Friday, September 21, 2007

what we want

So, with a lot of time not being able to get a dog, we've come up with a pretty through group of what we're looking for in a dog.

- It needs to be low energy. We both work full time. For now, that's not negotiable. The dog will have to be ok with two long walks a day and evening yard play/training. Unfortunately, this rules out huskys, gorgeous as they are.

- It needs to get along with other animals. Dogs and cats. The plan is to have multiple pets.

- We want a big dog. This is getting in to preference. There's no real logic behind this one other than preference. The obvious question is 'how big?' well, no smaller than a border collie - and we've considered great danes.

- We plan to do a lot of training. Not formal obedience, just establishing a (very very by today's standards it seems) good rapport and solid boundaries. I'll probably go into a lot more detail about this later. This is more of an individual dog thing. Alert attention to people is important, but not necessarily slavish retriever-style desire to please above all else.

- We want a dignified, confident dog. This was a little surprising to us, but after meeting with a lot of dogs (the first time we thought we'd be able to get one soon) we both observed that we were turned off by 'asking for belly rubs' or other playful/submissive behavior. Again, not really logical, just preference.

- We want a friendly dog. I mean, heck, we should pick one that likes us back, right? While belly-rubs was a turn-off, behaviors like licking hands, or leaning against you were positives. Also would probably help with that 'training' thing above.

Where did this get us? Well, it tended to point to breeds that were traditionally 'stock guarding dogs' send 'em out in the pasture to keep the wolves away.
They mostly hang out and sit all day, plus they had to be calm enough not to freak out the sheep, so low energy. They tend to be big.
Unfortunately, the dogs that used to be 'stock guarding dogs' are now often considered 'vicious breeds'.
Our leader right now is an Akita. We're also considering Great Danes, Chows, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Newfoundlands and any sort of mix that happens to work out right.

p.s. a bit of a consequence of the above, we want an adult dog, probably at least a year old. Mostly this is due to #1: we're not going to be home to entertain/housebreak a puppy as diligently as we think we need to. But also, with all our emphasis on personality, it'd be good to see what we're gonna get a little better.


Abby K9 said...

Hello -

I saw that you commented on my first dog FAQ entry over at my blog, and I wanted to get in touch with you to see if maybe I could be of any assistance in your search for a good match. Unfortunately it seems you have no email address posted, so I'm hoping my message gets to you this way. You can email me, if you'd like - abbyk9 (at)

I also read this entry you posted and I was wondering whether you had ever considered adopting a Greyhound?

Greyhounds make wonderful first pets and great house dogs. They are very affectionate, and, surprising to many people, they are really big couch potatoes. Being sight hounds, they are really designed to sprint short distances, so they don't have the pent up energy that herding breeds have, for example.

Just a thought. :)

Diane said...

I just lost my entire post ... let me try again.

It's great to see you're taking some time to consider the best dog for you.

The suggestion of a greyhound is a good one. They make a very good pet but (as with all dogs) will at least need that twice/day exercise you mention. But this breed needs to be a house dog of course.

I wouldn't recommend the herding breeds at all. They are extremely high energy, incredibly intelligent and therefore need a great deal of committed training and lots of directed exercise and a job to do. Instead, I'd suggest a livestock guarding dog such as the Great Pyrenees (the one I'd place at the top of the list for consideration), an Akbash, or Komondor.

I too would be willing to share my experience and expertise both as a dog owner (for nearly 50 years) and a professional dog writer. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Good luck with those renovations!

Diane Dogs Naturally

Amie said...

Don't know if you'll see this, because it's a rather old post, but 1. Thanks for your comment on my blog about the fetch training. And 2. I was going to suggest a Pyr as well, although if I wasn't such a fan of my current dog (and I think I'm sticking with his breed from here on out, but he is NOT what you're looking for) I'd go for a Newf in a heartbeat. They're a longtime desire of mine, and I remember reading once that the main temperament description is that they're so friendly they'll follow anyone home. Big, sweet adorable bears. With a lot of hair - that's something else you'll want to consider!

Greys are good, too, though sometimes rescued adults have issues with small animals (like cats) because of former racing careers (the bait on a track looks remarkably cat-like).

Chows are gorgeous, too, and I do like them a lot. But they are not bred to be friendly to everyone - they tend to be devoted to one person, and not really like anyone else.

It depends a lot on the breed, but a lot of dogs tend to hit "maturity" at about 18 - 30 months. Plus, they're no longer cute puppies. So rescuing a dog of two years or older means both that you see the true, developed personality of the dog, and also that you've honestly saved a life.

Feel free to e-mail if you have any questions! RoseByAny at Hotmail...