Seeking Advice on How or Where to Find a Suitable Dog.

Updated on April 02, 2009
T.F. asks from Muenster, TX
13 answers

Ok.....I'm just going to throw this out there in hopes that someone can help me a bit.

Hubby and I decided the kids need a dog. We (hubby and I) have had great success with dogs in our pasts, since tiny toddler on (and have had a dog most of our lives until more recently), BUT they were always larger breeds. For several reasons (which I will list below), we want a smaller breed dog this time and we basicly know nothing about smaller breeds and what type would best suite our lifestyle. I've searched some breeds on line and done some "find your dog match" type quiz's on line but am still really at a loss. I guess I really want someone with some true experience to see our personal needs and give us some suggestions.
Following are some basics on what we are looking for. If you can give us any EDUCATED insight (not just opinions because you own one certain type of dog and think it is the best, but those based on actual facts on breeds and our needs), it would be greatly appreciated.

-Smaller dog (would rather not too terribly tiny because we live very rural and there are hawks and the possibility of mountain lions in addition to the coyotes and wild hogs in the area. We also want the dog to not tower over our kids and to be an easy "fit" in our house, therefore not to large.
-MUST be good with small children (our kids are almost 4 and almost 2 and we hope to have more kids in the next couple of years) thus, we would like a dog that is of a certain breed known for such, not just a mixed mutt (which is what we've mostly had in the past, thus the lack of knowledge about breed tendencies) with no known breed tendencies.
-Would most likely be an in-door dog (kennelled at night) but would need to like out-doors plenty as well as we want the dog to be played and exercised with the kids outside. We also would like the dog to be a sort of "watch" dog for snakes (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US)! And, we have acreage so the dog would have plenty of room to run with the kids.
-Friendly on allergies as we all have allergies-BUT we don't mind some seasonal professional grooming and it does not have to be a short haired dog.
-Not yappy and not aggressive to total strangers but can be a bit protective
-Someone is home all the time now (kids are watched by their grandpa in our house) and would almost always be with the dog except for ocassional week-night and weekend outings (shopping, etc) but this will only go on until the youngest (which is hopefully not here yet) is in school: both parents work.
-AND VERY IMPORTANT TO US: We don't like the idea of breeders, really and are more into rescue or shelter pets. We don't mind paying an acceptable adoption fee but don't want to spend a lot (def not over $300)of money, but more importantly to me, I would rather adopt a pet that truly needs a home over one that was bred for money.
-We don't mind traveling to get a dog but would need to know where to look for that type of dog (rescues, great shelters, friendly families looking for a home for their pet they can no longer keep, etc)!



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answers from Dallas on

Hi, T. -

I don't really have any academically educated advice, but wanted to share a few things we've learned. I agree that people become biased when they have a certain breed of dog and they're really good dogs. We did that. My husband and I had a mini schnauzer for 14 years and when he died, we replaced him with a new mini schnauzer puppy - which has not turned out nearly as well as we would have liked. Every dog is different, and the stereotypes of a particular breed don't necessarily carry from dog to dog. They all have their own personality (kinda like kids).

I'd also say that I have several friends and family members who have 4 dogs between them that were all rescued between the ages of 2 and 6. I really wish that we had taken that route, as training a puppy when you have little ones around is quite difficult.

When we had our first dog, we trained it (ourselves, not with a professional). But when we got our puppy, we had a 3 & 6 year old. We've been told since then that puppies will train to the lowest level in the house. In other words, because my 3 year old undermined (unintentionally, of course) all of the rules and simply "played" with the dog all of the time, it was much more difficult to get her paper trained, not jumping, not barking ALL the time, etc.

Just a few things to keep in mind. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on


I am a pet-sitter in the area and a dog owner myself so I have a lot of experience with different breeds. Here are my thoughts....

My personal experience has been great with Beagles. They are know for being excellent family dogs especially with children. There are two size of beagles but both are under 30lbs. They howl so they can be good watch dogs in terms of letting you know when someone is coming etc and since they are from the Hound Breed they can sniff out varmin in the yard etc... They do not shed too bad and are pretty healthly and sturdy dogs. Three years ago we adopted our Beagle from the North Texas Beagle Rescue. She was $150 including spaying and her shots. She has been by far the best dog we have ever had! She was three when we got her so out of the puppy stage, knew basic commands, and was awesome with out three year old. I would strongly reccomend this breed if you are looking for a smaller dog and the breed seems to meet your criterea. Good luck in your search! Dogs are such a great addition to the family! Let us know what you choose!



answers from Dallas on

It sounds like you are looking for a cocker spaniel(long hair), bull terrier - spuds mackenzie dog (short hair), or boston terrier (short hair). All of these are great dogs, smart, and family friendly. I have not owned them myself, but have had exposure to each of the breeds in different families.

We have an American Bulldog (awesome dog - but huge) and a basset hound (I would not suggest a hound for small children because of food aggression). I also don't suggest a beagle contrary to many people. I owned beagles and love the breed, but they are not for the meek. They are very stubborn and are likely to run off if you have that much area.

I love if you are looking for specific breeds!



answers from Dallas on

My husband and I have an Australian Shepherd, Boomer, and he is WONDERFUL. He is smart, sweet, snuggly and LOVES kids. I highly recommend this breed. We actually bought him on a fluke at the pet store in the mall, but because of him we will never have any other kind of dog.

We have friends with Aussies too and there dogs are just like ours. They love their owners and love to play. We don't have children yet, but my godsons love to play with Boomer and ask for him all the time.

This breed is easily trainable, is very sensitive to pleasing their owners and they are beautiful. There are three color ways- Blue Merle, Red Merle and Tri-Color. Often times they have two colored or blue eyes. Blue Merle is a black, white, grey and tan swirl. Red Merle is a chocolate, red, tan and white swirl. Tri-Color is black white and tan.

I know there are Aussie rescues out there too.



answers from Dallas on

From everything you are saying you want in a dog I would look into a Corgi. I personally do not have one as the breed would not do well in an apartment with no room to run and play. They are a herding breed and would require a lot of excersise and from what I understand from people who have had them also would require a little bit of grooming to keep from getting mats in their hair. Everything I have read about them basically said its like having a big farm do in a smaller package. Just a suggestion to do some research on. Every dog is different so definently go meet with the dog and take your kids to make sure everyone works well together.



answers from Dallas on

I totally think someplace like petfinder is a great way to go. We were looking on there for awhile and then I happened on our dog that was listed on craigslist. I know that sounds funny, but lots of people list good dogs on there that they can't take care of. The next step for the people we got ours from was the shelter. Our dog is great and incredible with kids, though! We knew that because the house we got her from had kids and it was just that they got her for their 16 year old daughter, and she wouldn't take care of the dog. The grandmother was having to do everything to take care of it, and was in failing health, so they decided to give her away. We didn't have children when we got her, but knew we wanted children in the future.
On sites like craigslist or petfinder, the dogs have usually been in a home where they can tell you what the dog is like with others, and you can spend time with them before hand, testing them (playing with their food, etc.) to see how they would react.
Don't be too worried about mixed breeds. Ours is a mix - mostly dachshund and pomeranian - which are not always the most kid-friendly breeds. She has been incredible with my son and neice...letting them pull her tail or whatever, and she'll usually just walk away without growling or snapping. My husband and I both grew up with pure bred dogs and this is by far a MUCH better dog. She doesn't have the health problems the pure bred ones do (which is good because we couldn't afford the money my parents spend on theirs for meds and surgery!), and again, she is MUCH better with kids.
OH - I just saw this posting on craigslist...
Looks like a great, medium-sized dog!
Hope you find what you are looking for!



answers from Dallas on

We have had two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, both just recently passed away at 13 and 12 years old. We had them when our daughter was born and they were always great with her. Corgis are easy to keep, very hardy -- a real "wash and wear" breed, no grooming except for occasional brushing needed. (We groomed ours everyday because my daughter loved to see them roll over with their feet up asking for more!) Ours had nice even temperaments and were both at home inside and outside the house. I found them very easy to train and both earned obedience titles. They were very friendly and barked if they heard something they knew wasn't part of the normal routine.

I second the advice of a rescue or shelter dog. Most breeds have a rescue unit if you really want a purebred I know the North Texas Corgi Fanciers have one.

I've had show dogs with a pedigree a mile long, and I have had Heinz 57 mixes that were equally wonderful. No dog is better than the other. is a good place to start. You can look at the individual shelters in the area instead of driving all around.

Good luck. Let us know how it comes out.



answers from Dallas on

I have a friend whose mother's Austrailian Shepherd had 9 puppies last week. My friend's mother rescues animals and wants to find them good homes. An Aussie sounds exactly like what you need, they are medium-size, loyal, sweet, and protective. In fact we are taking one of the puppies, we have hawks and owls in our neighborhood and our 2 Yorkies and Puggle have been stalked. For 14 years, my children grew up with an Aussie who was perfect for their first dog! When our Aussie was alive she protected her people and her babies (the little dogs). Aussie's were bred to protect and herd. If we were on a walk our Aussie would "herd" us, she would run around all of us and keep us in her circle of protection and if anyone would approach us she would put herself between us and them just in case. She was very friendly to people and animals, unless they were aggressive then she would bark and growl. That is the only time she would growl and she never bit or snapped. Everyone I know who has or has had an Aussie all agree their dogs had the same character traits as ours. Keep in mind, Aussies must be brushed regularly or their fur gets matted. Quote from Wikipedia: "While they continue to work as stockdogs and compete in herding trials, the breed has earned recognition in other roles due to their trainability and eagerness to please, and are highly regarded for their skills in obedience. Like all working breeds, the Aussie has considerable energy and drive, and usually needs a job to do. It often excels at dog sports such as dog agility, flyball, and frisbee. They are also highly successful search and rescue dogs, disaster dogs, detection dogs, guide, service, and therapy dogs. And, above all, they can be beloved family companions." Let me know if you are interested.



answers from Dallas on

I am about to get my new dog after waiting for 4 years. I have a very similar history with dogs (german sheep dogs, rottweiler, lab)and because of my little kids, smaller space and allergies we are adopting a bichon/poodle 1 year old rescue dog. I did a lot of research, visited different rescue groups with different breeds and I think this new dog is perfect for us. They are great with kids, best dogs for allergies (no shedding), not yappy and very smart. THe problem may be the outdoors for them as they are small (around 13 pounds) but I have two friends who have adopted one from this same group and their dogs are awsome. If you are interested it is Lil'paws maltese rescue group they have a website. ALso the fact that they are fostered (not in a shelter) helps because the foster family can really give you an idea of the dog's personality. Anyway, how exciting to be on the search for your new pet and good luck!



answers from Dallas on

i suggest the spca on industrial. we got our dog there when she was 9 months and she just turned 16 in february!! she's a mutt but is the best dog. the spca has a website so you can see what they have and then you can do research to what fits you best. whatever you do DON'T go to a "pet store". good luck.


answers from Dallas on

Hi T.,

I highly recommend you start your search at a local shelter. I've adopted both a doggie and our kitty from the local shelter and could not be happier with my decision. We ended up with an australian shephard mix and she is just wonderful. There's an old saying that says a rescued dog will always "know and appreciate" being saved and they never forget and that definitely seems to be true with our dog. She's so obedient, she came trained AND house broken, great with kids, and is protective of our family/house.
It's funny because my husband and I were just talking the other night about how lucky we were to get her and that she'll never be replaceable.

Anyhow, only you and your family will be able to find the "right" pet for your family but I think you're taking some good first steps towards the rescue/shelter departments and take a look at what they have. There's so many well behaved animals being taken to shelters these days because of the economy and they are so deserving of good homes. My sister and father also recently adopted their dogs from shelters and absolutely love their dogs. My dad hasn't had a dog in over 10 yrs because he was worried about the extra responsibility but he says he couldn't be happier that he got his new dog that also came house trained and had some basic training.
Check out this site and see if that helps you narrow your search.

Good luck to you and your family on finding the perfect dog for your family.


answers from Dallas on

Kudos to you for doing your research and not taking this decision lightly.

We have always had Cocker spaniels and they are great watch dogs for us. We have 2 Cockers and a poodle right now. I will say NO ONE gets close to me when the poodle is around. That little less than 10# dog is very protective.

There are so many shelter dogs who need homes. Many are pure breeds because people have just left them behind due to the economy issues. I firmly believe that if someone takes on a is your responsiblilty to care for that pet for the REST OF ITS LIFE. You don't just give them away if you get tired or the new wears off. You sound like a responsible person, especially with all the thought you are putting into this decision.

You said you live in a rural area.........we live on a heavily wooded lot backing up to 85 acres of heavy woods and a creek with owls, snakes, bobcats, coyotes. So far, we have only had 1 Cocker attacked by an owl at night. I have to be very careful when I let my dogs out to play or go potty because the bobcats are here often and my poodle is an easy target. SO.....when they are outside, someone is out there with them supervising.

They have been no help with the snake issue. We have copperheads here a lot, last year I killed 4, 2 within 3-5 feet of my front door. I have no idea how many my hubby killed. I have never done that before but I had to with hubby out of town or let it get to my house.

Good luck to you on finding the perfect pet!



answers from Dallas on

I volunteer at the Keller shelter and there are some really cute dogs there. New dogs come in daily and it is heartbreaking to see these poor dogs just wanting someone to love them. There is not one dog in there that is not kind and just wants someone to love it. There is a wonderful pitbull in there right now. He has a slight limp on his front paw but he seems so gentle and loving. All of the pitbulls that come into the shelter are so sweet and actually are of medium size. You can check these dogs by going to the keller animal shelter website. Adoption fees are $20.00. Also I just got word that there are two yellow labs at the irving shelter that were surrendered by their owners. They are set to be euthanized if they do not get quickly adopted. I know you said that you wanted a smaller dog but I just thought that I would pass along the info just in case. Good luck in your search and kudos to you for not wanting to go to a breeder!

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