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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone.
I hope it's ok if I ask a question that I've been thinking a lot about lately!
I'm 25 and about to (finally!) graduate from University. Once I can find a job, I am planning to move and start the next phase of my life... and I'd really like a dog to be a part of that.

All the dogs I have ever owned have been family pets (but I have always tended to be the closest with them!) so part of me is interested in getting a puppy to raise by myself for the first time. However, there is a strong possibility that I will adopt an adult dog.
Anyway, I guess I'll lay out what type of dog I am interested in (and what I can offer the dog):

- I won't get a dog until I know where I will be living and how much space I will have, but since most of the jobs available to students with my degree are in small towns, I will most likely be able to rent a house (or a floor of a house) and have access to a backyard.

- I am an active person who loves to go for long walks, hikes in the woods, kayaking/canoeing, etc. However, I also have several chronic illnesses that cause me to be sick everyday and fatigued all the time. I am good at dealing with this and live a normal life despite them, but know that I could not handle a high energy dog ( as much as I love them!). I am looking for a moderate energy dog. I also work out and would be interested in a dog that would be comfortable going for jogs with me.

- Personally, I have always loved medium and larger breeds of dogs. I like a dog that I can wrestle and rough house with. Also, since I spend a lot of time in the woods, I would like a dog that could handle itself if we were somehow separated (obviously I would do everything to prevent this from happening in the first place though!). Basically, a dog that might make a black bear or a coyote think twice about messing with due to it's size, if nothing else.

- I am also interested in a dog breed that tends to display some level of protective instincts with their owner/family. I am NOT looking for a dog to protect my house or my "stuff." And I don't want a dog that is going to be aggressive to strangers (and will socialize him properly to avoid that). The dogs in my past have been mutts or collies, and I would describe them as protective, but not aggressive. They were a little aloof and watchful of strangers until they got to know them, but never menacing at all. That's a type of temperament that I am interested in.
Someday I would love to have a pyr. I grew up on a hobby farm and plan to have another someday, and like the fact that pyr's are protective of their families, including other pets. I also think that they're great in other ways too, of course, but know that it will be a while before I will have enough space for one!

-As far as things like shedding and drooling goes, I don't really mind either one. Obviously I don't LIKE them, but I am perfectly happy to put up with them as part of the trade offs of owning a dog. I am also ok with brushing a dog out everyday (or more, if they are blowing out their coats...).

- I am also not overly concerned with trainability. I plan to take the puppy (or adopt rescue) to obedience classes, and I don't mind spending lots of time working with them. That being said, I do not want the type of dog that can easily become aggressive, etc, if not trained properly. I simply do not have the experience to deal with that properly.

- Dogs breeds that I know that I like include: Huskies and Malamutes (but too much energy, I'm afraid!), old-fashioned Scotch Collies (the perfect amount of energy in my experience, but becoming harder and harder to locate), German and Belgian Shepard's (don't know about their energy levels), Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland Dogs (might be living in Newfoundland next year!), etc. However, I am definitely not limiting myself to these breeds (or pure breeds in general)!

Any help would be greatly appreciated. It's a big decision, and will take a long time to make, but very exciting too :)
 

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Yes, you left out 2yo - 3 yo Lab rescue. An adult Lab is an excellent 'beginner' dog as dog for a first time owner. They are intelligent, friendly, adaptable... able to sleep 18 hours a day... and thrive with only a 30 min. walk everyday. You can also take them jogging offleash (with training) and they learn quickly.

My dog is 11 yo and I walk him 30 min a day. I may wrestle with him and chase him for an addition 15 min. after supper. Then, he sleeps on the corner of my bed until I'm ready for bed. I put him outside in the backyard for 15 - 30 min for his last potty break, then he sleeps in the living room, because he runs and barks in his sleep. I think you'd like an adult Lab.
(I don't recommend a puppy for you at this stage b/c of the required socialization and training)
 

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I think hanksimon has a great point/idea! A young adult lab would be perfect!

While you seem to be doing your homework at looking into breeds that will fit your lifestyle - I'd stear clear of Sibe's and Mals (for reasons other than energy/exercise requirements), BMD's and Pyrs for the simple reason that these dogs are not generally referred to a "beginner" dog owner. Sibe/Mal/Pyr's can be and are pretty stubborn, they aren't dogs that willingly want to please their humans. They will test you at every turn during training and if they don't want to do it they won't.

They are vastly different breeds from one another.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks to both of you!
I had never considered an adult lab, but only because I had always heard that they were high energy. Apparently I have been misinformed! I will certainly add them to my list of good possibilities!
And yes, I had heard that A LOT about Pyr's. I certainly plan to have one someday, but in a decade or two, no time soon!
My father has a husky x mal cross of some sort (we think) who is almost 7 months old. I look after him a lot on weekends when my father is visiting his girlfriend in the city (where I live), and he certainly is a handful. He is definitely stubborn and "talks back" when I scold him for doing something that he shouldn't. Some days, especially when he was younger, were VERY frustrating, like dealing with a very naughty toddler. He is very sweet though (actually, probably the friendliest dog I have ever known) and while I know that I could not handle him 24/7, I love having him on the weekends - and i figure that it's great experience too!
Anyways, thanks again! I really do appreciate the advice :)
P.S. Sorry if I double posted. I have been trying to respond from my iPhone, and it didn't seem to be working.
 

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I had a Pyrenees as my first dog. She was great! She lived 11.5 years. The best dog ever.

Now I have a 9 1/2 month old Siberian Husky. I will say that if you want to learn more about them send me a message I can certainly help you with either breed!

Also, if you do get your heart set on a husky or Mal, you could look into breed specific rescues for an adult (older adult) that is more calm for you. Even an older (5+) Siberian/Malamute with still have tons of energy but will be more relaxed and will let you get away with not going for walks for a few days. Not every Siberian or Mal is a nutcase with super high energy.
 

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Hi, I'd avoid mals, huskies and german & belgian shepherds as you said you have chronic illnesses causing fatigue and know you cannot handle high energy breeds, all those breeds are VERY high energy. I also think an adult lab would be an ideal choice for you.
 

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Hi, I'd avoid mals, huskies and german & belgian shepherds as you said you have chronic illnesses causing fatigue and know you cannot handle high energy breeds, all those breeds are VERY high energy. I also think an adult lab would be an ideal choice for you.
The OP also does quite a bit of activity for someone with those illnesses.

I own a Siberian. I don't have any illnesses that inhibit my ability to handle her but my mother does. And Bella is -very- patient with her. I also know that not EVERY single dog of that particular breed is SUPER high energy. Siberian's are usually very calm indoors and lose their heads outdoors. It's very common. My Siberian has an incredible off-switch indoors. And an older Siberian or Mal will be much more laid back. Breed specific rescues will also know the temperament of their dogs - which means they'll know the difference between a super crazy and high energy dog that wouldn't be ideal - and one that will be more calm, relaxed and patient with the OP. And they do exist.
 

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Honestly if you have the space for a lab, I think you have the space for a Pyr. I know several people who have them in the city with a fenced yard and as long as they are walked/exercised they do fine. I think labs need way more exercise than Pyrs, personally. In the house, they're not high energy or "busy" IME. The only problem you might run into is barking.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks again everybody! You've all given me lots to consider.
I was talking to my boyfriend last night, and we were talking about how an adult dog might be easier (for a first time dog) then a puppy? Or am I assuming too much? I was wondering if anyone has adopted a shelter dog, and what their experience was? I am sure some must have some sort of stress related behavior issues, even if they are just temporary, from being through all that they've been through... and I assume that not all of them are properly potty trained. What are some of the challenges that might pop up with an adult dog?
And Niraya, how did you find raising a Pyr as your first dog? Did you her to classes, etc?
 

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She want through a puppy kindergarten. But they're pretty independent and stubborn dogs. She was great, though. They're very calm and mellow and she just kind of lumbered around the house. I dont live anywhere with a lot of land or anything or a big house - but I remember this one time when Daytona was probably 8 or 9 months old and people that had her sister brought her over and they brought their big older male with them. That was a blast. The house was pretty crazy that night having three Pyrs in it!

They do bark...a lot. Which we didn't mind. She was a lot of dog to handle, though. She weighed around 100 pounds and when she wanted to go - she went. She loved people and other dogs. She also loved the cats. Her puppy years she spent herding them around the house.

I definitely do not recommend them for a "beginner" dog owner. Just like I don't recommend Siberians. But people are hard to sway when they get their hearts set on something and usually nothing anyone says changes their minds.
 

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There are a lot of Bernese Mountain Dogs up here. I think they'd be great for what you want. If you like really big dogs check out Leonbergers, too.
 

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Thanks again everybody! You've all given me lots to consider.
I was talking to my boyfriend last night, and we were talking about how an adult dog might be easier (for a first time dog) then a puppy? Or am I assuming too much? I was wondering if anyone has adopted a shelter dog, and what their experience was? I am sure some must have some sort of stress related behavior issues, even if they are just temporary, from being through all that they've been through... and I assume that not all of them are properly potty trained. What are some of the challenges that might pop up with an adult dog?
And Niraya, how did you find raising a Pyr as your first dog? Did you her to classes, etc?
I got my boy from a shelter 3 years ago. It was great to get to look at about 100 different dogs, and I was able to find the right dog for me. He did come with serious fear reactivity, but I knew what I was getting into since I'd spent time with him, and his fearfulness is a combination of genetics and having been chained and underfed/then unfed for a few weeks, neither of which is the norm. Most of the dogs at the shelter were well adjusted dogs that got dumped because they got too big (why people keep assuming Labs WON'T grow past puppy size is beyond me), had some minor behavior issue from a lack of training, or their owners simple couldn't afford to keep them. My boy has become a very well behaved dog, and is much more fun than I thought he was going to be :).

Some challenges you could have with a shelter dog are a lack of training, but some actually have some training/manners. It can also sometimes be hard to tell what the dogs actual personality is, as they're likely stressed out at the shelter, but most shelters have an outdoor area that you can got to and play with the dog your interested in, and they often come out of their shell more there.

Unlike shelters, rescues can usually give you a lot of information about their dogs, and will be able to tell you what to expect.
 

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A catahoula or black mouth cur would meet your requirements to a "T". Both are pretty rambunctious as youngsters (some say too much for a first-time owner), but tend to mellow nicely as they mature into adults. I know them to be independent but not so stubborn, you might even say problem-solving. The curs I have known and owned, you wouldn't exactly call 'em obedient as much as agreeable; they like to make their own decisions, but always use good judgement. They're working breeds it's true, but these guys make excellent pets.

A large breed puppy is a tall order for a first time dog owner, but a well-mannered large dog is a sheer joy to own.
 

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A Lab or Lab mix from a rescue may give you more info about the specific dog, helping to match you with the right dog. A good shelter will have an understanding of their dogs, but may have have the same depth of knowledge or history. In any case, sometimes people release wonderful dogs simply because job loss, moving, or death.

Whatever you decide, please come back with pictures.... Btw, the first week with a dog is usually very different than the rest of his life...
 

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Thanks again everybody! You've all given me lots to consider.
I was talking to my boyfriend last night, and we were talking about how an adult dog might be easier (for a first time dog) then a puppy? Or am I assuming too much? I was wondering if anyone has adopted a shelter dog, and what their experience was? I am sure some must have some sort of stress related behavior issues, even if they are just temporary, from being through all that they've been through... and I assume that not all of them are properly potty trained. What are some of the challenges that might pop up with an adult dog?
And Niraya, how did you find raising a Pyr as your first dog? Did you her to classes, etc?
I think a youngish adult dog makes a great first-time dog. One of the best things, IMO, about getting an adult dog from a shelter/rescue is that you will be able to judge for yourself whether the dog has issues and whether you feel up to tackling those issues. Many shelter dogs will come with some kind of "baggage" (health issues, undersocialization, reactivity, fear, separation anxiety, etc.), but it is absolutely 100% possible to find ones without any of those issues. Even if they do have issues, many issues can be managed/solved quickly once the dog feels secure in it's new home. Housebreaking can be an issue with some rescues, but again, it's 100% possible to find dogs in shelters/rescues who are housetrained. I think the key to getting what you want is to have some very clear ideas about what you're looking for in terms of personality/temperament, training, and "baggage", and then search far and wide, seeing as many dogs as possible. Petfinder.com is your friend! You would do best to have a few breeds in mind, too, but be as flexible as possible, while staying within your bounds of personality/temperament, etc.

Here's my experience: This being my first dog, I was absolutely unwilling to deal with fear, aggression, or health issues. I was willing to put in plenty of time training the dog (classes, etc.), but was hoping for a potty-trained dog (although willing to compromise on that). Most of all, wanted a happy, healthy dog that would be up for long walks, visits to a dog park, off-leash hikes, and fetch. So what did I get? Well, I adopted a 7mo old BC mix from a shelter. Let me tell you, the first couple of months were hell. Although she had no "baggage", she also had no manners whatsoever, and she had a lot more drive than I had realized. Someone had taken the time to potty train her, but had forgotten everything else. Like SIT. And IMPULSE CONTROL. It was like trying to tame a lion. But...the more time I put into training, the more it stuck, which just made me want to train even more. Three years later I have an accomplished agility partner, a competitive disc dog, a hiking buddy, and a best friend.
 

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IMHO- a smooth collie would be a great dog for you. They're moderate energy, wary of strangers and alarm bark, grooming requirements are very little, and they could keep up with you. They're also very trainable.

A Corgi might also be fun for you; that's what I have. The right corgi can keep up with any thing you do and be a good watch dog. They're a good size, IMHO, and are very portable. Corgis are very smart and trainable. I would say you might make a better fit for a Pembroke Welsh Corgi then a Cardigan.

I might also suggest an older spaniel (very sweet dogs and athletic). Very easy to train and definitely a strong desire to please people.

I've known labs to be bouncing off the wall even at 2 years old, so maybe it just depends on the dog.

Also, you might want to think of what temperaments you're looking for; labs are very different from the dogs you mentioned. The labs I've met I would classify as "needy" and most of the dogs you mentioned are not needy.

Herding dogs can be velcro (think always under foot), but tend to be less pushy on the whole when it comes to wanting attention.

Huskies tend to be very aloof.

I would advise you to stay away from any of the shepherds (notice I didn't say collies). German shepherds and all of the Belgian Shepherds (malinois, turvuren, lakinois, belgian) are less stable and more high energy/drive then what most people want. I don't really consider those dogs pets as much as I would as real working dogs.


I know very little about Great Pyrs, so I can't advise you on them.
 

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You mentioned rough collie in your potentials list and I think it would be a good match for what you're looking for.

Rough collies:
-They are a large breed but really do fine living in any sort of house or apartment as long as they are exercised. Ours does just fine in our 2BR apartment.
-Our collie absolutely loves the outdoors whether we're at the dog park or walking through the woods. She's always all over the place, inspecting everything. If you are looking for a dog that will love sharing the outdoors with you, you can definitely count on that.
-They are definitely protective of their owners and family. Not in an aggressive way but rather they tend to put their bodies between you and what they deem a hazard. Like most herding dogs, they are just very loyal in general and are velcro dogs.
-Of all the herding breeds they are probably the most laid back. Our collie has a ton of energy but she is very reserved indoors. Even as a puppy our collie has never had the "zoomies" or anything like that.
-They are a very healthy breed in general. Their biggest issues are with the eyes but stick with a good breeder and their pups shouldn't display any eye problems.
-The biggest downside, they will need brushing at least once a week to keep the mats out. The plus to this is people will tell you every day how beautiful your dog is!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi everyone. Just wanted to say thanks again for all the replies! Sorry that I have not responded in a few days. My grandmother was recently diagnosed with cancer, and things aren't looking great. Obviously I'm a bit distracted by this.

Niraya - I applaud your ability to handle a pyr off the bat! But I will take your advice, and I highly doubt that I'll have a pyr anytime within the next few years. I would love to get one as a puppy once I have some goats (I love goats - they are wonderful pets too!), so that maybe I can take advantage of the pyr's guarding instinct. I'd love to have a dog that could hang out with my goats AND scare off predators if need be. But I won't have goats until I am MUCH more settled, so I will probably wait for a pyr for that reason too... Thanks for the advice :)

Rowdy - I love Berners, and there are a lot of them here too. They're so handsome, and they always seem so friendly. My only concern is their short lifespan, but I guess that that is not uncommon for giant breeds. And I forgot about Leonbergers! I have never actually seen one, but I hear that they are wonderful. I will look into them! Thanks!

Platykey - I'm glad to hear that things worked out for you and your adopted boy. I am definitely leaning towards adopting. I (briefly) spent some time volunteering at a shelter before I became too sick (it was an hour commute each way, and I was sick with an undiagnosed/treated condition at the time). I did find that once the dogs were taken out for a walk, that their personality shined a bit more, although it was obvious that their personality was still overpowered by the sheer energy that they had pent up from being in the kennel all day. I fell in love with a lot of dogs there though, and am definitely very open to visiting again, but this time to take one home... :)

Dustycrockett - I have never heard of those two breeds, but I will look into them! Love researching new (to me) dog breeds!

Hanksimon - I will definitely do that. Just curious, what do you mean by the first week being different? Is it like a settling-in phase for the dog? What changes should I expect in that regard if I adopt? Thanks! :)

GottaLuvMutts - Thanks for the tips. I certainly don't mind dealing with some issues, but of course I need to have the ability to deal with them. I feel like I am in the same situation you were when you adopted your dog - the no aggression, fear, etc. Since I'm not used to training a dog on my own, I could only take on issues that could be handled with the help of professional. And yes, house broken would be wonderful, but I am certainly willing to work with a dog on that too!

LoveCWCs - I agree with you on the smooth collie! Growing up with an old-fashioned scotch/farm collie, I certainly love rough and smooth collies too. Honestly, if I were to pick a dog based on breed, I would definitely be leaning this way. Also, I am not a fan of owning small dogs, but if I did it would definitely be a corgi! They seem like a big dog in a small package, and they're gorgeous too! What is the temperament/energy differences between a Pembroke and a Cardigan? (If there is any...) I should have also mentioned that I do not particularly want a needy dog. I do want a loyal dog, and the romantic side of me likes "one person" dogs (which many of my dogs have been - family pets who were closer to me then anyone else in the family) but I like a dog that also has a little bit of an independent streak. Surprising, my scotch collie and other collie mixes growing up were like this. They were very affection and liked to "hang out" nearby whenever possible, but they also had minds of their own - which could be both frustrating and endearing! I am definitely looking for this quality in the future!

Thanks again everyone, and please forgive me for my tardiness!
 
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