Friday, March 13, 2009

Best family dog

As most of you know, I am a dog enthusiast. If you haven't already guessed it by the title of my blog, I do have a slight predjudice for a certain breed as well. I had originally intended this as a comment on another blog post, but due to the ammount of info involved, I thought it better to write a full post. Feel free to comment about your experience as well!

I would rate the Chesapeake Bay Retriever as the best family dog. It is superb with kids, and very loyal. (this is speaking of a large dog, not of miniature breeds. I don't have much experience with miniatures)

I have seen some Labs that are ok, but generally they are far to hyper, and tend to be unaware of their size, knocking over children with their exuberance. Chessie's, on the other hand, have an uncanny knack for noticing kids, and though thoroughly enjoying their company, will refrain from even wagging their tail when a small person is around. They are extremely easy going, and will allow a child to do virtually anything to them. This is an accepted character trait of the breed, but as with any dog, the most important determining factor on whether they are a good family dog, depends on their socialization when they are young. Even the best breed, if unsocialized, I could not recommend.

Golden Retrievers, I would consider better still, than a Lab. They have some of the same drawbacks of over-exuberance, but generally aren't as bad. Realize with the more popular breeds (Labs, Golden's, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, etc.), there are really two strains to the breed (sometimes more), the original hunting dog (or guard dog) and the companion dog. They will both be registered the same way with the AKC, but their temperaments are vastly different. This is due to over-breeding. Golden's have really degraded from the over-breeding, so try and get a "hunting" dog, with true hunting bloodlines. They are often the better dog, even if you aren't using them for hunting. Labs on the other hand, have generally gotten more friendly, and laid back, from the breeding, although some strains have gotten a bit hyper as well. Try and meet both parents any time you are choosing a dog. 

American Pit Bulls, in spite of their reputation, are also generally a good family dog. Although careful breeding has made them a pretty friendly dog, they also can be unaware of their size at times. 

Old English Mastiff, a huge dog, is a good breed with children. Again, though, this massive dog doesn't recognize its own size all the time. St. Bernard's are also in this same category, although they are often more prone to being hyper than a Mastiff, making them an even less suitable dog. 

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are also a very large dog, but tend to be aware of their size. They like children, and are very careful around them. They are another breed that will abuse from a child. Their greatest downfall is sometimes they are overly protective. There have even been rare instances when they will "protect" the child from the parents when discipline is needed! In spite of their protective nature, they are generally quite accepting of new children, though adults they are quite wary of. Of course, unless you know the dog very well, it is never advised to leave a child unattended with a large breed. In spite of all good intentions, their play may sometimes get a little rough. Be carefully with the Burmese Mountain Dog, a Greater Swiss look-alike. They are overly rambunctious, and not very good with kids. Border Collie's are normally not bad with kids, but don't have the time of day for them either. They are not very gentle, but rarely have a desire to cause injury either. They are less intimidating to a child, but do not have the general disposition to be a great family dog. They are far to timid, and have a tendency to nip, if you don't train it out of them. 

German Shepherds, I haven't had a lot of experience with. From any reasearch I have done, and from my small experiences, they can be an ok family dog, but don't normally take to it naturally. I would consider them too much of a guard dog to place them in any position as a good family dog. 

I am sure I may have forgotten a breed or two, and there are always aberrations to any breed standard, but this is my experience from personal encounters and research. Of course, many mutts are better than any breed, but this is all on an individual basis. There is no way to standardize a mutt. Generally look for one that is a mix of two "good" breeds, or one that is primarily a "good" breed.

I don't feel I have enough experience with small breeds to give any opinions there. Strange as it sounds, I trust many large breeds more with children than small breeds. Small breeds tend to have more of a tendency to nip, which may be "cute" to an adult, but with children can cause injury. Pomeranians, Cocker Spaniels, and most any Toy Breed, are considered good, but I can't give a personal opinion.

Again, I would love you hear your input! Feel free to agree or disagree.

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