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Doing my research for a potential First Dog...

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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Zoe

Have Beach, Will- Swim
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 7:39pm PST 
Hey guys, here's the scoop: I'm a 21 year old lady doing some research to find out, potentially, what dog might best fit my living situation in the future. I live in Boston and I'm wrapping up my Senior Year of college, and I'd really love to get a companion for after I graduate. Right now I'm living in a 4 Bedroom apartment with a very large common space, with 6 other people, a cat, and a rabbit. However I will likely be moving to a new place come next September, hopefully with a few less people. While this is technically the first dog I'll be raising by myself, I had a very heavy hand in raising and training our family dogs, so I'm not a complete novice when it comes to that aspect. I'm willing to put in at least an hour a day walking and playing with a dog, plus I have many roommates who can help care for a dog while I'm out working or such. Also I'm totally A-OK with grooming.

I guess in general what I'm asking is, is this an OK situation to even have a dog? I'm very much a dog person and I want one of my own very badly. My dream breed is a Shiba Inu, but I hear mixed responses as to the general activity level of those breeds. I'm always wiling to go an extra mile for a pet, but the last thing I want is to get a dog into a situation where it would be unhappy with the care I can provide for it.

I've been using multiple breed selectors, but I'd like some input from other dog owners as to what breeds would best fit my situation. This is all purely hypothetical, and I'll be sure to do further research on any suggestions! blue dog
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Zoe

Have Beach, Will- Swim
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 8:02pm PST 
Oh, just to clarify some further traits:
-I love large dogs especially C:
-While I'm definitely willing to walk a dog as much as it needs to be walked, I generally live a pretty lazy lifestyle.
- I'm pretty flexible as far as age goes, puppy or older dog, whatever
- A breed that is generally less anxious would be nice since I'd likely be taking it on the subway with me to take it to parks and such.
-Something that potentially works as a guard dog would be NICE, but isn't totally necessary.
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Niki

1229379
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 9:15pm PST 
Have you considered a Chow? They sound like the could fit your lifestyle, they don't require a ton of exercise, are independent, and rather unlikely to have separation anxiety. Even though most people don't recommend them for new owners, it isn't because they are hard to own or live with. They are a relatively low-mantaince breed, but they aren't very "doggy" (ie. they don't beg for a ball to be thrown or want constant attention) and are often described as cat-like. They are really magnificent and once you've experienced how loyal and special they are ... you will never look back! smile

I live outside of Boston, but would be more than happy to help you find a Chow from a rescue, when the time is right! I'll attach the link to a big chow group that works across New England .... there are always a range of wonderful Chow and Chow mixes available and many more not listed.
https://www.facebook.com/ChowChowRescue?fref=ts
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Zoe

Have Beach, Will- Swim
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 9:56pm PST 
ooooh, that's an interesting suggestion.... Particularly it piques my interest because my one roommate who isn't really a dog person has a huge soft spot for Chows, that sounds like a good choice simply for placating her, hahhaha. Problem is that while I'm not totally opposed to an independent dog, I kind of want something that isn't going to be prone to being aloof. Maybe a Chow mix would work well?

Edited by author Fri Oct 5, '12 9:59pm PST

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Miyu CGC

Bow down to the- Princess Brat!
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:06pm PST 
Chows ARE magnificent, but a couple of warning notes- they're not dogs newbies are discouraged from simply because they're cat like. I'm sure other Dogsters will chime in, but everything I've read and researched about them states that Chows are serious guardian dogs who really need their personal space. They're independent, and if not properly socialized and handled (especially around folks not in the know) can become liabilities and loose cannons.

But definitely do talk to the chow rescue. Those folks will be the BEST people to let you know if it's a good idea or not. There are always dogs that don't fit the breed mold, and with so many needing homes out there I'm sure a great rescue will help you find the best dog for you.

Also (and you likely already know this) but they are often on the list of 'banned' or 'dangerous' dog breeds. Finding apartments and roomies with a big dog is likely hard enough, finding one with a 'dangerous' breed even harder. Sucks, and I hate it too, I have a GSD.

How about a rough collie? A softer temperament, more people friendly, handler focused, with a medium level energy requirement. Such beautiful dogs, and you stated you're not a novice at training and handling, AND you don't mind grooming. I love the roughs myself, but I'm such a lazybutt about grooming I'd likely never be able to have one.

Also, maybe a rescue greyhound? Mellow dogs, so wonderful for their size! You won't find any of THOSE on your dangerous dog list. A great rescue will tell you which are small dog and cat safe, since you state you might have roomies with pets. You just can't ever let them off leash in an unenclosed area, and Boston winters are bitter, they'll likely need all the cold weather accoutrements a lean, short coated dog will require. Sweet sweet animals. But uh. Don't expect any protective instinct out of those. laugh out loud
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Niki

1229379
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:29pm PST 
In my experience, even terrible abused Chows are not scary. Unlike a dog of another breed that is aggressive, Chows are just too lazy and dignified to go out of their way to attack. I don't know if that makes any sense, lol ... but its just in my experience with rescues. I hate talking about aggression and Chows because they do not go hand in hand. Yes, a Chow might not want a random stranger to hug it (though properly bred it should not object), but they should always tolerate it or give fair warning. In my years of Chow ownership, they are set in their ways and thus predictable. I think that makes them easier in fact to live with and one of the things I love about them. I don't know why they are discriminated against, they are far from dangerous. Although they are excellent watch dogs, it's not in their nature to go out and find a fight. They'd rather be off doing their own thing. smile

I should emphasize that Chows are gentle and sweet, funny, and amusing when they play ... I could just go on and on about their good qualities because unless you live with them or have a lot of experience with the breed, they can be hard to understand. They love their family so much that its hard for outsiders to appreciate it. My current female doesn't care for strangers to pet her, but she'd let me do anything - she has such a complete trust in the people she loves - another key factor to a chow relationship that is unlike other breeds. But of course, you can find Chows that are social and friendly! My girl did agility back in her day and she is very smart (but not always obedient).

Chows also have a wonderful coat that doesn't smell or shed unless brushed. Some people with dog allergies can even tolerate them! My mother in particular isn't a big dog lover, but she has always loved Chows.... so I can understand where your roommate is coming from. I really recommend them because I've also experienced the other side of breeds - mixes, aussies, and collies in particular. I love my Australian Shepherd (though the opposite of my Chow), but for someone who is young & in the city I would much more recommend a Chow. My Aussies actually came out of Boston and I think he's flourished in the country life. I think Boston is a great place to raise/socialize a pup, but its harder to keep an active adult fully exercised and stimulated...without having to pay a fortune for a dog walker, daycare, etc.
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:32pm PST 
I would never recommend a chow to a newbie. They are one of the most serious guardian dogs you can imagine and need particular handling and socialization. Many chows in rescue come with serious issues from early mishandling and are projects, not pets.

For someone in college who only wants to dedicate an hour or so walking their dog, a small lap dog would probably be best. Maltese, shihtzus, bichons and pugs all come to mind as great little companions for a first dog. Cavaliers are also excellent and love to run and play but have a lot of health issues, so finding a stellar breeder is very important.
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Niki

1229379
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:32pm PST 
Oh and last thing, make sure if you are reading about Chows online it's from experienced Chow people. I don't agree with some of the descriptions out there on the breed.

A great forum to check out is www.chowchow.org ... lots of cute pictures too! smile
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Zoe

Have Beach, Will- Swim
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:41pm PST 
While I'm not a novice at handling a dog, as great as Chow's sound they sound like they might be outside of my ability level, and the last thing I want to do is get in over my head and have the dog end up paying for it somehow. Maybe a Chow rescue might have some sort of Mix that has some of the traits but is easier to handle? I'm going to write that info down and save it, perhaps they'll have something that might work.

I'm definitely interested in the idea of a Rough Collie, the dog that I grew up with and helped raise is part Border Collie so I have some experience with herder types, but in my experience they are prone to anxiety and I have some loud roommates, I wouldn't want to upset the dog with that either. Maybe that's just a Border Collie thing and a Rough Collie would be chill? Greyhounds sound like a good option too.

The 1 hour walk time is definitely a flexible thing, but a little dog might be the better route for me even though as a personal taste thing I'm very fond of large dogs.

American Eskimo dogs have also been coming up on my searches a lot, what do you guys know about them?
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Niki

1229379
 
 
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '12 10:50pm PST 
Jackson - Chows do AWFUL in a shelter situation. I will admit that ... they become timid, aggressive and extremely scared. They come off as terrible in kennels ... and its a big issue that Chows rescues are always trying to improve.

I've lived and worked with Chows for over 15 years.... the right dog with the right owner, particularly a newbie, can work out perfectly. In fact, a lot of extremely experienced dog people can be overly-heavy handed with Chows. Sometimes new owners are better at learning how to provide for a Chow because they don't have all these pre-concieved notions about dog training. As long as they are doing their research (as the OP is) and if they work with a great rescue there should not be any problems.

Chow do best with patient, gentle, owners who are willing to work with their dogs, not against them. They need a routine and rules, but they aren't are plotting to dominate their owners. They need socialization from outsiders, otherwise they will most strongly bond with their families. And for some people thats perfectly fine. But like I said before, they have individual personalities.

As you all can tell, I feel very strongly about "Chowdren"! smile They are misunderstood, labeled, and far too common in rescue. It is heartbreaking to see them in shelters, because they can blossom into wonderful family dogs given care, patience, and TLC.
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