APDT Member Advice on Choosing a Dog Breed

We asked our members what type of dog or dogs they own, why they choose their dogs, and what advice they have for potential dog owners. Here are some of their responses below:

I grew up with Irish Setters. Very nice dogs, good lucking, great temperament, but not necessarily a lot of drive or brain. Now that I have my own dogs I have an English Shepherd from a shelter and Border Collies (from breed rescue). I love herding breeds. Actually, any dog that is biddable, driven, and has energy is great! I like BCs because they want to work and are smart and have great energy. I also dislike them for the same reason 🙂 My English Shepherd sure is a sweetie, but he’s very sensitive and not as driven. That is him though. The breed is not as driven as BCs, but all of my dogs are wonderful. They all have their ‘issues’ we work on. If you’re looking at an ES, BC, or any herding breed. I’d keep in mind ‘high energy’ for these breeds is different than high energy for many other types of dogs. I’d make sure you have the time and willingness for exercise- physical and mental. Many people think throwing a ball for 30min is enough. It’s not enough physically and the dogs definitely need more mental stimulation than that and you need to make sure they have many ‘thinking’ opportunities throughout the day. I think herding dogs, especially BCs and PyrSheps, are absolutely wonderful, but make sure you research them and talk to current owners and hang out with some. Many people get the dogs for the ‘intelligence’ and/or looks/energy. They do not realize what they are getting into and how ‘high’ the intelligence and energy really is!

Meredith Biehl
Milwaukee, WI

We were dog-less for three years after we lost our 16 year old dachshund. We finally discussed getting a dog, but what breed? One of us wanted a Flat-Coated Retriever, and the other wanted a Rhodesian Ridgeback. After lots of research, we decided no to the Flat Coat when we found that there were no cancer free lines. We went to see a breeder in WA and met the Ridgebacks, liked the breeder, etc. We were going to get one of her dogs from the next litter. We got an email from the breeder saying that after the second try, she was unsuccessful at getting her dog pegnant. While we were sad about the news, we also took it as a sign that we were not meant to get a pure-bred dog.

We began a search. There were no puppies at the local pound, and we really wanted to start with a pup. We went to Pet-finder and started pouring through photos and stories, until we found the dog we had to have. The mother was trapped while running loose in the Yakima area, and sent to a rescue facility where Pancho was born. According to the photos he was expected to be a medium build shepherd mix, 35-40lbs. When we arrived to pick him up, we noticed he had double dew claws on his rear legs, and looked more like a Rottweiller.

He has since had two FHO surgeries as he was born with no real hip sockets. Weighing in at 63lbs at the age of three, he is good as new and having the time of his life and so are we!\

No dog comes with a guarantee. Decent breeders may take a dog back with issues such as we had, but what happens to the dog? So many dogs are homeless. We will soon adopt a pal for him and only consider dogs who need homes.

Hazel Reynolds
Juneau, AK

We have 2 Golden Retreivers in our home and have had GRs for the last 20 years. We prefer the breed for thier intelligence, trainability, personality, size, hardiness and overall fun demeanor. As a military family, we have traveled all over the world and taken our dogs with us. They thrive well so long as they are with their humans but I have seen an otherwise healthy GR fade away from lonliness because he was relegated to the back yard and a dog house despite having ample food, water and shelter. For us they are the ideal companions for staying at home or traveling to any location. They accompany us on hikes and camping trips and absolutley enrich our lives. Great with kids and older peple as well although they do have an exuberence that needs to be anticipated. I highly recommend the breed for those who have an active lifestyle that include pastimes the dog can participate with. Easy to train and an absolutely joyful companion. They do shed so there is an ongoing battle to keep the hairballs under control but its a small price to pay for a dog that so adores it’s humans.

Jack McCoy
Avondale, AZ

My name is Brenda Portugal. After having mostly German Shepherd dogs most of my life, I decided that I’d like to get An Austrailian shepherd. I’d seen several of them, knew of their herding skills, and as a girl raised on a ranch, I decided I might be very interested in the breed. I found an ad in the newspaper locally for some puppies in a town just about 50 miles away, and the price was right, because they weren’t registered. My husband drove to where the litter was, and of course fell in love with them, expecially the runt, who came to be our Gabby.

Now I must insert here that I have been a mail carrier for over 20 years, and that as I’ve gotten older, the many miles I walk each week had began to catch up with me. When I got the dog I was 46 years old. I just wish I’d read somewhere that you must walk the dog for at least an hour when it’s a pup and in training, just to get them calm enough to obedience train! By the time Gabby was even old enough to go to puppy obedience classes, she already knew more obedience commands than any of the dogs in the advanced classes. I did however, opt to remain in the class, as the socialization of a dog is so necessary. When she was about 3 years old, I actually purchased 3 sheep for her to herd, but that only lasted for a year, as I had a hard time learning the art of it also!

Now use Gabby in my private training, as she is the perfect dog for meeting and greeeting problem dogs. I also have a Chocolate Lab that is now 3, and is on his way to also becoming a great prospect for a training dog.

Just beware of the high-energy level of the Austrailian Shepherd.

Brenda Portugal
Laramie, WY

Portuguese Water Dogs (PWDs)are my dogs because of their boundless energy, their willingness to be with me all of the time, their sense of humor, and their intelligence. As an added bonus, PWDs are cute and shed minimally.

If you are considering getting a PWD, be sure that you can meet the following conditions:

  • Know how to live with a dog and be comfortable training a dog. This is not a good “first dog” breed.
  • Be comfortable being with your dog all the time. These dogs were bred to work with fishermen on the boats all day long, and they want to be with you as much as possible.
  • Be prepared for barking! These dogs were guard dogs, and they know how to do that job. They also have opinions that they just have to express!
  • Have time to work with your dog every day. A PWD craves exercise, needs training, and needs daily grooming to prevent its coat from matting.
  • Be active. These dogs need a minimum of 60 minutes of RUNNING every day. No couch potatoes here.
  • Show clear leadership. PWDs are intelligent and easily bored. They need to know the rules, and they need consistency in training. If they are not trained, they will happily run the household according to dog standards, not people standards.
  • Be comfortable paying to have your dog professionally groomed regularly. A trimmed coat will be easier to manage. If you have several hours every four to six weeks, the money for grooming equipment, and the interest, you can learn to trim your dog yourself.
  • Be prepared for a large purchase price. These dogs are expensive.
  • Supervise PWDs and kids at all times.

Barb Stanek
Oshkosh, WI

I have a Border Collie and Australian Shepherd and have decided, in the future to stick with the Aussies.

I would recommend Aussies to an average pet owner. A well-bred Aussie is usually very versatile and can settle into family life easily. Few of them develop aggression/fear problems. While they need to be brought up with good structure and adequately socialized, I have seen the typical Aussie temperament survive many drastic rearing mistakes and adapt well. They are pretty universally biddable. I would suggest that the average pet owner start with a female.

However, Aussies that come from strictly herding lines can be too much dog for the average pet owner.Those might, like Border Collies, be too herdy and nippy to do well in a home with someone who is not willing to keep them busy 24/7.

I most definitely would not recommend the Border Collie for the average pet home. They need to be busy pretty much all the time. That said, there are a lot of them about in pet homes that are very successful.

Nancy Frensley
Berkeley, CA

I love the look of the Siberian Husky, with their bright blue eyes and wolfish grins, but a lot of people are afraid of them for these very same reasons. I do not recommend this breed for a first time dog owner or the apartment or condo dweller. Huskies need a lot of exercise; they must RUN on a regular basis, leisurely walks, no matter how frequent, are not enough. You need access to a large fenced area for them to run in or be a runner yourself. Huskies tend to be very vocal animals, howling along with sirens in the middle of the night, as well as warbling and ?woo hooing? in conversation. I love to hear this, but your neighbors may not be as enchanted. Then there is the hair. Twice a year, their undercoat blows out, once in Spring and again in Fall. At that time you will have literally bushels of hair coming out in clumps and even with hours of brushing they will look neglected for a few weeks. If you want to make yarn or felt from dog hair, Huskies would definitely provide you with the base material! They love to dig dens and do best with doghouses without floors but with bales of bedding for them to dig through. They can be predatory towards cats and other small animals. However, if you can meet their needs, they make wonderful, loving pets that will bring you lots of joy and laughter.

The lab has his own pros and cons, but overall is a much easier dog to manage, train, and live with.

Mylinda Weeks
Cumming, GA

I have 2 dogs: Asher a 3 years old Sheltie and Levi and 2 year old Hovawart. I chose the Sheltie because we lived in a place with size/weight restrictions so I needed a dog under 30 lbs that was smart, athletic, and fun lowing. I chose Levi because Asher and I both fell in love with his sweet, mellow personality and good manners (his handsome face didn’t hurt either). I wanted our second dog to be a calming influence on my high drive boy, Asher and Levi is definitely that. I would only recommend a high drive Sheltie like Asher for someone with the time, patience, and high drive of their own to succeed with such a dog using dog friendly training methods. Shelties are ONLY appropriate for people who can handle their grooming, mental/physical exercise needs and enthusiasm for barking. I am “high drive” so Asher is fine for me, but would have ended up in a shelter if he had been owned by a less conscientious person.

Hovawarts, like Rottweilers, are not for everyone. They are great for active persons or families who like to bring their dog hiking, swimming, or running with them. Although natural guardians, they should not be stuck in a back yard by themselves and they only respond to dog friendly training so don’t try to do any old school “alpha” or “dominance” displays with them or you will have an unhappy, unwilling dog on your side. I would only recommend a Sheltie or Hovawart to a person(s) who could meet the needs of the respective breed.

Mary Atleson
San Leandro, CA

The most recent addition to our family is “Q,” a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier. We chose to rescue a pit bull because I believe that this is a very misunderstood breed, and I wanted to show that pit bulls can be obedient, loyal, and loving companions. Q was found at approximately five months old, chained to a tree at an abandoned house with no food, water, or shelter . Although he had already been neglected and abused at such a young age, he never lost his loving spirit and desire for human companionship. He greeted his rescuers with a wagging tail and lots of kisses. Q has adjusted quite well to his new family–four humans, three cats, a bullmastiff, a pug, and a Chihuahua. He has been with us for only a short time, he is now not quite a year old. However, he has quickly learned to be a well-mannered pup. Pit bulls are very intelligent and spirited, and make very good pets for people willing to invest the time to train them well. However, I would not recommend this breed to someone who wants to exploit its reputation as a “dangerous” dog, or anyone who is not willing to invest the time and energy to train and care for a very active and strong-willed breed.

Stacey Suazo
Lake Jackson, TX

I have an Australian Blue Cattle Dog (Merlin)and chose the breed because they love to work and they are such characters. I was trialling at the time. I would not reccommend this breed for suburban homes or people who go out to work a lot, as they need lots of exercise mentally as well as physically. They tend to bark a lot and will invent their own amusements that you may not appreciate. E.g. I was woken up at 3.00 am hearing a loud banging noise every so often from the back of the house. On investigation I found that Merlin had discovered the retractable hose that was attached to the house and was grabbing it in his jaws, running up the yard to the full extent of the hose. Then letting go and chasing it back to the house. Whilst funny we had to remove the hose so we could sleep through the night. If you are after a dog that you want to use on a farm or for putting through his paces in the dog trial or agility ring then he’s your dog. Aussie Cattle Dogs love to work and interact with you. They are such fun loving characters and need to be socialised and trained at an early age. Puppy class is essential for the new owner otherwise they will find themselves getting frustrated with their bundle of furry energy. I adore my dog and wouldn’t give him up for quids, but unless I move to a large property and change to part time work I probably wouldn’t get another one as I no longer do trialling and I don’t think it is fair to the breed.

Sandy Lack

One of my four dogs is an Australian Shepherd (working lines). This breed is smart, versatile, and biddable, but not necessarily good for the average pet home. Aussies have “strong herding and guarding instinct,” and despite really conscientious socialization, sometimes genetics creep in and give you a dog that is not everyone’s friend. Most pet owners do best with a more gregarious, less intense dog. Aussies can be quite reserved with strangers, and protective of possessions, property and family. Their herding instinct makes it likely that they may attempt to herd you, the vacuum cleaner, cats, kids, empty soda bottles, etc. That drive is what makes them excel at working livestock, and at various dog sports, but it also often lands them at the local shelter.

If you are a savvy owner, can manage a highly intelligent dog with the need to have a “job,” and are committed to giving your dog sufficient training, as well as ongoing physical and mental stimulation, have older, or dog savvy kids, and a safely fenced area for the dog to run, the Aussie can make a faithful, fun companion for a family. Aussies tend to like their whole family, and are not as apt as some of the herding breeds to choose one human to the exclusion of the rest. They want to be with you, so if you don’t like a dog that follows you around, or lies in doorways so that you can’t “escape” without notice, this is not the dog for you. Aussie owners have a saying…”I asked God for a friend – He sent me an Australian Shepherd.”

Anne Springer
Ipswich, MA

My 11 year old dog is a Maltese. I chose him before I studied to become a dog trainer. I still think I did a pretty good job making a good match. In hindsight, I realize that the list of desired characteristics for my new dog contained not only physical attributes but also learned behaviors that were not breed-dependent!

The physical attributes of Maltese which appeal to me most are:

  • general appearance (I think they are beautiful, puppy cut or not)
  • they don’t drool
  • they need daily brushing, which I love to do
  • they are delicate and need protection from lots of things (heat, cold, small children, wild animals, etc.)
  • Maltese are small enough to fly in the cabin of an airplane
  • a Maltese is sturdy enough to play with other small dogs and participate in agility (assuming strong knees) but is not so demanding of exercise that a day or two indoors creates behavior problems.

I would recommend a Maltese to people who do not have small children. I would avoid large dogs as housemates (due to the risk of predatory drift). The happiest Maltese people I know have been adult-only households in which everyone is really devoted to their little dog. They love going to the groomer. They love taking their dog on vacation. They go to hotels rather than camp. The idea of dressing their dog in a warm coat is ok with them. In fact, they love it!

At the same time I want to encourage people to understand that dogs are not human babies. We need to educate them in ways they can understand. Read Jean Donaldson’s The Culture Clash. Learn to select a breeder from Dr. Ian Dunbar. Then go find your Maltese!

Diane Podolsky

White Plains, NY

I have a German Shepherd, I chose this breed of dog because of the energy and willingness to want to work. Our bond is inseparable. We train, walk and swim everyday and attend agility classes once a week.

I would only recommend this kind of breed to somone who does not have a sedentary lifesyle is prepared to have a strong alpha leadership, as these dogs can sometimes be very head strong. This is an active breed who loves to work. If bored and not challenged enough, these dogs can be very distructive. Training is essential. However, owning a german shepherd can also be very rewarding. They are very loyal and intelligent. If trained and properly socialized these dogs can make wonderful family companions as well as being involved in many different competitions. This is a herding breed with a natural instinct to want to “herd” everything.

Catherine Lelah
Woodland Hills, CA

I am owned by three shelties. I have to admit the first one wasn’t my idea, but my husband’s. He brought her home and it took me three days to realize this was the breed for me! I had never had such a small dog or such an intelligent dog. She made me think and challenged me in wonderful ways everyday. Today I compete in obedience, rally, agility and sheep and duck herding and two do pet therapy and one is a service dog.

These dogs are workers, they need a job but unlike other breeds, they do have an off switch. The biggest complaint I hear from owners about this breed is that they bark. A bored sheltie will bark and bark and bark. They don’t need to work as much as mine do (I have to admit I love to see what all they can learn)but they need to do something or they get their own ideas – bark at a bird, bark at a car, bark at a noise etc… So even though they do snuggle, they are not lap dogs.

I think these dogs are beautiful and love to brush them. If a lot of brushing and hair in the house is not acceptable, then look for another breed. The males and darker coats have LOTS of hair. Shelties should never be shaved so either visit the groomer often or brush several times a week.

Lastly these dogs are very loyal and want to please their human. No harsh corrections please – it’s enough for a Sheltie to know he disappointed his owner. Shelties are playful, fun, loving and intelligent creatures so if you have the time and energy to train or work your dogs to do anything and deal with a bit of barking and lots of hair this could be the perfect dog for you.

Dawn Thomason
Deerfield Beach, FL

One Basenji and one “pound puppy” (possibly Papillion/Cocker/Corgi mix). Having had strictly Basenjis for over 20 years, our pound puppy is the first non-Basenji we have had. He was on his last day at the shelter and someone posted his photo on Craigslist. All of our Basenjis have been from the local Basenji rescue.

I would recommend Basenjis to people only if they have done some research on the breed and its particular quirks. They are not a dog for everyone but we love them and wouldn’t hesitate to adopt others.

Of course I would recommend adopting a dog from the pound but people should go with a good idea of the type of dog that would best suit their lifestyle and not adopt just because they like the look of a particular dog.

Jenifer Parker
Pasadena, CA

I have 2 cocker spaniels and a neapolitan mastiff. I chose the first cocker because I had a great experience owning a cocker prior to becoming a trainer. The second cocker chose me, she was a stray. I chose the neo because of her sweet tempermant, sad face and honestly I wanted to make up for her miserable life prior to coming to the shelter. She lived locked in a bathroom with another mastiff.

I would recommend cocker spaniels to the majority of dog owners. They can be very sweet tempered and tolerant. Cockers do not have a huge exercise requirement and are generally easy keepers except for grooming and ears. Cockers tend to be dog and child tolerant even without early socialization. They are very trainable because of their food motivation although not so intelligent that you have to go overboard with training. I can take my cockers anywhere they are great travelers and easy going companions.

Neapolitan Mastiffs are a different story..I would not recommend this dog unless you are an experienced dog owner that is confident and will consistently set boundaries. A large house helps as my dog at least will step on bare feet and block doorways with her bulk. Neos quickly become protective of their “property” and fences are a must (not invisible); I pity the dogs that trespasses on a neo’s property. If you are a neat freak forget a neo, drooling is part of the package; shiny spots everywhere… pant legs, couches, and windows and seats in the car.. Overall my neo is a bit of a tarzan, but a sweet clown. She loves her hugs and is the best wrinkled grey beastie a girl could own!!! Picture Sadie 8y, Khloe 6m

Heidi Dascoli
Rehoboth, MA

We adopted Hemi, a Pomeranian at just about a year old. He is not entirely representative of the breed as he was abused and came to us with a lot of issues. That being said, he is a pure Pom and has basic traits. When we got Hemi, we were not really looking for another dog; but I was interested in training a small dog as our others are large and I wanted to be able to address the specific needs of the small dog owner in the classes we teach.

I would definitely own another Pom and would recommend them to certain households. A pom is a fun loving little dog with a lot of energy, they make a great companion and love to sit on your lap and snuggle at nights, they are fairly easy to train and very smart. On the other hand, I feel little dogs in general have a much harder time with children, especially small ones, and would not recommend them for homes with kids. They do not enjoy being chased or grabbed and are likely to strike out if grabbed too often. Hemi does not like to be carried around like a doll. He also has a LOT of coat, meaning it takes a lot of brushing to care for him. I sit and brush him while watching TV almost every night and he still has problems with mats in his fur. A small dog has a smaller bladder and needs to be let out more often but they do not have large space requirements either and are good for small homes. This does not mean they don?t need exercise; Hemi loves to hike in the woods, swim in our pond and compete in agility. They do tend to bark a lot, we call Hemi the king of false alarms. Poms make a great pet, as long as you aren?t looking for a couch potato or a child’s toy!

We love Australian Shepherds, obviously, as we have three and are looking for a fourth. Aussies are beautiful, smart, fast and fun. They have boundless energy and are workaholics which are a great fit into our agility oriented household. We live on 120 acres giving them plenty of running, playing and swimming room. If you are active and like to do things with your dog, an Aussie would be great for you. They are highly trainable making them excel at agility, obedience and herding among other sports; most Aussie owners say their dogs are smarter than their humans. If you like to watch movies and lie around, please find another dog. Aussies like to be busy, they need to have a job, if you don?t give one to them, they will make up their own and it is almost guaranteed to be something you won?t appreciate!

Our Aussies have beautiful thick coats; although the coat is not hard to take care of they require brushing on a regular basis as they do shed a lot. I think they are a nice sized dog to have, not so small that they are tough for children but not so large that they have significant space requirements. A decent sized fenced in yard would be desired, especially if you are not working them enough. Their temperament is well suited to children although they do have a tendency to herd and may be reactive to running and loud noises. An Aussie takes a special kind of owner, one that has the time and desire to work with them; but if you are that type of person, you have an awesome companion in an Aussie.

Ah, the Golden, sweet, gentle, obedient, kind and faithful; all adjectives that describe the Golden and our Ciara in particular. The Golden Retriever makes a wonderful companion for the young and old alike. They are great with children and wonderful with the elderly. Our Ciara is such a people loving dog and is a joy to have around; we got her because we lost our old golden and wanted another. We also joke that in a house full of Aussies, our Golden is a calming influence.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a Golden isn?t a couch potato. A young Golden has a lot of energy, another saying is they don’t grow up until they are about five, so expect to put in the time to train and exercise this lovely dog. Ciara participates in obedience, agility and dock diving along with loads of hiking, playing ball and swimming. She loves to get wet and dirty, so expect to have to take care of that long flowing coat and remember, it also sheds a lot. Also, a Golden tail can be a liability to your coffee table and you might want to watch it around young children.

A Golden is a relatively easy keep and for its size does not require huge amounts of food or an extremely large backyard, but they do need their exercise, both mental and physical. Unfortunately cancer has become a huge cause of deaths in Golden Retrievers, so, as with any other breed, make sure to get your dog from a reputable breeder who does not continue a cancer prone line. If you are looking for a wonderful companion to enjoy the great outdoors with, a watchful companion for your kids or a versatile dog that can compete in many different sports, a Golden is the dog for you.

Susan Thompsn
Monroeton, PA

I share my home with two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retrievers. I chose this breed because we wanted an active family pet that would be involved in our family activities such as hiking and camping and swimming and long walks. I also wanted a dog that would be a partner in training. I love training my dogs and Tollers enjoy learning new things, they excel in obedience, agility, rally-o and hunting. My dogs also enjoy the frisbee and swimming. Tollers are VERY active. They are also smart and this combo can be dangerous unless owners are prepared to deal with spending a lot of time exercising (beyond a daily walk) their dogs physically as well as mentally. Tollers are retrievers and retrievers want to be where the rest of the family is, they are bread to work closely with people, so interaction with this breed is crucial. They are to be a part of the family, and if not exercised properly, they can become very destructive. Also, while they are smaller than the other retrievers, they are more active than labs and goldens. They need an outlet daily, be it swimming, retrieving, jogging or hunting, as well as mental stimulation in the form of training or puzzle toys. When people want to know if the toller is right for them I always begin with talking about how much exercise they need, if they are still interested, we continue. They shed heavily only twice a year, they are tolerant with children, and with proper socialization, they can be very friendly toward friendly strangers. They love to play and are very affectionate to their family members.

Sarah Grimm
Chelsea, MI

I have Newfoundlands (3 presently & 3 previously) and have had them since 1986. My 6 yr old male is my fourth generation, descended from my first bitch. He passed his Canine Good Citizen test at 8 months old, which is fairly indicative of the breed…trainable (27 titles on my dogs in 6 disciplines to date), calm, gentle & sweet. The AKC’s description of the breeds’ disposition states:”Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the breed & the single most important characteristic”. They are also protective when necessary, not when un-necessary!

The calm dispostion & manageable energy level is a real plus for me & for many pet owners. Low prey drive is a huge plus, most are reliable w/ small animals.

Newfs are legendary with children….Nana in Peter Pan was a Newf. They are natural baby-sitters & adore children, even if not raised with them. Most Newfs are super friendly with all types of people & dogs.

Drawbacks are many, too: Giant breeds represent additional health concerns, very costly dogs to keep, need better than average care for feeding, grooming, vet care, supplements, etc. Large size dictates they must be trained well! You must have a vehicle to accomodate a Newf. They are messy, lots of shedding, carry in dirt & leaves, etc in their feathers, drooly (some more than others!), love to get in water (from puddles to toilet bowls, to koi ponds & swimming pools!) Puppies must be raised very carefully to avoid health problems in the future. Adults & elders need special care to give them a full life. Mine have all lived to 12 or 13 years.

Check out ncnc.org or newfdogclub.org for more information on Newfs.

We just adopted a 2nd dog, a bullie mix 60 lbs. I wanted another therapy dog and found first hand that raising a puppy to do that work isn’t the way to go. I found an excellent qualified rescue group who knew bullies inside and out and filled out an extensive application outlining qualities the dog MUST have, and qualities it cannot have, and PS, it needs to have excellent communications skills, both giving and receiving. And, I’d seen this rescue’s dogs come through therapy evaluation with excellent results each time.

They found just the dog for us and this type of work, and he fits beautifully into our family. I selected this type of dog because 1) there’s more of them in rescue than any other type of dog and included mixes, which means my pool to draw valid candidates from is large, and 2) their genetics and temperment are very people-focused, happy to work, very biddable.

I would recommend looking at a bullie mix for almost anyone, based on their needs and having the right dog selected for them (not they selecting the dog!). Stop looking at the package and look at the qualities needed in a family dog or pet. Narrow it down only to upkeep issues like coat (short and minimal grooming), size (they come in all sizes) and pick one that is old enough to have a “set” temperment. And, be sure you’re dealing with a rescue that has THIS dog’s best interest at heart, not just getting another dog out the door. And for gosh sakes, go to training! I know, preaching to the choir!

Jackie Gunby
Fair Oaks, CA

I am proudly owned by several English Springer Spaniels. Would i recommend them to others – too right!

They are friendly, realatively easy to train, and generally relate well to other dogs and people.

They are a moderate sized dog, large enough to join with the rough and tumble of family life, but not too big for the average car.

They will be as active as you want to be, they don’t demand attention and distraction. If you want to chill on the sofa – they’ll be there; but if you want to go walking and jogging – they are just as happy.

Coat care is not huge, and combing out in front of the TV can be a great boding exercise. In 26 years and with numerous dogs, i have never had ear problems, a quick clean on a fortnightly basis – and keeping the hair short under the ear – seems to have this under control.

In short a great family dog, adaptable to large properties or inner city pocket hanky gardens – as long as they get reasonable walks and lots of loving.

Jan Waite
Sunbury, N/A

I adopted a 2-3 year old Corgi-Terrier mix 2 1/2 years ago from the Cumberland County SPCA in Southern Jersey. He is one of the sweetest dogs my husband and I ever shared our home with. “Hoffman” (named by the shelter)is very quiet. He is friendly with all people and dogs. His favorite activities are sleeping, going for short walks everyday, chewing his bone and being petted. He takes low energy to a new level. My husband, who is 75, adores him because he lays at his feet most of the day and doesn’t demand his attention. He’s perfect for me because I work all day and do not have to worry that he’s home bored from lack of activity.

I did have to do some training with my little rescue dog. He used to jump up on people to greet them, so we taught him to sit politely for all greetings. He pulled a little too hard when I took him for walks, so he now knows to walk on a loose leash by my side. He also did not come when we called him. We played lots of fun games with him to get him to come to us for treats, and now he runs to us even when we do not have a treat to give him. Our dog was very afraid of all the TV sets in our house. It took about a month to get him over that. Now he sits with us in the evening while we all watch our favorite TV programs.

I would recommend this type of low-energy dog to anyone who is not interested in or physically able to provide a lot of exercise everyday. Any senior citizen who wants to have a calm, well behaved companion pet would do well with a dog like “Hoffman.” He is proof that you can find a perfect companion pet right inside your local shelter.

Renee Premaza
Berlin, NJ

To whomever it may concern,

I am a 10 year old Border Collie and I am writing this letter on the notion that others were interested in what type of dog to ?get? (Whatever that means). In my opinion Border Collies are a shoe-in for anybody wanting another full time job on top of your boring 9-5 routine.

The first 9 years, I spent my days on twice daily 50 minute walks in the neighborhood and nightly visits with the family horse. Trips in the car were an everyday occurrence, since usually we were going somewhere for me anyhow. I was almost like an adolescent human; agility practice, then obedience class, then prep work for the CGC. Top quality food and dozens (okay hundreds) of toys were a small price to pay for my unyielding devotion. (a.k.a. I will cuddle with you assuming there are no balls, squirrels, treats, sheep, other dogs, ect. in the nearby vicinity.) Ah, those were the days.

However, recently my human has brought her own pup into the world and so there?s been less time for me. I?m a bit older now and so 30 minute walks do suffice my needs?but I will just say I?m glad this new human pup didn?t show up any sooner!

Hope this helps anybody who is thinking of “getting” (strange thought) a Border Collie!


Sir Max

(Kama Preston
Ballwin, MO)

Dogs should never be an impulse purchase! Family chose them when I was a child, and the first dog I remember was an absolute love of a Collie, farm dog type. After that was a series of hunting breeds my Dad used for birding.

As an adult I wound up with dogs by chance. At forty I was finally in the position to actually choose a dog! He was my #7 dog, and he was a lucky seven, but not by chance. I got a book on the subject of choosing the perfect puppy, & studied it. I narrowed it down according to the suitability of breed types to our lifestyle, and of course, to the ones that appealed to me. When I had three breeds in mind, I visited three breeders. (Collie, Aussie, and Sheltie) I wanted a fun to train, interactive and playful pal. The dog would need to get along well with my extended family, nieces and nephews and their dogs.

The Collies were much larger than the one we had as kids (show types as opposed to farm types) and the breeder said they were couch potatoes. The long coats did not bother me, I was prepared to do the work to keep them looking beautiful. The Aussies were sweet and a definite possibility, but the Shelties won. Although they were quite similar in temperament, the looks of the Shelties struck me as a bit more elegant and Collie like. I took the breeder’s advice and we got a male pup, even though I thought I’d want a female. Turns out the males are more loyal, so listen to the breeder! My #7 dog will be “the one” no other dog will ever match, if I live long enough to own 7 more.

After #7, #8 & 9 are also Shelties, one from the same breeder, one from rescue. One caveat: they have a lot to say!

Elizabeth Stroter
Highland, NY

We have 3 dogs at this time. Our Boxer Budee passed away 3 months ago (cancer in the spinal cord) at age 9 years. He was a dog my daughter had gotten at 7 weeks from a backyard breeder. She could no longer keep him and my husband and I took him into our home at 5 months. He has his CD & Rally Excellence title. My second dog is a 2 year old Min Pin whom we named Jiminee Cricket. He was a foster from the San Clemente/Dana Point shelter were I volunteer. He was 8 weeks (guess) old when he was brought to the shelter. A young man bought him for his girlfriend and she did not want him. Jiminee Cricket is a foster failure. He is working Obedience, Agility and has passed his CGC and Therapy dog certification. He is my demo dog. Our next dog was another of my daughters (they never listen) from a pet store. She kept Dante a large Yorkie for over 3 years. No one had time for him, so my husband brought him home last Christmas. He has his CGC and is working on Therapy dog. Our newest is a foster failure (no more fosters for me, yeah!) She is a beautiful Boxer female about one year of age that has been with us since July 8th 09. Her former owner was badly injured while riding on the back of a motorcycle. The man that hit the motorcycle took off with her head through his windshield and drove for 5 miles before abandoning his car. Sadee (new name) is doing wonderfully in our pack and I hope to find her passion and build on it. By the way her former owner, a 20 year old young lady is in rehab with her parents in RI and is doing well.

Esther Horn
Dana Point, CA

I have a toy poodle. We initially got the dog for my daughter whose priorities were small and cute. Keeping that in mind, but also wanting a smart, active and not too delicate dog we settled on the toy poodle. As the active life of a teenager is not really conducive to bonding with a puppy, the dog has since become “mine” and I could not be happier about that. She is so smart and trainable. I have taken her to several obedience and rally classes and we are currently taking agility classes. I haven’t competed with her yet, but am considering it. The no shedding is just a bonus – she is a great dog. I highly recommend a toy poodle for someone with limited space that wants a smart, active dog. They bring a lot of personality in a small package!

Robin Comstock
Stockton, CA

I have a 4 year old Labradoodle. When it came time for me to choose a new dog, I did an internet search looking for Labradors for adoption. One of the links that came up said “Labradoodles”. Since I had no clue what breed this was, I did some research and found that Labradoodles were originally developed in Australia and intended as working dogs for individuals with handicaps who needed canine assistance but who also had dog allergies. Intrigued, I contacted a local breeder and made an appointment to discuss the breed from their experience, typical behavior issues and to meet some dogs 1st hand. I was sold and decided this breed would work for me.

Would I recommend Labradoodles to people? Yes, I regularly do BUT they are not for everybody. Labradoodles are very energetic, springy (code for love to jump up), and very intelligent social animals. This means that if not well exercised (running, frisbee chasing, structured activities) they will find their own entertainment. They also require considerable grooming time.

The good news is Labradoodles are very trainable and love to play games, learn new things and explore new places, when properly socialized as puppies they are great with children and strangers and LOVE attention. It’s not uncommon to find Labradoodles as Therapy dogs because of their friendly, social nature.

The best home for a Labradoodle is one with an active life style and time to devote to their dog as Labradoodles don’t care to be left alone but do love to go out and about to meet new people and explore new places.

Shelly Keel
Magalia, CA

2 male Rottweilers, have had Rotts for 30+ years, just love the breed. Also have a small 7# terrier mix. Don’t recommend the Rotts to too many people, they are a tough breed and will seek the upper hand if they aren’t given proper training (that doesn’t mean one class). They are a large muscular breed and through no choice of theirs have a bad reputation. Nope, don’t recommend them very often!

Barbara De Groodt
Salinas, CA