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Hi, I am new to this forum, though forums seem to help me a lot when I am seeking advice.

Looking for dog seems to be a daunting task. I know no perfect dog exist, though I am looking for a perfect dog for me and my fiance. We currently own two cats and are looking to add a dog to our "family". We are looking for a medium to large size breed, with personality being the most important. We like to be pretty active and would like a dog who can keep up, but can calmly hangout inside. We are also into boating so a dog who doesn't mind the water is also a plus. I also would like to go out and play fetch.

The breed that has been topping our list, is the lab so far. I was recommend a good breeder by my vet ~$800. We have also been considering humane societies as low as $90, though most around $300. While the cost isn't all that important to us, if I can get a great dog $300 that is already neutered, then that means I can spend money else where.

My only problem with some human societies, is that they are too fragmented. It feels like there are 100's around Rochester, NY. I don't know if I should just apply to a handful just to get preapproved or should I wait and hope the dog that I found doesn't get adopted, before we get a chance. (this already happen)

Another option is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Our neighbor's mother is Berner breeder. While I don't find them to be the cutest looking dog, I do like the personality of them. Also I feeling of security about adopting a dog from her, I know she takes good of her dogs. The Berner's have an average life of 7 years, but our neighbor's dog just had his 10th birthday and he is super well behaved. This seems like a great dog to go skijorring (X-Country skiing attached to a dog) in the trails behind our house. I hear they are not as crazy about water (we are into boating) and fetch.

Our neighbor's mom has previously offered us a free female as long as she has breeding rights, though don't feel comfortable w/ an unspayed/unnetured dog. Also, today we went and met a 3y/o female berner, who has a very lovely personality. As some of the other Berner's would like to put their paws in our laps, this Berner would hang out with you and only got excited when you were outside. Something we are looking for. She said she would give us the dog for free if she could attempt to breed her one last time or we could take it for a negotiated amount. She did not personally breed this dog, but she got it from swiss breeder. I love the dog's personality, though I am worried about the longevity, ability to play fetch, and interest in water.

Lastly, we have an interest in the Border Collie. There are no breeders around his that I know of. I have heard good and bad things about them. I hear if you don't stimulate them enough, they will destroy everything I own and heard my cats. I guess the question is how much stimulation is enough?

Lastly we are looking at expanding the human line of our family in about 3 years. We also both work full times. I work a normal schedule, she works different hours.

Thank you for taking the time to read my long post! Any help or pointers would be great. Hard to gain knowledge w/o experience.

-Hostage
 

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How much exercise do you do? I'm not too familiar with Bernese, but BCs and labs require a huge amount of exercise. Which is great if you're an active family who enjoys the outdoors, but don't assume you're going to become what the dog needs. Also, if you get a puppy now, and then have a baby in 3 years, you'll have a young dog at the height of his need for stimulation while you can't provide it, for months to possibly a year. It's something to think about.

Personally, there are SO MANY labs in rescue, I wouldn't buy one. I'd rescue an adult, especially if this is your first dog. Puppies are tough. I have experience with difficult dogs and I don't do puppies. Or, you could do what I did and apply at a rescue, tell them your wants and lifestyle and let them help you pick a dog. A good rescue works hard to match the right dog to the right person.

Anyway, some things to consider. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
When it comes to exercise, I really don't like to it alone. In the winter up here we go cross country skiing every chance we can, though this winter has not been a great one for cross-country skiing. During the spring/summer/fall we try to run once or twice a week and go on walks as much as we can. My fiance works a couple nights a week, so we generally don't do anything on those days. Our neighbors who both work full time, and have 3 small kids have the Berner. We dog-sit for them and take him on walks as they can be pretty busy.

I guess one of my worries about a rescue is the background, why did the person give this up? I don't mind a more mature dog, I think my g/f was more interested in a puppy. I wouldn't complain if the dog was already house broken. When it comes to rescues, I prefer the fosters, who know much more about the dogs, than the ones that reside in a cage.
 

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Also, since you know you'll be having a child later, spend the time in between getting dog and having the baby socializing the dog to babies, toddlers and children, carefully of course. That way, by the time you have a baby, the dog will be okay with it.
 

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I prefer fosters, too. As to why people give up dogs, Kabota is a fantastic dog, playful, gentle, obedient, good with children and dogs, perfectly housebroken. He was given up because some idiots in Kentucky don't know a good thing when they see it, plain and simple.

Even if the stated reason is behavioral, thats quite often easily fixable. Dogs require care and training. People don't bother to exercise or train their dog, then give it up because it misbehaves. There's nothing wrong with these dogs that regular exercise and a few weeks with a clicker wouldn't fix.

You don't have to rescue, but don't let someone else's stupidity or laziness deter you from rescuing a great dog
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I forgot to mention my fiance had a black lab mix when she was growing up.

Good point on the toddler thing. I will with my neighbor's kids :)
 

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You do not want a border collie. You both work full time, and the dog would be bored. I've never seen a border collie turn down the opportunity for mental/physical work - you pretty much can't overdo it with them (after a certain age). I didn't see anything in your posts about wanting to provide the dog with a job, such as herding, agility, disc, flyball, nosework, or other such things. If you aren't interested in taking up one of these activities or something similar, I absolutely wouldn't recommend a BC. Fetch doesn't count as a job. Border collies are extremely intense dogs and they generally require owners who are intense about their dogs.

Furthermore, I've seen very few BC's that are good with cats, although if the cats are especially dog-savvy and won't run, that's a plus. Kids also top the list of things that border collies generally don't love, and you might end up with the dog herding the kids.

People get BC's because they're pretty and smart, without realizing what kind of a commitment this is. As a result, shelters overflow with border collies. Please, please don't add to that problem.

I think a lab or a Berner sounds like a much better match for you.
 

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A Lab would do you great. Labs are simply great dogs; there's a reason they're everywhere. Obviously there are dogs out there that do any given thing better, but if you want a pretty well-rounded, active dog of a little larger size, that's too easy. And yes, please, look around at the shelters and fosters because Labs and lab mixes are easy to find. For the most part, I wouldn't be too worried about the background and why they were given up. Yes, it's great to know when you can, but if you find a particular dog at a shelter or foster, spend some time with it. See how it does with you for a bit, go for a walk, play ball, whatever you can do in whatever space they have but take a little time and see for yourself what the dog seems to be like. You won't figure out everything, obviously, in such a place and amount of time, but you can get an idea as to what you'd be working with. And while I know many will jump to give all the reasons as to why not to, glance through your local ads on craigslist. While there's a lot of mess on there (backyard breeders, people all claiming their dogs are angels, etc etc), there are some good ones to be found from honest people, and again, that's definitely a thing where it'd be best to go have a look before committing and spend a little time with the dog. I found Jax on craigslist for next to nothing. It was another Soldier who'd gotten him 2-3 months prior when he was probably only 3-4 months old, and being a "husky/lab mix" (the lab part is debatable, but I again, CL, take it for what it's worth. I wasn't stuck on it being exactly what the man claimed). A Soldier with significant health issues of his own that got a dog that was becoming far too large and far too active for him to handle, just trying to find him a new home and getting nothing out of it himself ($20 and he came with that just in food, plus all sorts of everything else).

You find good dogs where you find good dogs, and that can be pretty well anywhere.
 

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Have you looked into a breed specific rescue(i.e. Lab rescue of X region)?

You sound like a good candidate for a lab. I agree with GLM that a BC would probably be too intense for you but there are some low key individuals out there if you look hard enough. Still, I wouldn't recommend it.

Labs fill shelters and rescues. In my area alone, there's two breed specific lab rescues. These rescues don't have shelter facilities; they keep their dogs in foster homes. The great thing about foster homes is that you can get a much, much better idea about the dog's personality than you could in a shelter setting. Foster owners can tell you whether or not the dog is good with kids and cats or active vs couch potato. This is what gets my vote.

If you decide to go the breeder route, check out the national breed club. You can find links to breed clubs on the AKC website. You should be able to find a Code of Ethics on the breed club site. This is very important when looking for a puppy. Make sure that any breeder you choose sticks to the COE. Health testing isn't cheap but it gives you a much better shot at having a health, long lived dog.

Good luck in your search.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the feedback so far.

There are a lots of adoption groups in my area. One of which does specialize in Labs, though their dogs are old or have health issues. They all have applications, house visit, referral, and etc. I wish there was one form you could send to them all. There is about 1 or 2 dogs I might be interested in because of the breed, though I won't be able to tell about the personality till I meet them. Most of the dogs that are available for adoption are Pitt Bulls, which I am not the biggest fan of.

I am going to hold off of the BC breed, though I do see some of the shelters have Lab/BC mixes. Should I stay clear of them too?
 

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Mixes are a toss up. Every one of them could be absolutely different from the other (so much more so than in purebreds differing based on personalities). You're going to get some degree of both dogs, but there's no telling without meeting the dog exactly what parts of which you may get, or where it may fall in-between the breeds. Not to say it'd be a bad option or a good one. You'd have to decide for yourself for sure, but it is at least good to be able to say that it's predominantly x and y breeds so you can look into traits of both and have an idea of what you're getting and what it's needs are.
 

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You do not want a border collie. You both work full time, and the dog would be bored. I've never seen a border collie turn down the opportunity for mental/physical work - you pretty much can't overdo it with them (after a certain age). I didn't see anything in your posts about wanting to provide the dog with a job, such as herding, agility, disc, flyball, nosework, or other such things. If you aren't interested in taking up one of these activities or something similar, I absolutely wouldn't recommend a BC. Fetch doesn't count as a job. Border collies are extremely intense dogs and they generally require owners who are intense about their dogs.

Furthermore, I've seen very few BC's that are good with cats, although if the cats are especially dog-savvy and won't run, that's a plus. Kids also top the list of things that border collies generally don't love, and you might end up with the dog herding the kids.

People get BC's because they're pretty and smart, without realizing what kind of a commitment this is. As a result, shelters overflow with border collies. Please, please don't add to that problem.
I agree with GottaLuvMutts. Border collies are not a breed for everyone in every situation. Based on the info you've given us, I'd not recommend them.

My Gypsy is wicked-smart. We taught her the command, behavior, and hand signal for "army crawl" in two 20 min sessions. She'll fall on her face, trying to figure out what you want from her. She also LOVES everyone, strangers and children included, and could charm the devil into a game of fetch. And she's beautiful. People constantly fall in love with her.

That said, I spend most of my time telling people how much of a pain it is, owning her. She will go all. Day. Long. She could get a good three hours of hard exercise (think jogging, agility, mental stimulation) and still be ready for more. And if she doesn't get enough exercise? She's a neurotic mess. She'll pull on leash, whine at everything, drop a ball at your feet over and over and over and over and over, selectively hear commands, etc. She keeps me on my toes with training. I'll iron out one naughty behavior and she'll present me with another that her clever little mind has devised to trip me up. She's not the type of dog to sit sedately at your feet ever, and she doesn't care to be petted. If she doesn't understand what you're doing, she'll dance in circles around you, crying.

She is fairly good with my cats, though. It's the cats that aren't good with her. Haha.

I don't know a whole lot about Berners but I agree with the suggestion of a lab or lab mix. Labs are high energy, but it's not the same kind or level as a BC, from my experience.
 

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I am going to hold off of the BC breed, though I do see some of the shelters have Lab/BC mixes. Should I stay clear of them too?
Depends on the individual, as sscott says. My BC x pointer mix favors her BC side strongly, in that she is extremely drivey, intelligent, and craves attention and stimulation. She is up for anything at a seconds notice. She lacks several BC qualities, such as noise phobia, and she has more confidence than most BC's. She also got her food motivation and superior nose from her pointer side, but she brings the BC intensity to everything.

Instead of getting really super hung-up on breed, try to evaluate each potential dog as an individual. Make a list of what you want, and evaluate each dog against it.
 

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How about a spaniel?, english springers are said to love water and they don't mind a game of fetch, they are quite active but not like a bc, Holly is a bc, if she doesn't get out or play enough, i pay for it at night, she drops her toys and will whine until you play with her, she has gone 3 hours non-stop and that was just in the afternoon, she had been out and about in the morning too!, she is great with all people though, kids and strangers, even loves the postman, and she is useless as a guard dog, she never barks at the door, a lab might be a good idea for you.
 

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I would like to weigh in on the berners...

No doubt, they are fabulous dogs! BUT, the friends that I have who own them have spent thousands of dollars on vet bills. Hips, bloat, and cancer. And all of that coat!!! You HAVE to attend to their coats. Lovely, amazing dogs, but if you aren't prepared for some very real vet bills, they might not be a good choice.

I am a sucker for rescue. I love it. With puppies, it's a crap shoot. Sure, you can shape a dog somewhat, but in the end, there's a whole hard-wired personality in there developing right along with the pup. While training and socialization can impact personality, there is a whole bunch of identity that can't be changed. If you get an older dog, you can see who the dog really is. There's a lot to be said for that. Worth considering at least.

Welcome to the board and to your journey. Take your time finding the right dog. Chosing wisely in the bedrock of long term success. Don't get in a hurry!
 
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