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Need objective opinions--any groomers, vets, trainers, owners out there?

I will be getting a dog in a few weeks and, while I have narrowed it down to a few breeds, I am simply stuck as to which one would really suit my family best. We want a large to giant breed (it's a firm preference--I love bigger dogs), known for its stable and sweet disposition. I have three children (ages 6-12), own a home, and have no restrictions on breed by the HOA (other than number of dogs owned). Through years of research and some limited experience with big dogs, I recognize that certain breeds are out due to my personality and circumstance. I am divorced so I will be the pack leader; I do not want a naturally more dominant breed. I know some breeds (doberman, rottie, etc.) usually require a more confident, experienced leader than I am. While I am fully capable of being clear who the boss is (me), I'm not sure I will be honestly able to handle a particularly intelligent/strong-willed breed. Furthermore, it will be just me and the kids and I will not be able to give certain breeds the high level excercise they need (I don't jog or hike). I am, however, fortunate enough to work out of my home so I will be home most of the day. I plan on daily walks and play sessions in the back yard (fenced so the dog will have free romping time back there). Dog parks for free running/playing are a given, at least a couple of times a week. We would like a dog that will be on the friendlier side with anything and everything. Some dogs are more aloof, less playful, some are more wary of anyone outside the family, some are just big "i love everyone" goofballs. We are leaning toward the goofball. I absolutely do want a protective dog but one that will perhaps let its size be the deterrent, rather than a scary growl :) I do not want a serious watchdog/guardog. I prefer a dog that will only get serious and physically protective if it's absolutely and obviously needed. On the other hand, and please forgive my rambling, I do want a dog that will have a natural affinity towards children and one who would prefer to calmly "watch" over the kids (or join in the play!). Now, I have searched and searched the shelters but where I live, almost every single dog I have come across (of the size I am looking for) is mixed with a breed that either is very energetic (i.e. lab x border collie) or one I know I am not experienced enough to properly train and be leader to (pit bull, ridgeback, chow chow, etc. with pit being in 90% of the dogs--great, loving dogs but require a more experienced owner, in my opinion). I don't want to look into Goldens or Labs (much experience with them within family/friendship circles and, while they are really wonderful, they just arent the right dog for us). I know ANY dog can be the perfect dog because it's the humans who shape the dog, but genetics and breed do play a role. There are breeds who have it in their genes to hunt, herd, etc. This is why I am making my list and narrowing it down. I need to make sure I am not going to end up with a dog who needs more of a "job" than I can give it (ex: a border collie would HATE living with me). I'm still open to adopting/rescue, and here are the breeds I LOVE and am looking at. Perhaps there is a trait about a certain dog on the list (such as being a bit willful, too aloof, etc.), and I just don't know about it yet? If anybody has any experience/information that could help me narrow it down even further, I would greatly appreciate it. Newfoundland Saint Bernard Bernese Mountain Dog Great Dane English Mastiff Swiss Mountain Dog Irish Wolfhound Great Pyr Now, my dream dog is a Newfoundland but I am not dead-set on that breed due to the fact that I live in Florida and don't have a swimming pool ;) Perhaps there is a breed I missed; maybe there's a dog not on my list that would work well? I looked into Collie's too, but just not sure yet. I welcome suggestions! Thank You

Asked By: coffeecat - 2/23/2010
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
I saw another post that talked about shaving a Saint Bernard - NEVER EVER shave a long-haired dog. Only if it's medical related or due to mats! The coat does not just keep them warm - it is a level of insulation meaning that it protects from both heat and cold. It is WORSE to shave the dog than leave it with it's hair... More
Answered By: Steffanie - 2/27/2010
Additional Answers (7)
Maybe a short haired breed would be better since you live where it is so warm. My bf had a st bernard and in the summertime shaving him was a huge mess.
Answered By: Ruby - 2/23/2010
 
Honestly, all those dogs require massive amounts of exercise! Great Danes seem to fit your family best out of all of those- they are gentle giants, goofballs, but do require a good hour or two of play, interaction, walks, runs.... they are big, big dogs... More
Answered By: K Cali22 - 2/23/2010
 
I think the Irish Wolfhound sounds perfect for you.. The big "fluffy" dogs, are not going to be easy to keep in florida.. great dane's and english mastiff both have dominant personalities.. and while still trainable, since you already mentioned it.. be weary of that.. I'd avoid them... More
Answered By: kaijawitch - 2/23/2010
 
An adult, 2 yrs or more, female American German Shepherd with obedience training... More
Answered By: martii43214 - 2/23/2010
 
I would go with a Great Dane - because I currently own one and have owned danes for 30 + years. They are marvelous wonderful dogs that grow into gentle giants who are loving and affectionate. I live in a warm climate and these dogs seem suited for it more so than most of the long haired breeds you have on your list... More
Answered By: dogowner - 2/24/2010
 
Not a Malinois! Too much dog! You can consider a Collie (rough or smooth) Of the breeds you have listed, do consider massive amounts of "drool" from some, as well as carefully screening for Hip dysplasia..... Someone mentioned a Bouvier....I would also check into that breed.
Answered By: Marna O - 2/24/2010
 
Bottom line is all dogs need grooming and exercise. You should get the one based on your personality and lifestyle. This thing called "find your match" really works. Try it out! Here's the site, http://alturl.com/rhfj
Answered By: Stephen A - 2/25/2010
 
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