The dog days of summer

By Mir
July 28, 2009

Having been married now for just over two years, I’ve finally worn Otto down with my winning ways, my wit, my charm, my irresistible smile, and—most importantly—my whining.

We’re getting a dog.

There are those who’ve known me a long time, and who know that in My Former Life™ I had a Very Bad Dog and, in fact, sent him away in a move that was deemed by my ex-husband to be the final nail in my I’m Such A Monster coffin. I was accused of hating animals and being uncaring. The reality is that I love animals, but our former dog was a neurotic mess, and as I was already somewhat overwhelmed with the two small (at the time) neurotic messes to whom I’d given birth, I couldn’t handle the dog, as well.

He went to a farm and lived out the rest of his life a lot happier, I think. Though his life was sadly cut short, and I still sometimes feel guilty about it.

I tell you this to demonstrate why I am now paralyzed with fear.

I want another dog. I work from home and most days, I’m here all day by myself. Dogs are excellent company and good foot-warmers. Chickadee has recently decided she might like to become a vet when she grows up. Monkey loves animals and is the kind of kid who simply can’t have too much unconditional adoration at his disposal. On the rare occasions when Otto goes out of town, I would feel more comfortable having a dog in the house in case someone decides it might be a good idea to break in and steal… ummm… our 10-year-old television.

What I learned from having Huckleberry, though, is that breed is everything. We unwittingly adopted a “working breed” and he was a poor fit for our family from the get-go. We used to joke that if only we could bring home a herd of sheep for him, he’d probably be fine. Now I know, at least, that I don’t want a high-energy working breed. Or a breed known for barking (hello, beagles).

Other requirements include:
* Monkey and I are actually allergic to fur, so we’re looking only at hair breeds (and mixes).
* I do not want a dog that barks and barks and barks.
* I want a dog smart enough to obey but not so smart that it chooses not to.
* I want neither a tiny yappy dog nor a giant dog who eats more than the kids.
* A dog who’d be equally happy laying around while I work and running around with the kids (or going on brisk walks with me) would be perfect.
* I have no interest whatsoever in rearing a puppy.

Right now I’m spending a lot of time on Petfinder, searching local rescues and shelters, looking for a 2-3 year old Schnauzer or Poodle mix. I’m still not sure what to look for when we start going out to meet dogs, though. Huckleberry seemed perfectly calm and sweet when we met him. How can you tell what a dog is REALLY like in a shelter setting or on a visit at an adoption day event?

I keep telling Otto: In some ways, I feel very Zen about it all. I believe I’ll KNOW our dog when I meet him/her. But I also feel pretty inexperienced with the whole thing. And I’m also fearful that the kids will fall in love with the first dog we see, and then I’ll be the one explaining (over and over) that we have to find the RIGHT dog, even though I’m guessing just as much as they are.

Also, if I get a rotten dog, I will never hear the end of it from Otto. He’s cute when he’s self-righteous, but still. I’d really like for this to be a successful family experience for all of us.

So. Anyone with more animal experience want to throw some tips my way?


  1. Nancy R

    Cesar is THE MAN, in my opinion…although it should be noted that I don’t have a dog. He’s covered what to look for when choosing a shelter/rescue dog (and the steps to follow when introducing them to your home) on his show before, but I’m sure I won’t recall them correctly. He’s got DVD’s and books though!

  2. Burgh Baby

    Ignore any statements that I have made regarding Cody destroying anything that was once a tree. Also ignore the fact that he’s still not fully housebroken (which is, in great part, our fault). Havanese? Incredibly wonderful dogs. They enjoy every form of “love” a kid can come up with, are smart enough to train to do about anything, and are hypo-allergenic pups who don’t shed. And by “don’t shed” I mean you can barely rip a piece of fur off of them. I would love that dog with every ounce of my being, if he would quit eating furniture and peeing on my carpet. *ahem*

  3. Leandra

    Maybe you could go on a look-see to check out the dog and only invite the kidlets along when you think you’ve found THE dog.

    And is there something wrong with me that I didn’t know that some dogs have hair and some have fur? And oh, if only the same were true for cats because then WE could get a cat and not one of those frightening looking hairless kinds.

    And beagles? Just, no. Not only do they bark, they also HOWL. Loudly. Nightly.

  4. Ani

    Schnauzers are lovable, smart (well the females are anyway, the males we’ve had were idiot-savant-ish), and great with kids, very loyal family pets. BUT! They have lots of weird skin stuff going on, and when older, they SMELL. And they are very talkative…not in a yap yap sort of way but in a bow-wow conversation sort of way.

  5. Heidi

    Maybe you could test potential adoptees by falling down as if you were injured?

    A jokie from Reader’s Digest:

    At a workshop on dog temperament, the instructor noted that a test for a canine’s disposition was for an owner to fall down and act hurt. A dog with poor temperament would try to bite the person, whereas a good dog would lick his owner’s face or show concern.

    Once, while eating pizza in the living room, I decided to try out this theory on my two dogs. I stood up, clutched my heart, let out a scream and collapsed on the floor.

    The dogs looked at me, glanced at each other and raced to the coffee table for my pizza.

  6. Randi

    We’ve got three dogs – 2 malamutes and 1 husky mix. Our husky/mix is the BEST and, should I ever get another dog, I will be getting an Australian Shepherd/collie mix, which is part of what Duke is. Duke’s mother is Australian Shepherd/Collie and seriously is the best. He’s gentle with the kids, as happy running around with us as he is curling up with us to watch a movie. He’s actually even protective OF the kids. He’s NEVER bitten anyone and wants to do everything he can to make us happy (as opposed to the Mals who only want to make THEMSELVES happy – but they’ll wash the car for you if you have a biscuit!).

    We love training dogs and so far all of the dogs we’ve trained, and helped friends to train (using many of Cesar’s methods) are wonderful, gentle and well-adjusted dogs. Don’t get me started or I’ll have TONS of tips!! LOL

  7. BethRD

    We’re basically looking for the same dog, so if you find yours and he/she has a sibling call us!

    We had a couple of dog adoption misfires early this year so I know a bit about what NOT to do. I think if you’re looking for a specific personality type it might be better to adopt from a rescue or at the very least a shelter that does personality testing, because they know their dogs better and they often have had a chance to observe them in a more normal setting like a house. Our first adoption attempt was from a very basic shelter, and she turned out to be deathly afraid of us when we got her home, even though she had seemed fine in the shelter. Some dogs will shut down in a shelter environment and seem very calm when in fact they’re just overwhelmed. Our second was a foster dog who had only been out of a shelter for a few days. He was a great dog as long as we were with him every second, but he had severe separation anxiety and would do things like throw himself off our deck (10+ feet off the ground) if we tried to leave him behind when we went anywhere. In both cases, if the dog had been living in a foster home before we met him/her they would have known about the issues we saw. I’m not sorry we took either one of them because they both found safe homes elsewhere, but we didn’t wind up with a dog of our own and it was kind of hard on all of us.

    My dream dog is a basset/poodle mix since I love both breeds, but they’re hard to find; poodle mixes in general are in hot demand because of the low-allergen angle. I hope you find what you’re looking for!

  8. dcfullest

    I have learned the hard way: the smaller the dog the harder they are to permanently house train. Just adding that to your selection process.

    And now you know why our new house has hardwood floors and how much I despise carpet.

  9. Lindy

    We have a boxer. They are WONDERFUL family dogs and great companions. Big, but not freaking huge, and they absolutely love children. They are very patient and sweet but very energetic, very smart and they are very protective of family. Not in that crazy yappy dog way though. Just a little stubborn. And in Georgia heat, they have to be indoor dogs (though they love playing outside). They don’t shed much, aren’t big droolers (except after they drink out the water bowl, which gets everywhere), and she rarely barks. She was easier than I expected to train. She’s got almost too much personality to handle and she’s spoiled rotten because she will never outgrown that puppy dog face, but Rosie is the best dog I could have asked for. The only downside… the dog farts are deadly.

  10. Lindy

    We always had Rottweilers and pitbulls growing up, also very wonderful very sweet choices. They get a bad rap from this blasted media!

  11. Wendy

    We JUST got a puppy four weeks ago. A labradoodle. I HIGHLY recommend them. We have known many and I have yet to meet one I did not think was a great dog. They are smart (part poodle) and fun (part lab) but not nutty. And hypoallegenic. Some are breed lab to poodle, some labradoodle to labradoodle, but ours is breed labradoodle to poodle, so even more hypoallergenic. We did go with the puppy and I can tell you, she is great and smart! so the house training has been no big deal. Really. But I know there are some websites out there that post rescue labradoodles if a puppy is out of the question. Good luck!

    Oh, and I had a miniature schnauzer growing up. I don’t recommend it. (No offense to anyone other there who has one.) I don’t think they are the most friendly.

  12. Peggy

    go for a mutt. I only get Used Dogs because so many are out there. I’d go for a lab mix (mixed with something smaller!) because they are so sweet. Or a Golden. Huge but very serene personality.

  13. Tracy

    We have 2 papillons in which I wouldn’t trade for the world. They are about 5-10 lbs. and have long hair but don’t shed to terribly bad as long as you keep them brushed. They are the smartest dogs we’ve ever had and I’ve had all kinds. Boxers, poodles, labs and mutts. I adore mutt dogs as well. I would suggest taking the kids to the animal shelter for a visit…and stress visit firmly. Believe me, you’ll know which one is the RIGHT one the minute you lay eyes on him/her.
    Of course you know, anyone you ask will say their pet is the best…I’m no different except one thing…papillons are not great with kids but your kids are older so it wouldn’t be a problem. They are almost human (in my eyes anyway). The thing with small dogs, they make small messes. Both of my babies were easier to house break than any other dog I’ve ever had. I think it’s because they are smarter. lol Good luck and I can’t wait to read all about your new family member.

  14. Grace

    Yay! Someone has a question on something I actually know a bit about!

    The first thing I recommend is to try to adopt from a rescue, rather than a shelter. In a rescue, the dog will have been living in a home with a foster family, rather than in an institutional setting. This will allow the foster family to give you a lot more information about the dog’s actual temperment than would otherwise be available.

    It will also give you a trial period. For most rescues, there is a one-two week trial, during which the dog comes and lives with you, but if it doesn’t work out, s/he goes back to the foster. Since you are unsure, and have had a previous bad experience, that might be really helpful for you.

    My second piece of advice is to go slow. You already have a good idea of what you’re looking for, broadly speaking: low-shedding breeds, young but not a puppy, etc. Wait until you find that dog. Do not fall in love with a dog that is NOT that dog and then hope it works out. Some of us (those without kids and a lot of other responsibilities, mainly) can make that work, but if it’s not something you are in a position to do, don’t force it. On that note, if I were you, I’d meet the dogs myself before introducing the kids. Once they come into it, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for you to make a rationale decision, you know?

    I’d expand/change your breed choices a bit. A poodle and schnauzer mixes are definitly a good start, but neither of them were the first breeds I thought of when I looked at your list of wants. My first thought was Greyhound (depending on how much outdoor space you have). Spaniel mixes may also be a good fit.

    Finally, keep in mind that even if you get the perfect dog, there is going to be work involved in assimilating that dog into your family. I know you already know that, but it’s worth re-stating. There is an adjustment period, and it can be a huge pain. Worth it, in my opinion, but something you should be prepared for.

    Good luck!!

  15. pam

    I think the love and joy you have in this household will work in your favor with your new dog. Dogs know if they’re in an unhappy environment. Good luck. I can’t imagine my life without my dogs.

  16. elizabeth

    Love, love, love my standard poodle. Would not get a miniature poodle. Yappy. When my dog was 18 mos old, a friends 18mo old baby led him around by the tongue. He did not complain, just walked patiently until the kid’s mom came back into the room.

  17. Rebecca

    My best advise is something I learned quite by accident, but it’s brought me two of the best dogs (boxers!) ever to walk the earth. It’s so simple, I feel silly telling you.

    When you meet a dog with potential, stand in front of him/her and cross your arms. Don’t talk or pet the dog and do not bend down. The dogs that quickly realize you’re waiting for them to respond will sit and look at your face, waiting for you to tell them what to do. My two still do that and have been incredibly easy to train. One was a pup and one was an adult when they were adopted, so the age really doesn’t matter.

    Good luck!!!

  18. Lisa

    I have 4 (yes, four)greyhounds. I have very severe asthma and allergies and do well with them. Their skin produces more oil/less oil (I always forget which and I should know) but they produce less dander than other breeds. They are not barky, they are loooow energy – despite their appearance but will love a good romp in the yard or a walk on a leash. They are smart dogs and have relatively few health problems.

    Their drawbacks – you should have a fenced yard because they are sight hounds and will take off after anything that looks interesting. Or the alternative is that they must be leashed at all times when outdoors.

    And they are not guard dogs.

    But they are big lovers and foot warmers and wonderful family pets who do not deserve the rotten treatment they get while they endure their racing careers. And since you cannot get them as puppies, they are very easy to train and so appreciate living in a home.

  19. Elizabeth

    We adopted a 2.5 year old dog from a shelter 2 years ago. After bringing him home with the requisite leash, crate, food, bowls, etc., my husband and I realized we had no IDEA what we were doing to not only train ‘out’ bad habits but help him adjust to our new family.
    Then we were turned onto the Dog Whisperer.
    Whatever dog ends up in your family be it a rescue or a specific breed I can’t say enough about the techniques used by this guy.
    We currently can’t imagine life without our dog and have been VERY happy with the tips on training we picked up from just a few episodes of that show.

  20. Sivy

    Yay! I love giving dog advice! I grew up with a Standard Poodle, and could not recommend that breed enough! They are great for folks with allergies (no dander), they are easily trainable (mine was at least), they are very loyal, and they have a very even keeled personality.
    As a good place to start is a breed rescue. You will be able to discuss what you are looking for, and the folks at the rescue can help match you up with a dog.
    Depending on the rescue or shelter, you will have to fill out all kinds of things: an application form, provide personal references, have a vet lined up, and usually a fenced yard is mandatory.
    The AKC website ( has fantastic resources, and is a great place to research different breeds. Also, they say that professional grooming is required for a standard, I always just used normal hair clippers, but we didn’t do that poofy style – we kept our dog in a kennel cut (a uniform short cut, with a the natural poofy tail – it’s very handsome).
    Hope this helps some!

  21. mamabird

    My sister recently got a dog for their family and she didn’t introduce the kids to it until after she had already decided to adopt it. Just to prevent the falling in love immediately problem. Also, I had a friend who got a mut and just knew when she saw him that it was their dog and it is one of the most wonderful dogs I’ve ever met. We had a sheltie as a kid and my current neighbors have a sheltie – the neighbor dog never shuts up! Good luck and I hope you have fun!

  22. Krazy Kitty

    My mom’s Schnauzer barked more than her Beagle does. Although he was noticeably less loud. And smarter. Beagles are really, really nice, but I have a friend who says they even for dogs they have ADD and I believe he’s right. Poodles are just… I don’t know. I might be prejudiced against poodles for no good reason.

    Oh, that was so very helpful, I know. Don’t thank me.

  23. AmandaL

    My advice is for you and Otto to meet dogs first, sans Monkey and Chickadee. This gives you the opportunity to meet some dogs and narrow it down based on YOUR requirements without having the kids there to wear you down. After all, the adults are ultimately responsible for animals brought into the home – kids grow up and cultivate other interests, and eventually go off to college, where you and Otto are (hopefully) going to have this dog for the rest of its life.

    In general, I will tell you that there is nothing more frustrating in animal rescue than spending time to educate parents on appropriate kid/pet interactions (e.g. kids should not be primary caregivers for an animal, EVER), only to have the animal resurrendered because “the kids lost interest”. I think it’s fantastic that you’re looking at Petfinder, and I’d encourage you (like BethRD did) to find a local rescue group that can point you to the right dog for your family. Having just adopted a dog from a breed rescue, I can honestly say I think that’s the best way to go. I would look for a rescue group that fosters dogs in homes – those foster parents are going to be able to give you a much clearer picture of how the dog behaves in different situations than a shelter worker will. And don’t feel like you’re abandoning all those shelter doggies that need homes… adopting from a rescue group opens up space to help those shelter dogs! Good luck!

  24. Half Assed Kitchen

    I got nuthin’. But I hope when I get to the point you are with your kids, I’ll feel ready to adopt a dog. Because right now? More chaos seems hellacious.

  25. EmmaC

    I had a very very similar experience with a neurotic cat. It wasn’t until I finally gave her away (with full disclosure to a woman from my church) that I realized what a truly awful impact this cat had on my and my now-fiance’s daily life. I also often feel like I have to defend and justify myself to people who give me The Look when I tell them I had a cat that I couldn’t keep. They just don’t know. Shudder.

    Like you, we’re also at a point now (5 years later) where we would really like to get a cat again, but we’re completely terrified of getting another neurotic one. Seriously, completely terrified. Our criteria are that we adopt an older cat, that it be previously owned from a family who surrendered him/her for a reason other than feline insanity, and that the cat not eat fabric. (Which, yes, was one of the more delightful habits of our old neurotic cat.) We haven’t actually progressed to going to the shelter to look at real cats, but we’re getting there. Wish us luck. And good luck to you too!

    Oh, and I second the plug for rescued greyhounds. They meet all your criteria, plus they don’t actually need to be walked very often or very far. That’s a bonus in my book! If we were in a good place (read: a house) to get a dog, that’s what I’d get.

  26. Beth R

    My inclination is to check out greyhounds. Adopting a retired racer is a great thing for the dog and you get the world’s fastest couch potato in the bargain.

    I don’t remember if they have fur or hair, but it’s normally quite short and/or thin. And they tend to be absolute loves.

    Of course, with all the suggestions we’re all tossing out, there’s one big caveat: no matter what folks say about a breed, every dog is an individual. Definitely meet and interact with any animal you might be interested in.

    Have fun!

  27. Paula Douglas

    Go read through the blog Author Mom with Dogs she has excellent advise and is a lot of fun to read!

  28. Kim

    Allergies are an issue for me, too, and make it hard to commit to a shelter-rescue. I need a hypoallergenic dog, and it’s easier to find that from a breeder. Just the facts – I’ve volunteered at shelters, it isn’t as though I wouldn’t love to bring one or all of them home.
    I had a mini-poodle/Maltese mix growing up – not prissy at all, very well-trained. My last dog was an absolutely wonderful, fantastic PWD (like Bo, but way before him) and I would love to get another one someday. But they are a high energy (and expensive) dog. We’ll probably end up with a Standard Poodle or some sort of poodle mix.

    Good luck!

  29. Jenn

    Schnauzers can also be very territorial. When we lived in the city, the neighbors had one. And one of their yard leash configurations was long enough so the dog could sit on our front stoop. Or as he saw it, HIS front stoop. So he barked at us every time we left the house or came home. 5 years we lived there and he never got used to us.

  30. bob

    Further to Beth R: I have a good friend who rescues racing greyhounds if you’re interested. She lives out your direction.

    isn’t fur just dense, longish hair? I don’t understand the distinction.

  31. Melody

    I grew up with a poodle/cocker/terrier mix who was medium sized and loved him to pieces. My mom has a year old toy poodle. He is the cutest, sweetest thing that I have ever seen. He barks ferociously at the doorbell or if someone knocks, but not at anything else. I would take him from her in a minute if she wanted to give him up…which she emphatically does not. Of course, poodles come in standard, mini and toy, so you could go for the middle size. BTW, my mom has allergies and does really well with her dog.

  32. Cindy

    I like the good old American mutt personally but I live in the woods where my dogs can happily roam free and I don’t bring them indoors. I have a friend who purchased a labradoodle because she wanted an indoor dog but had allergies. Great dog but as a puppy, quite the handful. And the price? Omigosh. Also? Same friend uses a brush called the furminator. It is unbelievable with helping the shed factor. I bought my mom one for her two cats and dog (all indoor) and now I can visit her house for more than 30 seconds at a time.

  33. heather

    You need a lab. I have 2 and they are great dogs. They listen and obey. They will play until your heart is content then will chill out too…

  34. MomCat

    I agree with the commenters suggesting “mutt.” They tend to live longer and have fewer health problems, plus there are so many needing a good home. And, hey – nearly free!

    If you go with a pure breed from a Rescue Shelter, be very careful. A relative of mine has had trouble with four different dogs, all of which she thinks had suffered abuse. Make sure to ask questions about why the dog is there, and what happened to it. A quiet dog is nice, but a cringing dog is not so good, nor is one that rolls over on its back and pees in submission every time you enter the house.

  35. Gwen

    Just what we’re thinking about, too. And I get to try to subvert my husband’s belief that animals live outside with my belief that a dog is part of the family, and therefore lives inside. We ain’t gettin no dog until I win. We need some training, first.

  36. Susan

    Oh, my gosh. You are going to get a MILLION comments here. But, I have to add mine, just in case someone doesn’t say what I want to. We raised puppies (before we started raising kids) for a support dog organization. You know – dogs that help people in wheelchairs or who have other disabilities. The dogs were mostly labs or goldens or a mix of the two (AWESOME combo, I might add). Anyway, we raised the pups until they were a year and a half, talking them to weekly classes and working with them constantly. After that, they go off to “puppy college” where they learn very specific skills to helping physically challenged people. I know – you’re asking, “what they hell does this have to do with me?” Some of the dogs don’t make it as a support dog. They just don’t have enough skill, aren’t “perfect” enough or have a fear of something they may encounter in public making it impossible to pair the dog with someone. My point (sorry for the novel) is that if you’re looking for a GREAT dog, very well trained, I’d check into support dog organizations around you to see if they have any “rejects.” It’s the very first place I’d go if I were you. They know where the dogs came from, they’ve been extremely well taken care of, well trained and socially adapted. And, they need homes, since they can’t quite make it as a support dog.

    Good luck!!!

  37. Crista

    I just wanted to second (or third, or fourth) gettting a dog from a place that has a trial period. Usually it’s a week or two. That’s long enough for you to find out if it has any habits you can’t live with, or if you end up being allergic. Also, you don’t get your money back if you take the dog back, you just get to trade for another dog. But you don’t have to take another dog *that* day.
    I also like the idea of getting a dog who has been fostered, so you get at least a little bit more info about personality and habits. We got our most current dog from the pound so all we got were his vitals. It didn’t take us one day to learn that even thought he was 2-3 years old, he wasn’t housetrained. And by the way, basset hound=most stubborn dog on earth. Even now, 3 months later, he’s housetrained when he wants to be. Which is about 95% of the time, but still…that 5% grrr. LOL. Aaanyways.
    I don’t know if they do this where you live, but Petco and PetSmart out here in Nevada do dog adoptions every weekend, of dogs who are fostered. You get a whole slew of coupons, too, for everything from a free bag of food to free toys, and dollars off other stuff. Of course, even with the coupons, it’s still sometimes cheaper to get some of the stuff at Target or WalMart.
    Ok, there’s my book :) Good luck with your new family member!

  38. Sarah G.

    Breed rescue is really the way to go in your situation. With your family’s allergy issues you need to know what you are getting. Shelters are a very noble route, but… it’s puppy potluck. It really is just a guess on what breeds they peg any particular dog with and dogs in a shelter truly do suffer from shelter shock. It takes a couple of weeks in a home environment to get a true bead on a dog’s personality.

    I have dachshunds (standard smooths) from a fabulous breeder. They are house trainable (two intact boys- they are show dogs when I get off my butt and show them) and have perfect house manners. They are low allergen load, but not perfect. I’m allergic to most dogs, but this breed works for me. Oh and standard poodles are awesome.

  39. RuthWells

    We are relatively new dog owners, too (3.5 years into our first dog), also with allergy issues. We got a goldendoodle puppy and he is a perfect family dog. From the golden retriever side, you get the total goofy, unconditional love and acceptance, and from the poodle side, wicked smarts (and a non-shedding coat). He barks at deer and bunnies, but we’re training him out of that behavior slowly and surely.

  40. Crisanne

    My parents have had Bichon Frisees and they have all three been sweet dogs. My mom says they’re better for people with allergies, but I have no idea about that. They range in size from small fluffy things to medium sized dogs. Don’t suppose you have any vet friends you could ask?

  41. Jenn

    Blue Healers and Standard Poodles are awesome!

  42. Flea

    You’re getting a ton of advice. I’ll refrain. I will say, however, that Michelle’s Havanese is the most adorable looking dog on the planet. Definitely look into it. Except that … no advice! Sorry! Zipping now!

  43. Melissa

    I would recommend the foster services in your area. That way, you have a family that has experience living with the dog who can tell you the story on house training, behavior around kids, whatever. I adopted a mix that we believe is shih tzu and schnauzer and he is the most well behaved, intelligent dog I’ve ever had. Oh, and he is freakin’ adorable, too.

  44. kakaty

    We had a Schnauzer/Poodle mix growing up who was sweet as could be (and didn’t shed). About 8 years ago my hubs and I adopted an adult “Lab Mix” through Petfinder and he is the BEST DOG EVER (except for the shedding thing). We now think he is a mutt born of mutts because he really doesn’t have any strong breed traits- there might be some lab in there somewhere but maybe not. He is just the most patient, loving and sweet dog ever. He only barks when someone is at the door, has never even so much as snarled at any of us (and he was about 5 years old when we had our child). He listens well and mostly just lays around the house.

    I will say this (and prob get flamed, but oh well) I have never, ever in my life have known anyone to be 100% thrilled with thier purebread dogs. I know it can be like this with any dog, but all of our friends/family who have purebreads have super-high-need pets with expensive medical bills, neurotic behavior, short lifespan etc. I’m a big lover of mutts and think that mixed breeds tend to be more even-tempered then purebreads.

  45. Cass

    We have two dogs – a golden retriever and a black lab mix. Both dogs have the most loving and mellow temperaments. While I love both dogs, I would highly recommend the lab or lab cross to anyone. (The golden retriever is lovely but a bit stinky and hairy). The lab is super obedient, super smart, super affectionate, loves kids, doesn’t shed too much and hardly barks. I chose her because she was the smalles in the litter – we had a dog before her that was the smallest as well, and she was also a lab cross with a lovely temperament. When I brought our current lab home as a puppy she slept in her crate the whole night thru with no crying at all. She sleeps in our room though – yes, we love our dogs that much! Both dogs also go to the office with my honey every day and I think that is why they are so good. They are rarely alone and if they are they have each other. Good luck!

  46. Cheryl

    I haven’t read the other replies, but may I suggest a PUG? I inherited the one I got as a pup for my daughter when she was 18. 3 years ago she moved overseas and couldn’t take him. They are a companion (sp) breed. Playful as pups but the adults are happy just to be near you. No yapping (unless someone playfully acts like they’re going to hit you-they will protect) but as for the shape of their face can’t really bite. Easily trained. Eat anything. Little shedding and it’s short hair not fur…no licking of the face – and I don’t know if it’s inborn or what but have some characteristics of a cat as far as laying on back of sofa, arm of sofa, using paws to get that stray french fry out from under the sofa, etc etc…just something to look into…

  47. Jennifer

    I’d love to throw some tips your way. It’s just that the only dog experiences I’ve had have been failed ones. We have a dog right now that we really need a good home for. She needs a country home, I’m sure. She is very high energy- and O MY GOOD GRIEF with the barking. And she has been digging holes in my backyard- I’m sure she’s actively trying to make her way to China or something. (This is probably a by-product of her energy coupled with my lack of energy due to a very demanding infant. Dog or infant? Infant wins every time.)

    So, all I can really offer is a hearty GOOD LUCK!

  48. Em

    I don’t have any advice to offer about what breed to get as my last two dogs have been German Shepherds and those don’t fall into the category you are looking for (though they are great dogs). I just want to say I am excited to read this all unfold. The cost (sit down when they tell you, even from a shelter, what it costs), the paperwork (the days of buying a puppy from a box outside the supermarket are gone. Now they want financial statements, proof of home ownership, guarantees on how you will care for and feed the dog). That is all before you get the dog! Of course, it will all be worth it and I also look forward to hearing stories of kid/animal bonding, fun training stories and doggie pictures. Good Luck on the search!

    P.S. I wish I knew about “reject” service dogs before we got our last puppy which was an experience in itself. That sounds like a great way to get a young, well trained dog – maybe it will make you coffee!

  49. Michele Bardsley

    We adopted a blue heeler mix from the city animal shelter in Tulsa. She’s the best dog we’ve ever had. Technically, she belongs to my daughter, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better behaved animal.

    Then I have a Shih Tzu who loves everybody all the time. He’s independent, which means he goes off on his own and naps or chews on stuff or poops. He’s still a puppy, and figures, hey, why bother Mom with my “need to go outside” face. I’ll just find a corner!

    And then I have the Chihuahua. He’s very needy. When I first got him, he was very insecure. He goes off plays now, but let me tell you, should I leave the house for any length of time, when I return, he nearly passes out from hyperventilation and excitement. He also likes to pee in the hallway.

    And all of the dogs get along with the cats. The cats think the dogs are ridiculous, but they can jump on stuff and torment the puppies from on high, which is amusing for them.

    I see now that I’m not being any help whatsoever, but I will say this … as a former volunteer of the SPCA. Shelter dogs are usually the best for adoption because they are often tested for personality and how well they get along with children and other animals. They also seem to know that an adopted family has saved them, and are extremely grateful and loyal.

    I wish you luck. :-)

  50. Jen

    We adopted our dog from our local humane society. They have a policy where you can go in and put a 24 hour hold on a dog. So if you would go say while the kids were at school and find the perfect dog and you can then hold it until the whole family can go meet the dog. Our human society also had a three-month trial period which was a very nice fall back plan to have. When we looked, we first stood back and observed how the dog reacted to other people. Did the dog bark/beg/cower? Then we went up to meet the dog. So far we have been very blessed with the dog we adopted. She rarely barks and she listens very well.
    We did make a point to start training her the day we brought her home. She is on the nothing is free plan. She has to sit and wait for meals and such, but it has made her a very well behaved dog.

  51. carrie

    My requirements for finding a dog were:
    No shedding/hypoallergenic
    Grows to be no larger than my smallest child (50 lbs)
    I have been incredibly happy with Bichons (we’ve had two), although they may be too small for you. We also looked at schnoodles, and loved them.

    We also went through pet finder and had a variety of experiences. The worst: One woman we contacted, who claimed to be a home breeder raising dogs in her living room, was actually arrested a few days before we were to meet her — she had dozens of dogs in overcrowded crates in another location, and would bring a group of dogs to the house to suit the needs of whoever was coming to visit!
    The best: wonderful, caring people looking for good homes for terrific dogs.

    My advice: never feel pressured to make a fast decision; make sure the dog is interacting with you and the kids (rather than the toy, the treat, another dog, etc.); ask lots and lots of questions about the animal and about the preson/facility offering the dog.

    Good luck!

  52. Kristie

    I had a big, long comment typed out here about the different things to consider when looking for a dog but deleted it and came up with what I wrote below. You’re welcome…lol

    I’d like to suggest that instead of trying to pick a specific dog through petfinder try picking one of the reputable rescues, talk to them about what your wants and needs are, and let them match you up with a dog. They know their animals and they will be more than happy to introduce you to dozens of dogs until you find the one that’s right for you. I’ve been an adoption counselor for five years and the return rates are much lower for families who go about it that way.

    If you’d like to know how to distinguish a good rescue from a not so good rescue I’d be happy to give you some tips.

    Good luck!

  53. Tammy

    Not really except to say that you’re on the right track. Don’t pick the first dog that you see. You’ll know the right one when he/she comes along. Petfinder is a great resource.

    If you weren’t allergic to fur, I would highly suggest a German Shepherd mix–great dogs!

    In the back of your mind, do you wonder if the dog “discussion” will take on a life of it’s own like “MMIIIIINNNTTTT” did? ;)

  54. Scottsdale Girl

    Jesus, now I want to rescue about 15 more dogs. GAH, must stop READING COMMENT SECTION NOW.

  55. Heather

    We have a boxer also. Everything Lindy wrote is so true. I was worried about how she would be with four kids, but she is perfect with them. House training was a breeze!

  56. Tammy

    Several people have mentioned rescue organizations and I would suggest going that route as well. I am glad that you are looking into rescue dogs. If you are not wanting to raise a puppy, you will be dealing with the unknown factors of the dog’s past and possible behavior problems. These can be spotted and sometimes addressed while the dog is being fostered.

    I have bad experiences with schnauzers so they are not my favorite breed, but I also believe strongly that many things can be overcome with training. I grew up with miniature poodles and they do not always yap if they are well trained and socialized.

    Just please, please don’t use a choke collar and look into clicker training. :-) I also suggest watching a few episodes of “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stillwell. She has great training tips.

    Be observant of the dog’s body language. You will be able to tell a lot about the personality. You can read more here: I am more afraid of fearful dogs than aggressive ones. You want to find one that keeps the ears perked and has interest in what is going on around them.

    Good luck!

  57. Andrea

    I don’t have any different advice than everyone else but I wanted to defend beagles! I absolutely love them. I have only had beagles and I find them to be the most loving, child friendly and cute dog out there. yes they bark/howl but only when they see their arch enemy (either the squirrel or the mailman). But they are loyal and love to cuddle and also are totally up for walks.

    Just wanted to stick up for the beagle!

  58. Otto

    Well, I guess there’s no getting out of this now …


  59. wafelenbak

    I want to throw a vote in for the Bichon as well. My aunt is a complete fussbudget who swore she she would never have a dog, but they got a Bicchon and she loved that dog with all her heart They are supposed to be hypoallergenic and I’ve never seen one get particularly barky.
    They are not, however, very intimidating! ;)

  60. sassymonkey

    PUPPY!!! (Ok, I know you are not getting a puppy but I still call refer to cat as a kitten. She’s 10.) Good luck finding the doggie that works well for your family and I so love that you are trying rescues. :)

  61. Susan

    I think it’s great that you’re looking for an adult dog. We adopted our Aussie when she was 6 and she’s been the most fantastic pet. Wouldn’t recommend an Aussie for you though — they fall into that Working Dog category and shed like crazy.

    One small piece of advice — when you’re screeing potential dogs, make sure to find out how they are with other dogs. Even better, take it for a walk where you’re likely to encounter dogs it doesn’t know and see how it reacts. My mom adopted a 1 yr old dog through a referal service only to discover that the dog was extremely dog agressive. The previous owner knew it, but didn’t disclose it to my mom. She’s a terrific dog around people, but tries to attack every other dog she encounters. Her experience is probably rare (not trying to scare you), but I just want to recommend you ask the questions.

    Good luck — I can’t wait to read the stories!

  62. Lisa

    You need to talk to Belinda over at
    She’ll hook you up!

  63. el-e-e

    I’m glad that Grace and Lisa, who sound like they know, suggested a Greyhound because when I read your wish list, I thought, “Greyhound.” (Even though I really know jack about dogs.) The two Greyhounds I have met, I have fallen in love with IMMEDIATELY.

  64. Liz

    Not sure about the allergy part, but when I read your description of what you want I immediately thought “retired greyhound.” Schnauzers and poodles are both also working dogs – many people do serious protection work with schnauzers, and poodles were originally bred as hunting dogs. A retired greyhound will gladly lounge around the house all day, but can also turn on the energy to play with the kids. Everyone I know who has one is very happy with them!

  65. Donna

    My vote is to get a cat! ;o)

  66. JennyM

    If you haven’t checked out Athens Canine Rescue (which, maybe you totally have already, since, um, Athens), you should. Although we’re 2 hours up the road, we’ve adopted both our dogs from ACR and have lucked out both times. They have a pretty rigorous application process and then there is a trial period during which the dog lives with you and you see if everyone gets along, before you commit.

  67. Pam

    I am too lazy to read through 67 previous responses to know if anyone else said this, but we have a GoldenDoodle and love her! No shedding. She’s about 70 pounds of lazyass — she’ll sleep until 2pm most days (obvs has the biggest bladder in canineland) and then after she’s gone out, she’l lay by your feet all day. Check

  68. Jill W.

    I say trust the Zen– you will know your dog when you meet him/her.

    We have a mutt who was abused and sorry looking as anything when we got him, but he has been a great dog.

    My inlaws have a schnauzer who does have a lot of skin issues as at least one of the other posters has pointed . Also, she barks. A lot.

    I really love Corgies and Akitas, but Akitas are very furry and sheddy. I don’t know whether Corgies are fur or hair.

  69. Jill W.

    And LOL at Otto’s comment. The idea has been bloglocked!

  70. Dragon

    I have a miniature schnoodle – schnauzer/poodle mix. We recently had a visit from a Bylaw Enforcement officer about the bark, bark, barking without end. Apparently somebody in an apartment half a block away, nine floors up finally tracked down where the noise was coming from. So, um…good watchdog. Loyal to a fault. Able to take down my brother’s Great Dane, an order of magnitude larger than he is, with a single look. Not so good with the quiet.

  71. Pepper

    When you are adopting dogs, be sure to check how they interact with other dogs, people, and their food agression most shelters wont put dogs up for adoption if they are food agressive but it is not a bad thing to look into.

    My aunt and cousin both have a Bichon/Shitzu cross which is a small dog but not very yappy, and really good with kids. My cousin is extremely allergic to fur but these dogs don’t bother her. Her dogs go on brisk walks with her, and love to play and run in yard with my 4 year old niece.

  72. Julie

    I know that Bichon Frise are hypoallergenic, as well as the labradoodle, goldendoodle and some other “designer” dogs. Bichons are great dogs, not large, and very loving.

  73. Jenn

    I have a Wheaten Terrier. . . She’s fun but laid back and doesn’t shed. She’s also about 30 pounds so isn’t tiny or yappy. Another plus, she looks like a muppet. Awesome personality too.

  74. Tami

    I know what you’re about to go through, because we just(2 days ago) adopted a companion dog (Leo the Cutie-Border collie/Aussie) for our 17 mo. old Shayna,the Chewish American Princess. Even though I’ve had many great dogs I’d never adopted an adult dog, so I went to THEE PACK LEADER-Cesar Milan. His most recent book is “A Member of the Family”, that addresses all the issues of adopting; i.e. what breed? what temperment? what do I do once we’re home? how do I train my kids to treat this dog well? I realized that some of my previous dogs’ problems were preventable, so this time I’m taking advice from an expert. His shows are so informative-though I quote him so much my family teases me about it. His methods and the mind-set he advocates get great results-a happy dog that fits into your family. Mir & Co. have fun and Nature’s Miracle works great on “accidents”.

  75. Susan

    You have received plenty of good advice! You indeed will hopefully “know” when you meet your dog. As someone who does fostering and adoption activities with homeless pets, I would only REITERATE that YOU (and Otto) need to be looking at and “screening” the dogs first…before getting kiddos involved at all. Also, make sure beforehand that you are committed to addressing any behavior issues, united, as a family. Don’t have any breed recommendations for you, but will agree that I’m not sure a schnauzer would be the best choice =).

    If you are interested in a rescue dog, I would encourage you to get to know some of the local rescues in your area…sometimes those folks are able to get to know their adoptable pets a little better and help you find one that might be well-suited to you and your family.

  76. Aimee

    We met the most awesome dog a few weeks ago. She was a dachsund/chow mix, incredibly well trained and friendly. I don’t know if that’s typical, and it may be hard to find such a mix. But man, she was freaking adorable and my husband and I both fell in love with her. We were in her space (with quite a few other people) all day. She did not bark once. She rings a bell when she needs to be walked (seriously! there’s a little hotel bell by the door, and she goes over and dings it when she needs to go out) and was just utterly charming. The one thing I can’t tell you is how she’d be with kids, because there weren’t any kids there.

  77. Paulla

    I vote for poodles. They are very smart, easily trained, and the fur/hair is perfect for allergy-prone families. Plus, you don’t have to give them the goofy pom-pom cuts.

    I grew up with poodles. Now I’m into shepherds, but they have the wrong fur for you.

    The only drawback to poodles: they do have to be groomed regularly, which can get expensive. Plus, they have a bad rap for being sissy-ish, but if you go with a bigger one, you will not find a better dog.

    Good luck!

  78. carolyn

    No real advice, just best wishes that you find your new family member soon and that the transition is easy. We have dogs and cats at our home and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

  79. Dawn

    Won’t offer any advice as I’ve only ever had one dog. She must be the one Beagle who doesn’t bark like a lunatic. And NEVER bays. Not sure what that’s about, but I’m very glad of it. Problem with Beagles is, while they’re quite content to sit at home with you and wonderful IN the house, the minute you leave the house, they become a NOSE on LEGS so you can never, ever let them off leash, which is perfect for me because I’m too paranoid to do that anyway. Of course, that wouldn’t be a good fit for everyone.

    You’ll know your dog when you meet her or him.

  80. mom, again

    So many dog behaviour problems can be prevented or cured with a well trained set of owners.

    Once you’ve decided on your dog, find a good dog training course so you can learn how to let the dog know his place in the ‘pack’ is somewhere below Monkey and above the lizards in the garden. Otto could go, so long as the dog learns he’s still got you in charge of him when Otto’s gone. But if it’s you home most of the time with him, it probably ought to be you.

  81. Deva

    We both grew up with dogs, but since we both work outside the house, we have cats.

    and I totally read this sentence:I want neither a tiny yappy dog nor a giant dog who eats more than the kids.

    as “I want neither a tiny yappy dog nor a giant dog who eats the kids” and I giggled.

  82. paige

    How about someone who’s had maximal experience? I’ve worked as a volunteer in a specific breed rescue for almost 20 years. I’m the person in the community who counsels people about what dog works best with their families.

    So here goes:

    Look for a spaniel or spaniel mix, something like a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (not a cocker!). Terriers are good for alllergic people sometimes (my husband is allergic to dogs and does not do well with hair breeds…too much dander flying around), but they are very barky.

    Other breeds to look at are whippets or retired greyhounds (lots of size variants and sighthounds don’t need tons and tons of exercise but love to lounge around and love on people), beagle mixes and hound mixes. Nothing’s as laid back as a hound but they can be stubborn.

    Find a rescue group (I can totally hook you up) and you’ll find that they are experts at matching dogs to families and they have a “take back” clause so you can return the dog and know that you’re not condemning it to a terrible fate. Some shelters allow home visits so you can get an idea about how the dog will fit in.

    I’d also suggest finding a dog-savvy friend you trust or a trainer/behaviorist you trust to go with you to look at dogs. Then TAKE THEIR ADVICE. I’ve spent hours helping families pick out dogs, only to have them choose the dog I told them was a bad idea and then have to help rehome the dog months later when it didn’t work out.

  83. Paula

    My vote is either standard poodle, goldendoodle or labradoodle. you should be able to find any of these dogs through petfinders as many people seem to be letting them go these days. We currently have both a goldendoodle and a labradoodle. We got the Golden last Oct. as a six week old puppy and while it was WAY more work than I had remembered…totally worth it to let the kids have the chance to watch a puppy grow up. She was REALLY easy to train! That said in March we got our almost 2 year labradoodle off of petfinder and we LOVE. him. to. death! So glad to not go through the teething and potty training again! Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. Before that we had a standard poodle for 13 years and we still miss our Joey like crazy!

  84. Sarah


  85. Sandee

    I didn’t read all the comments, but we have a chocolate lab and he is the BEST DOG!! Definitely get a lab or lab mix.

  86. wilma ham

    Lab are good dogs and used as guide dogs.

  87. Brooke

    I usually just lurk, but I can’t help dropping in my two cents. I grew up with German Shepards, but I’m a cat person that bought a Peagle puppy for the kids about a year ago.

    Best thing we did was go to the pet store and play with dogs. You don’t have to buy it there, but it is a fantastic way to see first hand the traits of various breeds. We must have played with a hundred dogs before we picked one. We knew instantly which dogs were NOT for us!

    My daughter wanted a large dog, I did not. We have a small house and live in Florida so I knew the dog would be inside all the time = small dog. Next, the size of the poop is directly related to the size of the dog. That’s all I’m gonna say about that! The next thing I paid special attention to was the activity level of the dogs (found in most books). We are mellow and not very active so I knew we did not need a dog that required a lot of activity. Make sure the dogs needs meets your family’s style. Really think about your lifestyle and how you envision the dog fitting into it. Is the dog going camping with you? What size will fit in your camper???

    We love our little 30 pound Peagle (Beagle/Pekinese mix). He looks like a Beagle and is the sweetest thing around. Very smart, only time he messes the floor is when we goof up! Barks to alert us (ooo, big difference between watch dog and guard dog). LOVES his pack (us) and we love him. His greatest talent is howling to my daughters harmonica. She plays and he purses his lips into a circle and points his snout to the sky and “sings” along. Great laughter ensues! He has enriched our lives.

    Take your time and do your research to find out what is the best fit for your family. Only you know that!

    Good luck and ENJOY!

  88. Karishma

    Other requirements include:
    * Monkey and I are actually allergic to fur, so we’re looking only at hair breeds (and mixes).
    * I do not want a dog that barks and barks and barks.
    * I want a dog smart enough to obey but not so smart that it chooses not to.
    * I want neither a tiny yappy dog nor a giant dog who eats more than the kids.
    * A dog who’d be equally happy laying around while I work and running around with the kids (or going on brisk walks with me) would be perfect.
    * I have no interest whatsoever in rearing a puppy.

    ok, so. i’m looking at this list and thinking, “HARRY!” harry is our dog, got him from Petfinders when he was about 2, a havanese/most likely terrier mix. i know someone said havanese earlier, and it literally fits everything. he’s the SWEETEST most affectionate intelligent dog in the world (he would LOVE that you were home all day and follow you around nonstop), only barks at strangers, came fully toilet trained, *barely* sheds, havanese are usually 10 pounds, b/c of the terrier(?) mix he’s about 20. small enough to carry back if he refuses to end his walks, which happens sometimes b/c before we got him, he was an outdoors dog and misses it. also, he’s absolutely gorgeous and we always get compliments on it. best dog ever!

  89. Chris

    Small dogs have small bladders..Just sayin’ remember this in th dog search lest you be running out every ten minutes to “pee” the poor soul. I may or may not have been there! Good luck! I love me some puppies!

  90. mama speak

    Like you’re still reading this now…but JIC, I have two things to add:
    1. May I suggest that whomever joins your family, train this pet to go in a specific area of the yard. It’s easy if you set it at the beginning. Not as easy if you’ve allowed it all over the yard & try to change it up. I’m just saying…

    2. I have had several rescue pets over time (currently 1 dog, Merit and 2 cats, Mama-san & Monkey-cat). I believe that your pets pick you. I’m not all hippie-like, I just think that when it’s right, you and the animal both know. Animals are more in tune to nonverbals and will clue you in. Trust me and trust yourself on this one. Merit, picked me by giving a “hug”. I know now, this is something she almost never does, only on very special occasions for very special people. When she did, I just knew. Ten years later, she’s still my first baby.
    Congrats! I look forward to the blog fodder & especially the Love Thursday’s that will ensue. (I’m buying stock in Kleenex.

  91. Karate Mom

    I know that you are probably tired of all the advice now, but I’m going to put in my 2 cents anyway. :)
    My husband is also allergic to SOME dogs but not to others, so we’ve always had to be careful as to which breed we pick. We had to give one dog away because we got her from a shelter and then found out he was allergic to her. (We found a great home for her!) We currently have a toy poodle who is FANTASTIC, and doesn’t yap and yap like some small dogs do. Poodles are very un-allergenic, and are super smart, and come in larger sizes. We also have a Norwegian Elkhound who is about 62 pounds (I don’t know if that exceeds the weight limit you’re looking for!) and she’s the sweetest thing ever. I love it that she has a HUGE bark when she feels the need to bark, and she looks kind of intimidating because of her size, but she’s really just a big ‘ol marshmallow!
    As much as I like the idea of rescuing a dog from a shelter, I personally prefer to pick a “purebred” dog because you know very closely what temperment you’re going to get.
    Sorry this was so long!

  92. Karate Mom

    Oh, the downside to Elkhounds is that they do shed. They have a double coat, like a German Shepherd, and we end up running the sweeper quite a bit. BUT, they don’t have a strong dog smell, which I love.
    OK, I’m really done now.

  93. Ladybug Crossing

    We got our Corgi (free) from a woman who told me she’d be over the next day to drop him off. We didn’t know what we were getting, but he is WONDERFUL. He is a small dog – small poops – but he has a big personality and he is a couch potato. He loves everyone and everyone loves him.
    My cousin does Boxer rescue and fell in love with my Zeb.

    I’d recommend Corgis to anyone – every corgi I’ve ever met has had Zeb’s personality – sweet, loyal, LAZY. Awesome!!


  94. No Drama Mama

    Mir: I am the owner of 2 mini schnauzers and they are amazing pets. There is an AWESOME rescue organization in your area: Take a look at the site and email any member with questions you might have. :-) Best of luck to you whatever you choose.

  95. a different kate

    We got a shelter dog last winter. I knew she was “the one” when all the other dogs were barking and jumping in their cages and she just stood up, wagged her tail, and looked hopefully at us. We’ve had her for six months and have only hear her bark a handful of times. She’s half Golden Retriever (a great family dog that sheds like crazy) and black lab mutt. Love love love her and this coming from a family that has only had cats before!

    Good Luck!

  96. joaaanna

    BASSETT HOUND! I got my husband our Bassett for his birthday, but only after I realized that rabbits were destroying our garden at our new house. I’d never had an indoor dog before. I know that everyone thinks that their dog is the best – but they haven’t met Hubert. He’s the most awesome, funny dog in the universe. Bassett’s will make you laugh and are great with kids. Although stubborn… yeah, very.

  97. Kelly

    My parents have a golden doodle – the golden retriever poodle mix – and she is so freakin’ sweet. She is great with kids, loves exercise but also is good with just hanging out. Now their personality can range – my parents got her as a puppy – I think they did some sort of personality tests I’m sure you can find online – like will the dog let you put her on her back, etc. So they picked the shy sweet one and she’s been that ever since… a poodle mix will be smart, I would say go for the other half (if possible) to be a calmer dog like a golden (instead of a lab).

    Good luck!

  98. Laura

    Okay- this might be repetitive, but there are 98 comments preceding mine and I don’t have time to go through them. Most dogs that are considered ‘hypoallergenic” are poodle mixes, or schnauzer mixes. Both of those breeds have hair and not fur, which means they shed far less. I have a friend with a miniature schnauzer. She is very sweet, though she does tend to howl a bit (we always say she is yodeling.) I also have a friend with a schnoodle (1/2 schnauzer, 1/2 poodle) that is a very sweet dog. The one thing with poodles is that they are super smart and easily bored. With my friend’s dog that boredom translated into destructive behavior for a while, until they found some toys for her that were mentally stimulating enough to keep her occupied.

  99. Megan

    I haven’t read the other comments, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating pointers. Background: My husband and I just adopted a Mutt in March. It took us three months of combing petfinder and local shelters to find the right dog for us. Adopting was important, my husband is allergic, we have cats already, we wanted a dog – not a toy or a mammoth – with a similar energy level to what you describe.

    First of all, a lot of how a dog acts around you and your family will start with how YOU act and you train your dog. Despite how much research we were doing, and how very well-meaning we were, we figured some things out about communication between Adopters and Rescues/Shelters.

    Every single shelter is different – it helps if you can find a range of shelters with volunteers/people who are kind and open. We ran into a lot of snobbery which didn’t help the process.

    Do a lot of research beforehand. One of the things that helped us SO much was watching “The Dog Whisperer”. I might get shot down here by others because Cesar Millan’s Techniques are controversial – ESPECIALLY in amongst shelter workers (so don’t go telling them that you like Cesar Millan – Shelters are big fans of Victoria Stilwell). But there are several episodes on the Dog whisperer where Cesar assists families in the selection of a new dog from shelters. He gives tips on what body language and behavior to look for – Things like curiosity, but no barking, etc. It’s incredibly helpful to watch because he points to dogs IN shelters and points out what their body language means (i.e. Anxious, Scared, Dominant).

    Also- It’s incredibly likely that you won’t find the right dog right away. I don’t know how many shelters there are in your area or how much time you’re willing to spend looking at dogs. Unfortunately, we found out that many shelters simply don’t have the time or resources to devote to keeping petfinder completely updated – so the most adoptable dogs that come in, may get adopted before they even have a chance to upload their profile to petfinder. After being discouraged at first, My husband and I developed a routine of GOING to 3 local shelters once or twice a week. It was very helpful because we became familiar with how each shelter worked, when they got dogs in, what days were more popular for a rush of adoptions, etc. We kept browsing petfinder and if there was a dog on there that we liked the look/sound of, we went to visit it and kept our minds open to all the dogs there.

    When you go to a shelter and finally see a dog that you want to meet – they usually all have little rooms that you can meet a dog in. When the dog first comes in, don’t overwhelm it by rushing to it. Try to help everyone to be calm and create a calm atmosphere (as much as you can in the bustling shelters). Let the dog come to you to meet you. You’ll get a much better idea of it’s personality right off the bat if you see how people-oriented it is, how distractable, does it bark now that its out of its crate?, is it jumping?, is it hiding in a corner?. You want a dog that has the least number of issues to begin with.

    Usually dogs are kept with a short history – especially if they were an owner surrender. Sometimes, those are the best kinds of dogs, but read the histories carefully. We came close to adopting a dog that supposedly had crate-aggression and “marked” alot indoors. I’m glad we passed him up because as new-ish dog owners, we weren’t experienced enough to be able to help him through those issues. — Know your limitations.

    When you meet a dog, and you still like what you’re seeing, ask the shelter volunteers if you can take him for a walk. Sometimes shelters will let you take the dog for a walk unsupervised, sometimes they’ll go out with you, sometimes you can accompany a volunteer on a walk with that dog, sometimes they’ll say no. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Keep in mind that because the dog is in a shelter, it’s not getting much excercise so they’re probably going to be poorly behaved on the walk – they just have more energy to expel.

    Try touching all the parts of the dog. The ears, the tail, the stomach, and Paws especially. Gently hold and touch their toes – this will tell you their sensitivity and general ability to tolerate having their nails clipped.

    Almost all shelters provide brushes in the meeting area rooms – if there’s not one immediately available, ask for one. Brush the dog. See if it easily tolerates gentle brushing. Keep in mind that the dog may seem to shed more in the shelter because it is a stressful environment and there is little to no grooming occurring.

    As far as being unsure and feeling paralyzed – I know what you mean. We owned three cats and I was terrified we’d bring home an otherwise sweet dog only to find out he was a blood thirsty cat hunter. The best way to combat this is to resolve that you will TAKE YOUR TIME. Even if you fall in love with a dog – see if you can put him or her on “Hold”. Sometimes shelters will let you do that for a day or only a few hours – regardless it gives you time to go out for ice cream and talk it over. Also, even if you “Adopt”, ask the shelter worker whether they have a policy for what would happen if its not working. They’ll probably tell you that you can bring the dog back no problem – but you won’t get a refund of your “donation”.

    Cesar Millan also helps to discuss what you should do when you bring a dog INTO your home after you adopt at a shelter – NOTE: NOT just let the dog into your house all higgelty piggelty. His tips made our transition very smooth.

    And before you get a dog, you may want to invest in a few pet or baby gates – you may not know when you’d use them now, but I guarantee at some point you’ll be grateful you can keep fido out of certain rooms without shutting doors.

    Hope this helped! Sorry it was so long!

  100. Lindy

    I still vote for boxer. Rosie really is marvelous. Boxers don’t fully mature until they’re about 4 years old, so if you got a young adult, even though he/she would be full grown, they still have some spunk to them and are easy to train (or break of bad habits). They are great companion dogs. I have FINALLY got Rosie trained to know that I do not need a supervised escort while I pee. I swear the best punishment for her is just ignoring her for 10 minutes. Even though she has tons of energy, she is perfectly content to sit next to me on the couch all day long if I let her. Playing is easy to. If you’re working and she insists on playing, just get a squeaky toy and throw it, she brings it back, repeat. If she wants something, she bites my shorts and gently tugs on them to get my attention. Smart dog. She sheds less than any cat.

    And in my defense, Rosie was a used dog. And abused. And even after all that, she’s been just great. We got her from a shelter. I found in the past that those private rescues (excepting Humane Society) are always a huge pain in the ass. One once told me I was an unfit dog parent because I let my dog go outside and when I wasn’t looking it might eat a poisonous bufo toad (whatever the hell that is) or get struck by lightning or some shit like that.

  101. amanda

    I didn’t read the other comments, but I wanted you to know that I have a miniature schnauzer, she barks a LOT, and she fits into the “so smart she won’t obey” category. She may be “unique” (she’s still a very sweet dog) but I don’t know if a schnauzer like Ansley would fit your needs. She drives my husband insane (and we’ve had her for 8 years, it has never improved despite all of our efforts) and I’ve promised him that we will never get another one!

  102. ~annie

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe someone already mentioned this. Friends of mine found their perfect pet by taking in dogs on a “foster” basis. They kept several dogs (one at a time!) for varying lengths of time while suitable owners were found. Eventually they fostered one that they wanted to keep themselves. You may not want to do that of course, but a lot of rescue organizations will allow a “trial” period – maybe focus your search with ones that do.

  103. elizabeth

    Just wanted to add that I shave my standard poodle at home, every two or three months, with a pair of clippers I got at walmart for $40. Takes less than two hours (40 minutes was my best time). And, given that you have a pool, you may want to make sure your dog can swim. My piano teacher when I was a child had multiple bulldogs drown in her pool.

  104. Elaine

    I echo Annie’s advice (above) with a twist: instead of being a foster dog parent (which IS a good idea), get friendly with people who are already foster dog parents. They often bring dogs they are fostering to events sponsored by the rescue league, so you can strike up a conversation there. If the dog(s) they’re currently fostering doesn’t meet your criteria, they can keep you in mind for future dogs that end up in their home.

    That’s what we did … we waited … and waited – but when we got Toby, he was/is the perfect fit for our family.

    Good luck!

  105. Amelia

    i’d like to add to the recommendations for breed rescue; we got a 2-year-old great dane who was calm and loving and wonderful and housebroken. she was part of a litter of puppies that had been poorly taken care of; as a result of a botched ear cutting, her ears flipped into the middle of her she looked weird until you fell in love with her. anyway, i understand that a great dane would be too large for you, but breed rescue would give you an opportunity to (a) take care of a dog who needs your love and yet (b) predict the breed characteristics ahead of time.

  106. kate c.w.

    Holy God, you ask for advice, you get some advice! Man!

    Needless to say I didn’t read aaaaall those comments, just throwing in my 2 cents like the rest. My mom has a standard schnauzer, pure bred, who is a very devoted protector of the family and has bitten a few strangers. (Yes, BITTEN. Broke skin and drew blood on at least one unfortunate lady. My parents were camping in an RV and the “stranger” — a very nice lady — crossed through their campsite. The dog, who was in the camper, broke through the closed screen door and charged the poor woman and bit her through her shorts, causing some bleeding and much distress.)

    So. We love our schnauzer. And from all we have learned, she is the epitome of her breed. And she bites people. So….

    Standard poodles are our other specialty. My parents have one as a companion to the sweet, yet overly protective schnauzer. He is a DOLL. Sweetest dog ever and would never nip or even confront a stranger unless the person was causing harm or breaking in. This dog was raised by my parents from puppyhood.

    My husband and I, however, adopted an adult standard poodle who was neurotic and spoiled. We worked on the “spoiled” bit, and the neuroses seemed to calm down. I would have been afraid of having him around kids though. He calmed down within a year, but unfortunately got out of his fence and was hit by a car soon after we made the transition from “tolerating” to truly loving him. He was a country dog at heart and loved to escape and run off.

    All this to say that, like with people, nature and nurture work together to create a dog’s personality. General breed-specific traits are only part of the picture. Especially with a rescue dog (or any dog adopted as an adult rather than puppy stage) you have to take into account what their life was like before you adopted them.

    Try to request a home trial to see if your new bud will fit into your lifestyle and uh, not bite your kids or anyone else. Adopting an adult dog can be somewhat iffy from what I have experienced, but then again, raising a puppy is a huge pain in the ass.

  107. tracy

    I will tell you Schnauzers have allergies and skin issues. My mom’s is about 8 and has had allergies since he was 3 or so. Skin problems since he was 5. His skin has sores all over him so you can’t really pet him because one he is gross but also it hurts him and he yelps alot. He was very, very patient with the grandkids when he was younger. He constantly sneezes blood mixed with snot now.
    I have a puggle. Very awesome with kids. They are pretty rough with them but sheds like crazy so not good with allergies.
    I have hears some good things about poodles though.
    Our local shelter insists you have at least 2 meetings with a potential dog before you adopt. I know alot of places will now bring the dog to your house so you can see how that goes. And they can make sure your home meets their requirements.
    Good Luck!

  108. tracy

    I meant the kids are rough with the dogs. And the dogs shed like crazy.

  109. WaywardGoddess

    I found my Daisy at a shelter. She’s a Boxer mix…mixed with what, I have no idea.
    She is the perfect dog for us. Her favorite place is laying on the couch watching tv, lol. She wants to be where we are. She will also go run around in the backyard, but I don’t have to exercise her constantly. She’s just content.
    She weighs about 50lbs. Not huge, but not small either. A 20lbs bag of dog food will last 2 months.
    She was apx 2 1/2 yrs old when we got her and a heartworm survivor. She’s the best dog I’ve ever had.

    The really funny part about it is…my daughter and I went to volunteer at teh shelter. I told her over and over “Don’t fall in love with anything, we are NOT bringing anything home”. Knowing that I am a sucker for a pair of puppy eyes, I pre-screened the shelter website to see if there were any animals I shoudl avoid. The only one that spoke to me was Daisy, but teh shelter hadn’t updated her status and she was listed as unavailable due to heartworm treatment.
    As it turns out, her treatment had been over and she was doing very well. She was being fostered by a family while going through the treatment and the day that we came up, they decided to bring her by the shelter so she could get some exposure.
    I was instantly smitten. Not wanting to jump in with something though, I arranged to foster her on a trial basis. If after 2 weeks we just weren’t going to be compatible, I could bring her back.
    The day I picked her up, I knew she’d be with us the rest of her life

  110. Neptune

    Mir, take thee to your local animal shelter (perhaps for several weeks in a row, several days each week) and find yourself a mutt. One with floppy ears- not one with ears that stand up. One that isn’t barking like crazy, but that gets up and comes up to the front of their crate/fence/gate with an intelligent look on their face. One that looks you in the eye with a shy smile, then looks away. One that tells your her name after a few or 30 minutes of playing with her.
    That’s your dog. :)


  111. Katie in MA

    This is probably too late in the game to be useful (or has perhaps been suggested above), but have you thought about fostering first? Then you would *really* know what the dog was like before you made a committment.

  112. Emily in IL

    GREYHOUND! The retired ones are wonderful and fit your requirements. Plus, you can go usually find a local group that’s doing a meet & greet at a local pet shop to test Monkey’s allergies. I’ll tell you, I’m allergic to everything – including dogs – and my boys (yes, I’m biased) do not bother me one bit. They have fur, but it’s only a single coat and they don’t seem to produce the same sort of allergens as other breeds.

    Oh, and they can be SO lazy you wonder if they are still alive, or go for a long walk.

  113. MaryP

    Grace, commenter 14, knows what she’s talking about. My advice is to follow that smart lady’s advice. (Helpful, no?)

    We’ve discovered that a dog who is given two good walks/runs a day (of at least 30 minutes each), is quite content to lay around the house the rest of the time. In fact, I’m ASTONISHED how much time a dog spends sleeping or half-asleep. But give that leash a rattle? Instant alert!

  114. Heidi

    You’re thinking about a terrier? I’d be happy to give you our neighbors’ terrier. What an obnoxious yappy thing! (Dearest terrier lovers reading this, I know you love your terriers and take fabulous care of them, but this one has had zero training and is downright naughty.)

    I can attest (by way of friends’s dogs) that Portugese water spaniels (like the Obamas’) and standard poodles are gentle, intelligent, non-allergy kinda canines.

  115. vanessa

    Portuguse water dogs are great, so are poodles.
    The very best way to keep a dog well trained is by doing positive training ONLY. That means you ignore those mean Monks of New Skete, Cesar whatshisname, etc. Read Pat Miller instead.
    If you want loads more information I can send it to you…somewhere I have a whole list of books and other resources. But in the meantime, check out

  116. lis

    I can introduce you to Lewis, a wonderful Springer Spaniel mix, a foster dog right now. Your kids would love him – anyone will love him!

  117. Catherine

    Shih-tzus are a “hair” breed and low allergen. They look high maintenance due to their long coat, but they can be easily kept in a “puppy cut.”

    Shih-tzus are natural clowns, love sponges, and foot warmers. They enjoy walks outside and romping with their toys, but they also love snoozing in a patch of sunlight.

    We’ve had breeder shih-tzus and rescue shih-tzus in our family, and we all think that there is no other breed for us. Look ’em up!

  118. Amy

    I have lots of advice, but I won’t write it because it is totally my opinion…and we all have one of those among other things! :-)

    I will add…I have a Goldren Retriever, best dog ever!!! It is hard to go wrong with or screw-up a Golden. And Standard Poodles are actually some really awesome, laid-back, smart-as-hell dogs. I am with alot of your readers. A rescued Goldendoodle would be a great bet!!!

  119. Suzy Voices

    Go to They’re a rescue group for Shiba Inu dogs. (Like a small husky). They’re actually in desperate need of foster homes, so that could be a possibility for you too. You know, try the dog on for a while!

    I just signed up to be a foster mom. Theyt have 6 dogs that still do not have foster homes that are at high risk of being euthanized! Sad stuff!

  120. Laurie

    It’s helpful if you get a dog that will fetch. That way you can exercise it by throwing a tennis ball on those days when there’s no time or energy to take it for a walk.

  121. The Toweled Avenger

    After my dad died I took in his miniature schnauzer and she was a neurotic mess – she ended up biting Stella, and I fortunately found her a nice home in the country where she was converted to vegetarianism (true) and lived happily ever after. Sounds like you want a small dog? If not, look for a lab mix – they’re awesome! Whatever you choose, you should definitely name your new pet “killer”.

  122. radioactivetori

    Sorry this is so late, I had surgery and am just now sort of catching up. We had an awful dog that we sent away when we were first married. I swore I’d never have another dog again. In fact we weren’t even planning to get a dog when my son chose the perfect puppy for us. When he said he needed her in his life, I knew, just knew she was right for us. She’s a chaweenie and tiny, which is perfect for our family. I think you are right that you will just know when you see the right dog. Take your time, and it will happen just the way it should. (and I am just now catching up so if you have already found one, I hope it is working out well!)

  123. Elizabeth

    Highly recommend some kind of a poodle mix.

    There are many rescue associations for certain kinds of dogs. We have a Golden Ret/Poodle mix – ours doesn’t shed at ALL. Great temperament – she scampers when we’re up and about. When we are sitting around, she’s a puddle of napping fluff. Sweet, sorta smart, easily trained, incredibly goofy, and loyal unto death. She sleeps on the end of Bear’s bed, and trails at his heels wherever he goes.

  124. Megan

    Having adopted a shelter dog in February and volunteering with a rescue.
    -you can’t really know what a shelter dog will be like in the home as a shelter doesn’t do a very good job of approximating a home. A rescue that uses foster homes is very helpful because you know what the dog is like in a home.
    -Ceaser Milan doesn’t know what he is talking about – (
    -know that the low allergen dogs are just that “low” allergen and not “zero” allergen…
    Good luck with getting a dog and thank you for doing research BEFORE you get the dog and not after :)

  125. Chuck

    I haven’t read through all the comments, but have you thought of doing a Greyhound rescue? Not sure how they would be with your allergies but my friend got one and is very happy with her. They can run fast and enjoy exercise but also are big couch potatoes when at home, evidently. Good luck with whatever breed you choose!

  126. Alicia

    Late comment but look into a lhasa apso (a better version of shitzu…bigger and better temperment). Loves to play but only if you want to. Entertains herself. We didn’t set out to train our 10 year old one but somehow she doesn’t require a leash, doesn’t bark unless the door rings. Love love lover her

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