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Hi all,

I am graduating college in December and I'm starting to seriously think about getting my first dog/puppy! Ive always wanted to have 1 dog and 1 cat and i figured it would be best to start with the dog first if I want them to like eachother. I have 2 cats at my moms and I used to have a boxer until he died so this will be the first dog I raise on my own. I'm very interested in the shiba inu breed and I've also been looking at a German Shepherd/husky as well as blue heeler and Australian shepherd cross breeds (I heard they're a lot of work pure bred). I will be living in an apartment or small house after graduation but I'm very willing to put in the work to exercise my dog daily and socialize, train and properly care for a new dog/puppy. I also like to go out one maybe two nights a week so ideally I want a dog that can handle me being away for a couple hours and would not murder my cat in the future. Do you guys have any advice for me? Will a shiba inu be good for a new young owner? I like the looks of the breeds I mentioned but should I be looking at something else instead? Any advice or experience with getting a first dog or puppy would be very helpful! Thanks yall.
 

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I would definitely reccomend going to a shelter/rescue. There are lots of animals that need homes. A lot of shelters and rescues have a lot of information on the dog and some will even let you "try out" the dog before getting it.

Australian shepherds are a lot of work. They are VERY smart, and need a lot of exercise and do best if they have a job.
 

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I have two fairly crazy breeds. My Aussie is one year old, and I have an 11 week old Border Collie. The BC is already insane, definitely not for first timers.

I hear a lot that Aussies aren't great first time dogs, but my Aussie was my first dog on my own, and I absolutely love him. Now with that in mind, I am very fortunate that my fiance works, and I get to stay home with the dogs while studying to be a dog trainer. This means I have ALL day to exercise and entertain my Aussie. I think even if you have an Aussie mix, you're going to be dealing with Aussie energy.

From your list there, you have listed a lot of very high maintenance dogs. I would definitely not recommend an ACD as a first time dog, they are SO intense. I'm always nervous about GSDs because of the terrible breeding practices that ran rampant through the breed, though if you could find a really good breeder you may be able to avoid some of the health problems. I highly recommend NOT getting a Shiba as your first dog. From everything I've learned they are independent and basically do what they want.

I wouldn't be considered about being in apartment for size restrictions, as all those dogs aren't massive, but they are all very smart, and left alone could get themselves into trouble if you don't seriously exercise them. Particularly the Husky, which is known to be quite vocal (happy vocal, sad vocal, frustrated vocal etc.)

My Aussie gets about 2 hours of exercise a day, through various outlets like walks, fetch, off-leash runs, and dog parks (though admittedly we are going less and less as I'm noticing bad behaviour from other dogs). He also gets quite a few 10 minute training sessions where we work on obedience and tricks. Maybe @jclark343 can weigh in on Forbes' energy levels.

Are you completely sold on those dogs, or are you open to suggestions? :)
 
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Wow, those are not beginner breeds.

I would not recommend a husky or a GSD to anyone who rents. Apartments often ban both breeds, as well as a number of others, and many apartments have weight restrictions that both those breeds would go over.

For a beginner who lives in an apartment, I would recommend adopting an adult mixed breed, smaller than 50 lbs. You want something fairly mellow that has been tested with cats. There are tons of mixed breed adults out there who would make you a fantastic first time dog. I can think of a few dozen on this board alone.
 

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My first question would be why did you pick these breeds?

A shiba inu would actually be a horrible first dog. Not only are they rather hard to find, they are also a really hard headed stubborn breed. They need an educated owner that is going to hold them to what is being asked of them. Not a very forgiving breed to mistakes either.

German Shepherds and huskies are probably the LAST breed I would recommend to a new owner. They are hard headed stubborn dogs that tend to have problems with socialization that can lead to aggression.

As far as my aussie goes, I think an aussie or an aussie mix could be an ok first time dog IF you hire a trainer immediately and know that you are going to dedicate a LOT of time and money into making sure the dog is occupied. I'm lucky, I have a pretty low maintenance aussie, and I know I could (and should) probably do more work with him. Generally they do best in a REALLY active home (frequent hikers) or a sport family (I am starting agility with mine tomorrow).

Now, coming from someone that got a dog immediately after I moved out of my parents house into my own home, I would really advise you to wait. You are going to be getting a job (I imagine) and enjoying your freedoms, you might not find yourself home enough to really dedicate enough time to a dog. I was lucky enough that most of the time I went out, I was going to other people's houses and brought my dog along, but I know my first dog really got slighted in a lot of different areas because I was off having too much fun. BUT if you decide that you need a dog in your life NOW, I would really recommend going to the shelter and getting an older dog. I got Forbes when he was a year and although there were still things I had to work through, I really enjoyed not having to deal with all the puppy issues. Maybe start off fostering for a local shelter. I know the shelters around me are always looking for fosters, especially ones that don't already have any animals.
 

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As someone roughly your age and also dealing with my first dog in an apartment, I wouldn't get those breeds. If you had to have one of them, I'd say GSD from a shelter. They tend to look more like the shepherd but are probably mixed so they're much calmer. But then again they're not allowed in a lot of apartments. I had a friend get one and he listed it as a Malinois because not many people know what they are. So it depends on what kind of person you are....

If there's no size restrictions then I'd say get a Great Dane. They have mellow energy and don't live long (which is sad) but you'd get to learn about how to raise a dog and not have to live with the consequences for 15 years. Just don't have a lot of breakables lying around.

If size is an issue then I'd just go to the shelter and find a lower energy dog that fits.
 

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I wouldn't really recommend the breeds you listed as good first time dogs. Just something to keep in mind to (which may depend upon were you live) but most apartments have some form weight limits and or breed banes/restrictions.
Most of the ones you've listed are high energy intelligent and in some cases stuborn breeds (especially the shiba).
I personally have just started college and have a aussie (though ive had him since senior year of HS). And I plan to move with him after college. While not my first dog, he is my first dog in the sense that I am responsible for his care and well being. I got lucky with him in that he's pretty mellow for his breed, but he's still got plenty of energy and is very intelligent. While I wouldn't say there the worst first time breed, I think you really need to be committed to the breed and what it entails (this also applies to the other breeds) if you get one.
As for GSD's, ive personally only met one as my uncle and aunt have one, but from what ive meet/seen there large, smart dogs that have a lot of energy.
Husky's on the other hand are vocal (very vocal), smart in the stuborn way and need a ton of exercise. And as others have said Australian cattle dogs are intense dogs.

My personal suggestion for you is to wait until you've moved into a home/apartment, settle in, figure out your work schedual, and figure out if were you living has any weight or breed restrictions, and go from there.
 

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I've owned 2.5 of the breeds you listed.

My first dog was an American show line German Shepherd (before people started going crazy with exaggerated conformation, ugh). We got him at around 8-10 weeks old when I was 5. Other than typical puppy energy, he was not very high maintenance. He came from a good breeder who did all the (should be) required health testing and he was sound for as long as we had him. Sadly, when we had to move to an apartment in Virginia when I started my freshman year of high school, my mother gave him to some folks she met somewhere who apparently had a ranch. I didn't know about it until I came home to no dog, and I never got to say goodbye or ever see him again. If someone was adamant about a GSD as a first dog, I would suggest against any working line dog. Show line dogs are typically more mellow than the working ones, for obvious reasons.

We had another German Shepherd during the time we had my first. She was a rescue from a huge puppy mill bust, one of the overbred bitches. Remembering what she looked like, she probably came from working stock somewhere along the line, perhaps crossed with some show line. Who knows? She was, thankfully, healthy and sound, but had a lot of fear issues because of her history. Unfortunately, we lost her a year or two before we moved to that apartment. We had been living with a friend (a BYB for Akitas *sigh*) who had racked up fines regarding his dogs, so Animal Services came and confiscated not only his two breeding dogs, but also our female GSD. They had no right, since she was not his, but we were never able to get her back.

At some point we also adopted a little Australian Cattle Dog x AmStaff/APBT cross from a Petsmart event. I honestly disliked that dog. She did well in training, but would constantly follow me around the house nipping at my ankles (that herding dog in her, I suppose). It got to the point where she actually bit my calf and I'd had enough... just stayed in separate rooms from her constantly. She was also taken by Animal Services when they came and took the Akitas and our rescue Shepherd.

For a while we didn't have any dogs, then we adopted a pair of Siberian Husky x German Shepherd brothers. They were hands down the best dogs we have ever owned. So insanely intelligent, borderline genius, and such good boys. Both passed their puppy classes with flying colors and were almost the perfect dogs. Sadly, one morning they got out into the front yard (which generally was no big deal, because they would play for a bit and come back inside). My mother kind of freaked out and tried to chase them to get them back into the house... so they ran down the street. It happened to be rush hour and one of the people on the main road was texting on their cell phone... and yeah. My brother's pup was killed instantly and mine was severely injured and tried to walk home, he had to be euthanized shortly afterwards due to the extensive injuries (broken ribs, fractured pelvis, and pulmonary hemorrhage). I haven't been able to bring myself to get another dog of my own yet. That was in 2011. They were 2 years, 2 months, and 2 weeks old.

About a week after the boys, my brother got a Siberian Husky puppy from a great breeder in Pennsylvania. Smart as a whip and definitely typical Husky (sans trying to escape). He's definitely high maintenance, though. You have to be two steps ahead of him, mentally, constantly. But he's a good dog and loves to be loved and do the right thing (especially if there's a cookie involved, but it's not mandatory). And yes... he is vocal. He doesn't bark, but he does grunt, talk back, and of course yodel. Oh god the yodeling!
 

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Unfortunately, from my experience, almost all of the breeds you listed are very high maintenance, high energy, and pretty likely to attack a cat, especially huskies with their high prey drive. I would recommend going to a shelter or rescue group for a good first-time dog. It is a much better transition getting an adult rescue because you'll know its temperament and personality better. A lot of rescues will even do cat testing to make sure a dog won't attack a cat.
 
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