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Discussion Starter #1
We are new on this forum and would appreciate your advice and assistance in finding a dog breed that would be suitable for our lifestyle, but most importantly that the dog will be comfortable with.
We are a family of four, two 50-year-old parents and two early 20s daughters. We are active and like walking but not athletes. We live in a spacious first-floor maisonette having a good-sized private roof measuring 75 square meters and surrounded by a 5 feet high wall and two large balconies. Parents work full time, eight hours daily Monday to Friday, and weekends off. Daughters go to university but are at home from time to time during the day.
It is planned that after getting our puppy home, for the first six months, someone will always be at home, while we will start professional behaviour training (professional dog classes will continue after the dog reach adult age), socialisation and crate training. After six months (when the puppy is around nine months old), the most that the dog will be left at home alone (weekdays) will be a maximum of five hours straight.
With regards to walk/exercise, at 6.30 am the dog will be taken for a one-hour walk and another one-hour evening walk at around 6 pm. A few minutes every day will be spent at our (artificial turfed) private roof for exercises and playtime. The rest of the evening, the dog will be with all the family.
Every Saturday, we will spend time at a dog park or at a well-fenced large private grass field where the dog will be given time for sprint runs (after being trained recall and walking off-leash). Sundays we will go for long walks in the countryside. An important point to mention is that we never lived with a dog and do not have dog experience. However, we are committed and we have read and researched a lot about different dog breeds, however, still need to learn much more. Apart from taking care, grooming and looking after the dog's health, our main goal is to come up with a plan to start early training for anxiety separation issues.
Another point to note is that we live in a Mediterranean country in Europe where the climate is mild. Hot summer weather May till October; Mild weather November; Wintertime (could be quite cold but no snow) December till February; March and April are good mild weather.
So our preference as a first dog would be a medium-size male dog with low shedding and with the least barking tendencies.
We have been researching for a dog breed for these last couple of years and after looking at each and every breed, our choice is between five dog breeds. These are (by order of preference) Basenji; German Pinscher; Whippets; and Bordoodle (Border Collie x Poodle Mix); Shiba Inu.
Will any of these dog breeds be a good choice for people like us who work and have no dog experience? Do you think that we will be a good family with our type of lifestyle as described above, to own any of the above dog breeds?
 

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As first time dog owners, I would discourage the Basenji and the Shiba Inu. They are very independent dogs, so can sometimes be challenging to train.

I would also discourage any "doodles". They are typically bred by unethical backyard breeders to make a quick buck. Pick one breed or the other. Of the two, I would probably suggest the standard poodle. Border collies can be difficult because they are smart and incredibly active, and I would suggest at least a little bit of dog experience before trying one of those.

Can't say I know any German Pinschers, but I've heard they can be willful. If you read the description on the AKC website, it says "Not ideal for inexperienced owners." So, take that as you will.

Whippets could be a good choice. A few people in our agility club have them, and they are quick little dogs who generally appear calm (at least as adults, there is one young adult who is a spitfire!) and appear happy to learn and work with their owners. Their owners say they are quite calm at home, at least after the initial puppy stage, and sound.

I would also encourage you to go and meet these dogs at dog shows and speak with people who own them to learn more about their personalities. Volunteering at shelters is also a good way to gain dog experience. You'll likely see more mixed breeds there, but it will help you figure out what you're willing to deal with energy wise!
 

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I second everything Lillith said except that I have met Pinschers and yes, they were extremely feisty. Probably not great for someone who doesn't have much dog experience.

I like Shiba Inus but they're known for being stubborn and combative. Again, not a great choice for a first-time owner. I'd cross this one right off the list if you don't have experience reading dog body language or managing dogs, as they're the most aggressive breed on your list.

Basenjis are notoriously difficult to train and the thing about them being barkless is misleading - they can make a bunch of other noises that are just as disturbing as barks if not more so.

I don't see any advantage of crossing a border collie with a poodle - border collies are obsessive geniuses and poodles are circus monkeys. You could end up with a really berzerk dog. The coat would probably be a nightmare, too...can you imagine trying to brush out a curly border collie coat? What do you like about poodles? What do you like about border collies? Which do you like better? Pick one.

Or better yet, get a whippet. Sweet little guys. Like with most sighthounds, you'll need to be careful about when, if ever, you let them off-leash outside of enclosed areas, but other than that I'd say they're by far the most first time owner friendly option from your list. They have the athletic capability of some of the other breeds you like without as high of an energy level, and they're typically much milder-mannered than the other breeds on your list. A friend of mine has one and it is the nicest little cuddlebug.
 

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I also would recommend a young adult rescue. We have gotten all of our dogs around 6 mos- 1 year old and it has worked out great. Our shelters all provide shots and neutering before rehoming so you know you are getting a healthy dog. Go and meet a lot of dogs. You will know when you find "the one." Somehow, they always seem to pick the owner! Going with a young adult will hopefully get you a dog that has some housetraining and can go 8-ish hours without needing to go out since it sounds like M-F the dog will be alone most of the day. Also, past all the teething, chewing, nighttime crying that is more common with puppies.
I've had border collies and I would not recommend them for first time owners. They are one of the most intelligent breeds and also a working/ herding breed. If you don't give them a job, they will find one and you probably will not like the outcome.
Any of the doodle breeds look like a good idea because the marketing has been designed with all the right buzzwords to draw you in, all the good things about both breeds. But that alone does not make a great dog. There is no dog that is non-shedding or low maintenance.
Of all the dogs mentioned I would go with a whippet. They are great house dogs as long as they have a chance to run, chase balls, get exercise at least once every day. We have a friend with 3 of them and lives in a studio apartment. His dogs are lovely couch potatoes once their fun is done. All of them are rescues from different sources so I feel confident saying that the general demeanor of the breed is sweet, pretty quiet, and an easy keeper. I think they would be active enough for your 20-something daughters and calm enough for you.
Best of luck with whatever dog you choose. Please come back and post pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your replies. Is the German Pinscher an absolute difficult breed for a new dog owner? I would love to hear from German Pinscher owners and their experience with this breed. What is it with this breed that makes it quasi-impossible for a newbie.
 

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Thanks for your replies. Is the German Pinscher an absolute difficult breed for a new dog owner? I would love to hear from German Pinscher owners and their experience with this breed. What is it with this breed that makes it quasi-impossible for a newbie.
I don't have one, but AFAIK the challenge with them is that they're both intelligent AND independent thinkers. LIke, contrast with a border collie - they're one of the most intelligent dog breeds, but they're also handler-oriented, so that intelligence can be readily channeled. A less handler-oriented smart dog is liable to decide his or her ideas are better than yours. Combine that with a bred-in instinct to guard and hunt, which if misdirected or uncontrolled can manifest as aggressive behaviors, and a high level of energy, and you've got a recipe for some big problems if the dog isn't handled right.

The thing about dog training is that you can intellectually know all the "right" things to do, but every dog is different and every situation is different, and training is happening every moment the dog is awake, not just in class or during a training session, who while research and classes are great, they're not a substitute for practical experience at reading and managing dogs. That's why it's good for even informed first-time owners to start with an "easier" sort of dog, one that you can make some mistakes with without dire consequence, and one that won't be a 24/7 challenge. A friendlier, more mild-mannered dog like a whippet is going to be more forgiving of an inexperienced trainer and owner, because they want to please you and they are less "busy" in the first place, and because they're just less formidable physically and in terms of instincts. A dog like a whippet that is a little more of a couch potato when not actively exercising is a lot easier to live with, too, because they're not constantly coming up with new ways of getting in trouble. Like, my one dog knows how to open doors and windows and get outside, but he doesn't, because he's content to nap in the house. If he were a more active dog, I'd have to be way more vigilant.

I'm not saying it'd surely be a disaster to get a German Pinscher - and there are certainly MORE difficult dog breeds - but it's like, would you rather start your acrobatic training on a balance beam or on a highwire? At ground level or up in the air? You're looking at a 14 year commitment - how much extra stress are you willing to sign up for over the next decade plus? Generally advisable to stack the deck in your favor, if you have the ability to do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you parus. You made several valid points.

The dog breeds that we chose as our first-time dog owners are 5 but these were narrowed down to just three dog breeds. These are the Basenji, Whippet, and German Pinscher.

Our choice was based on the following ten traits and characteristics:
1. Adapts Well To Apartment Living;
2. Affectionate With Family members;
3. Amount Of Shedding (low shedding);
4. Drooling Potential;
5. Easy To Groom;
6. General Health;
7. Size (medium);
8. The tendency to bark (low);
9. Tolerates Hot Weather;
10. Tolerates being Alone???????

Our chosen three dog breeds scored very good points on numbers 1 to 9. For number Number 10, we got different and diverse opinions. Some say they are considered as the worst type of dogs for being left alone and others say that with early proper training, every dog is able to stay home alone for a very few hours. But we think that separation anxiety exists on all type of dogs and therefore, whatever our choice would be, we have to start early professional training and make sure that the dog is only left alone for a very few hours when adult. Puppies require constant supervision.

This is why I need the advice from those who have experience with these type of dog breeds as it is very difficult to make a final decision. For the time being, we can only keep one dog so getting two to keep themselves company is not an option.

We consider ourselves responsible persons and therefore need to make sure that the dog we choose will have a comfortable and great life according to our lifestyle. I might be very wrong, but I do not really understand why first-time dog owners should only be limited to a small percentage of dog breeds as I am quite sure that there is a very large percentage of experienced dog owners who are irresponsible and are not fit to take care of dogs. Yet, because they are 'experienced' then they qualify for all type of dog breeds.

Nevertheless, I do agree with Parus that the Whippet could be the right choice for my family.
 

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I agree with everything Lillith said.

Of the 3, the whippet is probably your best option, with the Basenji being the last option.

I would also add that while it sounds great to spend the first 6 months every day with the puppy, you might be better to spend some time away so the puppy gets used to being alone sometimes early on. You don't want him/her to develop separation anxiety.

Good luck. It sounds like you have given it a lot of thought and have done some advance planning, so good on you.
 

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We consider ourselves responsible persons and therefore need to make sure that the dog we choose will have a comfortable and great life according to our lifestyle. I might be very wrong, but I do not really understand why first-time dog owners should only be limited to a small percentage of dog breeds as I am quite sure that there is a very large percentage of experienced dog owners who are irresponsible and are not fit to take care of dogs. Yet, because they are 'experienced' then they qualify for all type of dog breeds.
Well, it's not like there's some authority dictating who can have this breed but not that breed. You can do whatever you want, but reputable breeders of certain breeds might not be willing to sell a pup to an inexperienced owner.

I think the distinction is that an experienced dog owner has more of a practical idea of what they can handle and what they WANT to handle. They also have a background that they can show a breeder of things like training the dog, providing it vet care, etc. (And experienced but irresponsible dog owners shouldn't get more challenging breeds, either - they shouldn't get dogs AT ALL. Unfortunately, puppy mills and some BYBs will sell to anyone who will pay.)

Like, you can read the car's manual all you want, but there's no substitute for actually driving the car, if you want to learn to drive. Sure, if you're really careful, you might be okay driving a Dodge Challenger Hellcat the first time you drive, but you're probably better off trying the Ford Focus first. I'm not criticizing - on the contrary, it's awesome that you're researching and getting informed! - but some of what you've posted does show that you're going by things you've read, not things you've personally experienced or observed. (For example, rating Basenjis highly because they don't bark - if you've heard the noise they DO make, you'd know it's not necessarily an improvement on barking, if you're looking for a quiet dog that won't disturb the neighbors.) Some attributes in dogs (like intelligence or a low-maintenance coat) sound great on paper, but when you actually try live with them, you discover there are downsides, too.

The thing about dog breeds is that their attributes are tendencies, not guarantees. You're just weighing the odds in your favor by choosing a puppy of a certain breed, from certain lines, that it's going to have the traits you're looking for. You won't truly see the dog's adult temperament and conformation until it's 1 to 2 years old, maybe even later. If you really, really want a Shiba Inu or a Basenji, you should get a Shiba Inu or a Basenji! But it'd be more advisable to adopt (e.g. from good rescue or rehome) an adult Shiba Inu or Basenji that already has demonstrated it's a good housepet, not aggressive or intractable or destructive or an escape artist, than to make a touchy breed your first puppy. It's much easier to screw up the training and socialization of puppies of certain breeds than of others. It's also much more likely with certain breeds than others to end up with a difficult adult just due to inherited traits. Some breeds and individuals are just more forgiving of trial-and-error handling than others (and when I say "forgiving," I mean less likely to develop behaviors that are a problem for themselves, other dogs/animals, their owners, or other people).

I hope this didn't come off as condescending or bossy - just trying to explain why people are giving the advice they are. A lot of it is hard-won through experience - trying to save you the trouble of learning it that way yourself.
 
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