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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, my wife and I would like some advice in our search for our first family pup. We are both former dog owners and have two children under 2 years of age.

We've knowingly and uncomfortably gone down the rabbit hole of attempting to design the perfect pup and found this forum because of a few threads about cavachon seekers (my spouse is still somewhat down the rabbit hole even still).The advice in those threads was refreshing change of pace from what we found in our designer search.

We really want a dog that fits our lifestyle, but that is mostly for our kids enjoyment (more of a pack dog than a one person dog). We're a young, active, growing family, we have a .4 acre yard, and we have a beautiful (and frequently busy) walking trail nearby. We want the dog to be able to be active for walks, hikes and even some bike rides, but also be able to relax in the house on lazier days or days where kids don't allow us to be as active. My wife does not like little yippy dogs, and would desire the potential for walking off leash on the trail (her last bichon was her hiking partner) We can tolerate a little drooling or shedding. Life is busy, so we also don't want to spend a ton of time coming up with ways to stimulate the dog (e.g. border collie), we're hoping it can be more plug and play in terms of current activity levels. We also are considering dogs more on the smaller side, it just seems more practical with a smaller house and more children likely on the way in future. We would consider something medium or larger but practically smaller seems better.

Breeds we've considered are Cavalier king charles spaniel - we have been referred a breeder by someone with a 1 year old from them. Love the sound of the disposition. General concern about breed health issues
Bichon - I like this one since it seems like a playful, pack animal that would get along with my kids more)
Aussie shepherd - I think maybe too high energy or intense but possibly?

Anyway, your advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
 

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The ckc does have serious health implications.
The Aussie might well be just too much work if you're not interested in stimulating a dog an Aussie probably isn't for you.

The bichon could be a good match the small enough for children to get along with someone as the kids are well behaved and don't pull at the dog to be honest at that point any dog can get nippy
Poodles the 'oodle' ingredient in all the latest designer trends ( that said with a degree of sarcasm by the way) are actually very good very active little dogs and they can make great pets they are very intelligent and very loyal.their reputation for being nasty yappy dogs comes from the same misfortune as has befallen the chihuahua where silly young women think they are some kind of toy to be carried around in a handbag.
So please don't rule them out understand if you look for any poodle mix you will probably not be dealing with the best or most responsible breeder because breeders of good sound dogs don't tend to mix breeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply! One concern we also had is that I work full time and my wife is working two days a week. We would have to figure out something for those two days, I can potentially stop home over my lunch break, or try to get a neighbor to walk the dog, and daycare if necessary although we would love to avoid the expense if possible.

Any advice on how a bichon or poodle would fare in this situation? Also I thought poodles needed lots of stimulation similar to Aussie as well. We will do what we need to to train and engage the dog but aren't looking to make a hobby out of it.
 

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Treat a dog as you would a child if you wouldn't leave a child for 8 hours don't leave a dog for 8 hours. it's simple working dogs are working dogs but pet dogs are family members and should be treated as so.
 

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Every CKC I've met has been wonderful, but the health issues are just devastating. If you do want to go that route, you'll want to be vetting breeders' health testing and breeding practices extremely carefully. It's estimated that as much as 50% of the breed winds up with Mitral Valve Disease by five years old (and the general belief is every CKC will develop it eventually if they live long enough) - I'd be wanting a boatload of genetic health tests, regular heart checks, etc. as well as to see the breeder only breeding dogs who are 5+ (preferably even older for males) to minimize the risk of producing puppies who are affected by MVD young. They're a breed I personally think should be looking into careful outcrossing programs, but sadly a lot of 'designer' breeders either buy into the myth that mixed breed dogs can't inherit any genetic illnesses or don't care, so it's even harder to find one of them doing all the necessary tests and whatnot.

It's a bummer, because I do think they're a wonderful fit for many families like yours, but I have a really hard time recommending them to anyone because of the heartbreak they often come with.

Mini poodles can be great family dogs, and while they are intelligent and like a lot of interaction, training, and enrichment, they aren't nearly as intense as some border collies can be. This is a case where it'd be important to talk to breeders about their goals for their breeding programs. Some mini breeders are heavily involved in dog sports such as agility, for example, and produce a lot of dogs who are competitive in these activities. So you can assume those lines might be more intense and higher energy than would fit your household. If you find a breeder focusing on producing good companion dogs and have breeding stock and/or puppies they've produced succeeding in activities such as therapy visits to hospitals, reading dog programs for kids, or work like being service animals, etc. that's a good indicator that their dogs are stable, resilient, and even tempered. There's also breed-specific poodle rescues out there where you can find an older dog that fits your household, and in many cases you won't have to deal with as much potty training and home alone training as you would with a baby puppy, which is a plus.

My poodle came from a Craigslist ad, haha, and we got pretty lucky. He does have some issues with insecurity and reactivity that we'll likely be working on his whole life, but in general he's a really lovely guy who adores people and charms everyone he meets. He's just as happy to go on a hike with us as he is to spend a week snoozing on the couch because both of us are sick and can't walk him farther than the mailbox. Obviously age helps with that some - he's eight now - but he's always been good at settling in the house (which we appreciate even more now that we have our younger dog who is... not good at settling at all).

I have very little personal experience with them, but show line American Cocker Spaniels also have an excellent reputation as a family dog, especially if you do your research and find a breeder taking care to focus on that companionable temperament.
 

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Honestly, with two kids under the age of two, a puppy could send you 'round the bend. I would be thinking more along the lines of getting an adult who is known to be good with kids, and skip the whole "dealing with house training and learning that the world isn't your chew toy" stage.
 

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Your post has me thinking along the lines of LeoRose's post except more strongly. With two children under two, the last thing I'd be considering is a puppy. However, I'd also think long and hard before adopting a grown dog. Read some of the threads here from people who adopt a dog and get all sorts of surprises in that the dog isn't what they thought it was. Adopting an adult dog is not the panacea some think it is, and dog behavior is strongly affected by environment. A dog that would be perfect in my old lady home could be nothing but trouble in an active family home with small children. You could luck out and get a canine saint, and breeds like CKC would increase your chance of that, but there's still a risk. Dogs are never plug and play, and small children need 100% supervision with any dog.
 

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There is no breed of dog, regardless of age, that I would recommend introduced into a family with two kids under two.

Having a dog and then having a kid is a different transition for the household than having tiny kids and adding the dog.

That said, once there is at least one reliably potty train and no longer having a toddler style death wish type kid in the house (aka, not needing so much supervision), then I think one of the more study small companion breeds like a Bichon, Havanese, or Mini Poodle have good potential

CKCS is just a heartbreak waiting in my observation from medical issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for the responses. Yes sorry for lack of clarity, actually we are not dead set on an 8-12wk old puppy at all. I think we probably even slightly prefer to skip that stage if possible and would let any breeders know we are open to older puppies / young adult dogs. Great point storyist about how a dog can behave differently in different environments. We would favor breeders who have raised them around children. Also I did misspeak slightly, my oldest child is 2 years and 3 mos, we obviously give her all the appropriate supervision (which would necessarily increase with a dog in the house), but she is generally very far from the death wish toddler.

I'm not sure if this is deserving of a separate thread, but my wife has really warmed up to CKCS. We are both wary of the health issues and heed everyone's warnings here well, but are willing to begin to plumb the depths of the issues and really vet the breed and breeders extensively in this area. If anyone has expertise in this, that'd be great. We are starting with the following breeder referrals and searching in New England:

Also we need to beef up on our knowledge of the issues and the right questions to ask, but I am starting with these resources:
Also referring to OFA recommended tests for the breed and would be looking for a way to independently look up any breeders dogs.

Interestingly, I found a breeder in my state who I was considering. They had entered a dog into a dog show (InfoDog - The Dog Fancier's Complete Resource for information about AKC Dog Show Events, and Dog Products and Services), The dog was obtained from another breeder in Ireland who has been known to have 50 breeding bitches. So that seemed like a red flag.

Does this seem like a good plan to begin vetting breeders? Also, would those on this thread who are hesitant regarding CKCS feel more confident if we get the appropriate health information from the breeders? We are hoping it will make us feel more confident, but really take to heart the warnings we've heard. Thanks!
 

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Following the CKCSC's guidelines and starting with breeders who are members there is a good start. Know that a breeder being a member of their breed club is a good sign, but not a guarantee that they're doing everything they 'should' to produce puppies that are as healthy and of good temperament as possible, so you do still need to talk with them about their practices, see proof of any health testing results, etc. In another time I'd suggest attending local shows so you could meet dogs in person and see if any particularly catch your eye, but of course the current situation means that's not a viable option. If your search lasts a while though - which it may - and social gatherings become safe again, definitely take advantage of shows or meet-the-breed events.

Read up on what the CKCSC has written on the individual health issues in this breed so you 100% know what you might be dealing with down the line. I see that they do say dogs can start breeding at 2.5 years old IF both of that dog's parents have clear (as in no issues) heart certificates at age five, so you may want to see health results for not just the parents of a litter you're interested in, but those of the grandparents as well if the parents are on the younger side. As you've noted, independently checking health test results on the OFA database can be an excellent idea, and a good breeder will understand that you're being thorough and appreciate it.

Remember that even the most careful breeders can produce a puppy who just got the short end of the stick in terms of genetics, even in typically healthy breeds. While some health issues are just caused by a single gene and can easily be avoided with a genetic test and conscientious breeding, the major issues in CKCS are much more complicated and involve the interaction of a lot of different genes and so are harder to control in a population. So while a really excellent breeder is stacking the deck in your favor, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you'll still get a puppy with serious health issues. Of course this can happen with any puppy of any breed or mix, but it's always a bigger consideration with a breed prone to such serious health issues. For this reason, you should be also be prepared that this dog may be a bigger financial commitment than average. It might not be the case - and I do hope it's not! But worth thinking about.

As for the breeder who imported the Irish dog, if everything else about that breeder looked excellent, I'd put it on the list of things to ask about once we reached the point of having an open dialog. One or two red flags aren't necessarily always dealbreakers (depending on what that flag is - obviously no confirmed health tests should be a hard no), but are absolutely worth following up on to see what the breeder's perspective is, especially if that dog is going to be involved in a litter you're potentially interested in. If there's lots of red flags it's probably not even worth contacting the breeder or continuing the conversation.

It's great that you're taking this seriously and working hard to figure out the best way to approach this. Navigating how to select a reputable, ethical breeder is hard enough at the best of times, and choosing a breed with serious issues adds to that for sure. I know it can be overwhelming and frustrating, but I with you luck and will try to answer what I can if you have questions! I've only gone through the 'reputably bred purebred' routine once so far, so I'm by no means an expert, but I try to do what I can.

And yes, managing a new dog and kids are hard - the younger, the harder. Especially so with puppies. It will be a huge adjustment and no matter how much you prepare it will probably be more overwhelming and harder work than you think it will be - I say this as someone who forgot 90% of what it was like raising my first puppy until I brought home my second in 2019. It's doable, but difficult, and there will be biting, chewing, potty accidents, and a lot of having to separate puppy from the kids whenever you can't actively supervise. I have no kids so I can't speak from experience, but just having a puppy and an adult dog this past year and a half has had me at the end of my rope more than once, so be warned!
 

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I would STRONGLY suggest that you look at a shelter or rescue. There can be so much variation among dogs of one breed, so it always depends more on the individual dog than on the breed. Shelters have many puppies and adults to choose from. From what you described, you may want some kind of lab or pit mix (contrary to popular belief, pits are great, loving family dogs). If possible, try to meet the dog. Look for a dog that seems excited to see everyone in your family, but doesn't stay riled up the whole visit. Ask shelter staff about how he is when playing in the yard or out on walks. Please, please, please give one of these wonderful dogs a chance before looking at a breeder. My Brittany/Border Collie mix is the best dog I've ever had, and we got her from a small local rescue.
 
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