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I am not a first-time dog owner. But after a year of doing breed research, I'm starting to feel like one. I've researched until I'm almost paralyzed with fear of making a mistake. Research says that those dogs that pique my interest are destined to become Cujo unless I take them for daily runs and weekly agility competitions. So, I am here to ask for input from those of you who are better versed in breed behavior.

As an FYI, I have had only two dogs in the past 25 years. I did not seek out either of them. They just happened to find me, and I'm so glad they did. Now, after 3 years of being petless, I'm aching for another canine family member.

My last pooch was a shepherd(Kelpie?)/Shar-Pei pound puppy who was barely old enough to be weaned from his mom. He was a stubborn little thing, and (fear?) aggressive. He was almost kicked out of his PetSmart puppy class for his bad-boy behavior. Not knowing better, instead of further socializing him, I took the opposite route and kept him away from strangers and other animals for fear of him getting hurt or hurting others. I got lucky. Somehow, he turned into the best household companion an owner could ask for. He was alert, playful, wary of strangers, protective of his people pack yet gentle with extended family when they came to visit. That pooch taught me to be a firm yet gentle pack leader. Sadly, our time with him was a short 9 years as he had many health issues, including severe allergies, a tumor and epilepsy that required twice-daily medication and regular veterinary visits.

The dog I had before him was a Belgian malinois. I found him when he was a sick, starving, worm-infested 4-month-old pup. He was already housebroken, so obviously had someone who cared about him during his early months but we were unable to find his owner. After investing several hundred dollars in veterinary care, I decided to keep him. We survived teething and he went on to be the BEST DOG EVER. He was nothing like the malinois I've recently read about online. He was not willful, destructive or aggressive. He was like a golden lab in a Belgian malinois body. If I could wish for the next perfect pooch, a clone of that malinois would be it.

I am retired now (pushing 60) and have a lot more time to put into training my next pup. I also have a lot less money to spend one one. That said, puppy and adolescent obedience training are figured into my budget. Most days, I'm home 'round the clock, but once a week I am gone for 4-6 hours. During this time, the pooch would be crated until I know that he will be fine on his own. (Ideally, he will learn to be respectful indoors and will use the doggy door to take care of potty business)

I am not athletic nor competitive. I'm not looking for a jogging partner and I have no interest in running along side my pooch during an agility competition. However, I have no problem WALKING a dog through a makeshift agility course in my backyard. I think a backyard game of treiball might be fun and I might like a dog that can learn to pull a small wagon on walks.

I DO want a dog that is generally healthy, eager to please (trainability) and whose appearance will cause would-be burglars/muggers to think twice about committing their dirty deed. A dog that has the ability and desire to protect his owner is a plus, but not a requirement. FYI: No children in my immediate or extended family so that is not a worry for me.

I do NOT want a drooler, a bully breed, a small dog, a giant breed or one that requires regular trips to the groomer.

Yes, I'm fully aware that I've greatly limited my choices. I am also aware that my lack of athleticism, my age and my doggie inexperience points to me getting a lap dog. That is not what I want. On the other hand, I want a dog who will be as happy with me as I am with him/her.

Breeds that interest me most are, in order: Australian Cattle Dog (first time I saw a blue heeler I fell in love); Belgian malinois (personal bias acknowledged); German shepherd; Border collie; Australian shepherd (though my nephew insists one would be too rambunctious for me) and Pembroke Welsh corgi.

I have met many sweet-dispositioned Pitbull dogs, and yet I still have a fear of them, so pits are ruled out. Also ruled out are dobermans because my youngest son, whom I live with, has an unexplained fear of them.

Suggestions? Thoughts? Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm a big girl. I can take it. Just don't advise me to get a King Charles Spaniel for the house and a mechanical German Shepherd for the front yard. :)
 

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You have a pretty conflicting list of wants and needs there. The one thing I can say is that all of the dogs in the group that does interest you are going to require a lot more exercise than you are interested in.

If you like the herding group, a smooth collie might work for you, especially a tricolored one (big black dogs are scarier). The collies (Lassie collies, not border collies) tend to be on the lower intensity end of the herding group. So they would fit more into your exercise requirements.

I also thought of a Leonberger but they may be too large and furry. Some of the Mastiff breeds would work but they drool.

Another good dog, temperament wise, would be a Bernese Mountain Dog.
 

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It was the herding group that interested me. All of them I decided on an Australian Shepherd. I have to say the best dog I ever had. I read everything I could find on Australia Sheppards. My pup is on the low end of hyper. I have taken him classes from puppy classes to obidence. He will be a year in September. The hard part was the nipping in the beginning. He nipped ALOT I had black and blue marks and cuts from his teeth all over my hands. Once we understood each other and I made it clear I was not getting nipped again it ended quickly. Potty trained fast. He loves to "heard" large kids balls I buy at walmart. We go out in the yard and I kick the balls around the yard,it is his favorite thing. He also like to play catch with the ball. I throw it and he hits it back with his nose. Lots of ways to burn energy that will not require you to run. He plays with my sons dogs alot for extra exercise. He is protective and wery of strangers, one a walk or give me space. I can't imagine him biting anyone but his low growling does the trick. He warms up some when he sees I approve of frienda. I am 50 and have no problems taking care of his needs. He love to go for car rides. To me he is the perfect balance between wanting attention but also happy to lay at the steps to gaurd his people. No matter what you choose You need to ask lots of question and describe what you want in a dog. When I went to look at the Aussie available I was told hyper, hyper, this one is well rounded and this other one is lazy. I bonded with lazy and I am so happy and I believe he is too. Good luck
 

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I have an Aussie pup as well, definitely more bitey/chase and nip happy than my previous dogs (expect blood) but also very smart and eager to please. She's either the best dog in the class by a country mile or a reactive mess, even in the same session.

I'm not a runner but I will take her up the mountain road or to the nature park for a long slow hike (well as long as she will go at this point) and I have a big yard for fetch and she has the kids to entertain her. If she didn't have a decent retrieve (at least indoors) it would be harder. I'm proactively planning for when that is no longer enough, I have a bike leash for when she gets to ~1 year (will probably start training in the driveway/slow speeds earlier than that), I plan to enroll her in some agility stuff, we are doing basic trick dog stuff. There is a place where I can take her for herding lessons when she is older about 30 minutes away. She is going to be taught to gather sticks from the yard. Scent work I understand is low effort on your end and high effort/rewarding on the dogs end.

From what I understand you will never physically wear out an Aussie or a Border and you just have to give them enough mental stimulus and build a routine to the point where you can manage them w/ chews, tasks and training...otherwise they will destroy you and everything you own. You do need to be able to bleed off enough energy for them to focus though.

I've seen plenty of old and out of shape shepherds but they have years of experience and sheep. The problem is that you need to get fetch right and you NEED to get recall (come) right ASAP or you won't be able to exercise the dog/the dog will take off and you will never catch it. A jogger can always fall back on running the dog tired but you won't have that safety net and fetch is one of the harder early skills for a dog. You really need to devote a lot of time to mitigating potential issues via training and activities before they become issues.

... I've yet to face the 'teenager' phase and I hope she continues to nap during the day while I work, sometimes she can be rather pushy for attention (the play/work kind of attention).

If you are still considering it checkout out the book "Teach Your Herding Breed to Be a Great Companion Dog, from Obsessive to Outstanding" It'll give you a better idea of what kind of issues these dogs can have and how much work will need to go into mitigating them.

He love to go for car rides.
Mine was kinda terrified, now she isn't afraid to get in but when we start moving she has to put her head against me (she would be on my lap if I let her) and stare up at me with sad eyes and the occasional whine until she falls asleep a couple of minutes later. It's weird, all my other dogs just got stupidly excited and wanted to get their heads out the crack in the window and sniff it all in.
 

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Honestly - I'd check petfinder. When you're not set on a specific breed, I really see no point in spending a ton of money on a puppy. Plus, with a dog that has been fostered for a bit, they would have a better idea of what their temperament is like.
 

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Gonna sound totally out of left field since they aren't in the same groups as any of your current top breeds, but I'm going o suggest a retired Greyhound.

Large but not giant, wash and go coat, typically friendly to people and dogs but large enough to be intimidating to someone poking around your house or passing by n the dark (black or dark brindle dogs seem to be more "scary" to random people), moderate exercise needs if has some room to sprint a bit daily, and you can skip the puppy phase of toilet training and teething. Most are fully leash and crate trained too coming off the track.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I have not finalized my wish list, but I've got more to think about.

I had no idea that there were "smooth" (short-haired) Collies. Beautiful dogs! And the suggestion for a greyhound is definitely something to consider. I have added the breeds to my list of possibles. However, I am adamant about having a puppy. A puppy means more time in our home, early socialization is our responsibility, and there's all that puppy cuteness. Not to mention there's a satisfaction that comes from being able to say, "I survived the sleepless nights and the terrible teething stage. :)

A mix breed is A-OK with me but I would like an idea of its breed before I make a decision to bring it home. However, I'm finding myself torn between my finances and my ethical concerns. I've been tempted by a few ads from backyard breeders but have refrained. I like the idea of being able to meet one or both parents; but I HATE that people are profiting from irresponsible breeding or their failure to spay or neuter. While I like the idea of adopting from a rescue organization, I've found many of them to be too darned costly. Here in SoCal, the average cost is $350-500 for a dog whose parentage is virtually unknown. Some days, I think I might be better off saving up $1,000 and buying a pup from a responsible breeder, one that breeds with genetics and good health in mind and goes out of their way to socialize and introduce potty training to the poochies during their initial 8 to 14 weeks. In the meantime, I'm spending a lot of time on PetHarbor looking at the offerings in animal shelters within a 50-mile radius of my home. Pups are far and few between and the majority that I do see are Chihuahua or Pitbull.

My son says I'm overthinking things. He reminded me that we had we read about the breeds of our two previous dogs--known for their aggression, high energy and stubborn behavior--we'd probably not have adopted them. And we would have missed out on two wonderful family members. Whatever dog we get, we'll find a way to make them a productive member of our family.

BTW, mental stimulation is not a concern, especially now that I'm no longer working. There are lots of ways to keep a dog mentally stimulated (frozen Kong toys; intricate pet feeding toys; seek & retrieve games; backyard treiball where the dog pushes big balls toward a goal; and the ongoing training to reinforce the basics and teach new skills). It was the physical stimulation that I was worried about. I'm still searching, but I've found a few toys that might help those of us who are not athletes. Look up "Flirt Pole" and you'll find what looks like an industrial strength cat teaser. I love this idea! Also, look for the Home Alone bungee toy. It is a tug toy that can be hooked to a solid tree branch or well-secured patio cover. While touted as a way for dogs to play while the owner is away, I am not so sure that I'd want my dog to play with it unsupervised but as a supervised game I think it will be a great option.
 

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I second the retired greyhound! Wonderful dogs, some are retired very early so you'd still have plenty of time with them. Also, lab/shepherd mixes tend to be widely available in rescues and are usually lovely companions (a bit biased here, my girl is the best dog I could have hoped for).
 

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When my last dog died I very much thought I wanted a puppy next. For one, the odds were in my favor that a puppy would be with us a lot longer and I didn't wanna go through losing a dog again anytime soon but also, I wanted to be the one train, socialize, etc. I was quite hard headed about wanting a puppy, didn't even want to look at older dogs, and that was that. Guess what? I just adopted a senior dog a few weeks ago. Well, technically a senior but she hasn't slowed down too much yet. So I went from wanting the youngest of the young to getting an older gal (8 years old, large breed). How? My parents were fostering her and when I met her, I fell in love! I will admit I was a bit apprehensive at first about bringing home a dog whose entire life I didn't know but it was all really in my own head, she gave me no reason to feel that way. We're quickly getting over it. I have zero regrets and she's amazing. She's everything I wanted my future puppy to grow up to be and while I thought I wanted to be the one to train a dog to be that way, it is nice when you aren't the one that has to lose sleep, teach them not to nip, chew, etc. It's lovely in fact.

Now obviously you don't have to give up wanting a puppy and I'm not suggesting that. But....if your searches continue to be futile (it's hard to find the perfect puppy because we want to know what they'll be like when they're older), then maybe just meet a few older dogs. You definitely don't have to adopt a senior dog like I did but there's all kinds of ages in between. You never know when you'll fall in love. And honestly, there are dogs that don't fit their breed's personality. For instance, I just adopted a bloodhound mix...yeah, she loves nose work, but she's not really like most descriptions you read of a bloodhound. Had I just read breed description and not met her, I would've said no thanks very quickly. My last dog? A boxer. He had very little of that boxer energy that boxers are infamous for. Most people that would've said no to a boxer based on their energy would have considered him in a heartbeat. And that's the great thing about adopt a dog that's a little older, you get to see what they're like already. Just a suggestion to keep in mind if you keep turning your gears over a puppy that you can't find.
 

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I commend you for knowing what you want, and knowing what you are able to handle!

My opinion is that -generally speaking- the breeds you listed are not great fits. I would especially steer you away from Malinois and Heelers. Yes, individual dogs like your old Mal might be the perfect blend of what you're looking for. But by and large, the breeds are known for being physically and mentally strong. Bite first, think later. I have a Dutch shepherd (similar to Mals and the same breed depending on who you talk to) and his puppy stage was not 'normal puppy teething and fits'. But that applies to many high drive herding breeds too, like those you listed. I have worked with, and/or am presently working with) Mals and Heelers with serious bite histories. And that is considered very unsurprising where I am.

However, I can think of individual dogs of those breeds who would fit the bill. For example, there is an Aussie in our shelter right now who seems very laid back and charming. A real gentleman. And he's only 1-2 yrs old by our estimation. He has nipped at people and attempted to bite a few times, but no damage and a total sweetheart with staff at the moment. He would probably enjoy a quiet life with his small circle of people. But for a general household companion with a family who wants that protectiveness, I think he will be perfect.

I think a retired greyhound, or a mature adult with the right personality of the breeds you are interested in, is a great option. There are plenty of candidates if you look at breed specific rescues.
 

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Also re: heelers. I have worked with and met many, many heelers. They are one of the most popular breeds or mixes in this sprawling, ranch heavy part of the country. I am not exaggerating when I say I have never met a single heeler that did not have a quirk of some kind (ex. does not get along with all people, does not get along with all dogs, semi-social, protective, bite history, nips at strangers, chases bikes, reactive, selective, etc.) As in, I've met labs and goldens who were a little ornery but most are social lovebugs. I have met heelers who are ornery but I've never met one who was 'like a golden'.

They are GREAT dogs. I love their personality a lot. They just were not bred to be super social, good-with-all kinds of dogs.
 

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Gonna sound totally out of left field since they aren't in the same groups as any of your current top breeds, but I'm going o suggest a retired Greyhound.

Large but not giant, wash and go coat, typically friendly to people and dogs but large enough to be intimidating to someone poking around your house or passing by n the dark (black or dark brindle dogs seem to be more "scary" to random people), moderate exercise needs if has some room to sprint a bit daily, and you can skip the puppy phase of toilet training and teething. Most are fully leash and crate trained too coming off the track.

That was my first thought, as well. They are called 40 mile an hour couch potatoes because they seriously don't require nearly as much exercise as people think once they quit racing, and are quite happy to lounge around all day, provided they get a good walk in, or have some room to run.
 

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I am just going to lay some experiences out there for you to take or leave.

My heeler mutt is the first dog I would straight up, loudly and emphatically and confidently say, is in no way, shape, or form a good pet. Given that I have a highly driven, dog selective, fear aggressive border collie this is saying something.

Kiran (the heeler-x) is in-freaking-sane. He absolutely does chill out in the house, but he chills out in the house only because he is *out of the house* doing physically and mentally demanding things 5 days a week. He is an *excellent* sports dog, he is an excellent *dog*. He's got pretty strong preference for his person (me), but he likes people, and he loves kids, and he likes other dogs. He's just also loud, pushy, demanding. As a puppy he'd do 5 foot standing leaps to grab things out of my hands - or to latch his teeth onto me, and I don't mean puppy nipping I mean pry his jaws off my arm and on one occasion my breast. He is just -

He is a very, very good dog.

He would be a very, very bad pet dog.

And coming from someone who swore blind for many years anyone claiming that was on some kind of ego trip that's saying a lot.

 

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Hahaa, Brae and Kiran are so similar... And I have heard a few folks compare Malinois and Heelers. For comparison, here's my Dutchie 7 feet up a tree going after a toy. He then hangs on and dangles there...



We have a similarly active lifestyle. We do deliberate, intensive training and are out and about for over an hour (at least) 7 days a week. Yeah, there's an off day once in a blue moon. But I wouldn't say once a week consistently. He chills really well in the house too. But lack of exercise shows. This last week, I actually had to keep him quiet for a few days because he cut his paw on glass. When he was allowed to run again I took him to a field and played disc. He missed EVERY catch and nailed my hand twice, just because he was too worked up. And it's not like playful nip... It's like a numbing pain. I couldn't feel my hand for a few seconds both times and have a scrape on my finger from one of those times. This is considered extremely normal.
 

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I've reached the point with Kiran where I am actively loaning him out to dog friends. They practice their disc throws and, when he's cooperative, training skills on a higher drive dog. I sit around and pet sane dogs. They get experience with a high drive dog and figuring out if they actually want that or not, and some practice throwing for a dog who *WILL* catch it, I get a better exercised dog. Win/win :p d

...I also get some amusement at him pretending not to know anything with them, while demand barking non-stop at them, but that part's because I'm a terrible person.
 

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Completely ignoring drive and energy, if one hasn't had a good dose of listening to cattle dog barking, that's like a litmus test.

Nails on a chalkboard, amplified.
 

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Hank doesn't bark, he screams.

I have a purebred border collie and a rescue heeler mix. They are both fantastic dogs and I'd be happy to talk your ear off about them. I find my heeler mix by far the harder of the two but partially that could be because Fable (the BC) is from a great breeder and has been extensively socialized since puppyhood vs Hank who was stray his first 8-10 months. That said I think a lot is difference in breed.

I am not one to say that breeds shouldn't be pets or that only a very few should own them. But I will tell you a bit as simply as I can about Hank. The biggest issue with him is he is borderline dog aggressive or at least dog selective. He is sharp and he bites hard. He's grown out of a lot of the biting but it was bad when he was young. Ripped shirts, bruises, etc. He is very very trainable but also very independent? In a way. He is not like my border collie at all. Either on giving you 1000 percent or he has something better to do. He is so athletic and can climb trees and jump eye level and actually runs across walls. (Yes he still does that!) He is the most complicated dog I've owned and the most 'difficult' when it comes to special handling. Things send him over threshold fast and he has a hard time containing himself. He's the reason I learned how to muzzle train and that I've learned to be a very conscientious dog owner as far as what sets off dogs and giving appropriate space bubbles and just being AWARE. He needs a very aware handler. Also sheds like the ****ens for what it's worth. The good is he is very helpful around the house- he picks up whatever I drop and gives it to me. He is sweet in his way. And so athletic. When he finds a task worthwhile, he is a Rockstar. The best way I can describe him is he is a dog of extremes. He doesn't do the chill and be normal thing well at all.

My border collie is much more biddable and so far much more dog friendly. She is busier than he is in the house and spends a lot of time self entertaining by flinging toys around and that kind of thing. She has more 'drive' in a traditional sense. They both learn about the same speed but the BC is much easier to focus and get motivated. I feel like the BC has more of a need to get out and stretch out and RUN. For me, she is the perfect dog but I do a lot of dog sports and hiking. I don't know that she'd be a good 'just pet' because she's never been in that kind of lifestyle before. She is weirder in some ways- just border collie-isms that I think are fantastic.

I am not sure I'll have another heeler if I'm honest. Maybe once Hank is long gone. No way in hell would I have two at a time. lol

Collie collies (rough and smooth) are great dogs and a bit more normal and moderate energy. That said a rescue border collie that is older might work if you find the right specific dog. But I would expect more exercise than you've outlined here.
 

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Kiran's tolerance from crap from other dogs is absolutely unreal. That dog is ACTIVELY HUMPING HIM. He did not care. There was a frisbee, he wanted it thrown, and when it was he just ran out from the other dog.

He is not, however, particularly interested in other dogs. As in, he wasn't offended but he pretty much dismissed that dog (who is another intact male, by the way) as completely irrelevant to his life.

Against Molly (and honestly most... every other herding breed individual I know with dogs who aren't dogs they're already on friendly terms with)'s tendency to take offense I am pretty convinced he's actually an alien.
 

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Hank was very dog friendly until he hit 2 years old and then he was very not dog friendly. Ymmv but I've met more space bubble or selective heelers than ones that were totally dog social.

Hank is so much that my dad's 80 lb GSD x mastiffy dog is afraid of him.

EDIT: Hank can be ok with very deliberate integrations. And he is ok with the dogs he's known since puppyhood for the most part barring a few intact males.
 
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