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Hey all, I'm looking for opinions. I'm looking for a dog breed that learns quickly and obeys well without being distracted. I'm looking for a dog that can adapt to anything and everything, with training of course. I am looking for the jeep of dogs. Fun, utilitarian, dependable are tops of the list. I understand that most qualities are learned through training, but you can't turn a bulldog into a german shepherd either. I enjoy the outdoors and I want my dog to be by my side, whether i'm fishing, day hiking, backpacking, camping, or just riding along in my Jeep with the top down and doors off (Please, no safety speeches, I'm not ignorant, my pets are my family.) I believe "biddable" is the term to describe this quality. I live in the midwest, both Chicago and central Wisconsin, so the dog should be able to handle all conditions blistering hot and subzero cold. I suppose a dog of a lighter color would be preferable as I've walked through tick nests and want to make it easy as possible to keep him/her clean and safe. The breed should be good enough with kids and have a very high sense of "family", but initially wary of strangers. Though it's great, I don't want him/her licking the face of any schmo that walks up to me. As far as size and grooming, it's really not a concern, sure I'd like to be able to pick the dog up and not have a new "hair sweater", but then again I suppose i'd have to build a robot dog to get all these qualities in one package. So, just some opinions, I suppose. I'm all over the board cause I love 'em all, but here's a few of my leanings.

Schnauzer-I had two miniatures growing up and I love their sense of "family" and clownishness, it's hard to beat. The non-shedding is great. I have no qualms about a schnauzer, except it's prey drive. I don't want to train a ratter to not chase a squirrel, it's not right and I can't have my dog chasing every dang thing that moves in the woods.

White German Shepherd- I think they're gorgeous and probably just what I'm looking for. I suppose tho I'm a bit predisposed to the notion of them being guard dogs and that's where I hesitate. Again, i know it's training, but I'm looking to find something that closely matches my needs/desires without trying to break them of what comes natural.

Retrievers- Fun, Fun, Fun. Golden Lab mix, straight golden, Chesapeake Bays, Flat-coated, I'm reading a lot about them now. I'm just weary of anything at the high end of active neediness.

Pointers- Again, I'm doing some reading up on them, but I like the fact that they're built not to flush or chase other creatures. Again, more training issues.

Mutts-Hey i'm a mutt myself, what's not to love ;-)

So that's just a short list, I hope you all got the idea. I'm willing to spend all my free time training, but I think it's a better idea to just bring out the qualities a dog is bred for and not have to fight against them. Any rarer breeds or off-the-wall suggestions are welcome too. Thanks for any input.
 

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I'd like to add i will be training any pup in the Good Citizen Canine program, and would like to be able to volunteer with him/her at hospitals and such, but I think to ask all this of one breed might be too much. I hope to have other dogs and animals in the future as time and finances permit. I'm looking for the first of many to rule the roost by my side as it were.
 

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I suggest adopting an older (around 3+ years) Golden or Lab (or retriever mix) or getting an older "retired" Golden or Lab from a breeder. They tend to calm down with maturity and are really great loyal companions. IMO they seem to fit all of your requirements besides not wanting your dog "licking the face of any schmo" hehe. There are more aloof retrievers and there are retrievers that just plain love everybody. You can try to find a more aloof one if you want to. Is the reason you want a more aloof dog for protection reasons, or are you just annoyed by your dog running up and jumping on other people? If it's the latter, that's a matter of training and it's not too hard to train your dog to be well behaved and follow your commands, even if they do love to run up and lick any schmo.
 

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You mentioned the white GSD. There are people who don't distinguish between the white GSD and the White Swiss Shepherd (even though I do, as I own one myself :p), what about you? In general, I know the WSS matches what you're looking for--though there may always be individuals who deviate in behavior. Pups and young dogs of this breed tend to be very energetic, but as they get older they settle down. Just like Nargle, I'd suggest adopting an older, mature dog. That way you already have a good idea of the dog's character and behavior.
 

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Collies, especially smooth coats, would fit your criteria perfectly. Even though they're herding dogs, they are less intense than most of the other herders. My guys just want to hang out with me whether it's lounging in the house or going for hikes or cross country skiing. They're great with kids (as a group, of course individuals may vary) and other pets. They really are Lassie with the right training.
 

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Both of the suggestions sound great, I just wanted to point out that I don't think you can have both an aloof dog and a therapy dog without training one of those behaviors. An aloof dog isn't going to want to have anything to do with patients unless it's conditioned.
 

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Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'd really prefer a puppy. I enjoy the training and bonding. Though, sure I could be happy with any mutt from the shelter and never look back, I suppose it's just that a preference. As far as reasons for aloofness, it's in my head for the dog's protection more than mine. I know as they grow they'll calm down and that's fine. I don't expect a year old pup to behave superbly. I just suppose that it would be more manageable if say we were out backpacking for a week and we come across other people on foot or bicycling on the trail. Training I know :) or should a creature come strolling near camp, I'd prefer a few warning barks than have my boy/girl thinking that black bear would make a great new friend, let me sniff it's butt.
The Collies may be a bit too "barky" for me, but who wouldn't love Lassie!
The WSS, first time I've heard that name, I didn't realize it was a different breed, though it seems to be a direct descendant, yes? I'm curious how much the shepherds take to water. I'd love to have them out on the dock or shoreline fishing with me or paddling the small streams out here across Wisconsin with me. This is where I tend to lean towards the retriever family.
I suppose I'm looking to find Wonder dog that does it all, and am just being picky :p but I like to do my research before such a big decision that's all. In the end, I believe it's all about training or conditioning as Elliebell put it. And, if a dog grows up on the water, or out in the woods and learns young, that's all it will know and love. As far as therapy dogs, it's more of a hey it's cold out and we're bored let's see if someone could use some cheering up rather than a job. I'm sort of a jack of all trades myself, and like a Jeep I can do anything and try new things. I'm looking for someone who can learn to be quiet and well behaved when necessary and run free be a goof when appropriate. It's a lot to ask, but with due diligence I know the right dog will find me.
So, do you all think it's best to stay within the ranks of working/retriever families, or is there something in the herding or terrier families that is manageable. I sure loved my Schnauzers, I don't think there was anything they couldn't do (except leave the dang squirrels alone :p) Thanks again for the suggestions keep 'em coming.
 

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Anybody with any first hand knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or Chessie? Can they reasonably handle the humid 90*+ days we get in Chicago? I spend a lot of time there as well, as I grew up there and will always consider it home. Certainly, I get a little toasty when it's that hot too, but again I'm looking for something that can handle all ends of the spectrum. Hot, cold, wet, dry, active, reserved, serious, clownish...HAHAHA I know...build a robot dog!
 

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my Gem would be your perfect dog lol she is a mix breed from the shelter..and she is a puppy..lots of puppies end up in rescues too.
 

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I found this interesting ... especially the ability to be working dogs and service dogs ... Portuguese Water Dog ... they sound great!!! :)

en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Portuguese_Water_Dog

Sorry ... didn't work. Just google it up. :)
 

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The WSS, first time I've heard that name, I didn't realize it was a different breed, though it seems to be a direct descendant, yes? I'm curious how much the shepherds take to water. I'd love to have them out on the dock or shoreline fishing with me or paddling the small streams out here across Wisconsin with me. This is where I tend to lean towards the retriever family.
White Swiss Shepherds are direct descendants of the German Shepherd, yes :) Most White Swiss Shepherds love water and anything mud related :p Owners will say that most of the time, their dog isn't white at all ;)
 
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