What Kind of Dog Should We Get ? - Nashua,NH

Updated on November 16, 2012
P.S. asks from Nashua, NH
22 answers

We've been thinking of getting a dog, but we're not sure what breed to get. We have a three year old son, and two cats. Our three year old has been asking for a dog for about six months now, and we're probably going to get one sometime in he next six months, around the time he will be four. We have a medium sized house, a medium sized yard, but we do have access to a lot of parks in the area. I'm a stay at home dad, so I would be home to take care of the dog during the day, but I'm not sure how long I will be doing the "stay at home" part.
Anyone have any experience with Weimaraners ? Poodles ? Beagles ? Schipperkes ? Australian Sheep Dogs ?

Any other breeds that might be good for a 4 year old boy ?

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So What Happened?

Good question from Victoria - what kind of lifestyle do you lead ?

We do go hiking, and camping. We camp at least three times a year. We're outdoors people, but not sporty people. Meaning that we hike, camp, swim, walk, but we're not regularly breaking road race records. We're not inside during the day, if we can help it. Though we are older parents, I'm 47, and my wife is 43. So no matter how active we are, we're still getting up there in age, and are pretty tired at the end of the day from running around after our son all day.

I am leaning toward NOT getting the dog until he is 5 or 6. He has been exceptionally good with the cats, but dogs are completely different and need a great deal more training and care.

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answers from New York on

English springer spaniels. The best disposition ever. Good with kids. Lovable, easy to train. My whole family have springersand some friends have them too. They are a medium sized dog.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Albany on

We got our first Golden Retriever when the kids were 3, 6, and 8. She may have knocked the little one over a few times, otherwise zero aggressiveness and an all around perfect dog for kids. They do need a lot of interaction and exercise but are 110% love.

Can't imagine a life without at least one dog in the house! Good Luck and enjoy.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

NONE. Dogs are a huge pain in the butt and most pure breeds are even more annoying. If you MUST get a dog, then get a mixed breed from the shelter who is a few years old and trained. That way, you don't get a lab who is hyper for 4 years, a Golden retriever who bites, or a little dog who does not like to be handled by young children.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on


The only things I can say is that you must do your research. What you did not mention in your post is the type of lifestyle you lead, or how much time you will actually spend with the dog, whatever its breed. ANY dog can be good for a 4 year old boy. It isn't a question, really, of what is good for your son, but more what FITS with your FAMILY and your family's LIFESTYLE.

Dogs (any breed) need time and attention. If you will be home for the first 6 months, that would be a good start to puppy training, which begins on day one... not at some arbitrary age when they are "old enough" for "puppy obedience training classes".

I love the idea of your family acquiring a dog. Dogs are wonderful additions to families. But, for them to BE what they CAN be, they must have time, attention and training. And not from your son. These duties will belong to the adults in the household. TOTALLY worth the time and effort... but if you fail to make them happen, you will all suffer for it in the future. Either damage and destruction wreaked by your pet, and/or the perceived necessity of rehoming the dog later on. Go into it with your eyes open regarding the responsibilities involved, and choose a breed that fits your life from the start. It makes all the other things so much easier.

Do you run? Hike trails? Camp? spend time outside daily? or is your family more of a book worm type... where you are indoors a lot. Gone on trips out of town frequently? Etc.

We happen to have a GSD, and couldn't ask for a better dog. The kids are outside with her regularly (which at her age - going on 9 years, is enough when added together with the walks I take her on). She is quiet and calm indoors, when nothing is going on. She is not small, so I didn't have to worry about the kids hurting her when they were younger. She is big enough that she is a comfort when husband is not home. She has enough energy to do ANYTHING we want to include her in. She is friendly with kids. She is leary of strangers. And she is devoted.
She is also smart as a whip, which made training go pretty smoothly, but she can open doors and things, so we have to be mindful, and sometimes with a smart dog, the trainer unwittingly becomes the trainee, something you gotta watch out for...



Well, given that you live where it gets pretty cold... I would, of course, suggest a GSD! :)

If your son is good with self control (seriously, if he isn't going to sit on the dog or tease it or whack it with a baseball bat b/c he just wasn't paying enough attention to things around him...), then I don't think you HAVE to wait until he is 6. Everyone suggests that, and I understand it. We didn't follow it though. Our son was almost 6, and our daughter was almost 3 (it was about 3 weeks before her 3rd birthday). She LOVED (still does) dogs. Her first 'baby' wasn't a baby, it was a stuffed Pluto. She loved our neighbor's dog. She had a dozen stuffed dogs, etc. Loved visiting people with dogs.

I am a SAHM, so I was there 24/7 with the kids and the puppy. I was the primary trainer. And our kids were well behaved and not the kind that were tempted to do mean things to a live animal (there are some kids that just do that kinda stuff to see what happens, ya know?). Yes, there was a little nipping/herding that went on. Mainly b/c we had a L-O-N-G hallway, and the kids would run down it. Otherwise, it really wasn't an issue. And our GSD did NOT chew stuff. To this day I could count on one hand the number of items she has destroyed. She doesn't even destroy her toys, she is very delicate with them, when she isn't shaking them ferociously.
GSD's do shed. But they are worth it in my opinion. She potty trained quickly and easily (very smart animals). Never messes in the house. We trust her alone in the house even when we go out of town (we have someone come by to take care of her multiple times a day, but she is not crated... she has the full run of the place).
She is not a "barker" like so many breeds. She will bark, if there is something we need to be aware of (the UPS truck stopping out front), but she doesn't return fire when the neighborhood yappers start up. She ignores them. She is so sweet. She is not food aggressive at all. She just wants to please and receive attention. But she isn't "in your face" either. She will move from room to room with me throughout the day... never more than 10 feet away from me. But not right under foot, either. I could step on her (I HAVE stepped on her during the night) and she just moves out of the way--no biting response. Her mouth is very gentle. :)

I could go on and on and on... Sorry. I love her breed. They are magnificent.
Oh... don't forget about crate training. Definitely go that route.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Bigger dogs need more space and more exercise - that is hard with a young child.

I assume you are getting a dog because YOU want one, not because your 3 year old wants one. Kids even up to the age of 13 think a dog is a great idea for about 2 days, and then it's Dad's problem.

Since you are in NH, I would strongly suggest that you wait until April - it is no fun housebreaking a dog in the dead of winter. It means getting on your warm cloths, getting your child dressed up, and getting the dog outside - no way to teach a dog to go to the door and get it outside in time so it doesn't pee on the floor!

Another way to go is a shelter where you can adopt a rescue dog whose history the staff knows. An adult dog is not up several times a night, may be more docile with a child, and may be known to get along with cats. Also, an adult dog is past the chewing stage - and with little kids who leave their toys all over, that's a huge problem. Dogs chew the kid's favorite toys or shoes, and it gets expensive.

You also need to keep the cats' litter box somewhere where the dog can't get into it. Also get the dog a crate so it has a safe place to be away from the antics of a child who doesn't know when to quit.

The dogs you have listed are so radically different from each other that I'm not sure what your desires are. You need to think about the way you live, what your experience is with dogs, and what sort of personality you are looking for. Also the whole issue of shedding and extra vacuuming!

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We just got a Beagle puppy a few months ago. We have gone through the whole process of choosing a breed and where left with either a Golden Retriever or a Beagle, as both are supposed to make great family dogs (we have a five year old). We chose the beagle for it's size - we drive compact cars and that gets tight with a full grown golden.
Weimeraners and Aussies require more exercise than we have time for (exercise needs where also a factor against the golden). Poodle mixes are supposed to be great as well, plus they don't shed as much. I have a few different friends with Goldendoodles, great dogs. But Goldendoodle puppies run $1200 upwards in our area and I don't see myself investing that much for a simple family dog.
Purebred Poodles (especially minis) are not supposed to be so great with kids though.
We are both out of the house during the day (not full time though) so our pup has been crate trained from day one, which I would recommend for every dog owner.

Now for the bad: combining a puppy/dog and a young child is a steep learning curve for both. My DD and the pup are great together, but even though I *knew* I needed to supervise them when they play, I didn't do a good job at it so she got hurt by the puppy in play a few times. It was just superficial scratches and nips, but talk about a wake up call! Even if you think that this will never happen to your kid (neither did I) be aware that keeping track of both a mischievous preschooler and a pup is a hell of a lot harder than you may think.

While we love our pup in retrospect I wish we had gotten an older dog. It is nice that you start with a clean slate, a dog that comes without pre-exististing issues, but honestly... it is a LOT of work to train her and keep her from destroying our stuff.

And just to reiterate... you better not think about buying this dog "for" your 4 year old. Your son will not be able to seriously take care of the needs (not only feeding and walking but also training and keeping him stimulated) of a dog for many years to come. If you get a dog, get it because YOU want to be taking care of it.
Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

I would take your son to your local shelter and "interview" available dogs. You can tell the shelter what criteria you have (size, indoor/outdoor, active/lapdog, age) and they can narrow the list of potentials. The best dogs I ever met were mutts, and, in general, they have fewer health issues.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

We have a yellow lab who we absolutely adore. Like others have mentioned she was absolutely crazy the first 2 years of her life. She was never a chewer though. Just boundless energy. She is 9 and my boys are 8 and 4, so they missed the first crazy year of teething and training. I took her to obedience school, had time to work with her a lot and spent hours and hours running off her energy ~ it was totally and completely worth it. She is amazing ~ she is a good guard dog when necessary, couldn't care less about our 3 cats and 8 chickens, loves loves loves the kids and is the most loyal pet you could ever ask for.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

We love lab mixes! Had a blk lab / german shepherd mix for almost 14 yrs. Now we have a blk lab / austrailaim shepherd mix who is 5 mo old. Kids THINK that they like puppies until they actually have one!!!! Once the puppy starts jumping and clawing and biting/mouthing with those sharp little puppy teeth, kids start crying!!!! LOL!
We were lucky that we already had a good dog when the kids were born and he was older and calm. Wasn't much of a playmate as they (and he) got older though. After he past last Jan, we got a puppy (8wks old) in July. My kids are 8 and 10 and it was STILL rough on them. Now he is almost 6mo and MUCH calmer! plus he has learned not to jump or mouth people. IF you decide to get a dog while he is so young, I would look at a puppy that is already 6mo old or more. You can still mold and train them, but they will have the basics (think potty trained!) and should be better/calmer around your son.

Go Labs!!!! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My eyes are playing tricks...I though you asked what kind of dog should we eat? And I did not have any sound advice.

My vote for a starter dog is one that does not shed, and one that can sleep on your child's bed. So smallish. I vote for Poodles mixed with other breeds.They are smart and easy to potty train and teach tricks to. We have a Poodle/Bichon mix and she's a happy, little thing who travels well.


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answers from Detroit on

I had a beagle growing up, ahhh, I miss her. She was amazing!

Dont read about labs! They are voted like the #1 family dog. Um, that dog chewed up our world and knocked our kids over and was insane!!
Oh and all the stuff she chewed up, got thrown up all over the place.
Breath.....Anyhoo, if you have all the time in the world, and want another kid, that might be an option.

I want a dog badly. I have had big and little and my next move will be a little one.
Small poops, small pees, small pukes, small amount of hair, small teeth.

Just my opinion. Hope you find your perfect match!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

We started with petfinder.com to narrow down our list. We picked a shih tzu because they are small and sweet, and don't shed. Plus we were able to rescue one (another vote to not do the breeder thing- adopt!!).

My daughter is 12, and is head over heels in love with this dog. The dog barely barks, but did do a cute protective thing when she thought a goose was going after my daughter. And you could not get this dog to bite you if you tried. Super patient and sweet. Not always the brightest dog, but silly and we were able to train her really easily.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

the piece of advice i would give would be wait until your kid is 6 OR get a puppy/dog older than 6 months,

my daughter was bit by a 8 week old puppy on the fact at 3 and needed several stitches, puppy teeth are VERY sharp and they nip a lot and toddlers are at perfect hieght

i J. got her a puppy for her 6th birthday, we were waiting because of the bite and reccomendations from vets not to get a puppy with a kid under 6

i researched TONS and ended up with a golden retriever. they are the number one family dog and dog most likely NOT to bite
labs are high up too!

if you want a dog to love the kid to death and be able to take a "beating" (obviously not in a mean way J. being a kid) from a toddler without biting id go for some type of golden or lab

ETA both labs and goldens are exactly what molly describes for the 1st two years of their lives...they are silly lovable dogs that chew and knock over everything..all dogs are a pain from birth - 2 years...but labs and goldens also are awesome for little kids

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answers from Columbia on

I wouldn't get a dog until your son is older. Like 8 or 9. Right now, he's too young.

When you do go to get a dog, I agree with BB....shelter dog. One that is about a year old and is already potty trained and partially obedience trained. Go for a dog that has been fostered in someone's home, not kept in a kennel, and one that has lived with cats.

For your breed questions: Weimaraners? Smartish, but big and bonk into everything, and have big appetites and big poo. Poodles? Smart, but like to bark and bark and bark. Good because the don't really shed. Don't get a miniature. Beagles? No. Just...no. They don't just bark, they "bay." And they're stupid. And they chase cars. And they're super stubborn. Same with Bassett hounds. Just stay away from hounds. Schipperkes? Not recommended. They're smart, but they're also stubborn, bark a LOT, and can be dog aggressive. They're also herding dogs (see explanation on Aussies). Australian Sheep Dogs? No. Not with a toddler. All herding dogs have a instinctual tendency to nip. Especially small children. A small running child looks like a naked sheep that has cut away from the flock. They want to go get that sheep. They also herd. They'll herd other animals, children, whoever. And they are HIGH energy and need lots of running. Stay away from Border Collies for the same reason (we have a Border Collie, and she is wonderful, but our kids are 10 and 11. They can handle her antics and know her personality).

I suggest waiting a few years, then reevaluate your family's needs and wants. We would have never gotten our Border Collie mix when our kids were younger, but she's perfect for our family now. Super smart and trainable, but not for a house with toddlers/little kids.

If you DO decide to get a dog anyway, choose a breed KNOWN for being patient and understanding with small kids, like a GSD or Rottweiler (surprising, I know...but they will let a kid do pretty much anything to them, and are great babysitters). And be sure to properly socialize him with your child and cats to avoid issues like food aggression. Also, be sure to get him in obedience training, and KEEP training him. One 6 week course does not equal a trained dog. We have to spend time to keep up their training.

Best of luck.

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answers from Bloomington on

We have an Airedale mix & 2 1/2 yr old( & older kids). He is so great with our little guy. They are BFF 's . Our dog seems to cater his play with whatever kid , he is playing with. Rougher with the older ones & gentle & patient with the toddler.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would agree that you should get a dog from a shelter vs buying a dog from a breeder. Shelter dogs are some of the best dogs in the world.

Out of the breeds you mentioned, I only have a teeny bit of experience with Beagles. They need constant attention. If you aren't sure that you're going to stay home much longer I wouldn't get a Beagle.

My SIL and BIL had a Beagle (Along with other dogs). He got lonely when they went to work (Even though he had other puppy pals) and just wasn't happy with them. They eventually had to rehome him with a family where the mom was a SAHM and could be with him as much as he needed her to be.

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answers from San Francisco on

Go to petfinder.com and they have a tool you can use based on your family, lifestyle etc. to find the right breed, size etc. for you and your family. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

Good for you for doing some asking around before jumping into the dog pile! In the past 25 years, there's only been one period of about 14 months where I didn't have a dog. Love 'em!

We have mixed breeds and both our dogs are shelter pups. Our beagle/basset mix is adorable, stubborn, smart and is all nose and belly. He tolerates children, but isn't really a "kids" dog. Our shephard/boxer female is absolutely wonderful. She's the smartest, most sensitive dog I've ever known, though can be anxious. She's loyal and protective and has an easy presence. Like the beagle, she's OK with kids (in fact, she's better than he is). Still, for children and just wonderfulness, to me there's nothing like a lab. Goldens are close, but a lab is just that much better. They are both incredibly tolerant and patient with small kids (though kids still need to be taught how to be the leader, how to be respectful and how NOT to treat a dog!).

Please consider an older (2 y/o or older), especially since you've got a younger child. Our local shelter REQUIRES potential adopters to take a dog out for a walk if you're considering adopting and bring each member of the household to meet the dog first. It makes a big difference. Many years ago, we were considering a beige lab mix. He was great with my husband, with me and with our little kids (5 and 3 at the time). Interestingly, though, he obviously didn't like our young teens, to the point where he even snapped at one of them; we were right there and the girls didn't do anything wrong. As much as my husband and I loved him, it wasn't a risk we were willing to take.

Choose carefully. Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

mixed breed but still be concious of what's in him or her! adopt from a rescue organization of some sort.

more on the what not to do.....

weimaraners are fabulous but have unbelievable separation anxiety. I would never get one becauase I've known 4 or 5 and not one could be left alone, ever. one I knew managed to tear apart an airline kennel (yes, the super thick/hard plastic with the metal door!)

labs are fabulous after they're 4 years old. the puppy stage lasts long and hard. (and I've owned three lab mixes, so I clearly love the breed).

beagles are runners - not good with a little one who won't pay attention when he opens the door (that stage will last until your son is oh, 10, maybe older!)

herding breeds can be great family dogs but they tend to be very high energy and also tend to focus on the alpha, who is usually mom or dad, and ignore anyone else in the room.

boxers also have a rep as good family dogs. we had a boxer mix that was great, great with us. however, he was protective (with some fear aggression thrown in) and apparently that's typical of the breed that they're not great w/non-family members. he ended up biting a babysitter who was doing nothing (I was in an adjacent room) so we rehomed him.

Now for the positive:
standard poodles are wonderful.
cockapoos (cocker spaniel, poodle) also wonderful
we currently have a "hound mix" that looks beagle and a bunch of other things, acts standard poodle and we wouldn't trade her for anything.
the dog I had when we got married was a lab/greyhound - again fabulous w/ the kids (even as babies/toddlers) and wonderful, sweet dog. she did have a loooonnnng puppy stage but I was single and hiked/walked a ton.

so, where does that leave you?

decide on size, do a bunch of research, and troll petfinders.com for a rescue! be sure to do some research on what to look for when you're at the shelter too. I probably would've said no to the boxer mix we ended up rehoming if I'd done that. but since I'd lived with dogs all but maybe 2 years of my 43 years, I thought I knew what was I was doing!

good luck!

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answers from Boston on

My son and I used to walk (and play with) our neighbor's beagle for about a year until she moved out of state....Loved that dog and miss her terrbly...Best disposition...silly, friendly,playful, smart and curious -- nose sniffs EVERYTHING

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answers from Boca Raton on

We love our mini-schnoodle - at 10 pounds full grown she's 3/4 poodle and 1/4 schnauzer. She is the absolute best dog I've ever seen or had. Sweet, smart, loyal, patient, hearty (for a poodle) and she loves to go everywhere with us. She does not shed so she needs to be clipped about every month (my allergies can't handle shedding). Even people who can't stand poodles love her.

I do think you may want to wait until your child is a smidge older. That being said, some kids do just fine early.

I love golden-doodles too (heck I love just about any "doodle" dog) but it's a bit harder to tell early on which type of coat you'll end up with.

Good luck and I hope you find the perfect companion for your family!

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answers from Boston on

Please research what breads are best with little children. Also, make sure if you do get a puppy/ you get it durning the late spring so you can walk your dog and go out side. Living in New England I made the mistake of getting my dog in 7 below winter weather!!! Big Mistake! lol. Just be ready for your puppy. Its like having a newborn again!

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