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?f 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.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Swiss Mountain Dog
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!
Asked By: coffeecat - 2/23/2010
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 because shaving leaves it without insulation so the dogs feel all that heat and can also get sunburnt.
With any dog you'll be looking at exercise and grooming requirements, and also large/giant breeds are at risk of LOTS of health issues. Be prepared for that... and drooling.
Newfoundlands, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhounds and Saint Bernards all have very LOW heat tolerance. In Florida they would have to be indoors almost constantly in summer and when they were out, or even indoors depending on temperature, you'd have to /constantly/ monitor for symptoms of heat stroke.
A Great Dane I think would suite you well.. They are known couch potatoes(but most would still like a daily walk) and are generally very easy to get along with. They're goofy and easygoing, make great family pets.
A Swiss Mountain Dog would also be a good match if you can get a hold of one. They live longer than most and make great family pets while also being somewhat protective. It'd also need a bit more exercise that the other breeds, a long walk, maybe a good ball game, or a nice run. But it's not a crazy energetic breed.
English Mastiffs are good and would probably be okay but you'd have to be firm and consistent otherwise they pretty quickly learn that their size can get them whatever they want. They have a lot of bulk compared to a Dane and are also intolerant of much heat. Another breed that would need to be indoors almost constantly and monitored for heatstroke when out.
If it wasn't for climate I'd totally say go for a Newfie, they are fabulous dogs, but they can't tolerate that much heat very well and I simply don't think it'd be good or comfortable for the dog.
As far as other breeds people mentioned:
-Pointers are very high energy dogs, would not be good for your situation.
-German Shepherds are both high energy and extremely intelligent, would develop behavior issues in your home if you didn't want to completely change your lifestyle(i know, I own them!).
-Belgian Malinois are like German Shepherds on crack - they are dogs that NEED a job with very very few exceptions.
Answered By: Steffanie - 2/26/2010