Dog Breed-Choosing Identity Crisis, Help?

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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Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 2:26pm PST 
I am having an "identity crisis" on choosing my next dog, can anyone help? Especially hoping Tiller will chime in but I would love to hear with anyone who has suggestions/ideas as well... Also want to mention, it will be a while before I get another dog so there is no rush here.
Fair warning, this is going to be a long post... I might even break it up into two.

I think a lot of the reason I am having trouble was losing Bianca so suddenly and so young has shaken me... I am starting to worry a lot more about health and longevity, although of course that was always a concern with picking a dog, now I am finding myself looking up the most long lived large breeds, or the healthiest large breeds as the basis for my searching. I know that there is no guarantee of longevity, Bianca was proof of that since she was from good healthy lines, from a kennel known for longevity and I lost her at 8 years old...but it doesn't hurt to try to stack the deck in your favor anyway.
Unfortunately I am also finding myself in a different situation than I expected as well so the breeds I had been considering before, I thought would be in the future, not soon, since I was thinking I would probably get a small dog as a second dog and then another large dog sometimes in the future after I lost Bianca when she was an old lady I had hoped.
So my plans have changed now. I am thinking now I will probably get a large dog first, then a small dog in the future as a second dog, I like to have two dogs preferably one large and one small at the same time, but not too close in age.

The problem is the breeds I am finding myself drawn to or the breeds I was considering as possibilities for my next large dog are not necessarily right for me at this time, but then again I am not totally sure what I want so it's hard to say... I tend to be drawn to the working breeds.
Before all this happened I was looking at possible a Beauceron, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, or maybe a long-coated German Shepherd Dog. Now after losing Bianca I don't think I want another GSD, at least not right away, which is sad because I wanted one for so long (since I was 10 years old basically, I actually started researching breeders when I was about 12...) but also the health issues scare me. The lifespan of the Swissies also concerns me.
When I was looking for healthier large breeds, I was looking at the Hovawart, and some others that didn't pan out. The Hovawart seemed like they may be too "hard" and anti-social for me, same thing with the Beauceron, not sure... I also looked into rescue a little, even looked at getting a pit bull rescue from the court case dogs program here...but, I think maybe that would be in the future. I am thinking most likely I want to get a puppy from a breeder for my next dog.

I've been trying to find breeds that do not tend to have a lot of health problems and have longer lifespans than the average large breeds.

I will try to write my list of things I'm looking for in a separate reply, so this is more manageable to read. Some of it is similar to what I had been thinking about before, but some things have changed...

So below is some ideas of the type of dog I am looking for, although I can tell I forgot to include some things, so please ask any questions to help narrow it down or give a better idea!

Edited by author Mon Nov 12, '12 8:41pm PST

Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 2:27pm PST 
To give some idea of what I am looking for besides health/longevity, it's basically the same as before with a few changes...

First of all I like to take my dogs everywhere with me that allows dogs. This includes trips, places like dog/pet shows, neighborhood festivals and events, farmer's markets, or just out in public in general. Basically if dogs are allowed and it's safe for them, I like to take my dogs-- I like to include my dogs in any activities I am doing if possible.
Of course I would be doing a lot of socialization to be sure they are comfortable in different situations but I assume there are also some breeds that would just tend to not enjoy being in those types of enviroments so that is something to keep in mind and this is why I wasn't sure if the breeds I had been interested in would be good choices or not.
I don't need a dog that is a social butterfly, they don't have to love or want to play with every person at the event, or whatever. They just need to be ok with being in public, if they want to ignore the people or dogs they see in those places that is totally fine. Of course training can play a part in this as well and I work a lot on training my dogs to have manners in public also.

I like to do dog sport type activities with my dogs as well. I don't necessarily have a specific sport I want a dog to be able to do, but I do enjoy carting and would love to do tracking if I have a dog that would enjoy those things. I am also interested in trying out other sports if I have a dog that likes them-- like scentwork, treibball, dock diving, rally-o, etc... I don't necessarily plan to do intensive titling in any sport though. A versatile breed would be nice because I do like to try out different things and it is nice if you have a dog that excels at various things, like with Bianca she was pretty much good at every sport we tried which was awesome, although I wished we could have done more with some of the ones she really excelled at.

As far as the dog's traits, I do need a dog that can live with cats safely, that is very important. I also would like a breed that is not generally dog-aggressive since I want to do events/activities where we will probably run into other dogs (and I plan to get a second smaller dog at some point.)
I prefer dogs that are not bouncing off the wall 24/7 and who can live with skipping intense exercise every once in a while, although I understand that puppies have a higher activity level and I have lived with a terrier so I know how to handle a high energy dog if necessary.
As far as physical appearance, I like larger dogs, preferably over 24" tall or so.
I don't really care for short hair, but I also don't want a dog that will need frequent haircuts/groomer visits, or wire-haired breeds. I don't mind shedding or brushing.

I don't want to sound like I want a 'guard dog' or 'tough' dog or anything, but being a small and young-looking woman living in Chicago, I did feel safer having Bianca by my side (especially at night!) it would be nice to have a dog that gives an appearance of security. I don't expect/want a protection dog or anything like that, but I do feel that they can be a good deterrent just be their appearance.

Edited by author Mon Nov 12, '12 2:45pm PST

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 6:26pm PST 
Do you know what I think, and it's sort of bittersweet as it makes me think of Pippin, whose dear owner is now departed?


It totally glares out to me.

Maybe not the lifespan you want, but if you start out with a puppy? One of Pippin's great mentors is a Newfoundland breeder, who also did Pyrs, who is a breeder of SUPERB standard. And was Pippin's every inspiration. You should check her out on http://www.chekrdflags.com/

Now why a Newf. Well for one, it seems to pull a little of Ginger and a little of Bianca into one package. Also for you, as I know you love exploring with your dogs....the carting, the water. Plus top rate OB. Good trackers. Endless list for you to explore, and of course spectacular therapy dogs.

Gentle souls, sociable, correctly bred trustworthy beyond all reason. Natural babysitters. I have the SWEETEST Newf stories, if you'd like for me to share. Re the Ginger/Bianca combo, they have the sweetness and sociability of the Golden, the heart of the lion that is the GSD. And although loves, a big black dog to make you feel safer. And believe it or not, one who can be quite discerning!

AND....you already know of a great breeder. Please check her out!

They do very well in the city. A fine Chicago dog! They are athletes....although you do need to be a little careful of the heat. The world is your ocean as to what you can explore with them. A little SAR, perhaps? wink Just putting ideas in your head, lol! And of course when you do add your second dog, an ultimate Papa Bear cloud 9

Ok, so here is your cue to start driving me crazy laugh out loud

Edited by author Mon Nov 12, '12 6:27pm PST



Tail Waggin'- Mutt
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 8:00pm PST 
How about a Bloodhound? For some reason, reading your posts made me think of a Bloodhound.

They are large breeds of dogs. They are social breeds, they usually get along with everyone. The Bloodhounds that I've met are all wonderful with other animals and live happily with them. They are active breeds of dogs and would make a wonderful tracking, scentwork or carting dog.

I've met a lot of Bloodhounds and all of them are just really great dogs. I love them. They are intelligent and fun to train. They can be a bit stubborn at times, but with a firm pack leader and firm training, they are usually easy to train. A lot of people probably won't agree with this but I've heard many Bloodhound owners say that they were pretty easy to train. They can be a bit bone headed at times but that's just part of being a hound.

Edited by author Mon Nov 12, '12 8:02pm PST

Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Mon Nov 12, '12 8:26pm PST 
Hmmm Tiller interesting... I hadn't thought about a Newfie mostly because of the size I figured they have a short lifespan and more health issues, they were on my "someday" list though. I am going to look more into this and check out that breeder page and probably post back here again after I have looked into that more... Is the Landseer an accepted pattern? I wonder if they may be a little less affected by the heat (less black in the coat)?

I actually was interested in looking into SAR as a possibility actually but I didn't list it because I am not sure if I will be able to have time and have the skills necessary to pursue it with this dog.

Also wanted to add the reason I didn't mention animal-assisted therapy in my 'wants' list this time is, while I was thinking about what I wanted to put on my list of what I was looking for, I realized I don't necessarily need one dog to do everything. I am going to get a second dog, probably a Chinese Crested (powderpuff) if that works out. My plan was to get a large dog first, and then wait a few years before getting a second. I would prefer to space them out a bit so I don't end up losing two seniors at once like I did with Ginger and Pooch and so I have time to get the first one to a good level of training first.
I was planning to get a Crested while I had Bianca but now, I decided it would be better to get a large dog first and then get a Crested later...
So I figured if the Crested has the right personality for it I could probably do therapy work with them instead, so I don't necessarily need that to be a requirement in my current breed search. Also I was finding most of the breeds I was most interested in would probably not be the ideal for a therapy dog. However they also might not be the best for a going-in-public dog anyway which is one of the things I was looking for. thinking

Also Tiller I am curious what you think about Beaucerons as I was looking into them quite a bit. I've been told some of the lines have some temperament/nerve issues but I've met several that are very solid and confident. I know a few people who own then so I've been talking to them a little about which lines and breeders to avoid. I know the breed has a more hard and aloof type of temperament though.

Edited by author Mon Nov 12, '12 8:33pm PST

Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 1:46am PST 
I have to agree with Tiller on the Newf - although, I'll add also that she's made me LOVE the Newfie even more and want one even more! Dangit, Tiller. I've worked with these guys in daycares and groom shops and they were THE MOST MELLOW, sweet-natured dogs ever, even if intimidating in their sheer size, lol.

Have you ever considered a Rottweiler by chance? I've lived with them for YEARS and they're fantastic dogs that meet MOST of your criteria. From a good, reputable breeder, you'd get a versatile dog that's sociable and intelligent. They intimidate others, without having to give warning signs, or acting on it. In fact, most of the ones I've known, while they would not put up with someone roughhousing or someone going after you, they're super friendly and sociable in all other situations that involve people.

Dog sports? Check. Intimidation factor? Check. Sociable, but often happy to hang back? Check(although this can come down to how they're socialized too. For example, Regan was extremely aloof until you gave the go ahead to go get cuddly or someone invited, whereas Grizz is extremely social butterfly because he was raised that way). Fur isn't too short, isn't too long, needs the occasional brushing and they do shed much like Shepherds do. Can absolutely live with cats safely. All of mine/families have and do - even those introduced to cats at a much older age. Maya was introduced at seven years old and was absolutely tolerant AND friendly with the cat. In fact, she checked him out, then went about her business. They CAN be bounce-off-the-wall crazy as puppies depending on exercise, but are generally easy to calm down and train too. Can go without a walk once in a while without issue, generally, as long as their needs are met otherwise.

In fact, speaking of the breed, I absolutely miss having Maya around. I felt SAFER as a whole. In all my years of living with Rottweilers, none of them have been dog aggressive or SSA. However, I will note that they will only take so much flak from another dog before they do tell it off. Really gentle with the little guys(Charlie can tell ya!). Although, Regan liked to chase down and stomp on smaller dogs, but she wasn't exactly socialized with them, bol. There were a number of times where Charlie had to tell her when she was being too rough.

A Lab stands out too, but not sure how you'd feel about that.

The Muddy- Princess
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 6:22am PST 
I was thinking Lab too, but a well bred Lab should not be over 24 inches. There are long haired Rotts (rare but possible) and they do sound like what you are looking for. One problem with a Rottie is that they do have a bad reputation and it may be harder to take them everywhere because of that rep, but maybe a long-haired Rottie will confuse people and they won't realize the dog is a Rottie so they won't have a cow.

Love the idea of a Newf--but one, they have SOOOO much hair and two, the lifespan issue. Leonburgers are very nice dogs too, I think their lifespan is a bit longer than Newfs.

Whippy- The- Whipador
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 7:16am PST 
Well seen as you mentioned the Hovawart i thought i'd chime in.

A bitch could be a good fit for you. They're a long lived and healthy large breed, many living 12 + years and quite a few making 15/16 years old! A bitch would not be any larger than what Bianca was, although the males are considerably larger usually and they can also be very territorial and SSA. Going by what owners have told me, they're more challenging to train than GSD's and less handler focused/responsive. They're more independent. They tend to be aloof when they reach maturity but remain quite puppy like up until 2 years old. Maturity is very late for these dogs - 4/5 years old for males and about 3/4 years for a bitch. Stability is one of the main factors into why i decided on the breed, they are ( if bred correctly ) very stable in character and temperament.

All the ones i know of have jobs of some kind whether that be agility and competitive obedience to more hard core sports such tracking/search and rescue etc. They thrive given something to do and IMO wouldn't necessarily do well as just a pet. They particularly do well in tracking and search and rescue work as they have very good noses. For a large breed they're also pretty agile and not as heavy as you would imagine.

That's just a basic summary of the breed off the top of my head, but if you was happy to wait for potentially a long time ( they're even rarer in the States than they are here! ) they might be a good fit. Or alternatively, you could look into importing a puppy from Europe where there is plenty more genetic diversity and they tend to concentrate more on the working qualities of the dog. I'm happy to talk more Hovawart if you find yourself seriously interested in therm!
Bianca CGC- TT HIC Thd- ♥

What big ears- you have...
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 9:20am PST 
Thanks for the summary Tyler! I might be contacting you further about them.

I'm not sure why I didn't think about a Rottweiler, you're right they do match most of my criteria. thinking I think they may have more health problems though...
That is also true that there could be some issue of breed image with taking them everywhere, unfortunately. If I could somehow find a longhaired Rottie from a good breeder that could work out really well, as they may look less Rottweiler-ish and also fuzzy dogs tend to be a bit less 'scary' to the public, while still having the size and looks to be a deterrent. It would also be more of the coat type I prefer then, I really like to have some coat I can get my hands into if possible. smile I know the coated dogs do show up in litters occasionally but I am not sure how you'd go about finding one.

I did have Leonbergers on my "someday" list but I was not sure whether they may be more sedentary than what I was looking for, and also not sure of the health/lifespan, I guess that is something I can look up.

I don't mind a somewhat larger dog, but have been avoiding the giant breeds mostly on the basis of longevity... Bianca was 26" tall, Ginger was 24" and I've found I liked Bianca's size a lot but I wouldn't mind somewhat taller. I don't have a lot of experience with giant breeds though except a little when I was working in a boarding kennel. I am a little worried with a really large/heavy breed about things like if there was some need to move/lift the dog, I would not be able to do it myself (luckily my vet has a lift table at least!) If I ended up getting a breed on the larger side I'd probably be looking for a female (depending on the temperament in male vs females) and if it was on the smaller side I'd lean towards a male most likely. I'm not especially set on one gender over the other but I want to take into account the temperament because I know in some breeds there are differences in the sexes.

Edited by author Tue Nov 13, '12 9:31am PST

Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '12 3:49pm PST 
Depends on the lines, but two of the three Rottweilers that I've been with in recent years have had thick double coats, much like a Shepherds. More medium length. It's awesome Maya was more medium length than short. Regan had the same coat as Maya, and Grizz is the one with the short coat. I DEFINITELY prefer the thicker, longer coats than the shorter, more coarse fur lol, so I get that totally!

And yes, there MIGHT be issues with them going places, but that comes down to whether or not you're in/going to places with BSL that don't allow Rottweilers. Nobody ever approached me walking them at night, if I walked them during the day, people typically had no issues coming up to say hello, and even those who were initially afraid of Rotties were curious enough to approach my dogs. All three made many hearts swoon toward the breed. laugh out loud

They're also fairly healthy as a breed. Hip dysplasia, Osteochondritis Dissecans(although I have yet to see this in the dogs I've had, I am aware of the possibility so a good breeder would test for both of these), and obesity can be a problem dependent on the lines and the health/diet/exercise of a given dog - which in itself can lead to health issues. The worst I've seen is hip dysplasia(Maya), arthritis(Regan) and Grizz tore his ACL when jumping like a lunatic at the top of a 7' fence and landed on an icy ground - he now has a bit of arthritis, understandably, in that knee but is otherwise extremely healthy.

I do think that their lifespan can be a deterrent though. Spaying has made a connection with longevity in the females of this breed(females spayed before physical maturity had a lifespan of approx. 9 years, while those spayed later had an average of 13.5 - if I have my numbers exact). Maya lived til eight - but her euthanasia was because of her hips and arthritis which were entirely a result of bad breeding/neglect and abuse. Regan, a bit later. Grizz is only three and doing fantastic.
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