Dog Breeds... UPDATED

Updated on August 12, 2011
L.P. asks from Uniontown, PA
34 answers

We are in the very early phases of considering getting a dog. I have a 5 1/2 year old son, and one on the way. Is there a specific dog breed that you have experience with that you would either recommend we consider, or one that we should definitely not consider? And why?

Oh, and I really don't want a large dog...

More about my family, as requested... we do have a large back yard with a farm behind us, so we do have plenty of land to allow the dog to run/play with us. We do not have a neighborhood or place where we could safely 'walk' a dog, however. I intend to use a run type system to let the dog out for bathroom duties, but would probably take it out to be with us when we are outside, or to play/run. That said, I'm thinking a dog that is a typical hound-type dog, like a beagle, might not be good for us, as they are known runners. I also don't want a tiny Paris Hilton dog. I guess we're just looking for a basic, good all around family dog. My husband works a lot, but as of February, I will be a sahm, so I'll be home with the dog most of the time. We aren't homebody, stay in the house types, but we aren't outdoors people either (don't hike, kayak, etc.) Kind of in the middle, I guess?

Thanks for any experience you can share.

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So What Happened?

**********We are looking at puggles right now... Pug/Beagle mix. They are said to be great family dogs, smart, easy to train, affectionate, playful but like their down time, great size for our family, and just so darn cute! I'll update if/when we do choose a puppy!!********

ETA, I do like labs, we had one years ago... but I just don't think I can go through the at least 3 years of ridiculous pyppy-hood! They are nutcases for at least 3 years, at least in my experience! NIce dogs, but I can't go there again! I know all dogs are puppies for a while, but labs tend to be puppy energetic for a much longer time than other breeds...

Featured Answers



answers from Des Moines on

All American Mutt from the shelter. You can probably find a young adult dog that's already potty trained and the staff and volunteers can help you choose the right dog. And a lot of shelters offer training classed and follow up help if you have trouble down the road....

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answers from Houston on

I have 2 standard dachshunds, who are very good dogs, gentle and playful - a little willful, but good dogs. they weigh about 12 lbs I guess.
I also have a 150 lb Great Pyrenees, and he is the best, most gentle and loving dog I have ever owned, but he is BIG!
The last dog I had was a Samoyed, and was very beautiful, but took a lot of grooming.
Every lab I have ever known wanders and barks a lot!

I just read somebody say about doxies barking - and yes mine do bark, but only when someone pulls up, which is a good thing, or if they hear a noise, my big boy barks a lot too - dogs bark. They just do.

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answers from Tampa on

I'd wait until baby is past potty training... having a baby and needing to train and housebreak a puppy will be too much for you. Doesn't matter the breed - it will still take a lot of time, effort and immediate income into training (obedience training is KEY with any kind of dog) and taking care of the dog's vet bills.

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answers from Phoenix on

There's a breed called a "Shelter" dog or "Rescue" dog. Even Oprah has them! They make great pets, are loving and grateful, not inbred with defects bred repeatedly into them like overbred pups from backyard breeders and puppy mills. These "Shelter" or "Rescue" dogs are available by the thousands at the pound, on death row at the pound, at your local humane society, and local rescue groups !

Lastly, whatever you get, remember that a pet is a "lifetime commitment".

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

A rescue dog might be a good way to go. You can have a chance to see their personality first hand, instead of puppy to only find out is a terror. Oh I almost brought home a sweet a girl I woalked at the shleter today. She was some kind of mix. I love pure breds and adore puppies. But honestly volunteering at the shelter and seeing all these awesome dogs with great personalities. Yes they are many hyper untrained dogs in shelters, but I was shocked to find some many calm ones.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I think that for anyone to be able to make any sort of recommendations, you will need to tell us more about your family. Not the ages of the kids, but your lifestyle:
Are you homebodies? Do you go hiking and kayaking and play outdoors often? Do you travel alot? Do you hate the thought of walking for a mile everyday (dogs need to be walked, not just be tossed in the yard for "free time"). Do you want a companion who will be hyper and full of energy all the time, or one who is more laid back and content to lie around most of the time? Do you have a large outdoor space to play games with the dog? Do you expect to spend most of your time indoors? Do you both work and need to leave the dog for large chunks of time during the day? (Some highly intelligent breeds can get very bored and that can lead to destructive behaviors).

Really, all of these things can be factors in determining the most ideal breed for YOUR family. So, tell us a little about your family....

ETA: Thanks. I realize that German Shepherds usually fall into the "large" breed category, but size isn't everything... ;)
I am, of course, biased, because we chose a German Shepherd for our family, and couldn't be happier. I had one as a child as well, and he was a great dog too. If properly socialized, they are about the perfect dog, as far as I am concerned. Ours is smallish (for the breed standard) at 65 lbs. But she is wonderful with both our kids (got her when our youngest was turning 3 yrs old and oldest was turning 6). They can be inside or outside dogs, but they do shed. BUT, they are smart and fast learners and can lie around quietly for hours and you'll never know they are there (unless someone they don't know approaches the house) until you get up and get active. Then they are ready for anything and everything you throw at them. They never seem to tire and can go all day... OR, they can lie quietly on their bed or near you on the floor and you can almost forget they are there. They can be quite gentle.
Our dog will not tolerate being left inside if the kiddos go outside or being left inside if someone hops into the pool (whines at being denied the ability to accompany "her" pack). But she ignores the neighborhood dogs barking and never gets involved in the "barking chain" that can go on at night. She doesn't "wander" either. She KNOWs the boundaries of our property and has no desire to leave (unless she is off with one of the kids around the neighborhood). I don't need a "run" for her to do her business... I just open the door, give her the command and wait for her to do it and come back. She loves Frisbee and tennis balls and running with the kids. All our neighbors have met her and love her. She is wonderful, and I could go on many more paragraphs. She isn't that much work, but she does need regular exercise (like any dog) and likes to be made to think. (I hide treats for her in the house and have her search for them). House training was a piece of cake. She never destroyed property by chewing, like some breeds are known for.
They stay "puppies" until around 2 years old and can be a little hyper until then.. but once they mature, they have wonderful manners. :)

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answers from Kansas City on

Well, I have the best dog in the world!!! He is a Shiba Inu. They are japanese dogs, and so VERY well behaved. We had never heard of them, but my husband fell in love with him (we all did) at the pet store, and we just bought him. They look like a little fox. They are very smart, and learn very quickly. They are not lap dogs though, and that is the only thing that disappoints me. They do not stink, and are very clean. They sit around on occasion and clean themselves like a cat would. They do not like to have a mess around them, and my dog will actually eat the food that accidentally spilled on the floor first, when we fill his food bowl. No going to the bathroom in the house either. He barked a little when he was a puppy, but I do not like barking dogs, so I tell him no barking if no one is breaking in the house lol. I absolutely hate it when dogs bark at anything blowing by, or anyone walking by. So I taught him not to, and he doesn't. He has very good manners too. No jumping on people or jumping up on the table with his paws to steal food, like my BIL's dog. I could go on and on about this wonderful little dog, but you get the picture. They are a pleasure to have around, and anyone that I see with one tells me the same thing.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with Victoria - you need to think about your family's style, the space you have, allergies, etc. You sound like you don't want "a lot of dog", so that would rule out Akitas, Bull Terriers, and Bloodhounds. hahaha. On the other hand, a Basset Hound may be too sedate and a Jack Russell too feisty. I recommend getting a book of dog breeds that describes temperament and physical attributes and going from there. Lastly, I urge you to go about this decision slowly, very slowly and intentionally. I frequent the animal shelter and am always saddened by the number of beautiful Pit Bulls - people want them and then find out that's "a lot of dog". You will get out of the dog the time you put into it, and they're really like another child. Be careful!

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answers from Kansas City on

We have a Golden Retriever and 2-Labs, love all three! Labs are sooo great with kids and are laid back and lovers. Our golden is awesome, going on 7 and unfortunately has the energy of a 2 year old. Anyway, both breeds are great with kids (ours are under age 5). I know you stated you didn't want large dogs but these are two breeds that are active and love to play. If you don't want to "deal" with a puppy do some research at your local shelter to see if they have the breed you are looking for. Also, google the dog breed you are looking for in terms of a rescue, i.e., golden retriever rescue in PA, and it should bring up local rescues that have the breed you are looking for. Good luck!

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answers from Columbus on

If you're open to the idea, I strongly urge you to adopt an adult dog (or at least adolescent). The training usually goes faster because the dog is older and less "puppy", including the potty training. Plus, you also usually miss out on the destructive chewing phase of teething. If it were me, I'd personally look into adopting an adult lab or lab cross, boxer or boxer cross, retriever/retriever cross, or poodle/poodle cross.

Yes, stay away from hounds. And yes, do go through obedience training with the dog so that the dog has good understanding and training to come/sit/stay/down.

This website has a lot good info, including a quiz you can take (be honest while taking it) to help narrow the field:

For medium size dogs, I like schnauzers, cocker spaniels (but be aware of genetic issues of aggressiveness in some lines), springer spaniel, medium poodle (I don't remember the name, but not the standard poodle and not the miniature poodle). If you'd like something a bit smaller, pugs, boston terriers, rat terriers, Jack Russell Terrier, etc (but are high energy) can be good, or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent companion dog.

We have 2 large dogs, and a small fenced yard (one is a GSD cross, the other is retriever and a bunch of other stuff). They were both 4/5 years old when our son was born, and we went through obedience training. Paying the money & putting in the time to do the training has been the best time/money we ever spent on them (other than vet care).

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answers from Dallas on

I LOVE MY PUG. And he loves my daughter. He's about 22 lbs and wonderful. However, pugs require a lot of personal attention and he is a lap dog. He is the friendliest dog I've ever met. When I first brought my daughter home from the hospital, he wouldn't leave her side and was constantly watching her. He was extremely protective of her, and he still is. My daughter is 2 1/2 now and she sometimes can "torture" the dog and he just sits back and takes it. Also, pugs average life span is 16 years, so you get a long time with your pug, and you can get a 1-2 year old pug and skip the puppy stage and still have a lot of years with your dog.

The only thing we have to monitor with our pug, is his heat exposure. Pugs are super sensitive to heat because of their smush face. Also, some pugs get hip displaysa and eye problems. Ours had none of that and doesn't snore or snort like some pugs.

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answers from Chicago on

I second Beach Girl R's recommendation of a Keeshond. They are a medium-sized dog (about 17-18" at the shoulder, 30-40 lbs), sturdy enough not to be hurt by little ones, and are known for their love and tolerance of children. They aren't a breed that will bounce off the walls if they don't get a lot of exercise. A Keeshond would require a bit of commitment for grooming. They have a big, double coat that will shed once or twice per year, but in between they just need a weekly brushing. Very sweet, mild temperament and not big on roaming. They like to stay with their families.

Other breeds that might be good for your situation are Standard Poodle and Pug.

Jane K.-- I've had Shiba Inus for more than 20 years (4 of them) and love them dearly, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend a Shiba for L. P.'s situation. She seems to want a "homebody"-type of dog and Shibas are big runners. Also, in general, Shibas will require more careful supervision around little kids than some other breeds that have been mentioned (though of course ALL dog/little kid interaction should be closely supervised). Some Shibas are less than patient with little kids.

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answers from Philadelphia on

L.--Check out your luck! Looks like there is a great rescue right in your town. I would call and talk to one of the workers who places animals and see if they have a recommendation:

I would check out that list, see which dogs you feel drawn to, then read about those breeds. Also, consider an adult dog, and you can skip over some of the troubling puppy behaviors. (Also, check

I really like shepherds/mixes. They can be very protective, and watchful, and that can need to be channeled. I have a shepherd/akita mix. He's a little more aloof/shy, not an all the time in your face, pet-me-pet-me type, like a lab or golden (who I love, too, but don't want to live with), and he's smart, but not a trouble-maker, counter-surfer, trash-picker. And a cute thing about shepherd mixes is that they come in smaller sizes. I think the perfect mix would be kind of a mystery mutt, medium size, mostly shepherd-looking, with a little cuddly-friendly bit of lab mixed in.

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answers from Portland on

We have a Puggle (pug/beagle). He is about 25 pounds and is full grown. He is awesome with the kids, one of our toddlers has gotten a hold of the dog's bone and pulled if from his mouth and the dog did nothing but look at him. That same toddler reached in the dog's food dish while the dog was eating and grabbed a hand full of food to enjoy with the dog. Again, the dog did nothing but look at me and whine a little. I do my best to keep the kids away from the dog while eating but I have a fast little guy that seems to move at the speed of lightening. Anyway, our dog has the best mix of both breeds - he is energetic and likes to play(pug) for a while but then will sleep for hours(beagle). He also sticks with us really good when we go out with him. He is a very social dog and loves people and dogs alike, he is a favorite at our local dog park. He was a breeze to potty train but I give that credit to our breeder who had him paper trained before he came to us.

If you do choose this breed, I recommend finding a 1st generation puggle (mom-beagle, dad-pug) as they have the best mix of both breeds. If you get a puggle that comes from 2 puggle parents, you can end of with a wider range of characteristics. While it is great to adopt, we went with a highly recommended breeder because we had been burned too many times through the adoption process of prior animals. If you choose to go through a breeder, make sure they are highly recommended and aren't just running a puppy mill. Our breeder runs a very small scale operation and spends a lot of time socializing their puppies and selecting their forever homes.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Here's a quiz that might help you....

Personally, I have had collies(too barky), a husky (too stupid/shedding/slightly psycho) and a collie/husky mix....worst mix of both breeds. (You'd think I would have learned, huh?)

Boxers can be very nice family pets, cocker spaniels can be downright nasty....overall best temperament--Goldens and labs...but that might be too big for what you prefer.

Sometimes a mutt f the approx right size can be the best of all. And they tend to be healthier and hardy overall.

Good luck! Your son will LOVE having a poochie!

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answers from Lake Charles on

Dachshund all the way! They are super small, smart and very very loving. GREAT around kids.. my mom still has ours from when I was younger.. she's like 12 in human years! She's amazing.

And I may catch flak for this but EVERY rescue dog we've had was horrible.. usually they are abused and seriously hard to handle. If you have kids get a puppy, train it right that way you want and you'll know from day 1 what you are getting. No surprises or guilt of having to return a dog to the pound.

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answers from Cleveland on

We have a boston terrier pug mix, and pug/beagle mix(mostly pug) and they are GREAT with the kids. One we just rescued (pug, beagle) and while we are having some other issues w/ him like housebreaking he's also fantastic with our kids. We have a teenager but also a 3 year old and 10 month old. So maybe it's the pug in them?
Don't go too small, when they are really little they are more fragile and tend to be more skittish. And some mixes are great dogs, w/ good qualities such as not shedding much. My parents have shitzu poodle mixes and they are also very good dogs, but require alot of grooming. I have heard beagles are great family dogs, but since most are bred for hunting may be runners. If you run across a breed you like, talk to breeders they are great resources!!

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answers from Milwaukee on

I would rec a Golden Retriever-but they are med/large dogs.

Have you ever watched Animal 101 on Animal Planet? They do a good job of breaking down the breeds - pros cons and which are better for families, certain lifestyles, etc. I'm sure you can find something like that on the web too.

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answers from Los Angeles on

i beg to differ about the dachshund! i have a long haired mini doxie and she never barks except for when someone's at our door. plus shes great with my toddler. if you're interested in getting from a breeder, go to thats where i got mine and the breeders are GREAT at socializing the pups before they get to you.


i beg to differ about the dachshund! i have a long haired mini doxie and she never barks except for when someone's at our door. plus shes great with my toddler. if you're interested in getting from a breeder, go to thats where i got mine and the breeders are GREAT at socializing the pups before they get to you.

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answers from Utica on

I had a beagle when I was young and she was a great dog. The only issue with beagles is that they have to be trained well as they are from the hound family and if they get loose they will follow a scent trail across country without looking back. If they are trained to come back on command you should have no issues. They are very friendly, loyal and protective breeds
Good Luck

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answers from Boston on

Do Not get a Dachshund ! LOL They are Barkers ~He WAKES my child all the time :-) Good luck

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answers from New York on

I have 2 dogs - a Golden Retriever and a dachsund mix. Both are awesome. Obviously the golden is a big dog so not what you want. Big dogs make big poops! LOL! But the dachsund mutt is a great dog for a small but not overly small dog. I have a 3month old, almost 4 yo and a 5 yo. We got our mutt before the kids, she's 9 now. The Golden is 2 1/2. Maybe a mixed breed dog like a Puggle or a Cockapoo would be good for you guys.

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answers from Albuquerque on

I would not consider a Chihuahua or anything mixed with a Chihuahua. I have a 6yr old Chi/Jack Russel and he does not do well with kids at all. They are soooo cute but really hard to train, impossible to housetrain ( like I said mine is 6 and still isnt housebroken but our other dog who is 4 has been since he was less than a year) I also have a pit mix thats a love bug but pits arent the right dog for everyone. I Would recomend a border collie. Super loving, easy to train, good with kids, medium sized, and excellent family dogs. If I had the time/money/space for a third dog I would so get a border collie.

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answers from Lincoln on

We have a Boston Terrier and she is fabulous with my kiddos! I have three kids and two of them are under age 5. My son who is very naughty and 2 years old pulls on her ears, tries to ride her and hugs her very tightly, she has never snapped or even growled at my kids. She loves to play with them and is a very good dog. Boston's are not big dogs at all, the only thing i dont like about them is they shed a lot! Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on


All of my dogs have been mutts with the exception of one - a Great Pyrennes...our current dog is a Boxer/Pit Bull mix and is the love of my life!! (I know - don't tell my hubby!!) he's a doll - when Daddy is not home - he sleeps with me! (doh!)

He sleeps with the boys at night and takes good care of them...

I've have German Shepard Great Pyrennes was a WONDERFUL dog too - needs lots of room to wander and a place to dig...

I would go to the local shelter and see what type of dog fits you and your family...get as much information from them as possible...

you can google other rescues that have taken in dogs and see what's out there for you and your family!!


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answers from Denver on

we have our hunting dog a german long hair pointer (rare in the us, and very pricy) she is an awesome family along with working dog but a lot of time has been put into her. I also have my kitty (since we have a hunting dog that likes to hunt cats I had to go with a smaller dog instead of a cat) and he is our little miniature schnauzer and he is AWESOME he will be 2 in november and has already mellowed out a lot. He is one of the kids if they are running after eachother little finn is right behind them, loves to snuggle them on the couch, very protective but not overly so that it scares me with the neighbor kids over. Even though my husband was against smaller dogs i sure do see them snuggling on the couch together quite a bit.

and the best part is that the kids can walk him without them losing the leash or being pulled on their face, yes that is training but trying to fully leash train a hunting dog when you live really close to open space is difficult.

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answers from San Francisco on

I LOVE labs and retrievers too, but you are right, puppyhood can send one over the edge ;-). We adopted our choco lab at about 1.5 years and she is great. She's always been calmer than most labs though so keep your eyes open. My thought was maybe a smaller spaniel? King Charles or a Brittany. I've met King Charles spaniels that I really like and some that I don't so you have to be careful as with any breed. My friend has had two wonderful pomeranians. Generally I like the bigger working breeds much better so this is saying a lot. Hope this gives you some ideas. Also, be very careful of dogs that are "in" they tend to be overbread and not always the best they can be. I don't know all of what that is right now and it may be regional. Here I've seen quite a few Havenese and two have some issues, one nervous and one sickly.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We did a lot of research before we got our dog and one breed that I was zeroing in on was the Vizsla. Everything I read said that they are wonderful family dogs and great with children. Medium-sized, short coat, loyal and lovers. They're quite handsome.

We ended up adopting a one-year-old terrier mix (we believe jack russell and border terrier) and love him to death. But he's definitely a terrier, very high energy and would like to think that he's in charge. He was a terror w/ our indoor cat for about a year; we've just finally been able to tamp that down using the coins in an empty soda can deterrent --- highly, highly effective tool I might add for anyone wanting to curb undesirable behaviors. A word to the wise, our dog is now a little over two and is just finally getting over the puppy stage :) One thing w/ terriers, they MUST know you are the pack leader -- this is with any dog, really, but esp. terriers. I'd highly recommend hiring a professional trainer or taking training classes for whatever breed you end up with. Good luck!

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answers from Richmond on

I have a German Plott Hound... he's super goofy. He never EVER barks (he 'talks' once a day, literally sings for his supper, that's it). He's super with the kids, like, REALLY good... the baby sits on him all the time, and River just looks at him like 'really kid? whatever'... He doesn't shed a lot, but he SWEATS when it's CRAZY hot, and then he's smelly, that's the only bad thing. I mean, I use some dry shampoo on him and it's totally better, but I was looking for at least one negative on my super awesome perfect pup ;)

Oh, and he maaaybe weighs 40 lbs? He's not a small dog, but he's not a large dog. I can fit him in the backseat with 3 kids, one in a booster, one in a carseat, if that paints the picture ;)

GOOD LUCK finding YOUR perfect pup :)

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answers from Dallas on

I know you don't want a large dog, but we love labs. we have two kids, and my dog is wonderful with both. they climb on her and pet her and she's never once gotten aggressive with either. one is 4 the other is a baby. she'll rub up against them so they will pet her. you could probably find a female that's on the smaller side if you wanted.

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answers from Seattle on

Small but no purse dog, we love our mini pin! He's super protective, thinks he's a big dog, smart as a whip, and so good with the kids. We talk all the time about how lucky we are to have found him, he's the best dog either of us has ever had! I loved my shekels growing up too. We really wanted a dog that didn't shed so the mini pin has been perfect for that too.

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answers from Norfolk on

We had a neighbor dog (named Jiggers) adopt us when we were growing up.
He was a mid sized Golden Retriever blend (I don't know blended with what).
He had a great disposition and he retrieved everything that wasn't tied down into his own yard.
Shoes, socks, mittens, clothes, toys, balls, dolls - if it was missing, you could go look on the neighbors porch and see if it turned up there.
The whole neighborhood loved Jiggers and we were all in tears when he passed away.
They have miniature golden retrievers now - that might be worth looking into.

One of my son's friends at taekwondo got a chiweenie (cross between the Chihuahua and the Dachshund).
It's still growing but it looks like it will be a larger type small dog by the time he's fully grown.
I knew a small Newfoundland who was great, enjoyed cold weather (she HATED summer), but the fur and drool were everywhere all the time.
Doberman pinchers can be nice.
Terriers, poodles, and border collies can be extremely smart.
So smart that if you don't keep them busy/challenged they can become a bit neurotic.

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answers from Roanoke on

I vote Dachshund, the longhaired ones are very sweet. I have 3 mini weenies and as I type this 2 are cuddled around me. They bark some, but love attention of any kind. Only drawback is the kids really shouldn't carry them because they do have back problems and my second oldest weenie has had 2 back surgeries and a neck one last winter.



answers from Dallas on

Mini Goldendoodle. Great temperament, small/medium size, non-shedding, easy to train. What more could you want!?!

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