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I have never owned a dog before although I have done dogsitting/walking for friends' animals and get along well with dogs. I have 4 cats so would need a mellow dog who can get along with them. I am hoping to have a dog who will accompany me on daily walks as I get back in shape--have been doing 2-5 miles depending on my time and energy and hope to build up to longer walks. So I also want a dog who has the energy to walk those distances without being carried. Any suggestions?
 

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Was thinking of getting an adult dog perhaps from a shelter or rescue group. My experience walking friends dogs when they are on vacation is that small dogs often want to be carried after a few blocks. However, I have heard some large dog breeds see cats as prey. Also, I have read that while pit bulls are friendlier than their reputation from the news, they should not be adopted by first-time dog owners. Basically posted here hoping to get some advice from experienced dog people.
 

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My experience walking friends dogs when they are on vacation is that small dogs often want to be carried after a few blocks.
Small dogs who want to be carried often have gotten used to it because they have been raised like that. I own a chihuahua-min pinscher mix, she is 10 yrs old (approximately), and she will gladly follow me on 2 hour long hikes or walks.

Brachicephalic breeds (those with an exagerated "smooshed' nose such as buldogs or some Boston terriers) are the only dogs I would not recommend for long walks, specially in very hot or very cold weather.

I think a nice calm mixed-breed form a shelter would be a good choice. You can find dogs who are accustomed to cats in most shelters.
 

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Most healthy adult dogs, even small dogs, can handle just about anything if not more than a human can handle. If you live in a hot climate it might cause breathing problems for a short nosed breed, though. If the dog is not physically fit to handle the exercise then it might take some conditioning to get them back in shape but after that they should be able to handle the exercise. There's no reason a small dog couldn't handle that amount of exercise, though. My dog is not exactly TINY, but he's small and he can handle miles of walking and miles of running alongside a bike.

What other characteristics are you looking for in a dog? What kind of coat type are you looking for? Do you have a particular size preference? What personality type would you like you dog to have? What kind of training style do you prefer when it comes to training your dog?
 

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You've got no other requirements?
Pretty much any dog will suit those requirements. There are extremes to avoid like huskies, border collies, ACDs, etc but if the breed isn't "known" as "extreme" you should be fine. Just about any dog can be trained to get along with cats and just about any dog (maybe not the tiny 2 pound dogs) can walk 2-5 miles. A small-med size dog (20-30 pounds) may suit your walking needs. Avoid brachy dogs (as previously mentioned) and you should be fine.
 

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Was thinking of getting an adult dog perhaps from a shelter or rescue group.
Good choice.

My experience walking friends dogs when they are on vacation is that small dogs often want to be carried after a few blocks.
This isn't a problem with the dog -- it's a problem with the owners. Fact is, people with small dogs treat the dog how they want to treat it. They see a cute little thing and they think it's a crime or something to make it walk. Fact: It is NOT a crime to make the dog walk. Then when they try to walk it, they're terrified they're over-exercising it or being cruel to it for making it walk more than 3 seconds.. and they carry it.

Small dogs are not babies, they do not need strollers and cute little outfits, and are not in need of designer carry-purses. They're dogs, and with the right training, will walk just fine and dandy. Not all small dogs will be mountain-climbers obviously, but they can most definitely walk without being carried :D


However, I have heard some large dog breeds see cats as prey.
Don't go by the size of the dog for this. Beagles for example can have a shockingly high prey-drive.

Training is key though. Almost any dog can be trained to work well with cats.

Our Eskie pup enjoys our cat... our cat does not enjoy the Eskie pup nearly as much :D But they're finally getting used to each other and playing with each other. It's pretty cute.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
[QUOTE What other characteristics are you looking for in a dog? What kind of coat type are you looking for? Do you have a particular size preference? What personality type would you like you dog to have? What kind of training style do you prefer when it comes to training your dog?[/QUOTE]

As far as other characteristics, prefer relatively low maintenance dog, both in terms of coat and also temperment. I try to allow time each day to pet my cats and comb them, and was thinking that if I adopted a dog, I would include him or her in that animal attention time as well as walking couple times a day. So I guess a dog who would be independent enough not to need a lot more than that, except of course regular vet visits and occasional trips to the groomer.

As far as size, I was thinking medium to large size, but probably not super-large because as a first-time dog owner I don't want to feel overwhelmed. Previously I was under the impression a small dog would get tired on a 5-mile or longer hike so had not been thinking about those. Now from comments people have made, I am not sure.

Thank you everyone for all your helpful and informative comments.
 

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A small dog could definitely work for you in your situation. Some dogs may be too small to keep up with you (the six-pound chihuahuas, for example) and some dogs may not be good for endurance (brachycephalic dogs, for example, like pugs, that can have breathing problems when they exert too much). Some toy dogs, though, like papillons, poodles, manchester terriers, fox terriers, and silky terriers would be good hiking dogs if they were properly conditioned (aka they have to get in shape, just like you do). Those dogs will likely enjoy hiking, but it is also likely that you will always be a more capable hiker than them. The only toy dog that I really think could compete with a physically fit hiker is the papillon. As a hiker/backpacker myself, I would also feel a little uncomfortable taking a toy dog on the trail -- I would worry that they'd become prey for a particularly brave hawk or other predator.

Considering how many cats you have, I would recommend a breed that they can hold their own against. Four cats is four times the risk that an accidentally unsupervised dog can hurt one. This isn't a necessity by any means, but if I had four cats, I would feel better about getting a smaller dog with less prey/chase drive. Since you're a first time dog owner, that might also make it easier for you!

This quiz is my favorite dog breed selector, and I've found it to be pretty accurate (at least, I get the breeds I love when I take it...): http://www.k9country.com/perl//dogBreed.pl I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Also keep in mind that sometimes the medium-large sized dogs can actually be the most overwhelming to own. The Border Collie or Australian Shepherd, as an example, are much harder to care for than the English Mastiff or St. Bernard. Make sure you choose a breed that doesn't have a need for exercise and mental stimulation (training, and things that exercise the brain, like some food-dispensing toys, games of "find it" etc) that is more than you're willing to give.

Instinctively, dogs I think you might like are the Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Border Terrier, and Shiba Inu. But depending on how much training you want to do, how social you wan't your dog to be, how biddable, how much shedding you can tolerate, etc, they might not actually be good fits.
 
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