Adding a Dog to the Family

Updated on September 15, 2011
L.A. asks from Redford, MI
17 answers

I have a 3yr old and a 5 year old. We want to get a dog, particularly one that has short hair/fur and is great with children. I don't want a small dog because one of the reasons I want to get a dog is to deter predators. My children just want one to play with. One of my neighbors has a South African Boerboel, which I love. I've looked up facts on that dog online but I'm not so sure it would be the best fit for small children. What do you think? I really don't know where to start in my search. I thought of the shelters but what if I want a particular breed, do you just go to a pet store and order one? And what's the best way to find out how to train a dog? I'm clueless. Please help.

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answers from Houston on

I have a 150lb great Pyrenees, they have been used for 100s of years to guard livestock, homesteads and anything else! Mine guards my home and my children fiercely and faithfully, and yet he has never snapped or growled at my kids (8 and 3) in fact my daughter rides him like a pony, and he just wanders around like nothing is happening.
They are easy to find too, I have never heard of the dog breed you mentioned, and I would imagine they would be not too easy to find.
You can actually find many pyrs at shelters, because people get them when they are fluffy puppies, and find out they grow to the size of a small pony!
Mine is actually 1/4 anatolian shepherd, so he is also medium haired - better for the texas heat. The anatolian is a mastiff type breed, very large.


answers from San Antonio on

If you can't find a SA Boerboel, get a boxer! Very good with kids.

Puppy training - come back and post that question when you actually have a dog. There's a LOT more that goes into it. But I do recommend crate-training: training the dog to be comfortable/obey you when you tell it to go to a cage.

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answers from Dallas on

I love dogs. We've always had one. I recommend the local shelter. I have a heart for those dogs... At least go look at one and see if they have a breed you might like. The last time we went, we got lucky. We found one that was already house-trained and obedience trained! He is awesome with our kids too! (Spitz mix- but they have long hair) If you are not interested in going to the pound, you have to find breeders. Very few pet stores sell dogs now. You could do an internet search to find breeders in your area. But, really, try the pound first! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I was told by our insurance agent years ago that he was glad we had a medium size dog (cocker spaniel). He said, the dog would bark, and just being noticed will deter the thieves. He said something about the thieve being able to S. if a dog really harmed him. I can't imagine that's true though. I wanted a dog that would alert me, but not harm a stranger visiting at my door. To me being gentle with my children totally trumped anything else. Size probably doesn't matter nearly as much as how the dog is with your little ones.
P/S I wanted to say my daughter has a bull dog. He sounds ferocious, but is an absolute butterball. Wonderful with children. Sheds though. I have heard boxers make great family dogs too. Mixed breeds are great. Pound puppies (or better yet, grown dogs) are the best! Adding to the family and saving a life all at the same time. Win/Win situation.

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answers from Detroit on

Do your research this weekend, decide what kind of dog you want then... go to the Detroit Zoo next weekend (24th & 25th). They are having their annual Meet Your best Friend at the Zoo event where rescue organizations from all around come with cats and dogs so you don't have to go to all of them. It is held in one of the parking lots so you do not need a zoo admission. We got our cat there 3 years ago and now we are off to find us a family dog.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

There are going to be some that absolutely hate me for this answer and think that I'm nuts, but.... we have 2 pitbulls. I was completely against ever having this breed because of their reputation. But after many years my husband convinced me to put aside what I've heard and actually learn about them. I'm not going to go into all the details (the pro side) of why you should have a pit.... look it up for yourself. My 2 females are fabulous with my kids (my son uses them as a pillow and vice versa), very playful and affectionate, they are loyal to us in every way and they are protectors (no one just walks in our house - ever!). Our dogs were raised right; raised for what their original purpose was. I couldn't imagine life without these 2!

NO PET STORES! We got 1 from a family member that couldn't take care of her, and the other was a rescue. I recommend trying your local county humane society. No matter what, know what you want from a dog and do your research. I orginally wanted a beagle, but after looking into them, I found that while they are very good dogs, their high-strung behavior wouldn't have been a good fit for us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

make a list of the qualities you want in your dog. protectiveness, size, not a lot of hair, laid back or high energy, whatever. be VERY specific, as specific as you can be, then go to your local shelter. those volunteers spend time with the dogs, they know which would fit your needs the best. i don't know what you mean about "predators", but mostly any kind of dog in the house is a huge deterrent from break ins because they BARK and will wake up the house. so size isn't really all that important. it IS really important to rescue a shelter dog rather than spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a bred dog, where you will only be buying the looks and maybe some bit of personality, but personality still varies between dogs of a certain breed. all around the RIGHT thing to do is go to a shelter. i have breeders in my family and they are wonderful people, but i would rather see all that money and effort go to helping dogs confined to an 8x4 pen for most of their lives because some HUMAN was too stupid to neuter/spay or know how to properly take care of them. we did this to them...we should try to fix it where we can.

like another poster said, we got lucky with our dog, she was fully trained when we got her and it was amazing. even plays fetch! i will never get a puppy again lol.

if you are dead set on a purebred dog, then a rescue is the best option. but those still cost hundreds of dollars which to me is just another way to rip people off.

ps, beware: the new "thing" is these "designer" breeds, aka fleecing people into spending hundreds of dollars on a mix breed. it burns me up that people do this....just go to your shelter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would go on the AKC website and research dog breeds for one to fit your family.
I beg of you tho not to buy a dog from a pet store. Most often they're housed in whatever they call it but it's often too small. And it's often the case they're overpriced for inferior quality. Often pet store dogs are less healthy. I would trust PetSmart, but not the places in strip malls or at the mall.
Shelters are great places for advice and to give a loving home to one of their 'residents'.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Well, first things first... absolutely, positively do not go to a pet store. Most of them get their dogs from puppy mills, which are horribly abusive animal factories. Plus, the puppies are so unhealthy, even if they look cute.

Rescue groups are a good place to start. There are many wonderful, healthy, trained dogs in need of a good home. There are almost as many types of rescue organizations as there are dog breeds. My sister got a dachsund from a Chicago rescue organization just for that breed. Here are a few links and good luck in your search!

Added: You will need to be in training classes when you get a dog. Especially if you get a puppy. Check around your area for dog training places. Local pet stores like PetSmart usually have classes. Generally they are pretty good. But training classes are necessary if you want a well-behaved dog that is good with your children. It doesn't just happen magically.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on You can search for a particular breed. Let me tell you this though - most purebreds have some sort of health problem/issue. Mixed breeds tend to have less health problems.

As far as a large dog that's good for families, I've heard Portuguese Water Dogs are wonderful (though I've never had one) and a good old fashioned Labrador is always a good option.



answers from Seattle on

Mastiffs (SFBoerboels are a type of mastiff) are GREAT dogs for children. In fact, in a few cultures they've regularly been/are used as babysitters. They're incredibly intelligent, and extremely caring/protective. They DO need some training, however, or they can cause problems protecting "their" children in their "care" against intruders such as neighbors, seldom visitors, and strangers.

For buying a particular breed, one would look up breeders (the AKC is a great place to start) and breed specific rescue. ((I would talk to your neighbor and ask about where/what breeder they got their dog through)).

Dogtraining is usually readily abundant (a HUGE number of places) in most cities. It's generally best to avoid "chain store" training (like petsmart) and go with someone who has spent years training, and not a 2 week course and is being paid minimum wage or the 'lowest bidder'.


answers from Jacksonville on

In addition to the other comments, check out any rescue groups. Often they are breed specific. And they would be a great place to get info on their particular breed as well.

We have a German Shepherd, and she is absolutely wonderful with kids. A lot of breeds can be, but it is all about socialization when they are young. Just be sure before you actually do GET a dog, that you are able to handle what that means. It is a LOT of work. (Very much worth it, but it IS work). Depending on your particular kids, it might be too much. My kids were 6 and 3 when we got our dog (puppy then), but they were both pretty calm well mannered kids and not the type to tease or do anything to antagonize the dog. If your kids are the type that would be, then you might want to wait a bit longer.
I don't know anything about the Boerboel breed, but I'm sure you could find some books that have all you'd ever want to know. Go to PetSmart and check out their book aisle, and go online as well.



answers from Detroit on

We just put down are dog Scottie Terrier and we talk to our vet and he said that the best dog for a family is Collie and you can get with long or short hair.They will also protect the family members.Good luck finding a best dog for your family.
Ps.He said also that they are a very healty bread he has a lot of them in a practice and that he doesn't see them for a health problem only for annual shots.



answers from Chattanooga on

Watch out for pet stores... a lot of times they get their animals from puppy mills. Very sad conditions for the animals, plus risk of inbreeding and breeding poor health traits into their puppies. I would say to check out the shelters in your area first. There are sooo many great dogs out there that are just waiting for a home! I got my last dog (dalmation/labrador mix) who was already a little over a year old... he was an absolutely amazing dog! A lot of times, the people at the shelter will be able to give you some insight to the personality of the dog, and whether it will be good with children (stuff like that...)

If you can't find a dog through a shelter, then find a REPUTABLE breeder! Make sure to do your research on them before buying from them.

Labradors are the classic family dog. My mom used to breed labs, and I absolutely love them. They are very loyal, great with kids, and very easily trained. (of course, you do get your lovable oafs in every breed... lol.)

As for training, if you wind up with a puppy you will want to enroll him in a puppy class to get started. (even if you get an older dog, you can do classes.) Not only do the instructors teach you how to train your dog, it also provides invaluable socialization, with other dogs AND people. The value of socialization cannot be understated!!! I have never actually had to use a class (my family has enough animals that there is a LOT of socialization just at family functions. lol.) but I have heard that Petco and Petsmart do well....

Also... check out the 'dog whisperer' books by Ceasar Milan. He is a great trainer, who bases his methods on how a dog thinks. You will learn a lot about how a dog processes dominance, threats, etc.



answers from St. Louis on

mixed breeds are the long as you know what you're getting.

Thru my childhood, we had about 10 years (or more) of beagles. Pain in the butts! They bark, they need to they dig their way out of every yard/pen you can come up with! Usually good with kids, but can be standoffish....especially the males.

We then did labs & lab mixes for the next 15 years. The thing with labs is that they start off as the best family dogs ....& then as they age, they become more & more needy. & freaky & insecure. It's weird that this has happened with 3 dogs for us. We also have friends who are going thru the same personality changes with their labs....& it's just strange.

We now have a labradoodle who is the smartest dog we've ever owned. He does not trigger my allergies, he weighs about 80lbs, & we consider him to be the perfect dog. Now that he is past 5, we are seeing some personality changes that we saw with the labs/lab mixes.....but so far, he's doing great. He is simply the best!

We also have an Old English sheepdog mix. We got him from the rescue unit. He's insane, he herds all of us (even the labradoodle), & he's skittish to boot. We were told that he was mixed with terrier. Nope, thru DNA testing, we've found that he is only 1/4 OES....the rest being 1/4 rott, 1/4 pit bull, & a mix of dalmation & 2 other breeds. The thing is....he's quite the character & we love him. BUT if we had known his heritage, we would not have adopted him. It would have been our loss.....because he is quite lovable. & On the other hand, knowing the DNA has taught us how to better handle him!

So, here's my recommendation: use our suggestions & helpful hints to weed out what you want & what you want to avoid. All dogs require the freedom to run, regular walks, & consistent training. Some breeds are easier to work with....& it really depends on how the family handles them. My angst over all those years of labs....will offend many people. But that was our experience & we can't change that. We will not own another lab. We also know that we will never, ever own another herding breed....unless we buy a farm! & we also know that there will never, ever be another labradoodle like ours....he is truly one of a kind! Good Luck!



answers from Boston on

I'm a big fan of pound puppies. We currently have 2: a beagle -- bassett mix & a shephard boxer. They're both incredibly loyal and well-behaved, good with kid visitors and just all around terrific pupsters. By the way, recently in our area there was a police team looking for someone (VERY strange in our small, backwoods town). My friend made her husband come home. I felt quite safe, home with my daughter. When I spoke with my friend she said of course I should feel safe. Anyone threatening me, my daughter or my home would have to get through our boxer-shephard. She's gentle and patient with small children (even though we don't have any, we have young family members and friends) but a tiger if we're at risk.

Before we got our beagle-bassett, we went to our local shelter a few times and took several dogs out for walks. We just waited until we found the right dog for our family. It's kind of like dating -- you'll know when it's right. :)

If you choose to get a dog, find a trainer and do the work. You'll never regret it. Ask your friends, ask your vet, ask where you get the dog -- but do it. Also, we have an invisible fence and I LOVE it. The dogs have the run of the yard, I never have to worry about them getting out of the house or "visiting" the neighbor's sheep.



answers from Glens Falls on

Like others, I'll first recommend rescues and shelters. There are breed specific rescues, too and on, you can search by breed if you are looking for a particular breed. If you decide not to go this route, I would steer clear of pet stores as many are getting their dogs from mills and look for reputable breeders. A reputable breeder is usually showing their adult dogs and breeding for new champions. As a result, they do not have litter after litter of puppies but maybe one or two litters a year. So you might have to be on a waiting list. At the very least, the mother dog should be on site when you go to view puppies, the breeder should require a spay/neuter contract and should also be able to demonstrate responsible breeding for that particular breed. For example, breeds known to have arthritic conditions normally are not bred until they are 2 years old so that the parents can be tested by an orthopedic vet and many will also be able to show grandparents symptom free at 5 years of age. Pure bred dogs do tend to have more health problems. They also will not usually release a puppy until 12 weeks of age. Sometimes a breeder will keep a puppy for show and it doesn't work out. These are still young dogs, but not puppies, that then need a "pet" home. Sorry I am not familiar with the breed you mentioned.Good luck to you!

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