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Dogs, and finding an appropriate one

FembotFembot Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
So, I'm quite set on getting a dog. I am going to get it from a shelter - and while I would like to give an older dog a home, I'm quite certain I need to get a dog that is rather young. I have cats, you see - and I'm convinced the best way to make everyone happy is to have the dog grow up with the cats around, rather than try to introduce a dog that already has ingrained behavior patterns (and there's no way I could be certain about the dog's history).

My primary question is this: are there any breeds/mixes I should specifically avoid if I don't want to get a dog that needs constant action? There are certain times of the year here where going outside means you're going to freeze to death, and so walks at this time would be out of the question.

Secondary: any advice on integrating dog+cats is welcome - though I'm already doing reading on it, anything helps!

Fembot on

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    UnknownSaintUnknownSaint Kasyn Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I can't suggest much about the first, since I'm not much of an expert on dogs. I do know that the second is rather simple, you have to buy young and raise it around cats. All the dogs I know that get along with cats were raised around 'em, all the ones that hate them weren't. Pretty simple. Getting an old dog that already has it out for cats will have a hard time ever getting used to one.

    UnknownSaint on
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    Uncle LongUncle Long Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    What is your average day like? Do you have a yard? Are you willing to play with your dog outside and take it for walks fairly often? What kind of climate do you live in? What sort of dogs do you see most often in your area?

    I see that you said it would be fairly cold in your area for a decent part of the year, so short-haired dogs might not be the best option.

    Just as an aside: here in Alaska I see a load of labs, a few pitbulls, greyhounds and an awesome array of muts. Don't discount muts, often they are very smart and may provide the best mix of traits for your needs.

    Uncle Long on
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    TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    You could also get an older dog that was raised around cats. Not all dogs are in the shelter because they were strays or their previous owners sucked completely; often, dogs are surrendered because their owners get old and ill, or lose their homes, that kind of thing.

    Trowizilla on
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    FembotFembot Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    A very large yard, rural setting. 9 months out of the year it's quite nice, but the other three months can have very very miserable patches. For those 9 months I'd be looking at a walk a day (and playtime too), and for the other three months it would be spotty depending on weather. For those three months the dog would also have to spend a lot of time cooped up inside (aside from pee time), while during the rest of the year it would be able to roam around the yard (leashed) if it wanted to be out. I'm also frequently at home, so the dog would have human companionship most of the time.

    I neglected to mention that I'd be looking for a decent sized dog, german shepherd size or larger, but not really too much smaller. I'm perfectly fine with getting a mutt too - and I know activity level can vary highly depending on the individual dog as well, and it can be difficult to assess when they're puppies.

    And Trowi: I would be up for it, but like I said - I have no way of knowing the history of the dog. I had a bad experience with this when I was younger, actually. My mother had brought a dog home that supposedly was fine with cats, and the first thing he did when my mom let it out of the car was tear the leash out of her hand and race for our cat. He nearly killed the cat - and I don't want to take that chance now :/

    Fembot on
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    RubickRubick Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    You can get a pup from a shelter if you keep an eye out, or you can just buy from a breeder once you decide what breed you want. If you get a pup you can also train it yourself (which you can do with an older dog as well, but you can start fresh with a pup). I adopted from a breeder about two months ago (a Corgi) and we're currently going through the training classes right now.

    Pups can be extra annoying though. Research your breeds and see what suits you - Corgi's are super-energetic, and it took a while for me to get used to dealing with that. Right now he's sitting on the floor next to me barking at who knows what.

    When it comes to weather, you're just going to have to deal with taking the dog out to pee when it's cold. Dogs are resilient when it comes to that kind of thing, and my dog pretty much pees/potties on command. I have him on a set schedule (food-wise) and I pretty much know when he has to go.

    Any dog you get at all, spend some time with the pup and make sure it has a personality you feel you can work with - is it too dominant, do you want a more relaxed pup, etc. I highly recommend taking some kind of dog training course to get you familiar with training your dog, as well as get him used to socializing with other animals and people. I'm doing the one at PetSmart and so far so good.

    Rubick on
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    fuelishfuelish Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    A good shelter or rescue can tell you how the do is with cats. At the shelter there are usually "shop" cats that do dog testing. At the rescue, the dogs often end up with homes that have a cat or two(and get moved if they do not like cats)
    If you do not want a wild dog that needs hours of exercise every day, DO NOT GET a puppy. They are either wide open or asleep and they need lots of attention, walking, training, etc. Not the best choice for a first dog. An older dog(3-4) will, usually, be more sedate. You will also be able to to see his true nature.

    fuelish on
    Another day in the bike shop Pretty much what it sounds like. The secret lifestyle, laid open.
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    Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The American Kennel Club website has extensive and detailed descriptions of the traits of all their accepted breeds, unfortunately their website is in some sort of a migration right now and is not up. The toy and companion breeds are small, and thus can get sufficient exercise even when they can't get out of the house. Larger dogs require outside exercise to remain healthy, avoid them because of this.

    I like miniature dachshunds, they are adorable little kickables that generally have good temperment. They do require a lot of activity, but because they are so compact and low to the ground, "lots of activity" isn't anything that's going to tire you out. My brother's dachshunds are lucky to make it around the block once before their stubby little legs are all tired out. I don't know how they do around cats, but they get along great with his pet bird. I think any dog breed can potentially get along well with cats, I've seen all sorts of breeds in cat/dog households. As long as your dog is Ok with the cats, you will be fine. If your cats don't like the dog they will likely just avoid him and glare at you a lot (yes, they will blame you).



    tldr: get a small dog

    Regina Fong on
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    LadyMLadyM Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I would avoid any breed (or mix thereof) known to have a strong prey drive. It IS possible for a puppy to grow up around cats and one day chase and kill them.

    Breeds I would avoid:

    all terriers, including pit bulls, Jack Russell terriers, etc
    daschunds--I have heard more stories of them growing up around cats and then killing them than any other breed. They were originally bred to kill badgers.
    sighthounds, including greyhounds and whippets
    huskies and malamutes

    Breeds that would probably be good:

    retrievers (labs, goldens)
    spaniels
    toy dogs
    collies

    Always assess every dog individually, though. Just because a dog is a lab doesn't mean it can't be prey-driven. Every individual dog is different. That said, my labrador / border collie mix was great with cats. :)

    LadyM on
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    IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2008
    I used to be an akita owner and was in an almost similar situation, because theres a period of the summer months where walking the dog during the day was two hot for the poor guy, so one long morning walk was in order.

    Akitas are generally calm and arent prone to hyperactivity, long haired (fluffy!) very loyal, and are great house dogs. I highly suggest reading about them, they are a fantastic breed and the older ones often have trouble finding homes. They do okay in appartment situations, even, as long as they get the proper amount of exercise through walking and playing. So if you want a bear sized dog who is just going to sit by you until walk and play time, I recommend them.

    Of course, every individual dog is different, but next time I get a dog, the akita will be the first breed I look at. They one downside is if you need it to be social, you want to find one that has been socialized since he was a puppy (raised in a family) or raise one yourself, from anecdotal information, they can become very attached to one person if thats all they know.

    Iruka on
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    AngrySpoonAngrySpoon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I've had miniature dachshunds with cats before, and while I wouldn't trust most of them around kittens I don't think they'd be a problem around full grown cats since they're pretty much the same size, or smaller. In fact when buying a young dog I would probably be more afraid of the cats killing the Dachshund. My parents used to breed them when I was much younger and they were often more afraid of the cats than the cats were of them.

    I have heard however that Basset Hounds are generally very good with cats.

    AngrySpoon on
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    FunkyWaltDoggFunkyWaltDogg Columbia, SCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I don't have anything to add, but this thread reminds me of the time I came home to find the dog sleeping on the couch, and the cat curled up on top of the dog, also asleep. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera at the time, but you can rest assured that it was the cutest thing ever.

    FunkyWaltDogg on
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    [Michael][Michael] Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Fembot wrote:
    I neglected to mention that I'd be looking for a decent sized dog, german shepherd size or larger, but not really too much smaller.

    I had a German Shepard from age 4 until about 18, and he was awesome. He got along very well with everyone/thing he grew up around, but he could be pretty aggressive/protective (really more protective) with animals and people he hadn't met or been around for a while. We had a really small feist (dunno if that's what they're actually called, but that's what my parents called it) probably even smaller than the average cat and he got along with it with no problems. I don't know how well introducing another animal into the home would have gone after the puppy years, though.

    Really the only other downside to a German Shepherd was that he shed a lot of hair in the summer. Loads and loads of it.

    Our German shepherd liked being outside or inside (he probably went in and out 5+ times a day, but if the weather was really bad he didn't mind staying indoors), very sociable with people he lived with (though also content to chase birds in the backyard all day), had tons of energy, and could learn all sorts of tricks pretty easily (we taught him how to tackle receivers in football, hunt moles tearing up the yard, lots of other stuff.

    I'd definitely look into German shepherds; doesn't seem like you'd have problems with it being around cats. We had no problems with a family of 8, another dog and 2 birds, but there was some growling and baring of teeth if a stranger unexpectedly came inside (could be easily remedied by having said unknown person give him a raw hot dog or other snack :P)

    One last note: about the "able to roam around the yard (leashed)" - we were never able to leash him with anything that could hold him 100%, he could always slip out of it eventually - pulling up a pole put several feet into the ground, breaking a chain, slipping out of the collar - that really only lasted a year until we got fencing around the yard.

    [Michael] on
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    FembotFembot Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    thanks, folks! :^:

    Fembot on
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    WezoinWezoin Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    If you're looking for one that gets alone with other animals, I'd suggest a female. They tend to be less territorial, and therefore more accepting of others. Just make sure you get her neutered, if not for the prevention of creating unwanted pets, then for the behavioral benefits (again, less territorial, and tend to be more obedient)

    Wezoin on
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    wallabeeXwallabeeX Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Second the lab. I've had two black labs in my life and both were fine with cats. They're also common enough that you should have no problem finding one in a shelter.

    wallabeeX on
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    Regina FongRegina Fong Allons-y, Alonso Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Our golden retriever was actually a little frightened of our cat (although the cat loved him to death). They are huge pussies - no pun intended - for the most part, much like labs.

    Regina Fong on
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    SliverSliver Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    What type of dog experience do you have?

    My mom breeds australian shepards and I'll be damned if I've seen a more beautiful breed of dog but they never run out of energy and they're freakishly smart so I would only recommend them to someone who's experienced with dogs like that.

    Also with dogs and cats getting along, my mother is also one of those crazy cat persons so she's got like, 9 of them at any given time. The dogs and the cats take some time to adjust to having a new animal around but they always work things out. I will say that it depends as much on the cat as it does on the dog. I've seen cats live in pathological terror of dogs despite living with them for years. I've seen other cats obedience train the dogs to groom them on command. So keep that in mind as well.

    Sliver on
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    FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I want to get an English bulldog.

    Apparently they dont need huge amounts of exercise compared to other breeds. They do have health issues though. So they arent low-maintenance.

    They are supposed to be extremely loving and get on well with cats (compared to some).

    Mostly, I just respect anything that can go so far past ugly, that they become cute again ;-)

    Fallingman on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    FembotFembot Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Sliver wrote: »
    What type of dog experience do you have?

    I've been around dogs most of my life, however I've never been the one directly responsible for training/caring for them. So yeah, I also need to be looking for a newb-friendly one.

    Lots of awesome advice in here, thanks again folks.

    Fembot on
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    LadyM wrote:
    Breeds that would probably be good:

    retrievers (labs, goldens)
    spaniels
    toy dogs
    collies

    Labs of course are known for their mellow personalities, and every one I've seen fits it. They do need a lot of excercise, though. With or without you.

    MichaelLC on
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