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(This is my first post here, and I didn't see a more obvious category for these two questions - I am sure it's not an uncommon topic though. If it should be somewhere else, feel free to direct me.)

Looking for a new dog (not my first) - been out of the loop for a while...

Q1: I am leaning towards a shelter dog, but I’m concerned about the genetics there; are my chances about the same as the local pet shop, as far as general health and so forth, or is it somehow better odds? (I’m not opposed to a breeder, I just like the rescue idea. I won’t be buying from the puppymill, don’t worry.) I’d like a puppy (less than six months), so not sure what kind of luck I will have at the shelter.

Q2: Help me choose a breed. My perfect dog is 30-50 lbs, short hair, not a sprinter, smart, independent, and generally happy. There are no kids, no allergies, snow in winter, water in summer, and a big house with a nice yard. No other animals here. Just about every 10-year old Lab I meet fits the bill! But where do I start?

(ps - I have read and researched dozens of breeds before posting this - can't find exactly what I'm looking for, hoping i've missed something...)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas – great website!
 

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I can't suggest any breeds, but I can say that I adopted a puppy a couple months ago and he is lovely.
All of my life (even as a child) I have only had purebred, regsitered dogs. When I heard about the horrors my little mutt had to endure, I couldn't turn my back on him. I'm so glad to have him in my life. He's smart, healthy and is an absolute joy. Truly a perfect match to my lifestyle. The only "flaw" he has, would be his fluffy, light colored coat. He sheds a lot and because of the color it's very noticable. But that is such a small part of who he is, it doesn't bother any of us (unless we're wearing black lol). I got him from a rescue organization, not a shelter. If you have specifications and want to take time getting to know your potential dog, I suggest you find a good rescue. They have breed specific rescues too, so when you decide on a breed, you may want to consider adopting from your breeds rescue.
 

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(This is my first post here, and I didn't see a more obvious category for these two questions - I am sure it's not an uncommon topic though. If it should be somewhere else, feel free to direct me.)

Looking for a new dog (not my first) - been out of the loop for a while...

Q1: I am leaning towards a shelter dog, but I’m concerned about the genetics there; are my chances about the same as the local pet shop, as far as general health and so forth, or is it somehow better odds? (I’m not opposed to a breeder, I just like the rescue idea. I won’t be buying from the puppymill, don’t worry.) I’d like a puppy (less than six months), so not sure what kind of luck I will have at the shelter.

Q2: Help me choose a breed. My perfect dog is 30-50 lbs, short hair, not a sprinter, smart, independent, and generally happy. There are no kids, no allergies, snow in winter, water in summer, and a big house with a nice yard. No other animals here. Just about every 10-year old Lab I meet fits the bill! But where do I start?

(ps - I have read and researched dozens of breeds before posting this - can't find exactly what I'm looking for, hoping i've missed something...)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas – great website!
I would say go the shelter or breeder route. Dogs at pet shops ARE puppy mill dogs, so don't buy one at a pet store. Not only would you risk bad genetics and behavioral issues, you would be supporting puppy mills. I would say getting a dog from a pet shop is much riskier than getting one from a rescue, shelter, or ethical breeder. You would be surprised at what you can get at the shelters. Sometimes they have whole litters of puppies, it is just a matter of waiting. I would expect to wait a few weeks/months before getting your dog. Shelters don't always have what you are looking for and sometimes the application process can take a while, and a good breeder will need time to get to know you and your needs in a dog. Many good breeders choose the puppy for you, since they know better than anyone else the pup's temperament and personality.

Not sure about the breeds, as that is a pretty general description, but a good place to start since you don't seem to care about colors and "cuteness", which is responsible. Labs are a bit bigger, but they fit your description well, except they are very people oriented. Labs looove humans. The kind of dog that wants to be by your side all the time. Labs are also puppies until about 4 years old! Lol

Purple gave great advice regarding rescues.
 

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I’d like a puppy (less than six months), so not sure what kind of luck I will have at the shelter.
I'd like to address this.
Shelters have everything from newborns, to seniors, to the craziest of crosses to purebloods that have the potential to be show dogs. It's just a matter of taking the time to find a friend that suits you best.
 

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Yes, is it more than possible to find puppies in shelters, though this may be dependent on your location. A lot of people get 8 week old puppies and then dump them in shelters when they outgrow their tiny adorableness and become a lot of work. I also suggest looking into rescue groups. Regarding genetics, some people will tell you that your best bet is a good breeder who does health testing, while others will tell you that a mutt is your best bet to avoid inbreeding. I suggest spending some time reading about the pros and cons of each of these. There is no right answer, only a right answer for you.

Regarding breeds, what sort of activity level are you looking for? My 40lb shelter mutt fits your description, but she's also a lot of work, due to her endless energy and drive. On the other end of the spectrum, I can also imagine lazy dogs that would fit your description.
 

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All of my dogs have been rescues and mutts... and I've been lucky throughout the years. I do recommend a Lab or Lab mix, but the puppies can be a challenge to raise, because they're intelligent, energetic, curious, they need to chew, and they will eat anything. But, when a trained, socialized Lab hits about 2 - 3, then he is YOUR dog and your companion, well adapted to your lifestyle, jogging or chillin', as desired. I'm careful to recommend a Lab pup to a new dog owner, but an experienced owner can easily learn to anticipate and train a pup.

Most rescue organizations can help you find a pup to fit your needs. Note that not all rescues are strays, some rescues may be well-bred pets who had to be released because of family circumstances - lay-off, moving, can't handle the energy, didn't know they'd purchased a furry piranha (instead of a plush toy).
 

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Have you thought about a beagle? Seems to fit all the qualities you are looking for.

If you are willing to go up to the under-1 year old age category, you'd be very likely to find a good one in a shelter or breed rescue. A lot of dogs come into shelters and rescue between about 5 months and 9 months of age, when the cute puppy stage has worn off but the more mature and easy adult stage hasn't shown up yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, all, for the great input. Don't worry, Lilasmom, i meant to imply that my local petshop IS a potential puppy mill; I am not shopping there.

I have not ruled out a beagle! Downside for me (and I have some small beagle experience) is that they, uh, wander. A beagle free to roam is a stubborn creature following his nose to the next county. They are otherwise a good fit for me, and I like them! I just would prefer something more...homebodied. Hope that makes some sense!
 

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Have you thought about a Basenji? My bff has a Basenji and he matches the description you gave. He's medium sized, not too vocal unless there's a reason, content to chill for hours but is always ready to go when you are. He also doesn't get the doggy odor and doesn't shed too much. Rocky doesn't have to be right by your side begging for attention. Which is a nice compared to my Doberman who thinks we should be siamese twins.
 

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Have you looked on Petfinder? Or at your local animal shelter? I found my dog by typing in the breed I was interested in, the age and gender I wanted and proximity to me on Petfinder. She is my heart dog! Maybe you can start by searching for labs?? Just be aware that puppies do go quick in rescue and often times many people are applying for them...you could adopt a slightly "older" dog and still really have a pup! Good luck :)
 

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You mentioned that a beagle can wander; I hope you realize that it's all dependant on the dog as far as whether a dog wanders or is a homebody. You can't plan on having a dog offleadh; you won't know til you get a dog. I was going to suggest a pbgv (see Boone in my signature) but they're hounds, I don't think I've heard of one who is reliable offleash.
 

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I have to agree that most dogs will wander. Thoughhhh, it is a bigger possibility with hounds. Lol
If you're not completely closed to the idea of hounds, Redbones are smooth coated, and really are generally happy dogs. They have the ability to move quickly as they're built to hunt and cover a lot of terrain but in general they don't make a habit of running. They'd rather just bounce around with you while you work. Most of them greatly enjoy swimming and playing in the snow. They tend to be very good with people and other dogs, and personally I haven't had a bad experience with one when it came to cats -so long as they're well socialized-
They're highly trainable and if you take the time to be patient with their puppy-like nature, they can easily be taught recall. My neighbor has one currently and in a matter of about 15 minutes he managed to smoothly gather 'wait' and 'come', in addition to 'sit' and 'down'. His owner doesn't enforce his training, so it takes a few tries when it comes to getting him to do something.
They tend to be active yet relaxed, and as long as you provide them with enough exercise and stimulation, they won't try too hard to escape ;D
They're a little over your weight range though and are natural hunters and they do tend to bay if they're lonely or excited (I like it though, but that's just me)
 

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Thanks again, all. Of my past dogs, none were a "Hound" type. Your dogs (both the hound and the pbgv) are beautiful. I have always, eventually, arrived at a confident "off leash" point (when safe, no cars, etc.). I camp, I boat, I visit the farm, and I live on a barely-built cul-de-sac - so there's plenty of opportunity to romp. But I'm a little wary of one these guys focusing on the rabbit and ignoring the human! I am not sure that can be trained out - but maybe I'm wrong? My local shelter has a coonhound mix right now, and a beagle, and a golden retriever pup, so my opportunities are out there (i have been perusing petfinder.). An online quiz matched me up with a Brittany...
 

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I don't think you'd be going wrong with any of those three (coonhound, beagle, GR pup). The golden might get bigger than you are looking for and isn't short haired, but the personality would be right. The hound and beagle are shorthaired, good natured and medium sized generally (most of the coonhounds I see are about 50-60 lbs or so)

Recall training can be harder with hounds, but you have to remember they were bred to hunt with people. So they might want to chase and want to roam, but they can be taught to return and to keep you within sight. Picture the hounds on a foxhunt with the horses and riders and everything like an English painting or the image of a coonhound and a mountain hunter in the US South.

My hound has a fairly typical prey drive (not insane, but strong) and he has/had (we haven't had the chance to practice lately) a good recall. I would take him to a friend's horse farm and he'd be off-leash the whole day. He would keep within earshot and either "check-in" often or come when called. It took a few months of serious training to get there. The one and only time he "kept on running" was after a deer, in the dark on a windy and snowy night when my voice and scent disappeared to quickly to catch him. He went to the horse barn and stayed until found. He didn't "roam" per se.

And some non-hounds will bolt for the door and keep on running..... :)
 

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A lot of the herding breeds are great at sticking close by. If I kick mine outside (unfenced), she will sit at the door whining, then barking, then screaming to come back in. We hike off leash all the time, and I've never had a problem.

BUT...

Herding breeds aren't for everyone. If a hound would suit your lifestyle, then I doubt that a herding breed would. They're very intelligent and require a lot of physical and mental exercise on a daily basis. From your description, I think a lab or lab mix sounds like a really good fit.
 

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If a hound would suit your lifestyle, then I doubt that a herding breed would. They're very intelligent and require a lot of physical and mental exercise on a daily basis.
not that hounds aren't intelligent and also require a decent amount of exercise and mental stimulate, though, right? lol
 

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Recall training can be harder with hounds, but you have to remember they were bred to hunt with people. So they might want to chase and want to roam, but they can be taught to return and to keep you within sight. Picture the hounds on a foxhunt with the horses and riders and everything like an English painting or the image of a coonhound and a mountain hunter in the US South.
This ^^ My hound mix puppy loves to explore and sniff but she's doing really well staying within eyesight of us and learning to check-in. We are spending a lot of extra time working on her recall and praising her when she checks in with us, because I was really nervous about getting a hound. But I also believe that you get out of things what you put into things. So we are putting as much work and praise as we can into her recall and so far it's paying off. Am I ever going to trust her off leash the same amount that I trust my lab/golden mix who will stop in his tracks mid-squirrel chase with one word?? Probably not, but that just means that I'm going to be more cautious with her and aware of the surroundings and be more diligent in training/enforcing/praising her recall.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks, everyone, again for the good input. Regarding the "complicated" - I wanted to clarify - going the purebred route, there are so many "typical" characteristics (and i know "typical" can and will vary) - I didn't read EVERY breed. For instance, I really like the Eurasier - it was nearly everything that fits me EXCEPT - there is quite the emphasis on not leaving it alone much, it gets depressed. Not all dogs have that caveat. (This is just one instance...) It's not complicated, per se - I just think it's smart to get something that has the best chance of suiting both our (mine and the dog) habits. Not that anything is guaranteed, but let's at least give it a great beginning chance!
 
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