Running partner/family pet for first-time dog owners

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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Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 1:00am PST 
OK, I'm probably over-thinking this but we want to get it right! I've been trying to research breeds but I feel like I'm going in circles, there's so much contradictory info out there. Please, can someone help me?

We've never had a dog before (we're willing to go to training classes). We live in the countryside with lots of access to woodlands and country parks, I'm a keen runner and we are both at home all day. We have two children age 2 years and 4.5 years, and two cats. We will be able to take our dog with us on holiday as we go camping.

We were thinking of getting an adult rescue, maybe age 1-4 years because we don't know the first thing about training a puppy. Every time I think I've found the perfect breed I read something that makes me think it would be too difficult for us. On the shortlist I've had:

dalmatian (not for first timers?)
beagle (ditto because of lack of recall)
border collie (not with young children?)
lab (not good at long distance running? I need it to be able to go 10K+)
any kind of setter (hard to find in rescue)
any kind of pointer (not good with cats?)
vizsla (not for first timers?)

We can't have any bull breeds as we'll be moving to Ontario in a few years (taking the dog with us!) and bull breeds are banned there.

I feel like tearing my hair out! Please can someone help? I really don't want to mess up and end up with a dog that we can't handle or that we have to return to the rescue. Thank you! flowers
Kali earned- her wings- 10/21/14

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 4:09am PST 
Have you considered adopting from the Humane Society or SPCA? Generally, they can match a dog with your needs, esp. since you've never had one before. Usually they've had the dog for a time and can give you some information about it, like personality, energy level and maybe even whether they would be compatible with your lifestyle. Good Luck!

tiny...but fast!
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 4:32am PST 
What about a retired greyhound they are usually around 2. They will go running but will be calm in the house. They go to foster homes first so u should know if they like kids or not. But u do have to keep them on leash outside. Another option is a golden retriever they r good with kids. Or Newfoundlands are also good with kids but are big dogs. Or if your local shelter is up for it maybe u could go walk some mixes and spend time with them with ur kids and then pick the dog based on personality.

Member Since
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 4:46am PST 
Thanks for your replies smile

I live in the UK and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to rescue shelters. The problem with many of them is that they are full of staffies, which are lovely dogs and I would have one in a second, but we would have to leave it behind when we move to Ontario and this is not an option for me (may as well leave one of the children!). It's hard to get anything from a shelter that isn't a staffie or a husky/malamute so that's why I started looking at breed-specific rescue.

I did think about a greyhound but they are trained to chase small furry things and I would be worried about my cats.

I think I will sign up to the local shelter and just be prepared to wait a while for the right dog. Hope it doesn't take too long!

The Cowardly- Lion - I'll find my- courage
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 6:16am PST 
Based on your description of needs, a Golden Retriever really does sound ideal. Highly trainable (so able to go off-leash), fantastic with children, lots of stamina for a good run. Just all-around 'good guy' dogs, no real extremes of personality (when bred well, of course).

Another option would be a spaniel of some sort, maybe an English Springer. This also ticks all the boxes, but there could be a conflict of personality in there - these are very in-your-face affectionate, 'just want to be in your skin with you' dogs. That might be an issue for someone who seems to be a cat person, hahaha. But they are fantastic, trainable, very sweet with kids, and can just go for miles.

Don't cross off Standard Poodles either! These are very neat and clean dogs, and might appeal more to a cat person with their witty diva personalities. They are absolutely not frou-frou; they've been bred to go all day in all weather to act as retrievers and hunting dogs in Europe. They have plenty of stamina and pep for long runs, but can settle right down in the house to play with the kids. One of the smartest and most trainable of all dogs (which can be a bad thing! Too smart for their own good, at times.)

There are more, but these are the first three that popped into my head. A setter would work well too if you can find one in rescue, but they do tend to be more difficult to locate than the three listed.

Adult rescue sounds perfect for you, it would allow you to really pick out a dog that does well with your cats and kids ahead of time rather than hoping and wishing with a puppy that it turns out alright. Just keep in mind that, when going with a rescue, everything depends on the personality of the individual dog. You can have a Golden that hates kids, or a lazy Standard Poodle (both unlikely, but possible), or on the other hand, you can have a Beagle that's fantastic off-leash. Keep an open mind about the process, and use breed as more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule. Mixes are fantastic as well, as my Leia can attest to happy dance

More Bored- Collies
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 6:42am PST 
Any of the "not for first timers" you listed can be fine - as long as you're prepared for the good, bad, and ugly of the breed.

You may be hard pressed to find a shelter or reputable breeder that will sell to someone with such young children. However if you do a ton of research, and present your knowledge and preparedness to a breeder/shelter then you may be given an exception.

The 10km+ is what is going to weed out a few of these breeds. Whilst both Labs, Beagles, and Greyhounds are great runners, but more or less they are sprint runners opposed to distance.

How often would you be doing that distance?

A Border Collie can handle these distances, however they would need a job on top of that in order to ensure that your children and cats are "safe" from that herding instinct. If you're willing to look into doing agility or flyball on top of these long distance runs.
Have you considered an Aussie? I am by no means an authority on the breed but from what I have met, they tend to be a little more "family friendly" than the Border Collie but can still do the distances.

As Leia mentioned, a S.Poodle may work well with your family. Or really, at the shelter any other mid sized, lean and athletically built dog. If you're looking at a young adult, it should be relatively easy to determine which would make a good running companion regardless of breed. Cross check that with the dog's behaviour around children and cats, and you may end up with a breed (or mix) that didn't even make the list, yet is still the right match for your family.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 7:06am PST 
A few things to keep in mind-

When getting a slightly older rescue, a lot of these negative ticks can be worked around. Pointers, for instance, not being good with cats... there are plenty of Pointers who can do wonderfully with cats, you just need to find the right individual. Border Collies can be great with kids, again, individual.

About the distance running, almost any athletic working-type breed can be conditioned to do handle those distances. With ANY breed or dog you pick, unless coming as a rehome from a marathon runner, they will need to be conditioned... so I wouldn't let that worry too much on your mind. A properly conditioned and fit Lab could surely do 10k.

A nice, older rescue Lab or Golden does seem like a good fit here. Pointers, too, are wonderful and often overlooked dogs that can really work in your situation.

You seem to be interested in the sportier breeds, but I'll throw out the suggestion- a Rottweiler wouldn't be a terrible choice either, especially if you can pick one up 2-4 years old. Powerful and not always best for a first timer, but they are more than capable of the distance running (when conditioned), workable with cats if you find the right individual, bond extremely close to the family and have a special love for their children. Training mandatory, but you seem willing to do that. Again, just make sure you find the right INDIVIDUAL for you!

Member Since
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 7:17am PST 
Thank you for all your very wise words!

I don't really consider myself a 'cat person', I love my cats but I don't get much in return from them and they would be rubbish running buddies lol. I would consider agility or flyball but TBH what I am really interested in is CaniCross, there are lots of good running trails near me. I would only be doing 10k probably once a week and on other days doing anything from 4-8k. I will get the vet to check over the dog first and build up distance gradually.

I have heard poodles mentioned before and they do sound like lovely dogs. I suppose you don't have to do that weird topiary thing to them. Do they need a lot of clipping and grooming? I'll add them to the list of possibilities. I'll add Aussies too although not sure how common they are in the UK. Golden retriever added too.

I have seen some rotties in rescue but not sure if I could cope with such a big strong dog, I'm only 5'4". I know someone that has a rottie though and she is a sweetie (the dog and the friend!).

There are some shelters nearby that will rehome to families with small children, they tend to be the ones that use foster homes rather than kennels and I think that's what I'll be looking for, a dog that has been fostered with a family that has young children and cats (although you can still never be sure so they will always be supervised).

Thank you, you are all so helpful smile

Lenny -The- Wrecking Ball
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 7:43am PST 
A fostered dog does sound perfect for your situation to better know more than most shelters can tell you about the dog's personality which will help you as a first time owner.

I'm going to second poodles, I'm majorly considering a poodle as my future companion. The standard is an athletic and versatile dog. They do require more grooming and being clipped (especially if you're going to be running with him/her I'd assume you'd want it to be shorter). But if you can handle the grooming aspect, they might be a breed at least looking into. And a golden definitely sounded like a good match as well.

Hounds could be a good match, especially an adult they can tell you is okay with cats. Hounds can be great running partners and are usually great with children. But all the trails and camping you'd be doing with your dog would most likely have to be on leash. And I don't know what CaniCross is so I can't speak on whether they are good on that front lol.

Member Since
Barked: Mon Apr 1, '13 8:17am PST 
Oh sorry, I thought CaniCross was a world-wide thing, maybe it's only Europe. It's basically trail running with a dog attached to you. They have special harnesses that go around your waist and the dog has a husky harness. I think it started as a way to keep huskies fit in the summer but all kinds of dogs do it now, although some are more suited to it than others I guess- I can't see a pekinese crashing through the undergrowth lol.
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