My wife and I will be buying our first home in the next two weeks (assuming the seller ever confirms the closing date), and are in the market to get a dog next summer.
We are both school teachers and so have summers off, which we think would be the ideal opportunity to acclimate a new pet. It also gives us the time to do research.
Anyway, having spent a good part of the last week looking at different breeds in books and on the net, it seemed that the Dutch Smoushond would be perfect for our living situation (good size home, small yard, suburban, no children, cats), but have been unable to even locate a breeder on the internet.
Any advice on how to locate one, or if not, a good alternative breed? (FYI - we are not dedicated to getting a purebreed, and would prefer adopting from a shelter, so long as our lifestyle matches the breeds personality)
Primarily that it is amiable with cats, can be left home alone (my wife and I both work), and doesn't need a lot of outdoor space. Some other breeds were possible, but my wife and I often differed on their physical aesthetics.
Then perhaps our resources haven't been so good, because many seem to require more room than we have, or shouldn't be left alone for a long time. At the moment we are thinking of going with what seems to be the American standard - a golden retriever.
I would suggest an english springer spaniel. I have one. They do well in sububuran homes and love to be with you. They are also easy to train and are very loveable. Even though you don't have children yet you still want to get a child friendly pet because you may have children over. we have no children yet but some come over and the english springer spaniel does well with them. They weigh about 50 pounds for a male. Just a thought.
My aunt had a springer (at least according to my mom - I always thought she was a cocker spaniel). She lived next door to us and the dog would raise quite a ruckus when they weren't home. Given that we are surrounded by neighbors on all sides, that may be problematic. This is pretty much the reason my wife finally gave up on the beagle, which she has prattled on about since I met her.
Are you looking for a larger dog or are you open to owning a smaller breed? Personally I love Boston Terriers. They have huge personalities, and lots of energy, but they are small so they don't require a lot of space. They're also great with kids. Not the greatest looking in the world, lol, but you'll learn to love their faces just by their personalities.
Another option is a mix. Many are not as high strung as your full breed pups. We have a Shep. mix. She's great. Very calm. In fact most of the time shes sleeping. However, she does require her long walks in the mornings and a good romp in the backyard in the evenings. Other than that she's very laid back.
English springer spaniels are prone to seperation anxiety. Mine has it BIG time. Other than that they are great:) But if you need to leave a dog alone for a while I suggest getting an adult rather than a pup.
Size - I would prefer a "dog-sized" dog, ie something larger than a cat (though we do have a Maine Coon who is pushing 16 pounds and still growing). Beagle sized is about as small as I want to go. On the other hand, even though we have a good sized house (2400 sq feet), with a small yard (1/4 acre) we don't want one of the very large breeds either.
Boston Terrier - My wife isn't fond of the look, so that won't be on the list. Personally I have no problem with that - my peeve is more dogs with severly curled tails (like an Akita).
Pup vs Adult - My one fear with getting an adult, especially if its a larger breed like the retriever, is that it may make it difficult for the cats. The eldest cat is very... paranoid. Has been ever since I met her, though my wife says she wasn't always that way. She blames it one the time she had to babysit a friend's 106-pound canine (it so happens the dog was dropped off about an hour after I first walked into my wife's apartment). I figure the cats may have an easier time adapting to the dog if it starts out closer to their size. Of course this is why we are going to wait until next summer to adopt a dog (whether adult or pup), as at least one of us will be home most of the time.
terriers may or may not be good with cats considering they were bred to hunt small aniamls.
though your wifes cat may be afraid of big dogs it may be easier to introduce a larger , calmer dog then a puppy as most puppies find it great fun to chase cats. that i would think would be more traumatic to a cat who has a fear of dogs then an older dog who is past the cat chasing stage.
how about a great pyrenees ? to me a dog sized dog is a dog the size of a gsd or a pyr. i have never owned anything smaller then that.
Theres a few good ones out there that may give you some insight into a good dog. I know theyr'e a dime a dozen but we have an 8 month old labrador retriever puppy and honestly I couldn't be more pleased with a dog. He is just awesome.
Also, how bout sitting down with an all breed dog book and going through it with your family members? This is great idea IMHO.
Personally I think one of the best ways to get an idea of a lot of different dog breeds and what they look like up close and personally is to go to a dog show. With summer coming to an end, the number of dog shows in the US is going up, August/september/october are peak times to go to dog shows in the fall. For dog shows in your area, go to http://www.infodog.com/showinfo/state.htm just click on your state (or nearby states if you live on the border or something) and it'll list every show in your area. You want shows that have AB next to them. That means they're all-breed so there will be a wide variety of shows.