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Great Dog for Beginners and Apartments!

6472 Views 19 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  aiw
EDITED to add more info:

I've been googling here for a while and I actually stumbled across a response on this site which was great! But the thing is I have some specific criteria that I need help with :/

I'm 23 years old, I've owned many pets before including dogs and I currently own 6 rats. My fiance and I are moving on August 28th to Las Vegas (from PA) and we will be driving out and arriving on the 1st of September. When we get out there I plan on getting a dog! (NOT the first day, I'm just giving a timeframe of when I will be in my new home) Now I'm asking for a somewhat beginner dog because the only dogs I've ever owned were in my mom and dad's house and they were more the dog's caretakers than I. (Yay school) I've been taking online quizzes from purina and whatnot but they aren't too terribly helpful. Here's the issues:

~ I absolutely love big dogs...but we're moving into an apartment and have a 50lb. weight limit. So it has to be a small to medium sized dog.
~ No high-pitched bark dogs
~ No terrier breeds
~ Prefer dogs with short hair
~ We have pet rat's that are in cages and will be in the bedroom, will not be interacting with the dog ever. Other than that no other pets.
~ I personally will be home all the time for a while, so I can give the dog my undivided attention along with exercise!
~ I do not mind rescuing at all actually prefer it!
~ We are not allowed to have any of the "aggressive" breeds (according to the apartment complex, pits, chow chows, bull dogs, rottweilers, etc.) :(
~ Personally, not a fan of Pugs >.< (sorry pug lovers!)
~ I'm not a marathon runner, and I don't do heavy exercise. We have a dog park half a block from our apartment, playing and walking with the dog there, daily, is realistically what I can do!

Phew, I know that's kind of a long winded list x.x I'm not too picky I'm just thinking of apartment settings. I have also read that retired greyhounds are GREAT first time pets and I would love to get one more than anything, but I think they go over the 50lb. weight limit. At least two I saw for rescue in Vegas were 75lbs :( But I'm not sure what their average weight is. I also didn't want to get a dog that needs a lot of space because it is an apartment and I don't want the dog to be miserable being there.

Any info, suggestions or tips are greatly appreciated! And thank you in advance!
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I wouldn't get a dog immediately when you get there but take a month or tow to un-pack your things and settle down for a bit. Since you are wanting a rescue why not just go to the local shelter when you get there and find one? Mix breeds are awesome too!! You can also ask the workers about the dogs personality ect. I would get an adult dog so you know the dogs weight.

EDIT- just make sure you know what you want in a dog when you go.Don't just get the cutest one their make sure he/she will fit your lifestyle.
Well no I wasn't going to roll into town and immediately steer the car into a shelter, lol. I'm just trying to do research and ask opinions in advance. I researched all about ratties about 6 months before I got them. The only difference here is I don't know too terribly much about different dog breeds and whatnot x.x I want to make sure I know about the pet before I buy one and find out I can't take care of it (like so many people do)

But because I don't know too much about dog breeds that's why I wanted to pop in here and learn what I could before I just waltzed into a shelter. I'm all for letting an animal chose me based on how they feel, I'm not the type of person to buy the cutest thing in the world and assume it will be perfect.

Heck if I could get away with having a big dog I'd scoop up a mastiff right now <3
There have been so many threads about choosing a breed recently! I think its awesome you're looking to rescue. One thing that isn't on your list though is energy level. I think most people are a little optimistic about how much energy they actually have when choosing a dog, its so easy to think "that dalmation is SO cute I'll totally take up jogging, we'll go together!". Nine times out of ten though the person is unable or unwilling to make such a massive change and you end up with a frustrated owner and a stir-crazy dog! So, just to say be realistic about how much activity you already do and look at fitting a dog into that lifestyle instead of the other way around. If you deal with a local rescue the foster parents of the dog will be a really good reference for its character, shelter staff are also generally good at suggesting a couple of matches based on your criteria.

Oh, also take a look at Petfinder, lots of the dogs are mixes but almost all have a little bio. If you see one you like you can do research on the breed from there.
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I agree with the others. Find a shelter/rescue out there you like and just go visit the dogs. Talk to the staff about what you are looking for in a dog and let them pick out a few dogs who should match what you want. Don't feel you have to pick a dog the first time you visit or even from that shelter/rescue. Based on what you say you are looking for that's really the best thing you can do, just get out there a meet some of the dogs and talk with the staff/fosters about the dogs.

Also I very much agree with aiw about being realistic about how much time you are willing to devote to exercising the dog. You may surprise yourself and enjoy the physical activity with your dog more than you thought which would be a great bonus for the dog who are often happy with more exercise. You just don't want to over estimate and be left with a dog not getting enough exercise as that will lead to behavior issues due to excess energy. My dog is content with the amount of exercise I give him, though he'd love it if I took up jogging with him as he is of the opinion that more is better.
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I would go to a shelter or rescue and see what they had. We had some really nice small hound-y dogs and also some dogs that really did look like miniature labradors (no idea the mix but about 30 lbs) quite often at the shelter I worked at.
Thank you for your responses so far, part of the reason I joined up to ask on here is because I don't know much about dog breeds. Mixed breeds are great, but I don't want to end up with a dog that's a mix of terrier or a dog that may even look "aggressive" and have our apartment complex just say no, regardless. I must say I'm a little surprised, the other thread I had seen a while ago had many responses from people having a conversation with the original poster about their ideas on breeds and his feelings on them and it seemed very helpful and informative. I was hoping to get more specific information on different breeds (hence the post here, and why it was in such detail.) and have a similar conversation with people who know their doggies! Honestly I can say I feel like some responses have felt like dismissive "check when you get there" posts, which isn't why I signed up. ^^; I can say definitely that I was going to look around several shelters when I got there, months if not several months after we arrived. I want to get settled in ourselves and have things ready before we made any hasty decision. I would just like to go in having SOME idea about dogs instead of winging it, or getting taken for a ride by someone at a shelter who doesn't overly know much about their temperaments. I'm not even sure 100% what questions I should ask about their dogs. (I did post in the First time Dog owner thread!)

Realistically, we will live about 100 yards from a public dog park. I would like to take the dog to it often, but I'm not a runner by any means so there will be no marathon dog walks/runs up until that point. I know that I don't want a dog who is high strung and very active because being cooped in our apartment would not be fun for him/her. I'd rather not stress my dog out or make him/her stir crazy either! A more laid back dog would work well as long as he's not just a couch potato :)

@aiw: Thank you for pointing that out I added energy level ^^

@Laurelin: A hound-y mix dog would be great too :) Because I'm not sure, do the shelters *generally* know what weight the dog is? So If I let them know I have a 50lb weight limit they should know which dogs are under? Cause that would be great! :D

@Dagwall: I know what you mean, when I was with my parents I would exhaust myself playing with the german shorthair pointer (Dante) and miniature schnauzer (Max) we had before I even realized it!

Just to add, I have lived with dogs my whole life, including many other animals as well. I currently own Rats which are taken care of wonderfully and I am a very responsible pet owner willing to do anything for my babies. I'm still considering myself green when it comes to dogs because I've never actually went and picked one out. x.x My parents generally did all of that with the dogs in my life! ^^ Thank you for the responses again! I'll keep googling as well <3
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We were looking for a rescue with nearly the same criteria except we didn't care about length of hair (otherwise I'd recommend an American Eskimo!) and we also live in a much, much colder place (so all of the breeds that I've researched are cold-hardy and probably wouldn't do great in the Mojave desert!). PetFinder is really interesting to look at, and might give you a better idea of the kinds of rescue dogs in Nevada (although being only 1 hour from CA gives you a lot more options as well!)

I totally appreciate your concern regarding mixed breeds... and I think what other posters are trying to say is that when rescuing a dog you can't exclude one based on breed alone. Additionally, most shelters can give you a pretty good idea of what breeds went into the dog, and they sometimes even do DNA tests to determine the most likely breeds. You can also buy DNA tests yourself - they cost about $60 here. If you limit your seach only to purebred dogs (or even specific crosses) it will limit your options HUGELY, as most dogs in shelters/rescues are mixed-breeds.

Shelters will know the weight of the dog, as the dogs should get a basic physical exams on entering the shelter, and again upon adoption. (Is there any wiggle room in the weight? E.g. will a 51lb dog who may be overweight and put on a diet be disallowed?)

I also recommend getting an adult dog, especially if you've never owned a dog before. Younger dogs require a lot more training, and some adult shelter dogs actually come from decent homes (surrendered because of moving, illness, death, etc.) and could already have a surprising amount of training. Again, something the shelter staff or volunteers will have an idea about.

I'm new to dogs myself and others probably have better advice/more experience with these breeds, but you might want to look in to:

- Cocker Spaniel
- Standard Schnauzers are technically terriers, but they tend to be more laid back than other breeds.
- Basset Hound
- Labrador retrievers - shelters sometimes have small "underbred" Labs, or lab crosses (With pretty much anything!). I've seen some purebred labs under 40lbs at 2+ years old, but labs often have a LOT of energy so it would depend on the individual.
- Tibetan Terrier - despite the name, are not actually terriers. I have no experience with this breed, but everything I've read indicates they'd fit.. also they're cute as sin.
- A Whippet or Italian Greyhound

Lastly, there are literally thousands of dog breeds.... don't pick a dog based solely on what people on the internet say. When you find the right dog, you'll know it regardless of breed or colour. :)
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The shelter I worked at had weights on our dogs as they get weighed when they get brought in. If you are going for an adult they should be full grown. Another thought I had would be a spaniel type dog although they do generally have longer hair. but many spaniels are more docile dogs and pretty easy going.
Oh thank you your response is awesome! :D

@Gingerkid: I didn't even think about being only an hour away from CA x.x that gives me a much much wider area to look! Thanks for pointing that out for me!

Long hair isn't really a problem, I was just worried about being overwhelmed by how much the dog would need to be groomed. And I was partially worried about how much it would be shedding :) But it isn't really a problem for me either way! I've lived with 4 cats at one time whose hair was everywhere x.x

Adult dog works! and mixed isn't a problem either :) I've met and spent time with mixed dogs that were absolutely wonderful :) I'd have no problem getting a Chow chow even though they are puffballs! I'd have no problem with the grooming, but because they are so loyal the apartments consider them aggressive :/ My fiance's father used to own Chow's and breed them (legally of course, not backyard breeder)

The fiance says (I've never lived in an apartment, let alone vegas) that there is wiggle room on the weight, as long as it's not obviously like a 70lb dog that it's fine! :)

@Laurelin + gingerkid: I will definitely look into a spaniel! Thank you <3

I did just retake the Discovery dog breed quiz, (and they have snippets of info on there for dogs) the results were: Clicky here! <3
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A really nice breed of dog for an apartment is http://www.cavalierrescueusa.org/
Wiggle room depends on the apartment. Personally, I wouldn't count on it. My apartment was ridiculous. I had to have vet papers proving shots and that the dog was fixed and under 25 lbs and over 1 year. I took my dog to the vet and got the paperwork, drove back to Texas and brought the paperwork and the dog to the office to pay my pet deposit.... They looked at the paperwork and told me they couldn't accept her there because the vet forgot to fill in her weight on her paperwork. Now, this dog is 7 lbs. CLEARLY under 25 lbs but they wouldn't accept her without written proof she was under 25 lbs.

So... my recommendation is to stay under the weight limit just to be safe. I've seen people at my apartments have to give up their dogs because they snuck in a dog over the weight limit. It's not worth it.
I vote for a 2- 5 yo Lab mix from a Lab rescue. The dog will be full grown, and the rescue can match the dog to your situation... maybe even find one that's good with small animals.
I did just retake the Discovery dog breed quiz, (and they have snippets of info on there for dogs) the results were: Clicky here! <3
That seems like a much better quiz than others I've taken.

I don't know much about most of those breeds, but border collies and Australian cattle dogs need LOTS of exercise and mental stimulation. They are very smart and were bred to run sheep all day. I LOVE both of them (I fall in love every time a heeler comes through the shelter). Even though you'll be able to give them attention/exercise all day for the first few months, you should also think about further down the line. A lower energy dog will be able to cope better than one with very high energy levels if their exercise is suddenly halved.
When adopting our dog we looked at the vairous shelters in town but found it was a lot of driving to meet only a few dogs most of whom didnt match our criteria. Petfinder was the best thing I ever stumbled on to help us look (maybe its also a curse since now I can't stop looking at all the amazing dogs!) With Pete we didnt really worry much about breed (except to respect the BSL laws) because we were looking for an adult so the description of the individual dog was much more accurate and helpful than a breed generalization would be. I think a specific breed is more important if you're looking for a puppy where you can only guess at its temperament based on other members of the breed.

When you say no terriers do you mean bully type (APBT type) or that you're not interested in any terrier (including jack russell, schanuzer, border terrier etc)?
My dog sounds perfect for you but then I just think my dog is perfect :p

Like everyone else here, I would say just go to the shelter and take a look. Get a mutt, then you won't have to worry about breeds lol. I feel like my shelter experience is actually pretty limited but it seems they have atleast a general idea of the dog's possible temperament. You can also kind of tell the super excitable barky dogs apart from the quieter ones pretty easily.

I feel like I really lucked out with my dog, fate maybe lol. Here's my story.

I went to the shelter to actually find a dog for my younger brother (10yr old at the time). I hadn't planned on getting my own dog until I was out of college with a house and large yard. My mom didn't really care for dogs and had set a weight limit of 35lb so while I thought I was more of a big dog kind of guy, I really only looked at the smaller dogs. We went tot he shelter to "just take a look first" and after looking through, my brother picked out a couple dogs that he wanted to look at. I saw another dog that was 35lbs and thought, w/e i'll add it to the list. He didn't really make a big presence and was just lying down in the corner looking sad.

Well when it came our turn to meet with the adviser person, the first dog on our list had just been adopted. The next dog was being viewed by another family. So we were left with this third dog on the list that I added at the last minute. He came in, and put his head on my brother's lap and the adviser then absolutely insisted that we adopt him. My brother was ok with it, and being an older dog (they had him as 6yr old at the time), the price was only $60 so my mom was ok with it. When we took him home, eventually he grew attached to me since I was the one taking care of him and he became my dog.

He turned out to be well behaved, never barks (except when he's dreaming). Very gentle and friendly. Short haired. Not hyperactive. He's pretty much just a mutt since it turned out he was a stray and the shelter had no record on him. Now I can't think of any other dog I'd rather have and this was a dog I probably wouldn't even have considered him if I had gone out to get one for myself.
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I think if you could find an "undersized" lab mix that might fit. From my understanding (secondhand information/personal observations, never owned a lab unfortunately) once you get past the crazy-puppy stage, these dogs settle down fairly well. So once they're 2-3 years old or older would hopefully work for you. Labs are more tolerant of newbie mistakes and small children-they have a high pain tolerance. Of course it goes without saying dogs and small children should NEVER be left alone.

You could look into a poodle mix or the toy breeds in general. But not all toys are lower-energy. All the Papillon (sp?) owners here seem to have little energy monsters!

Hmm. Otherwise, I guess just define what you can/can't live with, like the weight limit, energy levels, etc. Also, short hair usually means more shedding. Not sure if that matters or not to you.
i don't blame you for not wanting a pug. i would not recommend one for vegas weather. :) and they are too light weight and small...i'd probably stay away from the brachy dogs if i lived in vegas.

i am getting a collie and from reading about them, a smooth collie or collie mix might fit exactly what you need. :)
Well since it seems you are looking for advice on certain breeds based on personal experiences, I am here to offer my personal experience on the Shiba, and based on your description, I would recommend one, amongst many other breeds too..but since I have personal experience with the Shiba here goes..

- Shiba was my first dog as a young adult, living in a very small apartment, and he was quite content, and extremely low maintenance (perfect for a first timer, IMO)
- He was satisfied with three, 10-20 minute walks a day. I worked 10 - 12 hours a day, so sometimes this was all I could offer.. but I did go for longer walks, jogs or take him to the dog park a few times a week when I could
- Shibas aren't known barkers.. they rarely bark, unless there's a good reason or they sense a potential threat. This was a VERY good thing living in an apartment.. my nieghbors always commented how they could NEVER tell I had a dog in my apartment. (but they are excellent watchdogs, and very protective)
- They are very calm, relaxed, laid-back dogs for the most part, and are well known for their 'cat-like' traits. They are extremely clean, they clean themselves just like a cat, too, but they also are VERY good as far as not having accidents in the house. Because they are very clean dogs, they absolutely hate having dirty houses, which means they would rather put themselves through discomfort than soil in your house..its often said, and even the breeder I purchased mine from, in her years of experience with them, has said its very uncommon for a Shiba puppy over 5 months old to have accidents, and most are already fairly well potty trained by 6 weeks old.
- They are extremely bold, brilliant, intuitive dogs..very easy to train, and generally will do anything you want from them.. if you want a couch potato he will be a couch potato.. if you want to do go for a 10 mile hike he'll be down for that, if you want to travel and take him with you, they are usually very good travellers too!

But there are downsides.. Shiba's do shed, and while they don't require extensive grooming, brushing weekly and bathing every couple months is helpful. Investing in a good vacuum cleaner is also very helpful.

Also, in your situation one thing to consider is a dog with high prey drive..Shiba's are natural-born hunters and killers, I know you said rats will have no interaction with your new potential dog, but any dog with a natural hunting instinct may definitely try to catch them if they were ever loose for any reason. My Shiba has hunted and killed mice and squirrels, though he is not a working hunter, it's just instinct.

There are Shiba Rescue groups out there... so its possible to adopt one that suits your needs if you were to consider this breed. There are lots of wonderful dogs out there I know, but I'm just giving my personal experience with this breed. I did research for almost a year and narrowed it down to the Shiba for my first dog, and I never looked back.. he was absolutely perfect and suit my needs and wants in a dog to the T. If anything, he was great for a newbie because he was so undemanding, did so much for me yet expected nothing in return.. he was happy and content no matter what.

Anyways, just wanted to share. Good luck and hope you guys find the right dog!
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How about a Whippet or Italian Greyhound? My (inexpert) understanding is that they're a lot like smaller versions of the larger greyhound.
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