breeding dogs they have for sale (cheaper than a puppy). You would have the added benefit of knowing a little more about the dog's background.
 

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With your requirements, I would get an older (2-5 year old) dog from a shelter. Puppies can't be left alone that long for a while, and they pretty much all require a decent amount of exercise and stimulation even if they mature into lazy dogs. Adult shelter dogs have grown into their temperament and you can see exactly what you're getting, especially if the dog is in a foster home. At that point "breed" doesn't really matter. Dogs are individuals first and may not conform to the usual traits for their breed. With an adult adoption it's more important to view the dog as an individual than a breed.

If you are set on a puppy, I would go with a reputable breeder. Puppies adopted from shelters are wonderful but they can be a crap shoot - they can end up bigger than you expect and more energetic than you expect.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for the responses so far!

I've been reading the following article that I found here on the forums: http://www.openpaw.org/PDFs/BEFORE_YouGetYourPuppy.pdf

Based on my understanding, part of the training that a newborn dog requires is the need for long term confinement, this trains the dog to be comfortable being alone for extended periods of time. Would it be appropriate to leave the dog by itself for a few hours, have someone drop by to walk/relieve/and play with the dog for an hour, then confine him again for a little while? My wife will have 3 months off starting in June and will likely be closer to home starting next august, so availability will improve at this point.

My concern with an older, more adjusted, dog is how it will react to being in confinement for extended periods if it's already adjusted to not having this. Is this something I could identify at a shelter before taking the dog home? My concern stems from my wife's families Jack Russell Terrier, who was a rescue. He is very sweet and seemingly well adjusted when around people but screams like a banshee when you leave the home, recently taking to causing severe damage around the house when left for even a few minutes. I'm trying to avoid this situation myself. To my understanding, the benefit of a puppy is the ability to mold it to my needs through positively reinforced routines, rather than trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

Again, I'm not opposed to a shelter dog, I'm just trying to cover all my bases to make an informed decision.
 

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My personal feeling and experience is that I wouldn't leave an 8 week old puppy alone for more than 3-4 hours, gradually building it up. I still come home at lunch because I can, so not sure when I would fully transition to 8 hours alone. Maybe 8-12 months, depending on the dog. My current puppy still needs to go out a ton even though she's 9 months, while my older dog was holding it for quite a while at the same age, so that would factor in. As long as you have plans to have someone let the dog out every few hours a puppy would be fine.

About the crating thing, I'm no expert, but I think confinement depends as much on the dog's temperament as it does training. From 9 weeks old my older dog has never liked being crated and wasn't quiet when left alone until we left him out of the crate around 18 months. My new puppy has always been fine being crated. So basically, I think you can have a dog with issues whether you get it as a puppy or an adult, and I think you can have a dog who is perfect while left alone whether you get it as a puppy or an adult. Do the training correctly and cross your fingers but age doesn't have much to do with it. You can certainly crate train an adult dog. Dogs in foster care will probably already have some crate training and the foster parent will be able to give you an indication of how they do when left alone.

And puppies are not as moldable as most people think. They aren't blank slates and come with a lot of genetic baggage, both good and bad, of their own. The issue with adopting a puppy from a shelter is that you really can't tell what that genetic shape is going to be yet. For some people that's perfectly fine and they will love and work with whatever the puppy turns into, but if you have a really specific set of requirements in a dog and you are set on a puppy, then I would go with a good breeder to increase the chance you will get what you want. But be aware that most puppies aren't going to be calm lapdogs for at least a couple years.
 

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I adopted my dog as an adult, she had not been crated before. The first couple nights she whined for max 5mins when we crated her, nothing after that.

You would need to crate train a puppy regardless, so I wouldn't be concerned based on that factor.
 

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Why would you need to crate an adult dog all day? I don't. Most people don't. The advantage of adopting an adult is that they can hold it all day and have aged out of the usual behaviors that require crating- chewing, etc.

I really would not recommend a puppy for your situation. You're looking at months before it would be reliably house trained and possibly a couple of years before it could be let out during the day. You need a mellow adult who is already housetrained and isn't inclined to chew the walls when alone. That's not that uncommon.

That being said, you are going to need to exercise any dog regularly, and by regularly, I mean daily, not twice a week, if you want it to hang out calmly while you're gone all day. I have a pretty mellow guy, but he ain't so mellow after a few days of no exercise. I would count on at least an hour of walking a day, plus 15 minutes of training to work his mind.
 

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I think a puppy would be a poor choice with your requirements in mind. Specifically your work hours (although if you can get a dog walker in the middle of the day, then that would be fine) and the fact that you want a calm lap dog.

I have a 5 month old Great Dane puppy. Danes from certain lines rank pretty high on the lazy breed list. Yet potty training required me to take him outside every 30 minutes while he was active until he was 4.5 months old. He also needs about an hour (split into 20 minute increments) of walking/outside free roaming a day and fetch/tug sessions inside, as well as 3-4 5 minute training sessions throughout the day. And constant supervision to make sure he doesn't get into anything he shouldn't.

I know you said your wife's schedule frees up in the summer. I'd caution against waiting until that point in time to get a dog. If you introduce a puppy or dog to your household and they have 3 months of almost no crate time and your wife is around quite a bit during the day, and then suddenly she goes back to school and the dog is faced with 8 hours of crate time a day, that's a really hard transition to make and it's asking for a dog to develop symptoms of SA. I'd recommend getting a dog WHILE you two are working your regular schedules and maintaining a shortened crate schedule during the summer to avoid these issues.

Also, all of elrohwen's advice is excellent. Puppies aren't blank slates, as far as personality goes. They are blank slates as far as training/experience - you can be guaranteed that your 8 week old puppy from a reputable breeder hasn't been trained with aversive methods and hasn't been abused. But that's about it.

This is not meant to offend Dachshund owners, but I just want to say that you should make sure you do your research into the breed. The Journal of Applied Animal Behavior Science did a survey a few years back, the goal of which was to determine which breed was actually most likely to bite. Dachshunds were the #1 most likely breed to be aggressive towards strangers, the #3 most likely to be aggressive towards the owner and the #1 most likely to be aggressive towards other dogs. The survey is here, if you're interested: http://140.122.143.143/yuyinghs/yuyinghsu/papers/DuffyHsuSerpell2008.pdf

All of this means that if you're going to go the Dachshund route, make sure you do your research and buy from a reputable breeder. Because puppies aren't blank slates, it's not a guarantee that your Dachshund won't be a reflection of these statistics, but it's a big step towards reducing that risk.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll be sure to share these responses with my wife later today!

So, if I were to adopt, what sort of breeds would you look at as a first time owner? Are there some that are known to be easier than others in the departments of health and demeanor?
 

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I'll be sure to share these responses with my wife later today!

So, if I were to adopt, what sort of breeds would you look at as a first time owner? Are there some that are known to be easier than others in the departments of health and demeanor?
When adopting, consider the individual over the breed. Go to a shelter or rescue and tell them what you're looking for, and let them match you to a dog regardless of breed. Most of the dogs will be mixes and no matter what they are labelled, the shelter doesn't know their exact breed anyway. They can say it's a chi mix, but maybe it's a rat terrier and min pin mix or something - the breed can matter that much in your choice when shelter staff are just guessing at it anyway. But they will be able to give you an idea of temperament especially if the dog is in foster care.
 

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When adopting, consider the individual over the breed. Go to a shelter or rescue and tell them what you're looking for, and let them match you to a dog regardless of breed. Most of the dogs will be mixes and no matter what they are labelled, the shelter doesn't know their exact breed anyway. They can say it's a chi mix, but maybe it's a rat terrier and min pin mix or something - the breed can matter that much in your choice when shelter staff are just guessing at it anyway. But they will be able to give you an idea of temperament especially if the dog is in foster care.
Is there a way to determine the dogs age? My only concern would be to adopt a dog that they believe to be fully grown, only to have it grow twice as big...
 

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Is there a way to determine the dogs age? My only concern would be to adopt a dog that they believe to be fully grown, only to have it grow twice as big...
The most sure way is looking for adult teeth, but that will only tell you if the dog is over 6 months or so. But a 6 month old dog isn't going to grow twice as big probably, especially if it's already a smaller dog. Maybe an additional 5-10lbs. And experienced dog people and vets can usually give you a better indication than that judging by how filled out the dog is, etc.
 

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Coming outta left field with my turnkey suggestion:

Get a Lab :) Go to a rescue, etc. and look for a mature 5 - 7 yo (or older) dog that fits your other requirements. Labs are very adaptable, the right ones will sleep in the house (or outside) all day long. They are very easy to train or will learn on their own, and they are forgiving of new owner mistakes. They require two 30 min. walks every day, and some love. Like many other breeds, there is a wide range of individual personality. But, if you look, you may be lucky enough to find a good dog, matching your requirements, but had to be released b/c of owner circumstances.
 
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