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Choosing the right breed...

624 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  parus
Hi everyone,

My 6 year old son has been asking for a dog of his own, and I'm having some difficulty coming up with a suitable breed.

I live in a single family home with a decently sized, fenced back yard, with 6 foot tall wooden fences.

The biggest obstacle I face are the two dogs that live with us right now: my wife's 9 year old male Chihuahua, who weighs about 12 pounds -and is pretty easy going as far as Chihuahua's go- and a 7 year old male Lab/Terrier mix that was my mom's, he weighs about 22 pounds, and is a docile, sweet pup.

I'd like the new dog to meet the following criteria:

-pure breed, open to a mixed or cross breed
-medium to large in size
-good with children
-good jogging companion (for me)
-halfway decent guard dog
-low wanderlust, if at all possible
-young or young adult (so I can jog with him/her right away), but open to a puppy
-most importantly, one that won't kill both of the other dogs

I had my heart set on an Akita, a Rhodesian Ridgeback or a Black Mouth Cur (or all three!), my son loved those breeds as well, but they don't seem like good choices if I am to keep the Chihuahua alive. I've read that Chihuahas don't fare well with Hounds, large Terriers or Spitz-type dogs.

I also have two parrots, which I imagine would rule out most of the sporting group breeds as well?

So, indeed, this seems to be a tall order. Any guidance would be most appreciated.

My thanks in advance
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First the tips that would apply to (almost) any breed you choose.

1. Going through a REPUTABLE breeder will help you align your lifestyle requirements with the right temperament dog. For example, we intentionally raised puppies with cats and parrots (the dogs were "cat & -bird proofed"). Now, that's not a guarantee you can literally crate all species together. But it is the foundation for teaching coexistence.

2. You would want a dog with a low-prey drive. Because certain temperaments will chase anything that moves faster than they do. So ... instead ... teaching a co-operative game among the group would be helpful. A GENTLE game of ball (object oriented) fetch, where each dog has a ball to chase (not each other).

3. When you say "guard dog" be careful what you ask for (or expect). Dogs can not always distinguish between the "degrees" of guardianship you expect. Do you mean just barking (which is an alert behavior)? As opposed to contact drive? Not a good idea with kids. Kids are unpredictable.

4. Going through a breeder, means that the breeder has already socialized the dogs among (ideally) several generations of her own. And one breeder I know, intentionally got a Russian Terrier, to socialize with an entirely different, middle sized breed. She also had plenty of Toy sized dogs with the middle sized. So that was never an issue among those dogs.

5. It isn't so much the "age" (or even size) of the new dog. But how he/she fits in, in terms of rank. Again a breeder can help you identify how dominant or not a dog is, among the group. I've seen Chihuahuas run an entire group of large sized dogs. And terriers can be very prey driven in terms of energetic interaction in a group.

6. Sometimes females (retired from breeding) can be naturally nurturing.

7. Wanderlust is an instinctual behavior among any breed or age. More to the point is what is the range of anxiety to confidence that the particular dog or puppy has. You could end up with a dog desperately trying to escape (for whatever reason) in reaction to it's fear. Who'll climb or dig under a fence. Or dart out of the gate! Or have a confident, "follower" personality who will stick to the heels of an owner (leader) with no desire to part ways. Be aware that automatic neutering does not always change that instinct.

8. Lastly you want a breed athletically suitable for jogging in most kinds of weather. Sometimes short nosed breeds aren't as suitable. Short legged breeds can get heated when the pavement gets hot. Toy dogs could have joint issues. So (whatever the breed/size) you want there to be a certificate done to ensure no hip displasia or joint issues. (Or heart issues, for that matter). Beside jogging, Agility or Rally is also a sport for a lot of dogs.

9. Some "herding" breeds can be loyal for a family, naturally watchful, and intuitive.

IN SUMMARY: For a breed idea, am familiar with Poodles. A lot people are turned off by the grooming aspect. Fair enough. But they can be put into a "sporting style clip" that's very little upkeep. They're smart, social, adaptable, intuitive, loyal, good with children, watchful, and usually make families laugh with their antics. Miniatures and Standards are athletic, and were bred for field work in retrieving (not devouring) waterfowl. They have a "soft mouth" and webbed feet for swimming.
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