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terramundi 01.11.2011 21:15

family dog choices
 
I'm hoping to get some feedback and advice from the knowledgeable dog owners on the forum.

We've decided that we'd like to welcome a dog into our family and are now considering all our options. Having read a lot here (thank you all for the useful posts) I'm booking myself on the theory course, and know I have to complete the practical training. I'm also very conscious that it's a little like taking on an extra kid and am prepared to take that responsibility.

We are a family of 5 with two teenagers and one much younger child. Partly we would like a dog to make sure that our youngest child doesn't experience a complete vacuum when our older two leave home in the next few years. Our middle child is also a little bit afraid of dogs and we feel that the experience of having a dog in the family will help him learn how to handle dogs and lose his fear. The eldest (and myself) could do with a bit more exercise and my husband just needs a bit more unconditional love (said with tongue firmly in cheek).

We often go to the mountains at the weekend but to places where we could take a dog, and there's pretty much usually someone at home - at the moment I don't work and even if I did would need to get someone in for the children anyway.
We live in our own house with a garden so have plenty of room, and the woods are 2 minutes walk away.
We're generally pretty responsible and pragmatic.


The main questions I have concern what breeds are most suitable for our situation.
My husband grew up with labradors and is not keen on them, I have a soft spot for border collies but I know they can be a lot of work.

Beyond that we are quite open and really would like to hear you recommendations - I know you can just google this info but our choice will inevitably be influenced by the fact that we live in Switzerland and there are certain 'dog expectations', as well as the availability of dogs here - no point pining for a breed that is rare here or just not available.

I am open to rescue dogs if there was one that was young enough and could fit into a family easily. Everyone else and particularly my youngest loves the idea of a puppy and maybe that would work well as they could bond quite nicely (ages of kids are 6, 13,15). I'm ambivalent as I've already dealt with three poo-ing, night waking, whining newborns!


All feedback greatfully received!

poptart 01.11.2011 21:48

Re: family dog choices
 
I'm a big dog person as they tend to have big personalities, don't feel the need to bark and are giant love bunnies. Saint Bernards are my soft spot and they don't eat as much or drool as much as the recent spate of movies exaggerate. They're smart, sweet and generally well behaved. All dogs are a lot of work but, with the right dog, it's a joy. If a Saint is too big, their smaller cousin, the Bernese Mountain Dog is also a good choice. Both are great with kids and I've never met one of either breed that left me thinking that I would choose another. YMMV but, you might explore these two breeds. I miss mine like crazy.

tearley 01.11.2011 21:52

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by terramundi (Post 1394719)
I'm hoping to get some feedback and advice from the knowledgeable dog owners on the forum.

We've decided that we'd like to welcome a dog into our family and are now considering all our options. Having read a lot here (thank you all for the useful posts) I'm booking myself on the theory course, and know I have to complete the practical training. I'm also very conscious that it's a little like taking on an extra kid and am prepared to take that responsibility.

We are a family of 5 with two teenagers and one much younger child. Partly we would like a dog to make sure that our youngest child doesn't experience a complete vacuum when our older two leave home in the next few years. Our middle child is also a little bit afraid of dogs and we feel that the experience of having a dog in the family will help him learn how to handle dogs and lose his fear. The eldest (and myself) could do with a bit more exercise and my husband just needs a bit more unconditional love (said with tongue firmly in cheek).

We often go to the mountains at the weekend but to places where we could take a dog, and there's pretty much usually someone at home - at the moment I don't work and even if I did would need to get someone in for the children anyway.
We live in our own house with a garden so have plenty of room, and the woods are 2 minutes walk away.
We're generally pretty responsible and pragmatic.


The main questions I have concern what breeds are most suitable for our situation.
My husband grew up with labradors and is not keen on them, I have a soft spot for border collies but I know they can be a lot of work.

Beyond that we are quite open and really would like to hear you recommendations - I know you can just google this info but our choice will inevitably be influenced by the fact that we live in Switzerland and there are certain 'dog expectations', as well as the availability of dogs here - no point pining for a breed that is rare here or just not available.

I am open to rescue dogs if there was one that was young enough and could fit into a family easily. Everyone else and particularly my youngest loves the idea of a puppy and maybe that would work well as they could bond quite nicely (ages of kids are 6, 13,15). I'm ambivalent as I've already dealt with three poo-ing, night waking, whining newborns!


All feedback greatfully received!

Get an adult mixed race rescue dog. I guess that they aren't as "predictable" as pedigrees, but you also don't have to worry about many genetic problems such as hip dysplasia.

Maybe someone else here can inform how adopting a pet works here in Switzerland? You should be able to go and meet a bunch of different dogs. I think it's better to choose an individual dog rather than adopting a breed.

Edit: I also have a soft spot for Bernese mountain dogs--they have such kind eyes. But I decided I could never adopt one when I read that they had unusually short live spans--7 years on average. Made me too sad. Maybe a Bernese mountain mix?

Florida99 01.11.2011 21:56

Re: family dog choices
 
Boxer and only a Boxer :)...Best family dog with a lot of personality. Very protective yet so gentle.

terramundi 01.11.2011 22:20

Re: family dog choices
 
Mmm, my husband loves boxers....

I read the sticky on adopting rescue dogs started by Grumpy Grapefruit, and as I'll be doing the theory at the tierheim will get some info from them I hope.

kirley10 01.11.2011 22:25

Re: family dog choices
 
I have had Dalmatians, Collies, Beagles, Aredales, and and Irish Terrier/Aredale mix.

If your intent is for the dog to bond with your youngest child, I suggest getting a puppy. A rescue dog is good for adult couples, but might have too much baggages for children.

My favorite family pets ( and my 3 boys agree) where, Liza the Aredale who lived to be 15 and every day was fun with her, and the latest Lucy the Aredale Irish Terrier mix. She is a real character, loves the boys, always in a good mood and small enough she does not not knock people over when she is happy to see them. I great dog for the family. If you can't find that mix, I suggest a female Aredale. They are very loyal, fun and gentle if raised well.

Good luck, I am envious. I live in an apartment, too small for my Lucy so she is back in Canada happily living with my neighbour and her Aredale Monty :)

ullainga 01.11.2011 22:29

Re: family dog choices
 
Adopt. If you want to know what kind of personality your dog will have when adult, you need to get an adult dog. a rescue will not give a family with a young child a dog with problems.


Ooh can I recommend 2? They are still very young and had a nice life before:
http://www.pfotenteam.com/?a=1&t=564...0&v=page&o=&s=
http://www.pfotenteam.com/image.php?...null,null,BC);

In Mulhouse shelter. Two dogs are no more trouble of one, I speak from experience.

Kittster 01.11.2011 22:49

Re: family dog choices
 
I would suggest a mixed race rescue dog too. My sister has a mixed race dog and she really does have the best of all the breeds (50% doberman, 25% border collie, 25% labrador), she is the most awesome dog I've ever come across, I actually wasn't too keen on dogs before we had her in the family. I guess there is a case for getting a puppy to go with the "puppy" in the family but there are some older dogs who really take to children and are just as playful, without the "carelessness" of puppies.

The vet I was at today had some kind of Australian dog, a sheepdog I think? It had this beautiful brindled coat and you could instantly tell that she was bright and friendly. But the vet said you have to literally work them to keep them happy. So a bit like a border collie.

My mum had standard poodles at her parents' and says they are brilliant dogs, plus you would have less allergy risks because of their coat. But it requires quite a bit of upkeep.

The thing with large dogs is that they often don't get much older than 10, if that. My sister is always talking about her dog as if it was going to drop dead in the next five minutes, it's rather distressing!

Some small dogs can be a bit "yappy" and "anklebiters" but they seem to live a lot longer, chihuahas average at 14 to 18 years! And I know one Yorkie who has a character about ten times her size, she's great, so I guess a lot of it is down to the owner, regardless of breed. ;)

Check out the Tierdatenbank, but beware, you might find it quite difficult, there are so many lovely dogs...

meloncollie 01.11.2011 23:18

Re: family dog choices
 
Terramundi, may I ask how old your youngest child is?

The reason for asking is that - in very general terms - a puppy is usually not a good choice for a family with a very young child.

With a puppy, it is important that children are old enough to understand that the pup is not a toy, old enough to be steady on their feet, old enough understand your rules for behavior around the pup, and can be counted on to immediately obey when mom says 'no', ( :) )

And on the other hand, with a very young child it is generally better to have an older dog, one whose character is known, one who has been assessed for tolerance of small child behaviors, one himself past the uncontrolled puppy and teenager stages.

Too often parents find that having young children and young puppies together is more than they can cope with - and the dog becomes a statistic.

Obviously this is not the case with every family, some thrive in this situation. But folks involved in rescue see it all go pear-shaped too often.


---

You also mention your middle child's fear of dogs. This is something to consider very carefully - for both your child's sake and for the dog's. Here again, I'd recommend adopting an older dog, one whose character is formed and known. You will need to assess how your child reacts to the dog, how the dog reacts to your child. It MUST be a good fit on both sides. IME, a pup might be too much of an unknown for a child with a fear of dogs. A child with a fear of dogs may find it difficult to cope with a puppy's mouthy 'needle teeth' stage. And remember that the cute puppy stage is over quickly, followed by the terrible teenage yob phase - it's that phase, ca. 6-15 (or a bit more, individual dependent) months old, that might be difficult for a child with a fear of dogs. An older, gentle, steady dog might be a better choice for this child.

---

In your circumstances I would focus on individual character rather than breed. I'd suggest working with a rescue; speak to the staff about your family circumstances, ask the staff to suggest dogs who might be good matches. Be very clear about what you need, what you want - and what you believe you cannot cope with - in a dog. Be very clear about your family situation, your lifestyle, what you can - and cannot - offer a dog.


Take a look at the database linked by Kittster - when you see a dog whose description seems a good fit, contact the rescue to inquire further.


Wishing you and your family all the best.

Kittster 01.11.2011 23:23

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ullainga (Post 1394823)
Adopt. If you want to know what kind of personality your dog will have when adult, you need to get an adult dog. a rescue will not give a family with a young child a dog with problems.


Ooh can I recommend 2? They are still very young and had a nice life before:
http://www.pfotenteam.com/?a=1&t=564...0&v=page&o=&s=
http://www.pfotenteam.com/image.php?...ll,null,BC%29;

In Mulhouse shelter. Two dogs are no more trouble of one, I speak from experience.

Aaaw, they are gorgeous. Is it me or is the back dog's expression a bit "ok, here's the camera, look happy, look happy, look keen!" and the front one is all "yeah, I'm a cool dog, we should hang out...". A lovely pair. And they can blame each other for having dug out your ficus plant. ;)

terramundi 02.11.2011 08:27

Re: family dog choices
 
They are great, aren't they I have looked at the links to re-homing site - so many lovely dogs that need a home.

Melloncollie, my youngest is 6 and quite good with dogs as she's spent time with quite a few friends and family who have dogs. The 'fearful' child is 13, so a bit of a teenage yob himself. I'm not sure that fear is the best word - He is distrustful and doesn't really like dogs, he'd rather have a cat. He's not had a bad experience himself, just felt uncomfortable around big dogs when he's a relatively small and light child. His main argument is that a friend of his once got chased and bitten by a dog that was known and trusted.

After a breakfast dog discussion everyone seems very keen on a puppy, but of course they would be because of the cute factor and they don't look at it from the adult mother perspective. I of course love puppies and can see that taking a creature from a baby through to adulthood is very satisfying and lovely, but I'd be the one doing all the work associated with a puppy (with help of course but I'm the main caregiver).

I think that if we found a younger dog that would fit our family in a tierheim then they perhaps could be convinced. I am assuming that tierheims expect you to visit and take out a potential adoptee dog so there'd be plenty of opportunity to judge behaviour/fit.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll continue to browse and info gather.

ullainga 02.11.2011 10:08

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kittster (Post 1394877)
Aaaw, they are gorgeous. Is it me or is the back dog's expression a bit "ok, here's the camera, look happy, look happy, look keen!" and the front one is all "yeah, I'm a cool dog, we should hang out...". A lovely pair. And they can blame each other for having dug out your ficus plant. ;)

I like this pair so much as my two are about the same age, brother and sister, and their expressions are so similar with the 2 on photo. The girl is a bit shy (but smarter) and the boy is the cool one. It's great to have 2 of them. I can't possibly have 4 big dogs though, otherwise I would adopt them in a heartbeat.

Mine are also mixed breeds and the best.
Quote:


After a breakfast dog discussion everyone seems very keen on a puppy, but of course they would be because of the cute factor
It's the cute factor. But they are sooo much work. Soooo much. Like having another baby (I've been told). And as said, you'll never know what they will be like when they grow up.

Hey, if you are unsure about big dogs, take your kids and come see our two, that can help. A friend's 5-year old was bitten by a dog and used to scream bloody murder whenever he saw one. spending some time with ours really helped.

meloncollie 02.11.2011 10:31

Re: family dog choices
 
Terramundi, why not do a bit of volunteer dogwalking as a family? This would be a good way to meet different dogs, to get to know more about how the children and different sorts of dogs get along together.

And you'd be doing a very worthwhile and much needed thing. ;)

I see you are in Basel; Tierschutz Beider Basel has a 'Hundespazierdienst' program that might be of interest:

http://www.tbb.ch/index.php?id=139

summerrain 02.11.2011 10:35

Re: family dog choices
 
What a great post terramundi, seems like you are very well prepared in ensuring that the dog will be part of the family.

You mentioned that your kid is 6 and the one who is fearful of dogs is 13. Personally, I think these ages are ok to understand and follow instructions - I've interacted with children that age with my dog who isnt fond of children and they are great at following instructions to the T: stay still, let the dog come to you etc. Its the younger ones that I dont trust.

The idea of a puppy is great - no kid, no matter how fearful they are of dogs can resist the charms of a puppy. :) I think its a great idea and your teenager might warm to it more than she/he would to an adult dog.

As you are aware, puppies are hard work but it sounds like there is a solid system within your family to cater for a puppy's needs. Both the children and new dog will simply need a calm and assertive leader (you!). The children will look to you as to how to handle the puppy and the puppy will look to you to monitor the childrens' interactions and how they too, assert themselves as pack leaders, rather than the puppy's playmates.

With regards to breed, I really cant recommend a specific breed. There are odd balls in every breed - and there are just too many out there. But the usual suspects like the labs and golden retrievers are great family pets. They are also generally low-mid energy dogs. Basset hounds are fantastic as well - most of them have placid natures that will be great as a first family dog.

Regardless of the breed, make sure its a low-mid energy dog, easier for the children to handle. The breeder/shelter staff will be in the best position to determine that.

Alternatively, simply bring your children on a trip to one of the tierheims. The staff will be best to assess your family situation and recommend a dog. You'd never know that one might just capture your heart right there and then :)

Good luck and do keep us updated!

TidakApa 02.11.2011 11:33

Re: family dog choices
 
OP,

It sounds like you've done your homework - 10 points !!! :D

Whatever you decide on, I'm sure you'll do OK.


It does sound like you will be making a decision on breed of dog based on "the family" which I like....... but prepare yourself for a few "differences of opinion"

MY ADVICE
Research breeds based on your families needs:
  • The amount of time you can spend with the dog
  • It's excercise requirements
  • Your living arrangement (house or unit, backyard or not etc.)
  • Work commitments
  • Life expectancy of the dog (big dogs live shorter lives)
  • Potential allergies and smell (long hair vs short hair. Notorious breeds, vs resistant)
  • Costs (big dogs eat more, pure breeds typically will go to the vet more)
Keep these breeds in mind, but see what is available at the shelter for some sort of mixed breed.

Mixes generally have fewer health problems (the genetic hybrid vigour)...... but as a rule - THEY GROW BIGGER THAN YOU THINK (look at the paws).

Your middle son
With his fear of dogs, I think that a puppy is the best option for you.
It's IMPOSSIBLE to fear a puppy (except those savage little milk teeth) and I would expect your son to bond with this dog much easier than an older dog.
He can watch the puppy grow and lose his fear.



In all........ I wish you the best of luck.

If you've thought this through, You won't regret introducing a dog into your life.



P.S. Read posts by Summerrain about 'crate training'..... this is long term planning for when you have to take the dog to the vet.

P.P.S. Read any post by Melloncollie as if you were reading scriptures from the bible.

KeinFranzösisch 02.11.2011 11:48

Re: family dog choices
 
I'd recommend to ask yourself how much you are willing to tolerate:
  • Energy level excessive energy + exercise requirements + couch potato vs. outdoor hiking partner
  • shedding -- time + cost commitment to grooming (e.g. are you dog hair tollerant or will you freak out at the first site of a hairball drifting across the living room floor and/or getting stuck to your clothes?)
  • Slobber -- how do you feel about doggie drool?
  • Dog's space -- where do you plan to keep the dog? indoor or outdoor?
  • Size -- how big is your car + how many people + baggage + dog's baggage (dogs' requirements take up a lot of space when traveling)
Answering those questions will help to narrow down your breed choices or mixbreed features.

The four Swiss breeds are very popular, and they come in long and short haired varieties and generally have great temperatments. The smallest one is still a decent sized dog too. As far as shedding goes... short haired dogs will be easier to groom, but they will lose more hair around the house. Longer haired dogs will leave less hair around the house, but will require more routine brushing or the get coat and skin problems.

Just food for thought.

TidakApa 02.11.2011 11:50

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by terramundi (Post 1394719)
Beyond that we are quite open and really would like to hear you recommendations

My two cents for a recommended dog breed.

The Continental bulldog

(Swiss bred)

low exercise requirements
short hair
full of love
ugly as hell and cute as a button

http://www.continental-bulldog.ch/im...loch-Zucht.jpg


(Personally, I'm an "English Staffordhire Terrier" man myself, but the lunacy within Swiss regulations on dog breeds will probably prevent you from ever experiencing the pure love those dogs can offer (from a registered breeder only))

KeinFranzösisch 02.11.2011 11:57

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TidakApa (Post 1395173)


(Personally, I'm an "English Staffordhire Terrier" man myself, but the lunacy within Swiss regulations on dog breeds will probably prevent you from ever experiencing the pure love those dogs can offer (from a registered breeder only))

One of my favorite dogs as a kid was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Alex. Alex was a goofball and did some amazing tricks. I'm amazed everytime I see that breed pop up as a "dangerous" or "banned" breed.

The whole idea of banning a breed is just bullocks to me. I grew up around all types of dogs, and been attacked by two. One was an English Springer Spaniel and the other a German Shorthaired Pointer.

So I am firmly in the camp that there are no bad breeds.

meloncollie 02.11.2011 12:32

Re: family dog choices
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TidakApa (Post 1395149)

P.P.S. Read any post by Melloncollie as if you were reading scriptures from the bible.


That is to say, taken for the message underlying the parable, re-examined and interpreted as science and knowledge move forward, rather than as a an infallible decree.

;)

Except of course Mark 12:30...

"And you shall love your doG with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment."

terramundi 02.11.2011 14:52

Re: family dog choices
 
Thanks for all of these great posts - lots to think about and ask ourselves - I can see that we will have a lot of dog discussions over the next few weeks. The theory course I am doing is in early December so I assume that we could get a dog at anytime after that. Does anyone know if tierheims here experience an influx of dogs in the new year as a result of ill conceived Christmas presents?

Melloncollie, I'll find out about dog walking at the tierheim and take the children down Ullainga, what a lovely offer - it's be nice to meet up, I'll PM you.

One thing concerns me though is the attitude of people to dogs here - is it really bad? I'm used to the UK and France, where dogs are really very much liked and accepted. I'm sensing here, that here folk don't like dogs so much and are quite wary. Is this really the case?


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