1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Talk to me about dogs...

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by Hass, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,494
    I have a 13-year-old GSD (German Shepard Dog) that was an avowed cat-chaser and -hater. We got adopted last summer by a half-grown scrawny cat who hung out for weeks checking us out before finally walking in one day and letting us know that she had decided to offer us her services. Dog went half-nuts trying to warn us of the danger that was in our midst. It took a few months, but the cat has that dog completely trained. They've even been caught sleeping together.

    I grew up with dogs, spent a lot of time with other people's dogs, and have had three primary dogs in my life: malamute, and two GSDs. They are all high-drive dogs that took a lot of time and attention. I wouldn't have missed out on any one of them, but I wouldn't recommend any of them for `starter dogs'.

    I agree with the recommendations above to get a good healthy sane mutt. Look for a dog with dark skin (non-albino). It can have white fur and still not be an albino, but if it's got blue eyes, white skin, pink nose and ears, it's got a greater chance of health and neurological/behavioral problems. That's kind of a dogmatic statement, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but in general, you're better off avoiding the problems that are possible with these. Mutts have hybrid vigor, and tend to be great family dogs. Here's why, in part: if someone has a problem with a dog that they spent $1000 for, they're likely to either a) deny, or b) try to solve it. Mutts, on the other hand, if they have serious behavior or health problems, tend to get put down.

    Agree with statement above that larger breeds don't usually live as long as mid-sized dogs, which don't tend to live as long as small dogs.

    Most breeds were specialized for particular functions: herding, hunting, digging out rodents, protection, etc. That means that they will have a strong drive to work in that field, and that other characteristics were bred out in the process of specializing. The more you know about the work that your dog was bred for (even with mixed breeds), the happier you will keep them. Dogs are working animals, and happiest with a job. For some dogs, this is non-negotiable. My current dog comes from strong working lines (Schutzhund III as far back as I have records on her ancestors), but was happy with the job of helping me raise up my kids. I strongly recommend staying away from Rottweilers, Pitt Bulls, and Dobies. There are great examples of these breeds, but there can definitely be aggression problems with them, and they are not starter dogs. Same with Dalmatians, Chows, and Jack Russell Terriers.

    There are temperament tests that you can perform on a dog that you meet at the pound, and they're worth reading about if you want to try to screen out some issues that way. In general, with mutts, look for a calm steady dog that will come up to you and be friendly, and doesn't startle easily. Also look for a sturdy-boned animal rather than a delicate-boned one. There are connections between appearance and aggression/fear levels. Think of the difference between a high-strung Arabian and a sturdy old farm horse. The latter was the kind that will tolerate having five kids climbing on their backs, get hitched to a plow six days a week, and pull the buggy to church on Sundays. Not to say Arabians aren't great horses--they are--but not a great starter horse. Same is true with dogs.

    A couple of good books that are worth reading: Monks of New Skete: "How to be your Dog's Best Friend"; Temple Grandin:
    "Animals in Translation". There are also a lot of breed-specific books out there.

    It's a life-long commitment, and good for you for not taking this on lightly. Our lives would be so much less rich without these creatures, but lots of responsibility involved. Good luck in finding the right dog.

    And yes, even if you're the only one around with a fence, your farmer-neighbors will probably appreciate your willingness to keep a dog contained that way. In general, given the opportunity, most dogs will wander unless trained not to or prevented from doing so.

    If you can, wait until spring to get a dog, as it's easier to house-train them (if you're getting a puppy). Also, if you can time it so that someone is around (no school or work commitments for awhile) while they adjust, it's easier on the dogs.

    Also, malamutes may do fine if they completely shed their outer coats--I don't know if they'll do that in a hot climate. But keep in mind that they are bred for the cold. My dog hated the Alaskan summers, and loved playing outside in the snow and cold in the winter. Her coat was about three inches thick, and made of dense inner fur covered by long, thick guard hairs. Not built for the heat.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Alabama, NY
    I hope I don't sound like an absolute jackwad for saying this... But my fear with getting a mutt is that later down the road I may regret not getting the type of dog that I actually truly wanted. I don't want more than one dog... I don't have space for more than one large breed even. So whatever I end up getting, I'm getting for the rest of its/our life. I'm sure I'll love it just the same, yes. But I don't want to feel like... Well if this were a such and such it would be nicer... But the opposite is also true, I don't want to get a dog only to realize it's too much for me to handle and wish I'd gone with something different. Even if I have to pay for formal training (or even classes at a pet store?) or someone to come to my house and help with the training until I can fully take over, I have no problem doing that.

    I hope I'm not sounding like a jerk... I just want to a decision I'll be comfortable with for a long time to come.
    I also realize I'm probably over thinking all of this :|
  3. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    There's nothing wrong with getting the dog you want...you're going to have it for the next 8 - 18 years.
  4. thenorth

    thenorth New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2009
    Messages:
    26
    Loc:
    sudbury, ontario
    My log dog, is from the pound. choc. lab/greyhound....
    she is perfect .................
    when the time comes, the dog will pick you.............

    john
  5. joecool85

    joecool85 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2010
    Messages:
    856
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    I vote German Shepard for a large breed, or Border Collie for a medium breed. I will say that Border Collies take a good deal of attention though, but they are so smart it's worth it to me.
  6. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,995
    Loc:
    Rochester,ny
    Hey Hass-
    I see you're in Alabama! Best meat in the country right there at that IGA.
    They got great dogs too! Get it? Dogs? AHahahahaha...
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,846
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    I haven't seen anything indicating how active you are. Any working dog is going to need regular exercise. You can get away to a point with opening the back door, but they really need to be run/worked a bit. Are you willing to do this when it is cold and raining out? I think lots of the issues that dogs have comes from too much pent up energy.

    The other thing that will matter is whether you are a leader or a follower. DAKSY touched on it when he mentioned alpha and beta dogs. With all dogs, you have to be the leader. But with an alpha, you really have to be a good one. For a first dog I'd go with a less dominant dog from the start. You won't have the frustration. Luckily most dogs are not dominant unless you show them you aren't.

    MAtt
  8. loon

    loon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2010
    Messages:
    1,763
    Loc:
    ont canada
    See you still have a great personality and are a laugh a minute :smirk:

    get it?

    loon
  9. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,494

    Took me three years to find the dog I have now. She came out of the Omega Kennel in Montana (daughter of Uzi and Cihara, if you care to check out their pix). I understand that there are some controversies regarding that OK, but I have been very happy with our dog. However--she was a hardheaded handful as an adolescent. But also willing at nine months to take over the duty of driving off moose that got too close to the house, and agile enough to not get kicked/killed in the process. If I were looking for another dog, that's probably where I would go back to, and that's probably where my kids would go if and when they get dogs. I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself well here--I love the breed, and yet I'd be one of the first to say it's not for everyone. I've heard breeders say that they've had dogs `returned' after a year or so because the family just couldn't deal with the dogs' needs--and the dogs grieve the loss for years.

    I don't think you're overthinking this at all; that's why I recommended those books. I encourage you to do all the homework before you get the dog; you'll both be happier. If you do go with a particular breed, know why you're getting that breed, and what you want to ask of it. I'm not sure finding training through a pet store is going to be your best bet; I'd talk to good vet first about what's out there. The best vet clinics will help you with the all-round needs of an animal: health care, emergencies, feeding, boarding and training references, and even selections. I've asked vets about the best dogs in their care when I was looking for a dog. They know a lot, and see a lot of animals.

    BTW, my GSD would do the same thing described above, hang out with little kids, herd them away from the driveway, and come and get an adult if they weren't `obeying' her.
  10. dougstove

    dougstove Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    I have sleddogs, and I would not recommend most malamutes for a first time owner.
    Most of them have a high prey drive, and are big enough and willing enough to kill livestock.

    Furthermore, in Alabama, malamutes & huskies are going to find it hot most of the time.
    (Even in southern Canada, malamutes & Siberian huskies cannot be used as working sleddogs most of the year, since they overheat)
    Most malamutes & husky lines are not protective of people nor territory, so it is just the visual factor keeping people away.

    Shelter dogs are a great way to go, particularly if the shelter people are knowledgeable about making a match.
    Also, in some ways, two dogs are less work than one, since if they are compatible, they will play.

    If you like exercise, German Shorthaired pointers are intelligent, versatile dogs.
    Many border collies are too smart for their own good, unless you have jobs for them.
  11. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,699
    Loc:
    WNY
    Pick by the dog, not the breed. There are generalities about breeds, but they are NEVER 100% in every dog. Huskies and Malamutes in general, are not good with small animals/cats. But I've known exceptions.

    Labs...I think are one of the worst dogs for breed generalizations (I mean this as a dog people will get based on the generalization, not meaning the most misunderstood-that would be the Pitts, Rotties, GSDs and the like). Everyone seems to think they are the best dogs ever. We've had two since we've been together, and my dad had one when I was younger. A friend will only have labs.

    Of her dogs that I've known, one was a mix and an absolute love, the sweetest thing ever. Well behaved, liked everyone, never got into anything. Next, a pure bred she got as a puppy, was a very mellow guy but had a seisure disorder. Then, a purebred she had to put down because he was nasty as anything-and she got him as a puppy too. Only listened to her and tried to attack anyone he could reach. Now, another one she got as a puppy, mostly good.

    Of ours, one was a mutt and we got her at a few years old. HIGH energy (like most labs) and got into EVERYTHING. Ate EVERYTHING (soap, toothpaste, raw potatoes, you name it, she ate it). Very friendly. Currently, we have one we rescued, we are home #3 and we're doing serious work with her. Originally tried to bite everyone, barked at everyone, didn't listen...high energy, very smart and only wears a muzzle when we're walking her just because we don't trust her not to have a relapse. The people we got her from had never had a dog before and got a lab because they believed the whole "labs are the best family dogs" speel. She scared their kids and I think them too, and chased their cat who hid upstairs (she's afraid of stairs and won't go up them). She growled at each of us ONCE before we both put her in her place about it (seperate incidents) and has NEVER done it again-I would bet she did the same to them but they didn't know what to do and it scared them. She doesn't retrieve and won't swim, she's afraid to go more than belly deep in the lake. Supposed to be bad with cats, we're not trying.

    The best dog we had (imo) was a Rottie. Got her at about 4 years old from the SPCA, purebred. Friendly towards everyone we let in the door, cornered a friend that jumped our 6' fence unannounced until I got there and told her it was ok (she had him against the fence with her hackles up and growling.showing teeth, but didn't bite). Very laid back. Smart but not a trouble maker. Had bad hips though, and that's what eventually got the better of her. Great with kids, our cats and the lab mix.
  12. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,699
    Loc:
    WNY
    I agree on the above statements, dispite the fact that my fav breed is the Rottweiler. I do think they can be a "first dog" for someone, like a GSD, but it has to be someone committed to understanding the breed and training the dog. I LOVE GSDs but for some reason am allergic. Of all the dogs I've known, the ones with the most personality issues to number of dogs (pretty much all of them, lol) were GSDs. In including the dollface from across the street that jumped out the second story window, dug through a door and chewed through chainlink (I really loved her, she was a doll if she knew you). And my friend's dog that he had to "bribe" with treats to get into his own house. But also, very loyal-most police dogs are GSDs.
  13. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,212
    Loc:
    NE Maryland
    +1 million.
  14. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,606
    Loc:
    SE MI
    Both of my mastiffs have been wonderful. Extremely lazy, love attention, great with kids. They are quite shy, almost aloof at times, but once they accept a stranger as okay they want to be lap dogs. They can be stubborn and definitely require obedience training. You don't want a 170lb dog you can't control. The male went pretty regularly for two years, mostly because it was free from the rescue he came from, and he was good at it. It's been 3+ years, but he still gets it, and knows a bunch of hand signals.
    They are pretty low key, low energy dogs. They don't need a big yard and a bunch of exercise. They are fine alone in the house for 10+ hours at a time. They don't get bored because they sleep all the time anyway. They also make my wife more comfortable with me being gone overnight for work. They are super protective. I wouldn't want to be the poor bastard that walks into my house uninvited. I'm not sure if they would eat anybody, but they sure would make an intruder uncomfortable :)
    I've had pets all of my life. These two dogs are by far the best yet.
  15. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,494
    Another resource I'll steer you towards if you do decide to go the GSD route is the discussion boards over at Leerburg Kennels site. They have a lot of training information and discussions of the different temperament issues that can come up with these dogs.

    My dog has never bitten anyone in her life, but I knew a big strong smart animal-savvy man who said he would rather have his arm cut off than walk into my house with that dog loose. She was (in her prime) no less dangerous than a loaded gun on voice command, and I never forgot it.

    I had a dog walk into my house with her owner, who was intimidated by his dog, and reached up to help herself to some food on my table. Before the dog, owner, and almost even I knew what was happening, the dog was on her back on the floor with one hand around her muzzle and the other on her throat while I explained my expectations for her behavior when she visited. She was very polite to me after that, and the owner had a whole different outlook on her as well. I have been known to punch a dog in the jaw for growling at a child, again, almost without pause to think. I brook no nonsense whatsoever from large dogs, as I know they suffer the most if they are not well-brought-up. I've gotten away with that because I was willing to take it to whatever level necessary to be alpha animal in those circumstances.

    There are some dogs I would never *ever* do that with because I would have lost not just face but possibly my face in the process. Some dogs with those kinds of dominance lines don't really mature into them until they're about two years old. Just sayin'.

    I think if you sit down and ask yourself in detail what you're looking for in a dog, some things will start to coalesce for you.

    If you're dead set on a purebred, you can find good examples out there. But know your breeds, know what their downsides are, and ask breeders the right questions, and look for breeders who know the problems that the breed can have and who are willing to frankly discuss them. Find out what they're doing to deal with that or eliminate those problems in their lines. The good ones don't mind.

    I also looked at the quality of life that the breeding dogs experienced. If they spent their lives behind chain link fences, I kept looking. The place I bought from (long distance, so I can only go by what I saw and heard) looked like dog heaven, and the dogs looked loved and happy. I've seen breeders (even very small ones) whose dogs spend their lives mostly locked up. At the kennel I bought from, the pups are whelped next at the owner's bedside, and handled by humans from birth. The breeding stock is family, and kept and cherished long after they are retired from breeding. I can live with that.

    If you're shying away from mutts, perhaps you might consider a crossbreed? One of the greatest dogs I've known was a GSD-Golden mix. You've still got a lot of the advantages of the hybrid vigor (meaning that usually in a first-gen crossbreed, the best characteristics from both parents are dominant), without some of the downsides of the purebred.
  16. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Messages:
    4,945
    Loc:
    Ridge, LI, NY
    Best dog I ever had was a rescue from Bide A Wee. She was a golden/collie cross (built like a collie, colored like a golden. Damn, she was pretty, eye liner & all. Smart as a whip, too). Her name was Dublin. Stood between myself & the Dixettes Dad one night, and her back was to me, and she didn't back down, teeth barred, ready to rumble. All 80 pounds of her.

    He left.

    She picked me. Was walking through the kennels at the rescue, and hit a load of pups. She barked, and came right to the front, all kissy kissy, waggy waggy. We snuggled, much to the delight of our tour guide. As I walked on, she kept barking. I went into another part of the rescue, and I could still hear her.

    In my head, I heard the word "doomed".

    Glad I got "doomed" that day.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the Murph, but a fox terrier is a PITA, sometimes :)
  17. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Alabama, NY
    Thanks for all your thoughts guys, I greatly appreciate it.

    I live in Alabama NY. It's a town called Alabama in NY. It's right next to Buffalo.
    I looked around since I was wondering if our summers here would be too warm for them... I ended up finding a large amount of Malamute breeders down in Texas and the surrounding states... I'm not sure how well the Mals survive down there, but they do I guess. So I'd assume the climate up here would be fine for them as long as they get a nice pool to play in whenever they please. Plus there's lots of snow in the winter, so I'm sure that'll make one happy :)

    I'm not dead set on anything really. I don't mind mixes. I really didn't want to buy a dog from a breeder. I prefer one from a rescue, but if that's not an option I'll get one from a breeder. My dad had 7 GSDs in his life so far... So he's pretty familiar with them. I even thought about a GSD/mal mix... I see those tend to be somewhat common.
  18. rottiman

    rottiman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,102
    Loc:
    Ontario Canada
    There are many awesome breeds out there. I am partial to what I have for a number of reasons. best of luck on your search
  19. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,846
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    When I lived in Houston I saw a guy at a pet store with a Newfy. I asked how the dog delt with the temps down there and found out it had an air conditioned dog house. I'd bet the TX breeder you saw did something similar.

    Matt
  20. bpm44

    bpm44 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Messages:
    180
    Loc:
    WNY
    Hey there Hass - another large breed you may look into is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Originally from Berne Switzerland they are a large purebred farm dog, and were often used as carting dogs to pull carts of goods to market. A bit bigger than your average golden retriever, bitches are about 85 or so pounds and males 105 or so. Very loyal, good with kids, guarding the house both while you're home or away, very playful. Love to have a "job" to do. They are slow to mature and do require relatively gentle but very consistent training. About a 10 year lifespan. There is a saying about them that is something like 3 years a young dog, 3 years a good dog, 3 years and old dog. Ours is all that I described, very sweet and full of zest. She follows me everywhere and loves being outdoors, but she is equally as good indoors. Patience is the key to training this breed.

    We had a Golden, and she made it 15 years before her hips gave out. She was one of the "perfect" dogs - trained easily. Great with everyone. Loved people. Such a good dog that I knew I would have to get a different breed to minimize comparisons between her and a new pup. I suppose that sounds shallow on my part, but she really was a great dog. So now we have a Bernese. She has gorgeous coloring. She makes me laugh with her crazy puppy antics. Just turned a year yesterday and I'm still learning her and she's still learning me, and really I wouldnt trade her for anything.
    Good luck with your search!
  21. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,606
    Loc:
    SE MI
    I've only seen one malamute that was well socialized. He is a trip. If you quit playing with him, he tries to bark at you, but he can't. It comes out as a weird, short, funny howl. He's a huge 150lb furball. Very cool dog, but unusual for a malamute. The others I've been around were decent enough, but not overly affectionate. Kinda out there, distant maybe.
  22. woodmeister

    woodmeister New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Loc:
    lower ct. river
    have had many dogs malamute was great looking but a lot of work also a mastiff pretty mellow but messy drool and all Rottweiler was great very smart but not good around other male dogs he was a rescue so that may have been from his past black lab. was also a great dog very friendly just needed to be run lots of energy bonus was she was a great hunter and only 65 lbs. Whatever dog you choose mutt or otherwise it will only be as good as the time you put into it in training. The better the training upfront the greater the experience down the road.
  23. ironworker

    ironworker Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2011
    Messages:
    136
    Loc:
    Upstate NY
    Huskies and Malamutes are nice, but tend to run away a lot, and rescue dogs unfortunately come with baggage sometimes,get a lab from a reputable breeder, they will keep their boundaries and are easy to train, and are suprisenly protective, and what ever you chose, stay away from pet stores, you will get a puppy mill dog with tons of problems. Also crate train it, dogs are small den animals and are very comfortable in one, as soon as you take him out bring him outside to do his business.
  24. Hass

    Hass Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Messages:
    529
    Loc:
    Alabama, NY
    One thing I forgot to ask... and nobody mentioned, What about male/female?

    Is there a big difference between sexes in dogs? I know females tend to be a bit smaller... Of course I'll get it spayed/neutered when the time comes. But does one tend to be more docile than the other, or more active... etc...?
    I'm not asking about a specific breed, just a generalization across dogs if possible. I see males are typically a few hundred $$ more from breeders, so that's why I'm wondering. Unless it's just because they grow up to be larger.

    Also! What about an actual raw meat diet? Anyone here do it?
    I understand it's time consuming versus kibble... But from what I have read people tend to say it's better for dogs if you're able to do it.
    I can buy cows and other animals from the farmers around me for cheap, so it's not that big of a deal. Maybe next year I'll hunt down a pair of black bears for his food :) Black bear meat around here is extremely cheap too if you buy it off hunters. A lot of the hunters here end up throwing a lot of it away because of how it tastes. I know you're not supposed to, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't hear of it. I'd have to look in to seeing if bear meat is ok for them to eat... But I'd imagine so.
  25. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,075
    Loc:
    S.NH
    1. In my experience, females are more loving and males are more playful.
    2. Mixed dogs can be very good as the 'bad aspects' (hip dysplasia, teeth issues, etc.) are often diluted.
    3. #2 can often be avoided if buying from a reputable breeder with champion bloodlines.
    4. Border Collies and other herders need lots of exercise to 'tame their minds.' If you're not willing to put in the work, look at labs, goldies, etc.
    5. Though just general guidelines, certain breeds do have certain personalities. Every schnauzer I've owned has been loyal but easily bored. So, while they love to be with me and the family, they also enjoy wandering. All the labs and goldies I've had (and known) will stay within 25 feet of their masters all day.
    6. We currently have a well-bread mini-schnauzer, and it's probably the only breed we'll ever own.

    One last thing: check out Portuguese Water Dogs and Giant Schnauzers. Both are good sized dogs that don't shed and have lots of personality and potential.

    Good luck!

    S

Share This Page