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Discussion Starter #1
I acquired my current dog before I met my girlfriend and she would like some input on the next dog, and her request is that it is red (brown). Ultimately the dog doesn't HAVE to be red, but it would be nice if we could find a red dog that fits my/our needs. I am primary caretaker/he dog person of the two of us.

I am looking for a dog that will like to go running (15-20 miles a week), biking, swimming, hiking, camping etc, and have a good chance at being reliable off leash (I know a lot of this is training, but certain breeds are more apt to be good off leash).

I have been looking into Vizslas, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrivers (with Vizslas being at the top of my list at the moment).

Does anyone have suggestions for other breeds to look into (regardless of color)? Or think any of those breeds are a bad idea? An adult rescue known to have the qualities I am looking for isn't out of the question, but for now I'd like to narrow down some breeds.
 

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I don't have in-depth experience with any of those breeds, but I've met some charming Rhodies and Tollers! A family had a Chessie in my parent's old neighborhood, and she seemed really excellent with the kids, but definitely suspicious of strangers. Not in a real spooky way, but she always alerted when we went by with Sam and a couple times crossed the street to check us out. Again, not aggressively or fearfully, but she definitely seemed to be guardier of her people and yard than a lot of the more common retrievers.

Labs and golden retrievers can both come in that dark fox-red color, too. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that poodles can be excellent do-anything dogs and are quite handsome in red, in my opinion (and I'm not biased at aaaaall). Seriously though, I think your list sounds pretty solid for active, athletic family dogs, hopefully someone with more in-depth experience comes along with more specific input.
 

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I think you have a decent list going. Are there any other things that are important? Because Chessies tend to be very aloof/standoffish around strangers. Rhodies are very smart but not always super biddable like some breeds. Some Tollers make horrendous screaming noises.

I've loved the Vizslas and Tollers I have met. Both seem to have enough dogs in the breed that are fairly good with dogs and people. Definitely met good off lead ones but some not so much. I also agree with the suggestion of Fox Red Labs or dark red Goldens being an option. Color isn't going to determine off leash reliability though. That's dog personality and training dependent.

If you are okay with the possibility of some adolescent reactivity, a lot of lines of herding breeds tend to be good off lead. My red and white working bred Border is absolutely wonderful off lead.. I can call her off bunnies and everything. My Aussie is not, but others have had great success with off lead Aussies, which can come in red bi (usually more in working lines), red tri and red merle.
 

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Not Ridgebacks. They are hounds and act like it. Some say scenthounds and some say sighthounds. I say they are both!

Vizlas are well known as velcro dogs. They look like hounds and have those hound ears like a redbone kind of, but as hunting retriver types they are bred to work closely with people in the field.
 

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Not Ridgebacks. They are hounds and act like it. Some say scenthounds and some say sighthounds. I say they are both!

Vizlas are well known as velcro dogs. They look like hounds and have those hound ears like a redbone kind of, but as hunting retriver types they are bred to work closely with people in the field.
This Ridgebacks are independent and hounds, they are known for chasing rabbits and such and not sticking beside there people, yes they can be trained to stay by there owner but there not a natural dog for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't have in-depth experience with any of those breeds, but I've met some charming Rhodies and Tollers! A family had a Chessie in my parent's old neighborhood, and she seemed really excellent with the kids, but definitely suspicious of strangers. Not in a real spooky way, but she always alerted when we went by with Sam and a couple times crossed the street to check us out. Again, not aggressively or fearfully, but she definitely seemed to be guardier of her people and yard than a lot of the more common retrievers.

Labs and golden retrievers can both come in that dark fox-red color, too. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that poodles can be excellent do-anything dogs and are quite handsome in red, in my opinion (and I'm not biased at aaaaall). Seriously though, I think your list sounds pretty solid for active, athletic family dogs, hopefully someone with more in-depth experience comes along with more specific input.
I have a poodle mix right now and my girlfriend isn't his biggest fan haha. I think he ruined poodles for her because he is a reactive nutjob :( but I love poodles haha. He's a great dog in every other way.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Not Ridgebacks. They are hounds and act like it. Some say scenthounds and some say sighthounds. I say they are both!

Vizlas are well known as velcro dogs. They look like hounds and have those hound ears like a redbone kind of, but as hunting retriver types they are bred to work closely with people in the field.
Thanks for the tip on ridgebacks! I will cross them off the list. I think Vizslas as definitely first pick right now.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think you have a decent list going. Are there any other things that are important? Because Chessies tend to be very aloof/standoffish around strangers. Rhodies are very smart but not always super biddable like some breeds. Some Tollers make horrendous screaming noises.

I've loved the Vizslas and Tollers I have met. Both seem to have enough dogs in the breed that are fairly good with dogs and people. Definitely met good off lead ones but some not so much. I also agree with the suggestion of Fox Red Labs or dark red Goldens being an option. Color isn't going to determine off leash reliability though. That's dog personality and training dependent.

If you are okay with the possibility of some adolescent reactivity, a lot of lines of herding breeds tend to be good off lead. My red and white working bred Border is absolutely wonderful off lead.. I can call her off bunnies and everything. My Aussie is not, but others have had great success with off lead Aussies, which can come in red bi (usually more in working lines), red tri and red merle.
I'd actually prefer a more aloof dog, as long as it isn't out of fear/aggression and is more a lack of interest in greeting and alertness/protectiveness (those are words now?)

My girlfriend actually loves aussies and they are an exception to the 'I want a red dog' thing, but I was worried they would be too barky for her. In your experience, are they barky? I don't mind vocal expressions of excitement or that kind of thing, but random barking/barking at anything that moves outside could be an issue.
 

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Our ACD x (maybe border collie? long fur) Rosie is, surprise, red. She's great. Very much a Velcro dog and I'm her person. Never had a smarter dog though. She notices Everything. She doesn't really like long walks with me but I think if she'd had a chance with someone more athletic she'd be a great runner!
 

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I had a vizsla in the past and an Aussie now. After researching and researching both dog before choosing my pups . I very much thought I knew what I was getting with each breed. I found I did not. My vizsla was the very, very extreme side of hyper. My Aussie is on the very low end of hyper and shedding(thank goodness). Neither of these were/are Barkers. I worked on that from the very beginning. Both very good off leash. They are both considered Velcro dogs. My vizsla MORE velcro than my Aussie. My Aussie is protective and takes longer to get use to new people and is going to stay by my side and growl as to say I don't know you. My vizsla was scared of his own shadow and would ran me over to saved himself but was excited meet everyone and was happy to jump all over to say I don't know you but I already like you. My Aussie is more independent but still need to be around his people. He handles All types of weather well. My vizsla was beautiful dog but a LOT of work. My Aussie is smart as a whip and I would say my dream dog but as I write this I think of my vizsla. Watching him run was like watching a wild horse run he was truly breathtaking and had a beautiful soul and a lot of crazy.
 

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I'd actually prefer a more aloof dog, as long as it isn't out of fear/aggression and is more a lack of interest in greeting and alertness/protectiveness (those are words now?)

My girlfriend actually loves aussies and they are an exception to the 'I want a red dog' thing, but I was worried they would be too barky for her. In your experience, are they barky? I don't mind vocal expressions of excitement or that kind of thing, but random barking/barking at anything that moves outside could be an issue.
Aussies are very "lines" dependent on stranger aloofness and also barky-ness. Mine is a bark-a-holic and it definitely runs in her lines. I know plenty of others who are normal amounts of bark and not very much bark at all. Mine is stranger aloof but was a little bit fear reactive as a teen. She has matured nicely but was pretty high maintenance for awhile.

With any breed, you really are going to have to ask the breeder about the traits they are breeding for/against. Some Vizslas can have issues with neurotic-ness and separation anxiety/general anxiety. I think a well bred Vizsla is a great dog though.
 

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Ah, yeah. A confident, conscientiously-bred poodle is an amazing dog, but they do tend more towards being sensitive and high-strung, which means anxiety and reactivity can crop up in a lot of the less carefully bred lines (and, lbr, even in some well-bred lines, since breeding is an inexact art no matter how careful you are). I can see how that'd turn someone off. We really lucked out with Sam in that he's only frustration reactive and not fearful (given he's a Craigslist rehome originally from a commercial breeder), but even that is likely partially caused by how alert and sensitive to changes in his surroundings he is.
 

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I'd actually prefer a more aloof dog, as long as it isn't out of fear/aggression and is more a lack of interest in greeting and alertness/protectiveness (those are words now?)

My girlfriend actually loves aussies and they are an exception to the 'I want a red dog' thing, but I was worried they would be too barky for her. In your experience, are they barky? I don't mind vocal expressions of excitement or that kind of thing, but random barking/barking at anything that moves outside could be an issue.
I have an Aussie/Collie, a mutt of unknown origins. He "talks" to us, and he was EXTREMELY reactive as an older puppy/teen, and still is very wary around strangers. He doesn't bark at everything, anymore, though. They do get used to their "normal", and after a while they do understand that people passing on the sidewalk is normal. So, 90% of the time, my dog is quiet. He doesn't bark just because.

As others have said, I do think it really depends on that dog's pedigree. I've seen purebred Aussies who are rock solid, nothing ruffles their fur. I've seen Aussies who are real nut jobs and I wouldn't touch them in a million years. Those ones are typically from the pet store or a poor breeder. I've seen constantly barking ones (just for fun) and ones that are pretty quiet. You would just have to talk to the breeder about their dogs and explain what you want.
 

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Have you considered a Boxer? They meet all the requirements you listed, including being aloof with strangers. Also some of the fawn ones are quite reddish.
 

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Aussies are mentioned, so I guess I need to chime in. :p Plus, Atlas is a red merle, so that extra means I have to comment!

Atlas comes from show-bred lines, and overall I think he's very moderate on most traits. (Except for the hair... he got that from his poppa I'm pretty sure.) In terms of barking - on his own, he really only excitement barks. Situations like my boyfriend and I are play fighting, or if other dogs are playing and he can't join in, or I'm grooming my parent's aussie and he is VERY upset that he's not getting the attention, etc. (These are all things that can be worked on, I just haven't found a need as they generally don't bother me.) As for barking "at things", he's extremely good. We have an acreage, but the communal mailbox is outside our front window - he learned very quickly that quiet puppies get to look out the window, and 99% of the time just hangs out and watches. (He's been known to give out a bark or two if someone rides their horse past, or a porcupine wanders by... but those are out of the norm.) He is bad for barking if one of the Labradors that lives with us barks first - he instantly barks without having a clue half the time. But he is can be quiet even if they are barking outside at something and he is in the house. I think I probably just made it sound as if he is really barky, but he really isn't. I'm sure there have been days go by where he hasn't barked at anything, haha.

To your original question, I agree that many herding breeds are good off leash. (Most of our dogs have been herding breed crosses, and they have all been quite reliable off leash.) Atlas is generally very good. By this I mean, that because we live out of the city on acreages, he often spends the majority of each walk off leash. (Leashed only for parts of the walk I know we might meet dogs, an area with a lot of traffic, or if I see someone approaching, etc.) His recall isn't always 100% on the first call, but it is always 100% as I've never had him not return to me. Some days he's more distracted by the smells than he should be, so he spends more time leashed (and other days he's making a U-turn the instant I whistle for him). But generally speaking I have quite a bit of faith in him, and a realistic expectation of how good his recall is based on my training abilities.

So like others have said, no matter what you go with, go with a breeder than knows their lines and their dogs. I had the benefit of being facebook friends with my breeder for a few years prior to me being able to get Atlas, so she had a pretty good idea of my lifestyle and personality before placing a puppy with me. Maybe that helped, maybe it didn't, but I don't think it hurt at all!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Aussies are very "lines" dependent on stranger aloofness and also barky-ness. Mine is a bark-a-holic and it definitely runs in her lines. I know plenty of others who are normal amounts of bark and not very much bark at all. Mine is stranger aloof but was a little bit fear reactive as a teen. She has matured nicely but was pretty high maintenance for awhile.

With any breed, you really are going to have to ask the breeder about the traits they are breeding for/against. Some Vizslas can have issues with neurotic-ness and separation anxiety/general anxiety. I think a well bred Vizsla is a great dog though.
Good point, I will have to look at lines and talk with specific breeders for whatever breed we do end up deciding on. I've never purchased from a breeder before, but I'm pretty confident in my ability to select a responsible breeder who can tell me what they are working on with their breeding program.


Ah, yeah. A confident, conscientiously-bred poodle is an amazing dog, but they do tend more towards being sensitive and high-strung, which means anxiety and reactivity can crop up in a lot of the less carefully bred lines (and, lbr, even in some well-bred lines, since breeding is an inexact art no matter how careful you are). I can see how that'd turn someone off. We really lucked out with Sam in that he's only frustration reactive and not fearful (given he's a Craigslist rehome originally from a commercial breeder), but even that is likely partially caused by how alert and sensitive to changes in his surroundings he is.
Maybe one day I will be able to convince her we need another poodle, but for now, I concede. I love the breed and their versatility and I love my little poodle mutt. Oli is originally from a puppy store in a mall, so his genetics and upbringing before I got him definitely work against him.


Have you considered a Boxer? They meet all the requirements you listed, including being aloof with strangers. Also some of the fawn ones are quite reddish.
I hadn't considered one as of yet - but I will now! Thanks for the suggestions.



Aussies are mentioned, so I guess I need to chime in. :p Plus, Atlas is a red merle, so that extra means I have to comment!

Atlas comes from show-bred lines, and overall I think he's very moderate on most traits. (Except for the hair... he got that from his poppa I'm pretty sure.) In terms of barking - on his own, he really only excitement barks. Situations like my boyfriend and I are play fighting, or if other dogs are playing and he can't join in, or I'm grooming my parent's aussie and he is VERY upset that he's not getting the attention, etc. (These are all things that can be worked on, I just haven't found a need as they generally don't bother me.) As for barking "at things", he's extremely good. We have an acreage, but the communal mailbox is outside our front window - he learned very quickly that quiet puppies get to look out the window, and 99% of the time just hangs out and watches. (He's been known to give out a bark or two if someone rides their horse past, or a porcupine wanders by... but those are out of the norm.) He is bad for barking if one of the Labradors that lives with us barks first - he instantly barks without having a clue half the time. But he is can be quiet even if they are barking outside at something and he is in the house. I think I probably just made it sound as if he is really barky, but he really isn't. I'm sure there have been days go by where he hasn't barked at anything, haha.

To your original question, I agree that many herding breeds are good off leash. (Most of our dogs have been herding breed crosses, and they have all been quite reliable off leash.) Atlas is generally very good. By this I mean, that because we live out of the city on acreages, he often spends the majority of each walk off leash. (Leashed only for parts of the walk I know we might meet dogs, an area with a lot of traffic, or if I see someone approaching, etc.) His recall isn't always 100% on the first call, but it is always 100% as I've never had him not return to me. Some days he's more distracted by the smells than he should be, so he spends more time leashed (and other days he's making a U-turn the instant I whistle for him). But generally speaking I have quite a bit of faith in him, and a realistic expectation of how good his recall is based on my training abilities.

So like others have said, no matter what you go with, go with a breeder than knows their lines and their dogs. I had the benefit of being facebook friends with my breeder for a few years prior to me being able to get Atlas, so she had a pretty good idea of my lifestyle and personality before placing a puppy with me. Maybe that helped, maybe it didn't, but I don't think it hurt at all!
Thank you for that insight! Atlas is such a beautiful boy :)

I've never owned a herding breed dog before, and they do seem right up my alley. Aussies are definitely staying on my list, I think it would just be a matter of finding a breeder we click with.
 

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A Dogo would fit everything besides red.
Other 3 breeds that come to mind are most likely more dog than you girlfriend would feel comfortable with.
 

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Sydneynicole - Thank you! I think he's very handsome too - and sometimes as big of a butthead as he is pretty. :D

Finding the right breeder is definitely part of the equation! A good one is invaluable. (Ironically, I found the "good" breeders around my area are actually cheaper than some of the more sketchy ones. And don't get me started on mini aussies! There are some around here that charge more if they are merle, and an extra amount per each blue eye! And their prices are more than what I paid for my purebred, registered dog from proven lines... Yeesh.)
 

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A breed to consider would be the Irish Setter.
I had 3 of them in the 80's. They are smart and quick to learn training.
Very sweet disposition.
 
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