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Discussion Starter #1
Please forgive me if I am in the wrong section and for such a large post. I am really unsure on how to find the right dog breed. I say this because various sources say various things. It almost feels like breed doesn't matter.

I have never lived without a dog until I moved away from home. The house feels strangely, slightly, empty without the presence of a dog. Unfortunately, the dog breeds I like enjoy chasing and/or are aggressive to other animals. Examples include: Akita Inu, Belgian Sheepdog, German Shepherd (although one source says they are good with cats...idk) Standard Schnauzer, Entlebucher, etc.

I may not be able to have one but here is the family situation:

I have 3 cats, no real history with dogs.
My cats enjoy running around the house so the dog would need to have low...low prey drive.

I also have an 11 month old. Note: I will be waiting until my child is older but I prefer to start looking now so I can start preparations in case I have to go to a breeder. My husband and I are thinking around 4 years of age. She is already relatively gentle with the cats. I have one cat that must be nearby every time she wakes up. So he has been a great help in teaching her how to properly pet an animal.

One breed I was matched with in an online quiz is the Bernese Mountain Dog...however I live in the desert and even though the dog will be in the house...it would be hard to keep it exercised during the summer and to keep it cool.

I would also like the dog to be a watchdog...can guard too if it wants. I am perfectly fine if the dog just looks the part, though. I do have my own protection but having something to help reduce the chance of unfriendly-interactions would be great. Currently, my cats inform me whenever someone comes to door by growling so they are my current watchcats. lol (also had a few incidences that impress on me that they would protect as well..they are very friendly cats once I give the okay...I know it is weird...)

One last thing...if the dog could be low energy that would be great too. If it is moderate to high then we may have to wait longer to obtain one, but such is life. At least I will know which breed(s) are perfect for us.

PS: medium or larger size preferred

I know I am asking a lot...but hopefully one is out there that I have overlooked.

Thank you for your time and knowledge.
 

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I am no expert, but I think a Boxer or a German Shorthaired Pointer would be good. I believe any dog can be taught not to chase the cats. Persistance and consistancy are key. A boxer is loyal, as well as a GSP. I have read one trainer refering to a GSP as a "Man Stopper". I know the energy is higher than you might want, but I've taken my dogs out into the country, on dirt roads and taught them to run in front of my car, to exercise. It works out well for them and me, as I am not running, I don't care what.
Good luck in our search.
 

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I also like like idea of a Smooth Collie or the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. If you're looking for lower-energy, I would say no no noooooo to a Boxer or GSP. :p
I wonder if a Great Dane would be a good option @annageckos? They are pretty chill and look super intimidating, even if they aren't.
 

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Grey hounds are pretty lazy believe it or not. They don't look as frightening as some dogs but they're loyal and have a thin coat that will fit your climate.
 

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My GSD, Nevada was great with other animals. All other animals but she didn't really care for other dogs. She was super gentle with the smallest critters, would like baby rats and even have a young squirrel ride her back. I also have a few cats. But I know not all are like this and I do think a lot of it depends on the dog.
Great danes are great family dogs. Freyja is pretty good about not chasing the cats, even when they run by her. Sometimes she'll forget herself and take a couple of steps but will stop. Even though there are no kids in the house or that she even sees often she is good with kids. She has even had a stranger shove a infant into her face once before I could do anything and all she did was give a small lick. Danes have a deep bark and will intimidate most people, but they are very gentle. The are pretty laid back, though some lines are more active than others. Freyja is good with a 45 minute walk and some tug every day. Some days she gets to run off lead, but we are still working on that. There are a few very important things though. It's very very important to find a good breeder. Unfortunately there are more and more backyard breeders that are breeding unstable danes. Danes also are prone to a few health problems, bloat is a big one and cancer. So if you are interested research their health problems and then find a good breeder who health screens. Danes medical bills also cost more because of their size. Overall they are very loving, velcro dogs, easy to train, pretty laid back but alert. Their size and deep bark will deter most. They also have no idea of their size and like to sit on your lap. They can drool, but that too depends on the line. Freyja isn't too bad, it's mostly after drinking, eating or when excited or worked up.

ETA: They are fairly heat tolerant, but I would look at the lighter colors like fawn or maybe harlequin. They have a very short coat that doesn't shed much.
 

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I agree with Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. They look just like Bernese but with short hair and less drool. They're not quite as personable as Berners but very good family dogs, and watch dogs. Typical "gentle giant" type dog. I do have to say though that Greyhounds typically don't do well with cats like someone mentioned. I wouldn't recommend most sight hounds for a family with cats.
 

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I think if you're willing to spend time and work on training and exercising, the Boxer may be a good choice.
my sister was a tofddler when we got Teo back then and they were awesome together.
I've seen loads of Schäfi(mixes) being awesome family dogs when trained and exercised.

but if you're not set on a breed yet, please consider asking in your local shelter and think about an older dog...evt. a mixed breed.
good shelters know their dogs and can tell you if the dog is good fit for a family with children and cats and you can do a "probation period" if the dog fits your home.
there are tons of good "beginner dogs" waiting in the shelters.

with children and dogs youV'e got always be a bit careful of course.
children are unpredictable and when they hurt or startle the dog even the nicest dog can snap in reflex which can lead to terrible wounds.
so: interaction is good, but stay with them and make sure you educate your child how to interact with a dog safely.
 
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I was going to suggest a smooth collie too. I have a rough and she is a quite nice dog but her coat is as bad as Bernese mountain dog's so you probably don't want that. But smooth collies are pretty rare, am I right? Alva the rough collie is interested in chasing cats but she would not hurt one. She is just curious and playful. Cats do not like this though so my cat has spent some time getting used to the stupid dog that runs after her and finding out that walking slowly with high tail past the dog instead of quick dashes is the most succesful way to move around.

We have had Belgian sheepdogs with cats and there was no problems. The cats were there before the dogs so the dogs learned as puppies that our cats are family. They still wanted to chase wild rabbits outside. The breed is high energy so if you want a low energy dog, avoid working breeds like the Belgians and GSD. I think with shepherds living with cats and other small pets is more a training/exercise thing.

One thing which the breed quizzes rarely address is how independent you want your dog to be? Akita on your list is very different to say, a collie. Most shepherd breeds, retrievers and such are bred to work with humans and thus they like to cooperate with us and are easy to reward with treats and toys. Then some other breeds are more independent meaning they rather work alone and for themselves and may have little interest towards food or toys beyond lunch time.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Helenka, that is a brilliant idea to have the dog run alongside the car! Thank you for sharing that and your breed picks.
 

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I've never owner a Berner, but there are two I've worked with in my local TDI chapter, and they're lovely dogs--the two of them are certified to work as therapy dogs on their own or in brace. They also cart and do obedience (well, the older one does; the younger one just hasn't had as much time to compete yet). Very patient and calm, and they do well with children--at least the two I know do. My much smaller dog is content to lie down nose to nose with the female Bernese; he's still a little cautious around the younger one as he's a bit more energetic and he does outweigh my dog by quite a bit.

When you choose a specific breed, you might also look into whether there's a breed rescue near you unless your heart is set on a puppy (though sometimes even puppies show up in rescues). Plenty of fine dogs end up in rescues due to circumstances beyond their control--their owners die or suddenly end up too ill to care for them, for instance. Could be there'd even be one in a rescue that was used to being around cats, which would solve that problem for you.

I do commend you for thinking ahead and wanting to wait until your child is older to add a dog to the family--and for considering the feelings/situation of the pets you already own.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Mathilda, the main reason I am looking for breeds instead of going to the shelter is because the shelters out here are mostly filled with terriers and pit bulls I don't have a problem with pit bulls but I we may move in the future. Since I have heard some places have breed bans...I don't want to risk it.

Another problem I have encountered with two of the shelters out here have lied to me about how well the dogs were good with cats. We gave up after the third try. The only shelter that was honest with us was a cat shelter that gave us our third cat. He was exactly the type of cat I was looking for when I told them the personalities of my other two.

If I decide to go to a shelter again...I would have to go out of state to find dogs of different breeds/mixes. So I am on the fence if we want to do the drive...

Thank you, for your input on shelters and the boxer breed. I will look more into this breed.

Also, thank you, for making sure I understand that children should not be left alone with any animal. Reminders are always good.
 

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FinnAlva, that was another reason I saw that the Akita would not work well with us. I imagine that the dog would need to be more towards the dependent side so it could play with the cats and the rest of the family when appropriate. One of my cats is extremely needy and pushy so if he wants to lay with someone (or cat) he will do so. I don't think the Akita would appreciate that.

However, if my thinking is wrong on this, please let me know.

And thank you for your breed inputs and insight.
 

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Tilden, I would love to have an adult dog that already has all the work done. I grew up with a total of 8 dogs...I am done with the puppy phase. lol But due to some bad experiences from the shelters near here...I worry for my cats safety and their impression of dogs.

One has decided that dogs are evil due to a minor incident when we fostered one that was suppose to be great with cats. Thankfully, all she does now is stare as though she wants to murder them and not actually attack. So, it looks like we will be going the puppy route to also help her not feel threatened.

This is also why I am looking for breeds because the likelihood of having to return the dog would be reduced. I don't believe in giving up a dog, but if there is a threat to life (especially towards the cats) then unfortunately, the dog would get re-homed.
 

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Thank you everyone for taking the time to give me your breed suggestions and extra input on training to keep the chase from happening so it wouldn't escalate.

You guys have been very helpful.
 

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To be completely honest, none of the breeds you listed will be a good choice for your situation.

I have two Akitas, and I make a point to warn people against the breed. They are an incredible dog and I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without one by my side- but they are for a very specific person. You need to have a strong knowledge of animal behavior, a working understanding of positive reinforcement training, time and resources to devote to professional help (which you will probably need at one point or another), and vigilance. Both my purebred and my mix (part husky, part pit, mostly akita), would legitimately tear somebody apart if they believed it was a threatening situation. I am constantly on the watch to make sure one of them does not "snap", and go into defense mode for an incorrect reason. I keep my dogs in muzzles in public and I do not allow people to pet them unless I can tell that their body language is unanimously friendly. That is not to say that Akitas aren't friendly- they are trainable, gentle, and playful, but I also know that they are a completely different beast than your average lab. So, there's my two cents (and warning) about the Akita.

All the other breeds you have listed will not be good with your cats, especially the GSD and Schnauzer. Let me also add- I have spent a fair amount of time in the Schutzhund world and I can tell you that a giant Schnauzer is almost on the same field as an Akita in terms of not being suitable for the general public. They are extremely protective, with a short fuse. That is another breed you will want to stay away from, considering you do not have experience with this kind of dog. Many GSDs will be the same way, except the lines are so diluted that you may be able to more easily find one that will be suitable for family life. However, you would have to carefully select a breeder who breeds for temperament, rather than conformation or working ability.

I would steer you towards a mastiff, or mastiff mix. They have many of the qualities you want. Large, short fur, relatively low energy, gentle, good with families, friendly but looks intimidating, and will protect if necessary.
 

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Tilden, I would love to have an adult dog that already has all the work done. I grew up with a total of 8 dogs...I am done with the puppy phase. lol But due to some bad experiences from the shelters near here...I worry for my cats safety and their impression of dogs.

One has decided that dogs are evil due to a minor incident when we fostered one that was suppose to be great with cats. Thankfully, all she does now is stare as though she wants to murder them and not actually attack. So, it looks like we will be going the puppy route to also help her not feel threatened.

This is also why I am looking for breeds because the likelihood of having to return the dog would be reduced. I don't believe in giving up a dog, but if there is a threat to life (especially towards the cats) then unfortunately, the dog would get re-homed.
Just a quick comment about this. Many dogs will chase cats, and there are many situations in which a dog will kill a cat. It is a natural behavior and difficult to modify. No matter what dog you end up with, you will need to be on the watch and put strict procedures to be sure that your cats are safe. If you would seriously rehome a dog that threatens one of them, then you probably shouldn't be getting a dog.

My dog killed my hedgehog a couple of months ago. I kept her in an open topped cage (they can't climb) in my living room, but I crate my dogs when I have to leave the house. My dogs have also never shown an interest in the hedgehog, in fact, they seemed to be a little bit afraid of her. One day in February I had to make a quick run to Target and I decided to leave the dogs out in the living room while I was gone, thinking they would be fine for the reasons I mentioned earlier. When I came back, Bear had killed my hedgehog. Luckily it wasn't too gory, I think he broke her back pretty instantaneously.

Was I upset? Of course. Was I angry? Of course. Was I upset and angry with Bear? Of course not. Dogs are predators, household pets- including cats- are prey. I made the decision that I took certain risks by bringing another animal with different behaviors and instincts into my home, and I would be irresponsible if I decided to punish them for acting on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you, Squidwanda, for sharing your experience and your opinions. Apparently, I wasn't clear that I know the dogs I listed would not work with my family. I was hoping for suggestions on breeds I have missed or overlooked. The dogs listed where dog mixes I grew up with that were great with cats but the internet said otherwise. So, I am trying to follow the "rules" and obtain the right dog instead of getting the "wrong" dog and people jump on my back for it. I apologize for forcing you to think that I only wanted these dogs for their looks.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. It is very much appreciated.
 
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