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We're looking into adopting a puppy in the future and I did some research on these breeds. However, I'm still unsure which would best fit our family. I'm looking for some advice from people who have owned, or currently own, these breeds -- even if they're mixed.

Here's a bit about us:
We are a family of 7, with 3 kids, and 4 adults. The eldest kid is 13, and the youngest is 4 going to be 5 later this year. The kids love to swim in the pool we have in the backyard, and play with the dogs and cat when they're not busy watching shows or are just playing with each other. The eldest helps care for them as well.

We have 2 dogs and a cat. The eldest dog is a lab mix aged 8-9yrs and has calmed down quite a bit and has always been a sweetheart. The other is a pitbull aged 2yrs and is nothing but a lover/cuddler and is quite playful. The cat is about 2yrs as well and handles energetic dogs well. The pitbull and cat were basically raised together.

I'm going to be completely honest about our lifestyle and say we are somewhat active. My husband, and my brother-in-law like to go hunting when time and seasons allow, and we all enjoy camping. Both husbands are Veterans who served in the military. I like to go out for walks too. My sister-in-law is a stay-at-home mom. We recently moved to a city/suburban area, however, and now I'm unfamiliar with the area and haven't gone out for walks lately. I feel somewhat uncomfortable going out alone in an unfamiliar place and our dogs are not very good on leashes. I also have some other hobbies like painting, and occasionally playing video games when not playing with the dogs or helping with the kids. There's usually someone home between us 4 adults.

We live in a 4 bedroom home, and the yard would probably be considered small/medium, but we have a pool in the backyard that takes up quite a bit of space. The dogs can still run, but they have to be careful around the pool as it is an above ground type.

I'm concerned about the energy levels and space requirements for these breeds. I know BCs and Aussies can be very energetic and can be a challenge if their needs are not met, but if given the right stimulation and training can be amazing dogs. I haven't done as much research on GSDs but know they are smart, loyal, protective, and are also energetic. Growing up, I had a Lab-German Shepard mix, and she was a joy to have as a family dog. She learned quickly and was often suspicious of strangers who entered our home but was also friendly after checking them out. Our lab mix we currently own was crazy energetic when she was young, so we do have experience with that, but we also had a larger yard back when she was young for her to run and play.

Based on this, do any current or past owners of these breeds think such a household suitable for these breeds? Which one would be best suited? If none, then what breed could be more suitable? We're not necessarily set on these breeds, and are open for other suggestions, though I personally would love to have one of them.
 

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I know BCs and Aussies can be very energetic and can be a challenge if their needs are not met, but if given the right stimulation and training can be amazing dogs.
So what stimulation, training and activities are you planning on doing?

From your description none of these breeds are suitable. You mention that you’ll sometimes hunt, is this something you want to include the dog in? How would you do that? What will you do activity vise on a day to day basis? To me it’s very concerning that you mention that you lately haven’t been going for walks. This is something I see as a basic need for any dog and all dogs should be allowed to get daily walks, including your lab and pitbull. How do you exercise and train your current dogs as for now? Why do you want to get a third dog?
 

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Thanks for the honest reply!

Neither of our current dogs are trained to track or retrieve for the hunting trips our husbands go on. They're more of family companions than working dogs.

We take them out camping, go for walks/hikes(prior to moving) and will do so again when we find good hiking/walking spots/routes. We have a 5 acre plot of land we like to go camping on and is actually our hunting spot as well. We have gone out to it before we moved (we were days away before) but now that we’re closer we go more often. It used to be a week-long vacation once/twice a year prior to us moving closer and we brought our dogs with us each time. They loved it and still do. We plan on doing the normal activities/games like fetch, frisbee, and rope/tug-of-war as well, like we do with our current dogs. I've seen videos of BCs and Aussies that were given household jobs like putting toys away, and heard of some helping with laundry (putting clothes in the basket) and am absolutely interested in doing that or something similar with a future dog! I’m sure a GSD could do so as well. Working breeds need a stimulating job, and I want to fulfill that need, even if it isn’t herding or agility, or dog sports like that. With the new dog, we want to take them to obedience classes for us as owners and for them as well too.


Like I mentioned earlier, we haven't taken the dogs out for walks due to our unfamiliarity with the area. We took them out for walks, and hikes through a small state park, on fishing trips etc before we moved to our current home. But again, we are unfamiliar with our new city/suburb area. I completely agree that walks are a must for any dog! However, there are no leash laws where we now live and we are being cautious of other dogs who are let out front without leashes or any form of restraint or containment such as fences, (though the backyards are fenced the fronts are not). One of our neighbors dogs likes to get out and doesn’t like other females, which both of ours are female. We just want to keep our dogs safe from unknown dogs. Once we get to know what areas are ok for walks we will be taking them out again, of course! I apologize if I didn't make that clear enough! I personally want to work on how they walk on leashes, both pull pretty hard and I want to try and teach them to not pull as hard. Just today we took them out for a drive to make up for the lack of walks and to safely check out the neighborhood. We have been doing this since we moved. Though it's not physically stimulating like a walk would be, they enjoyed it and are just laying around the house as I type this. I often play fetch with them and our pitt loves to play tug-of-war and to gently wrestle. We currently train themon a daily basis, we do the basics: sit, down, stay to make sure they don’t forget them. We also taught them shake, high-five, and speak. Recently we’ve been teaching them how to balance on their back legs. Our goal with that last one is to teach our Pitt to spin around while balancing, we call the trick “dance”. We had a dog before who we taught it to and once we discovered our Pitt had good balance we decided to try teaching her too! We’re still working on it though!

To answer why we want a third dog: My husband and I like to travel(roadtrips) and want a companion for those times. The two dogs that live with us truly belong to my brother and sister-in-law. Though we still consider them our family pets too, we want a dog we can truly and fully call our own.

Hope this answers all your questions and concerns!
 

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I dont know much about aussies except they look like a tailess border collie so i cant comment on that breed but as a previous pure border collie owner and current cross border collie owner it sounds like a bc would be a good fit. B collies are very sensitive so might get scared with the hunting gun noise aspect so a german shepherd might be a better candidate. Either way both breeds sound like theyd be a great fit.
 

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I was also thinking along those lines, and have done much research on Border Collies. They're a very smart breed, but are also just as sensitive. I don't know if early exposure to guns and the sounds of them would help, but I know we did similar things with our vacuum, lawnmower and motorcycles with the other dogs and they're not afraid of those loud sounds, though they know not to get near them when we use them. My husband doesn't really want a dog with long fur, but I also know some BCs have shorter coats. I think its called a Smooth Coat.

I remember my friends had a BC mix, I think she was mixed with lab. She also was afraid of loud noises like thunder and fireworks, loud noises you can't really expose dogs to in a controlled environment. She would often surprise you with her smarts though, and was very attentive to whoever was instructing her or leading her on walks. Unfortunately, she wasn't very good with small children. She's actually what led me to look into the breed.

I also know a German Shepard owner (she owns quite a few from the straight-backed working lines) and I Ioved their gentleness and watchfulness, how they seemed to judge me before deciding I was ok. They were calm and focused, and stuck by their owner's side unless she allowed them to wander. I know some of that is training and good leadership though. I know GSDs have medium length coats as well which would work for my husband.

We're not necessarily looking for a purebred either, and are very open to rescue groups or shelters if we are able to find the right dog. I just want to get an idea of which direction to go. Thanks for your input!
 

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But if you want to include the dog in hunting and want them to be able to track and retrieve, why not look into dogs that are bred for that purpose rather than herding dogs?

It’s still not clear to me what exercise and training the dog would get on a day to day basis. You mention hikes, camping and hunting but what about a normal day? How many/how long walks? What other activities? Etc. How much will you hunt and how invested will you be to train a dog for hunting? What’s your ambitions?

I must disagree with that the BC, aussie or GSD would be a great fit. Except for the unclear day to day basis activity, neither of these breeds are optimal if you’re planning on hunting with the dog.

Before getting any dog I also think you need to make sure that you will be able to walk in your area. And also to train your current dogs to be good on leash. If it’s already difficult to walk two dogs, imagine one more... You need to work on that first of all. Brining in one more dog will only make it harder.
 

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You bring up very good points Sunflower! Thanks for asking these questions, and helping us think through it all! This is exactly what we need. However, it was never mentioned that the dog would be trained to be a hunting/tracking/retrieving dog. It was simply mentioned as an activity our husbands do. They would be a companion like the other two. I agree that a herding dog would not be suitable for hunting, and a retriever or hound would be a better fit. If we were looking for a hunting dog, we wouldn't even consider the herding breeds.

I don't understand how I'm not being clear enough about a day-to-day basis. I mentioned that we play with the dogs daily and which activities we do with them in an earlier post. t
These activities would be what we would do with another as well. Is it because I didn't mention exact times? Honestly we don't keep track of specific times. We just play with them till they become tired and wander away on their own. I personally figure if they show that they're done playing for the moment that I will stop and let them rest. If they want to play again later, I will and do so gladly. It's simply that I don't look at my phone or clock and say "I'm going to play for 20mins, take a break, and go for another 15mins" etc. However, if it is needed to make a clearer picture, roughly speaking we play with them for about 2 hours, total throughout the day between all of us. This includes when we do their tricks. I will stress that we don't keep track of exactly how long we play with them.

For the amount of walks we would do prior to moving, we would usually take the two we have on daily walks and were working on their leash training before we moved. We never kept track of time when walking them either. However, if a rough estimate is needed, I would have to say we walked them for about 1hr. Hikes would take longer, maybe 2hrs, with breaks of course. Camping trips, since we went to county forests most of the time, they were allowed off leash and roamed around nearby swimming, and exploring when we weren't actively playing fetch or whatnot. Hope this helps create a better picture, I don't really know what else to add.

We're not looking to adopt immediately, and are going to make sure we're ready before getting another dog. Its definitely not something that we're going to rush headlong into without thought and preparation. This is why I've come here and started this discussion post. As mentioned in an earlier post we're trying to find good, safe, areas to walk our dogs, and also work on their leash training oncemore after we find those areas. I agree that the needs of our two dogs we now have are a higher priority than getting another.
 

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However, it was never mentioned that the dog would be trained to be a hunting/tracking/retrieving dog. It was simply mentioned as an activity our husbands do.
Okay, since you brought it up I thought it would have something to do with the dog. But then I understand.

I don't understand how I'm not being clear enough about a day-to-day basis.
The time you spend have a big impact on how much exercise and stimulation the dog will get. For instance some might say “I will take the dog for a walk” and by that mean 10 minutes while another say the same thing but mean 2 hours. You never said in your previous post that the dog would get 1 hour walk everyday, so it’s great that this have been clarified. Since you appearently spend 2 hours on activity/play apart from the 1 hour walk, wouldn’t you be interested in looking into some more challenging activity’s, like Nosework/scentwork, obedience, tracking, searching etc? If you would practice some of these activities you’d have a bigger range of dogs to choose from.

But as for your description right now of a 1 hour walk and playtime, it sounds like your looking for a companion dog. Not high energy, working breeds like BC, Aussie or GSD.

What traits and characteristics do you look for in a dog? Friendly/reserved, Barking, alerting, coat, grooming requirements, size, handler focused,goofy/serious, trainability, will to please, stubborn etc etc?
 

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Ah, I see now! Apologies for the confusion on the hunting thing. I didn't see it as confusing, but I also know what I meant by it. So I can see how it can be misunderstood. I'm also glad it could be clarified!

I suppose that is true! One's time spent with a dog can mean something entirely different to another. But yes, we take the two dogs we do have for longer walks, which are roughly 1hr, and will do so again once we've settled into our new area. I think since we're in a hotter climate than where we were previously we are going to walk them either before noon or after the hottest time of day which is after 4pm. We've lived in hotter climates before due to our husbands' military service, and this is what we did back then and it worked out perfectly.

I personally idly thought about agility, but I'm not sure if its something I would seriously pursue. It would be awesome to see a dog of ours move like those sporting dogs do on those courses, but again, not sure if its something we all would enjoy pursuing. Obedience is an activity that would be more up our ally, and we want to take a pup to classes to help socialize them and to remind us as owners how to train them. I was also thinking therapy/service too. I read that BCs, Aussies, and GSDs can be great at those jobs, as well as Labs and Golden Retrievers. My husband has a back injury from his military service and I have thought about getting a companion/service dog for that purpose. He definitely doesn't let his past injury hinder him though, just thought I would mention that. My brother-in-law is also a retired, disabled, veteran, but again, he doesn't let his past injury stop him either, for the most part. One of the kids is also disabled, but I don't want to go into too much detail. Hope you understand.

We're looking for a dog that is friendly and loyal to those it knows, but somewhat reserved to strangers. We want a dog that is alert to our and the stranger's position and presence. We don't like yippy dogs that are constantly barking, but do like dogs who bark to alert us of outside activity, such as someone coming to the door, in fact, both our current dogs are like this with the alerting barks. I don't mind dogs with longer fur or double coats, but my husband is against long furred/haired dogs due to its grooming needs. He doesn't mind double coats and was actually considering a husky a while back, before we moved. The rest of the family doesn't mind about fur length and grooming. However, my husband and I will be the main people to care for the new dog as in paying vet bills, training classes(like going to obedience classes) etc. A dog with a medium coat, double or not, would be fine for us. We do live in a hotter climate, summers here get in the high 90°s F, even 100s, but its dry desert heat. Winters are cold enough for snow, but not much, maybe an inch or two. We live near mountains, and our 5 acre land is in them, on a flatter section. The snow up there can get pretty deep. If I had to guess, maybe 3-4ft deep in deep winter. Northern breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are out of the question due to the summer's. I know they can live in hot climates, but we think it's better if we get a dog more suited for such hot summers. We don't want them to be stuck inside all summer, uncomfortable, due to their thick fur. Eventhough they do shed their winter coat during warmer months we're unsure if that would help in this sort of heat. Medium to large sized dogs would be great, something between 45-80lbs. We want a dog that is handler/family focused, but is smart enough to figure things out with minor instruction. I'm not sure if this would be countering what I just said about them being self-solving, but we would like them to be willing to please, and trainable. We would like a dog that is fun, maybe a bit goofy at times, but when needed can be serious and focused.
 

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Ah, I see now! Apologies for the confusion on the hunting thing. I didn't see it as confusing, but I also know what I meant by it. So I can see how it can be misunderstood. I'm also glad it could be clarified!

I suppose that is true! One's time spent with a dog can mean something entirely different to another. But yes, we take the two dogs we do have for longer walks, which are roughly 1hr, and will do so again once we've settled into our new area. I think since we're in a hotter climate than where we were previously we are going to walk them either before noon or after the hottest time of day which is after 4pm. We've lived in hotter climates before due to our husbands' military service, and this is what we did back then and it worked out perfectly.

I personally idly thought about agility, but I'm not sure if its something I would seriously pursue. It would be awesome to see a dog of ours move like those sporting dogs do on those courses, but again, not sure if its something we all would enjoy pursuing. Obedience is an activity that would be more up our ally, and we want to take a pup to classes to help socialize them and to remind us as owners how to train them. I was also thinking therapy/service too. I read that BCs, Aussies, and GSDs can be great at those jobs, as well as Labs and Golden Retrievers. My husband has a back injury from his military service and I have thought about getting a companion/service dog for that purpose. He definitely doesn't let his past injury hinder him though, just thought I would mention that. My brother-in-law is also a retired, disabled, veteran, but again, he doesn't let his past injury stop him either, for the most part. One of the kids is also disabled, but I don't want to go into too much detail. Hope you understand.

We're looking for a dog that is friendly and loyal to those it knows, but somewhat reserved to strangers. We want a dog that is alert to our and the stranger's position and presence. We don't like yippy dogs that are constantly barking, but do like dogs who bark to alert us of outside activity, such as someone coming to the door, in fact, both our current dogs are like this with the alerting barks. I don't mind dogs with longer fur or double coats, but my husband is against long furred/haired dogs due to its grooming needs. He doesn't mind double coats and was actually considering a husky a while back, before we moved. The rest of the family doesn't mind about fur length and grooming. However, my husband and I will be the main people to care for the new dog as in paying vet bills, training classes(like going to obedience classes) etc. A dog with a medium coat, double or not, would be fine for us. We do live in a hotter climate, summers here get in the high 90°s F, even 100s, but its dry desert heat. Winters are cold enough for snow, but not much, maybe an inch or two. We live near mountains, and our 5 acre land is in them, on a flatter section. The snow up there can get pretty deep. If I had to guess, maybe 3-4ft deep in deep winter. Northern breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are out of the question due to the summer's. I know they can live in hot climates, but we think it's better if we get a dog more suited for such hot summers. We don't want them to be stuck inside all summer, uncomfortable, due to their thick fur. Eventhough they do shed their winter coat during warmer months we're unsure if that would help in this sort of heat. Medium to large sized dogs would be great, something between 45-80lbs. We want a dog that is handler/family focused, but is smart enough to figure things out with minor instruction. I'm not sure if this would be countering what I just said about them being self-solving, but we would like them to be willing to please, and trainable. We would like a dog that is fun, maybe a bit goofy at times, but when needed can be serious and focused.
Jesse my border collie/malamute/cattle dog cross was my assistance dog for a few yrs. Heartbreakingly due to being born with mild hip dysplasia i retired him early. As soon as he let me know it was too much for him i knew it was time.
One example is when i have autism meltdowns he pushes my hands away from my head. He cant physicay do deep pressure therapy like he used to but he still tries.
Maybe if you cant decide on one breed, get a mix of your favourites :)
 

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Ah, I see now! Apologies for the confusion on the hunting thing. I didn't see it as confusing, but I also know what I meant by it. So I can see how it can be misunderstood. I'm also glad it could be clarified!

I suppose that is true! One's time spent with a dog can mean something entirely different to another. But yes, we take the two dogs we do have for longer walks, which are roughly 1hr, and will do so again once we've settled into our new area. I think since we're in a hotter climate than where we were previously we are going to walk them either before noon or after the hottest time of day which is after 4pm. We've lived in hotter climates before due to our husbands' military service, and this is what we did back then and it worked out perfectly.

I personally idly thought about agility, but I'm not sure if its something I would seriously pursue. It would be awesome to see a dog of ours move like those sporting dogs do on those courses, but again, not sure if its something we all would enjoy pursuing. Obedience is an activity that would be more up our ally, and we want to take a pup to classes to help socialize them and to remind us as owners how to train them. I was also thinking therapy/service too. I read that BCs, Aussies, and GSDs can be great at those jobs, as well as Labs and Golden Retrievers. My husband has a back injury from his military service and I have thought about getting a companion/service dog for that purpose. He definitely doesn't let his past injury hinder him though, just thought I would mention that. My brother-in-law is also a retired, disabled, veteran, but again, he doesn't let his past injury stop him either, for the most part. One of the kids is also disabled, but I don't want to go into too much detail. Hope you understand.

We're looking for a dog that is friendly and loyal to those it knows, but somewhat reserved to strangers. We want a dog that is alert to our and the stranger's position and presence. We don't like yippy dogs that are constantly barking, but do like dogs who bark to alert us of outside activity, such as someone coming to the door, in fact, both our current dogs are like this with the alerting barks. I don't mind dogs with longer fur or double coats, but my husband is against long furred/haired dogs due to its grooming needs. He doesn't mind double coats and was actually considering a husky a while back, before we moved. The rest of the family doesn't mind about fur length and grooming. However, my husband and I will be the main people to care for the new dog as in paying vet bills, training classes(like going to obedience classes) etc. A dog with a medium coat, double or not, would be fine for us. We do live in a hotter climate, summers here get in the high 90°s F, even 100s, but its dry desert heat. Winters are cold enough for snow, but not much, maybe an inch or two. We live near mountains, and our 5 acre land is in them, on a flatter section. The snow up there can get pretty deep. If I had to guess, maybe 3-4ft deep in deep winter. Northern breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are out of the question due to the summer's. I know they can live in hot climates, but we think it's better if we get a dog more suited for such hot summers. We don't want them to be stuck inside all summer, uncomfortable, due to their thick fur. Eventhough they do shed their winter coat during warmer months we're unsure if that would help in this sort of heat. Medium to large sized dogs would be great, something between 45-80lbs. We want a dog that is handler/family focused, but is smart enough to figure things out with minor instruction. I'm not sure if this would be countering what I just said about them being self-solving, but we would like them to be willing to please, and trainable. We would like a dog that is fun, maybe a bit goofy at times, but when needed can be serious and focused.
I would really recommend you to look into some more mental stimulation activities. Because playing fetch for 2 hours a day doesn’t provide a lot of mental stimulation for the dog and it can also cause a lot of stress actually. Since you already spend 2 hours you could just easily change the activities you do. It doesn’t have to be activities that are difficult to practice such as agility. For instance you can do toy searching (or other objects), some hobby tracking or searching for treats, Nosework etc.

Training the dog for therapy/service is of course also great mental stimulation. But is this something you will invest a lot of time and dedication into or just a fun thing to do occasionally?

The breeds I think of are retrievers and spaniels. If you look into pursuing some more mental challenging activities I think it could be a good fit. Except from them not generally being reserved to strangers. With these breeds you could also choose to use the dog in hunting if you feel like it. Maybe you don’t have high ambitions in training a hunting dog, but to bring the dog and train it to do some basic hunting/tracking/retrieving could be really fun and very rewarding for the dog.
 

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Maybe if you cant decide on one breed, get a mix of your favourites :)
This is something I strongly would dissuade you from. There are multiple reasons why not to get a mixed bred puppy. First of all the breeders are often very irresponsible, inexperienced, unqualified and not serious. They breed because of money and due to their own interest, not the dogs. Mentality and health is something that almost always is forgotten. To be able to breed the healthiest and best dogs you need years and years of information and documents of the previous dogs i the lines. So you can make sure that you breed on lines that are healthy and good.

This is something that Is almost always impossible with mixed-breeding since the health/ mentality history is non existent. It’s often not very good or healthy dogs that are being used in mixed breeding, which will show in their offspring.

Another reason is that it’s not right or fair to mix different breeds in anyway you want. This can end in a disaster if you combine the wrong characteristics from different breeds. You also need to be prepared for anything since you never know how the dog will turn out. It doesn’t work in that way that you get a sweet blend of all the good traits in each and every breed. You might as well end up with the least desirable traits from every breed or a combination of traits that are horrendous.

I’m not against mixed-breed dogs per say, I’ve had many in my care which I have absolutely adored. But I’m against mixed-breeding. Don’t support these bad breeders and be aware of the risk of mixing breeds. You could however adopt an older dog that’s mixed bred, but don’t buy a puppy and support these irresponsible “breeders”.
 

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This is something I strongly would dissuade you from. There are multiple reasons why not to get a mixed bred puppy. First of all the breeders are often very irresponsible, inexperienced, unqualified and not serious. They breed because of money and due to their own interest, not the dogs. Mentality and health is something that almost always is forgotten. To be able to breed the healthiest and best dogs you need years and years of information and documents of the previous dogs i the lines. So you can make sure that you breed on lines that are healthy and good.

This is something that Is almost always impossible with mixed-breeding since the health/ mentality history is non existent. It’s often not very good or healthy dogs that are being used in mixed breeding, which will show in their offspring.

Another reason is that it’s not right or fair to mix different breeds in anyway you want. This can end in a disaster if you combine the wrong characteristics from different breeds. You also need to be prepared for anything since you never know how the dog will turn out. It doesn’t work in that way that you get a sweet blend of all the good traits in each and every breed. You might as well end up with the least desirable traits from every breed or a combination of traits that are horrendous.

I’m not against mixed-breed dogs per say, I’ve had many in my care which I have absolutely adored. But I’m against mixed-breeding. Don’t support these bad breeders and be aware of the risk of mixing breeds. You could however adopt an older dog that’s mixed bred, but don’t buy a puppy and support these irresponsible “breeders”.
I cannot disagree with you more. "Mixed breeds" have no less a soul than a 'purebred"
 

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I wonder if the real issue is about responsible breeding, rather than breeding either crosses or pedigrees.

Good breeders try to eliminate congenital health problems through responsible breeding; like careful selection of breeding stock, and carrying out proper health tests, not just checks to say the dog is capable of siring/carrying a litter.

Unfortunately with the popularity of some crosses and breeds there are many puppy farmers who are more interested in exploiting buyers than in the long term health of the puppies they are selling; and pet owners who think it would be lovely to have mini versions of their own pets but who lack the understanding of genetics and responsible breeding.

But, at least in the UK, you are far more likely to find a conscientious breeder of pedigrees than of mixes. There are a few good breeders of mixes but they are hard to find. And, of course, some dogs should never be mixed because their size, conformation, coat or temperaments are just incompatible.
 

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Jesse my border collie/malamute/cattle dog cross was my assistance dog for a few yrs. Heartbreakingly due to being born with mild hip dysplasia i retired him early. As soon as he let me know it was too much for him i knew it was time.
One example is when i have autism meltdowns he pushes my hands away from my head. He cant physicay do deep pressure therapy like he used to but he still tries.
Maybe if you cant decide on one breed, get a mix of your favourites :)
Aww that's too bad, but I'm glad he can still help you in some way. That sort of service is what we're looking for.

A dog that can help both our husbands when they're past injuries do flare up, and they do. The child could use a companion/therapy dog to help his disabilities as well.

We have thought about getting a mixed dog from a local shelter or rescue group, but it has to be the right dog. If we choose to go this route we will go through a reputable shelter/rescue group. If we're going to do service-training I would like to start young with a dog. I know adult dogs can be trained to be service dogs, but if we're going to pay for all this training and for certification we want a dog who can be with us for years to come if we do go that route. It doesn't have to be a puppy, but we would like them to be under 2yrs old.

I would really recommend you to look into some more mental stimulation activities. Because playing fetch for 2 hours a day doesn’t provide a lot of mental stimulation for the dog and it can also cause a lot of stress actually. Since you already spend 2 hours you could just easily change the activities you do. It doesn’t have to be activities that are difficult to practice such as agility. For instance you can do toy searching (or other objects), some hobby tracking or searching for treats, Nosework etc.

Training the dog for therapy/service is of course also great mental stimulation. But is this something you will invest a lot of time and dedication into or just a fun thing to do occasionally?

The breeds I think of are retrievers and spaniels. If you look into pursuing some more mental challenging activities I think it could be a good fit. Except from them not generally being reserved to strangers. With these breeds you could also choose to use the dog in hunting if you feel like it. Maybe you don’t have high ambitions in training a hunting dog, but to bring the dog and train it to do some basic hunting/tracking/retrieving could be really fun and very rewarding for the dog.
Of course we do more than play fetch, or tug-of-war! We have them do their tricks maybe 2 times a day with treats, but also practice them without treats and instead with play as a reward. We do hide treats nearby to let them search for them too. It's quite fun! We also have a big beef bone we got them from the pet supply store for them to chew on. Sometimes we put peanut butter on it for fun, they love it when we do. We've also given them carrots in the past to chew on, but haven't done this lately. A breeder we knew said that it was good for their teeth and a healthy treat.

As for spaniels or retrievers, we do have a lab-mix, and love her dearly. However, we're not too interested in getting another. Don't get me wrong though! They're great dogs, but it's not a breed we're looking to get another of. We have had a Cocker Spaniel before too! He was such a lover, and though he wasn't trained for therapy, he was like one to me. I loved him like a son, haha. He was easy to train, and was the dog we first trained to dance if you recall me mentioning that in a prior post. However, again I don't think a spaniel would work for us. While we loved him unconditionally, he was the dog that made us realize that my husband didn't care for longer haired/furred dogs. His fur required daily brushing, and monthly cuts. We were taught how to cut his fur by the breeder we got him from, we helped her with her dogs so she taught us this so we could help. So that saved us trips to the groomer, but it was still a lot. Also, the long ears are a concern too, as they required high maintenance or else they would get yeast infections or buildup. We had to "tie" up his ears with a soft scrunchy every night for an hr to let them air out to prevent this. Such high maintenance dogs like him are just not for us, I suppose. Never regretted having him in our family though, not once.
 

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As the owner of 5 Border Collies, I can honestly say you sound like you would make a pretty good BC owner, except for the hunting part. I have yet to meet a BC that isn't scared to death of guns /load noises. I had a dog run away out if my well fenced farm yard years ago because I left her outside in a thunder storm. In the winter when our friends came over to hunt, all 5 ended up in my room shaking like leaves, they are so scared of the guns.
So if you decide BC, then you are probably going to have to do a LOT of desensitization before you can hunt anywhere within his /her hearing.
 

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As the owner of 5 Border Collies, I can honestly say you sound like you would make a pretty good BC owner, except for the hunting part. I have yet to meet a BC that isn't scared to death of guns /load noises. I had a dog run away out if my well fenced farm yard years ago because I left her outside in a thunder storm. In the winter when our friends came over to hunt, all 5 ended up in my room shaking like leaves, they are so scared of the guns.
So if you decide BC, then you are probably going to have to do a LOT of desensitization before you can hunt anywhere within his /her hearing.
I have to ask, what makes you think a Border collie would be a good fit? The exercise and training OP describes is the bare minimum for a companion-bred dog. I even thought it was too little with 1 hour walk and playing fetch for a dog purely bred for companion. What suggests that this would be a suitable home for a working dog like the border collie?

The Border collie is an extremely demanding breed which needs to work for hours and hours every day. If you're not able to fulfill the needs of a bc (not many are) you will end up with a miserable dog that will develop multiple problem behaviors and you'll probably have a destroyed house. The Border collie is a suitable breed if you need a dog for herding and/or will compete on a high level in different dog sports such as agility and obedience trial. If you can't offer that lifestyle it's not fair to get a bc.

They are working dogs, what kind of activity will be offered that would allow the dog to be the working dog they're bred to be?

Op, If you would describe what kind of dog you want, what would that be? Would it be a dog that's a tireless workaholic, who needs hours and hours of challenging activity daily to be satisfied? And if not offered, would develop into a miserable unhappy problematic dog?
 

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Here is some information I found while researching the Border Collie:



”They are naturally blessed with supernatural amount of stamina and energy to do lot of physical activities all day long. Given the fact it’s breed that was developed to work in hills and valleys of Scotland Border County, they can easily run well over 60 miles a day. It won’t be wrong to say that you don’t get a better working dog than Border Collie.

While their energy, herding skills and workaholic attitude is good for shepherds, but it can be a complete mess when a border collie is brought into a family that doesn’t understand the breed and have no idea about their essential needs. If you think of him as a yet another cuddly and adorable dog that stays at home with you, you’re up for some serious trouble. It’s a rough and tough breed and doesn’t want to be coddled. All they want is something to do or a job that keeps them busy. Therefore, for a family to have a Border Collie at home can be exasperating and exhausting to cope with their physical and mental stamina.

Being a herding breed, they have an overwhelming urge to herd at anything they see including sheep, other dogs, cats, children and squirrels. If they are not trained properly they herd at anything that moves in front of them including moving vehicles. Their natural instincts such as barking, herding, nipping, running in circles can be controlled with training but you cannot expect to completely overcome it. Not that easy, but can be directed, for instance you can train them to complete a task or have them compete in canine dog sports. You’re mistaken if you’re thinking a walk every morning and evening or a game of “Go Fetch The Ball” is enough to keep a BC busy.
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For first-timers, unfortunately, a BC dog can become a neurotic nuisance, therefore planning to adopt one you must honestly think about your lifestyle and see if you will be able to manage him well, otherwise you’ll make your and his life a living hell. Every year we see rescued Border Collies because they proved too much to handle for their owners.
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It’s a workaholic breed that needs lots and lots of physical and mental stimulation to be able to channel their energy in something positive. Or else, they are quick to invent their own activities and games, which can become a serious problem for the owner to live with.
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Their intelligence helps them learn things quickly which can be difficult for the owner to find new activities all the time to keep him challenged. They get bored of daily routine if they are doing the same thing every day, because they likes to be busy and get involved in new things. When they are bored it can lead to bad behavior problems such as excessive barking, jumping, growling, digging and chasing moving cars. This is definitely not a breed that will sit quietly with you in your garden while you read a book.”



”Typical Border Collies are workaholics. They are happiest when they have a job to do, whether that job be herding, obedience, agility, or any of the other active occupations and dog sports at which they excel. They are extremely quick, high-energy, busy dogs, and they must have plenty of exercise. They are bred for endurance: a working Border Collie is able to run many miles a day over difficult terrain, then go out and do it again the next day; a one- or two-mile run is barely a warm-up this athletic breed. People without the time to give a dog plenty of good, vigorous exercise every day are usually happier with a calmer breed. A bored Border Collie can become neurotic, obsessive, and destructive.
[..]
In other words, if not handled properly the herding behavior can turn a Border Collie into a real pest. They also tend to be car-chasers, and many Border Collie lives have ended early under the wheels of a car.
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But their intelligence can also be a problem: many times they quickly learn things that the owner didn’t intend for them to learn, and would prefer they didn’t know! Their intelligence is one of the reasons that they tend to get bored (and into trouble) easily.
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Border Collies should be very intense, high-energy, busy dogs, both indoors and out. If bored, they will chew anything (books, shoes, carpet, furniture, walls…). They also love to dig holes.
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Many people who got a Border Collie as a companion dog wind up buying property and sheep just to work the dog!
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Is a Border Collie For You?

With the recent appearance of the Border Collie in movies, commercials, and television programs, many people are now considering one as a potential new pet. While Border Collies are very intelligent, they also require a larger time and energy commitment from their owners than many other breeds. They are active, spirited, and sometimes strong willed. Although some may be calmer than others, others are decidedly hyperactive, always wanting to be up and doing something. They often exhibit obsessive behaviors, like chasing lights, shadows, and running or dripping water.

There is no way of telling how highly developed a pup’s herding instinct will be. If you acquire one that wants to work above all else, its frustration may take the form of herding and possibly nipping at the heels of children, running adults, or other animals.

In summary, Border Collies are much more work than most other breeds. They do not typically make easy family pets. If you have never been around one, try to spend some time with the breed before you decide to get one. Many Border Collies end up in shelters when their owners find that they are just too much trouble to have around because they need so much exercise, attention, and training/mental stimulation.”



How To Pick The Perfect Puppy
 

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@Sunflower_, it depends on the dog, some BC's will drive you nuts, my neighbors have one and I promise you Milo does not have an off stitch. His "job" is too play ball and he will do that nonstop to the point where he cannot walk the next day. My five are perfectly happy to lounge around the yard all day and do nothing. Admittedly they are all older now, the youngest one is eight and they spend their younger years on a farm with lots of space to run and play.
But most of all, the op had indicated that she is willing to do what it takes to keep a BC mentally and physically occupied. And that is the most important trait and dog owner can have.
That being said, I would be very careful of bringing any breeding breed into a family with smaller kids, I know mine see kids as sheep without wool - to te herded into a corner and made so stand still, and they will not hesitate to use teeth to achieve that goal. Something most kids don't appreciate.
 
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