Judging from the massive numbers of dogs who end up in rescue facilities, often rejected because they were deemed unsuitable, choosing your first family dog is very difficult. It’s usually a one-time choice, with zero experience of the pup, based on looks and hearsay. We put selecting your pet up there with selecting your spouse. At least we get the chance to try them out first. Nevertheless, remember that in the US, the spouse rejection rate runs at about 50%.
Judging from the number of dogs that come to us with behavior problems, training a pup to be obedient, sociable and happy, is also up there with training your spouse. So, this article is a plea to choose your pup with great care to perfectly match your lifestyle and interests, because our dogs deserve a happy and contented life just as much as we do.
We always advise getting your pup from a registered breeder, and choosing it direct from the mother. Pups in pet shops may look cute, but mostly they should not be there. And there is great sentimental pressure to adopt a rescue, but unless you know for certain the true reason it became a rescue, such as death of the owner, you may be taking on a whole lot of trouble from a psychologically damaged dog.
Here are six of my favorites; breeds that suit a wide range of different lifestyles and are easily trained and laid-back (especially important with children). Their even temperaments also leave some wiggle room for the training mistakes of many owners.
If you want a family buddy, the Springer Spaniel has the right affectionate, stick-to-the-owner temperament. Easily trained, beautiful, yet tough enough for roughhousing with the children, it is medium energy and small enough to be an unobtrusive house pet. Long walks together, play fighting, fetch, swimming, and a little attention to brushing and trimming that long coat, is all it needs for a happy life.
Say you are more active, and jog a lot. Then a high energy Collie may suit you better. But do not get a Collie unless you are happy to spend hours exercising with your pet every day. Unused, that high energy can produce a frustrated dog which turns its attention to behavior you do not want. Huge coat, but it doesn’t need constant brushing. Nor does it shed a lot. A contented Collie makes a happy, odor-free, obedient, house pet.
If you tend to suffer allergies, the hypo-allergenic Miniature Poodle, which hardly sheds at all, is a good choice. Among the smartest of all dogs, miniature poodles make great house pets, especially if you like daily grooming as a buddy activity. Poodles are medium energy but excel at many sports activities, and will be happiest sharing their abilities in daily outdoor games with you.
Another non-shedding, delightful, family dog is the Miniature Schnauzer. Extremely affectionate once they get to know you, they are easily trained. But Mini Schnauzers need outdoor exercise every day. A lovely, spirited, and faithful companion for walks and play. At 20 lbs of muscle, Miniature Schnauzers make excellent watchdogs and controllers of vermin. But don’t let them eat the rats, mice, shrews, rabbits, and birds which they catch continually, to protect them from infections and worms.
If you want a family guard dog, my personal choice is the elegant and fearless Airedale Terrier. As a breeder of these wonderful dogs, I know they are super-alert and super-fast as guards, and will act independently to protect you and your family. At 60lbs full grown, they are formidable opponents. Easily trained, but they need strong leadership. They also need daily, vigorous, outdoor exercise, and constant. intellectual stimulation. Because of their thick undercoat, which needs regular pulling, Airedales have a doggie odor. As with all large guard dogs, the secret is to get your Airedale as a pup direct from the mother, and socialize them well with your children. Then the pup grows to adopt the children lovingly as its own, and is super tolerant, and indestructible to their roughhousing.
If you are not very active and just want a delightful house-friendly, loving companion, the bright and alert Papillion with the butterfly ears is a great choice. They are naturally friendly and sociable. Although they love walks and outside play, they live just as well in an apartment. Easily trained and entertained indoors the little Papillion is sociable with everyone.
In future articles, I will recommend a few more breeds we know well. The six above give a good range of choice to fill that space in your heart and your home with a pet that returns in multiples your every kind act.
How long will your dog live?