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Thread: Dog breed decision and the importance of looks

  1. #1

    Default Dog breed decision and the importance of looks

    Hello fellow doglovers,

    I want to get a dog, but I have pretty specific ideas/ requirements and my research so far has not led me to any breed thats suitable. So Im hoping that someone could give me either a new direction with my search (or specific breeds that may be suitable) or advise me, which of my requirements I should abandon first...
    This is my situation:
    I live on a large piece of land in Queensland and we grow vegetables and sell them in a little shop at the front of the property. We have freerange chickens, so any breed with a hunting instinct would be bad. We are going to start a family soon, so a dog would have to get used to a baby when its not a puppy anymore. Also there is people coming to the shop all the time, so I cant have a dog thats aggressive towards strangers (at the same time I would like it to be somewhat protective of the family if there was ever an intruder). But Im not really interested in having a golden retriever or something like that.
    Visually I like medium sized dogs (or large ones), preferably short hair. Im not interested in grooming all the time or getting a dog that needs eyedrops every day or something weird like that. Longer hair would be ok, but I dont really like poodle-style fur.
    My husband would really like to have a basenji, because of their personality (reserved and a bit cat-like. My husband is generally not into dogs a lot, so if I can find a breed that he is happy with, that would probably save me some arguments in the future...), but the problem is that they have a strong hunting instinct, so I would probably sadly rule it out.
    Oh yeah, the other thing is that because of the shop, there is always an open gate and even though we have a fence around the whole property, it may not be dog-proof. And because the property is so big, I cant build a whole new fence either.

    And I basically live in the middle of nowhere, so the selection of breeders is somewhat limited, so it probably cant be something very exotic.
    I found a breed called Lagotto Romagnolo, which I like the sound of personality-wise (and there is breeders around here), but I just dont like the look of them at all. And I dont know how important the look is, really. I mean, wouldnt I love the dog anyways if its my dog and I knew it and raised it? But then again, I just cant imagine cuddling and frolicking with a dog that I - sorry - find a bit ugly. I would really appreciate some opinions on this topic specifically, because I ruled out so many breeds without even reading about them just becuse of their looks!

    Ok, this is too long already, so thanks for reading and I would love your opinion (even if it is: "stop worrying about every last details and get a dog already"
    Last edited by Hannat; 08-14-2015 at 08:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rural Western Australia


    Not sure if I can be of much help. I also live on a farm and the dogs I have had experience with are the herding breeds. I will say though that I wouldnt worry about the protective instinct if there were an intruder which is highly unlikely from the sound of things. If you want a dog that is okay with strangers coming and going then that is a big ask of a dog to have it protective under specific situations as well.

    It is possible that a kelpie of Border collie maybe okay as they are highly intelligent and can be taught to leave chickens alone despite their herding instinct. They are dogs though that need interactive exercise though, so they will need your time especially as youngsters. You do probably need some area that you can contain dogs if required, particularly a puppy, especially with the chickens and people coming and going who I assume also have cars. I do keep mine contained when I am not around even though they are unlikely to wander.

    Not sure about the look thing. I have to admit that I would not like to own a dog that drools or has problems breathing or other physical limitations that current breeding seems to impose on some breeds. Among the breeds that I do like I dont care what they look like as long as their bodies are physically sound and they have the working traits that I need.

  3. #3


    Like Kala, I think it would be a lot easier on you and the dog if there is even a small area fenced and dog proof. If its where there will be some traffic, but no fears for gates left open, all the better.

    What sort of dogs/ training are you used to? There are a lot of breeds that might suit, depending on what sort of effort you can put in to teaching a pup the social expectations you have. A pup thats not too excitable, confident and with low prey/hunt/scent/drives can be found in a lot of breeds, even if they aren't the norm for that breed, but a lot depends on your abilities.

    A basenji doesn't seem like a good fit tho', they seem very independent and likely prone to hunting by themselves, poor recall etc unlesss you are pretty confident in your training abilities. I would not want a Basenji if I didn't have a VERY secure area to confine him when I can't directly see it in the situation you describe.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I agree a basenji would be completely inappropriate.

    You could get a Burmese cat - they're very dog like. Then your hubby would be happy.

    There's not many dogs that would be both protective of your family and home but willing to let strangers come and go through the shop unannounced or unharmed. That's a big ask and would probably need some skilled training from you.

    There's also not many dogs that would not go through an open gate given the opportunity. Again would require some skilled training from you. And I would not want to mix cars coming and going from the shop with a dog. The dog will die sooner or later.

    I have been to farm -shops where border collies have done this job - they announce visitors like a loud door bell but don't harass the visitors - bear in mind some shoppers are terrified of dogs so won't like being hustled for pats either. And the well trained border collies don't get run over. There are border collies with very short coats.

    But that requires training from little not to chase cars or people etc. Same with cattle dog - they're quite capable of protecting the home or the back of the ute or the wallet on the dash - but you do have to train the puppy not to chase everything that moves and bite the wheels of moving cars, bikes, lawn mowers, tractors etc.

    Most dogs need a brush from time to time. Some of the wire haired terriers you can "strip" their loose coat out twice a year (spring and autumn) but they will kill your chooks and any vermin you have including the pet rabbits.

    The curly coat breeds like poodles and crosses - need clipping about once a month or so and they collect prickles in their coats. The other breeds shed coat and need brushing. Some of the poodle crosses shed too. If you don't like this - get a fibreglass dog. And an infra red security system door bell thing ie not a dog.

    The lagotto Romaglos I've met look like border collies crossed with poodles, have curly coats that need clipping but don't shed. They seem very highly strung to me (crazy even) and don't get along with any of the dogs at the park. So it's hard to say if they'd meet your needs. Based on what you've written - I'd say no they wouldn't but you have a conflicting set of requirements which you may need to sort out before you get a dog.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    i have had rotties and GSD's. Living in pairs or a trio for decades. All have learnt not to harm chickens/ducks/ and geese, but these are mean son of a bitches, so i think they steer clear of them themselves.
    All of them allow strangers onto, in, around our property when we are there to say its ok. They warn with a bark, someone is coming, i check it out and tell my dogs to stand down, and they do.
    All of them would protect the property/family, if nobody gives the all clear stand down signal. As tested by a friend of family, the dogs all know and like, trying to come borrow some equipment from our shed with our permission whilst we were away for the arvo out of town.
    The rottie and the GSD look to strangers. I will be honest, your rottie will lose you some custom. Just because folks are afraid, so too, but less so a GSD.
    None of them have been wanderers, despite roo's and birds free ranging and wandering a bit, rabbits at dawn in sight but not chased.

    All of them have been trained daily, by me, for years, it never stops, conditioning the dont gaurd/protect response, be gentle commands.
    A dog will do what you will have it do. Until you dont, then it does what it likes.

    ps. blokes love rotties n GSD's.

  6. #6


    Thank you so much for your replies! As you have probably guessed, my husband isnt of much help and I dont have anyone else to talk to about this really, so your input is really very helpful.
    About my background with dogs: my family had a dog, when I was a baby and young child, who was a mutt and as far as I remember was pretty nice and didnt have too many major problems. When I was about 12 or 13, we got another dog (a rescued mutt puppy). Im not sure how awesome my mum was at training the dog and how much was due to the dog having gone through some traumatic experiences before we got him, but he was extremely difficult. So that is one reason I want to get a purebred dog from a proper breeder, and also why Im a bit scared about making the wrong decision about the breed and not being able to train it well enough. Having said that, I am certainly smart enough to read a few books about training dogs, so unless I get some incredibly difficult breed or individual, I assume I will be just fine. But I live with my husband and my mother in law, who are both not really into dogs, so I have to be extra careful about all my decisions.

    The advantage I have is that there is a lot of space here for a dog to run around and I am usually outside. And I am quite willing to spend some time with the dog, training/playing, hopefully some socialising (we are very new to this area, so we still need some socialising ourselves )
    Yeah, I have decided in the meantime myself, that a basenji would be a really bad idea. So thats off the table.
    About the watchdog-issue. I understand that thats a bit contradictory in regards to the shop and its not my main concern anyways.
    And about the fence: our fence is quite proper, so I think it it should be dogproof (I was thinking about the climbing basenji when I said it mightnt be). We do also have a fence behind the house with gates that can be closed, so that can be done when Im not around. And I thought it might be a good and relatively cheap idea to put a fence around the shop/parking area. Then the car and stranger issue wouldnt be much of an issue anymore. And I guess then it would be easier for the dog to differantiate between a person shopping and an intruder as well. So that would be ok.

    And the look-issue has kinda resolved itself in the meantime - although sadly not in a very helpful way. My husband said the only kind of dog he could deal with, is one thats short-haired and medium sized (not too large). Seeing as that is what I would theoretically want anyways, Im not gonna argue with him until I am 100% sure there is no dog breed that fits that description and our other requirements. And he doesnt like kelpies apparently and is generally a bit skeptical about the personalities of herding dogs (all this came out after I suggested an australian sheperd, which I think would be really good personality-wise).
    And yeah, occasional grooming or some amount of shedding doesnt really bother me very much, I just dont need it to be too excessive.
    After all this additional information, can you think of any particular breed?

    Thanks again!

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by bernie View Post
    All of them have been trained daily, by me, for years, it never stops, conditioning the dont gaurd/protect response, be gentle commands.
    So basically what you are saying is that I should pay less attention to breed and more attention to proper training, right?
    This may be a stupid question but how difficult is it to train a dog anyway? If I read a lot about it and spend enough time actually doing it?! This will be my first proper dog as an adult, so Im a bit worried, which is quite obvious already I guess

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rural Western Australia


    Does your husband actually know anything about the personality of herding dogs lol? I have a Koolie and he has a wonderfull temperament, well in fact all my herding dogs have good temperaments and they all have an off switch. I think any dog requires a reasonable amount of training particularly in the first 2 years and will need ongoing interaction, inclusion in family life and depending on the breed exercise twice a day. It depends how soon you are going to start a family but if it is very soon, maybe waiting would be a good idea. I have seen too many young dogs neglected when the first bub arrives and then there can be trouble.

    It isnt difficult to train a dog, but then I have always had herding breeds which are super smart and very ammenable to training. I use a reward based system and when they are puppies I try and capture and reward all the good things they do. I also try and set them up for success so start with simple things and they soon start to get the idea that pleasing you is highly rewarding. Trying to do too much in one sitting or too fast is frustrating for everyone. I guess similar strategies you might use with teaching young children.

    Reward training is not about stuffing treats down their throats it is about capturing the moment they do what you want and rewarding then specifically for that behaviour. You may have to lure them in to position for say a sit or a down the first couple of times with a treat, but once they get the idea only reward them specifically for the behaviour. I think that there are plenty of videos on the internet that people might be able to recommend that you look at.

    Training a protection dog is very specific training and not all dogs will naturally protect against an intruder. I have only had one cattle dog in my lifetime of owning dogs that I would put into that category and she actually chased off a would be attacker. I have had quite a few cattle dogs, most of whom have had no inclination to go into combat with a human. My other herding breeds would be hopeless, although they will bark if strangers arrive, before licking them to death.

  9. #9


    Quote Originally Posted by Kalacreek View Post
    Does your husband actually know anything about the personality of herding dogs lol?
    No, Im not sure he does. In his life he has lived with a few people that had dogs and I think most of his dog experience comes from that. I think those were usually dogs that were not looked after particularly well and would have liked to have a lot more attention. So maybe I need to inform him a bit more... not that I know anything about herding dogs either really. I have actually never heard of a koolie before (I am not australian and only moved here recently), but they look and sound nice!
    I think my husbands concern with herding dogs is that they require constant attention and can get very annoying. Having said that, there is almost always someone home here, as we all work on the farm, and I consider myself a responsible person, so I would certainly not neglect my dog. What I am wondering is if a herding dog can really be happy if there is no real job for him, because there is nothing to herd? I guess they just need other types of exercise and plenty of it, right? Also aren't herding dogs pretty good at getting over fences? How do you solve that? Do you just have a really tall/awesome fence or is it no problem if the dog has enough to do on your property? I mean, our neighbour on one side has cows and the other neighbour has horses and geese, so there could be some motivation for a dog to jump/climb fences here.
    All in all, I think a herding dog would probably be most suitable for my situation.

  10. #10


    Hi 'Hannat' - Let’s look at things from another perspective ! Most importantly from a pup’s perspective !

    What can you offer a pup/dog ? Are you able to keep the pup/dog safe, trained, feed, watered, sheltered and vet cared for ?

    Pups need boundaries – just to start with - fences and gates seem to be a problem with you. If a breeder or a rescue did a home visit or even a ‘Mr Gi ggle’ search of your place – you would not get a pup from any of them.

    There are heap of responsibilities – also legal ones - involved with having a pup at your place. Are you aware of them all ?

    Training is paramount with any pup – regardless of the age. Sorry to say – but training is ongoing. It may be just reminders as they get older – but the training is continuous.

    It is a real shame that people that breed don’t realise this !

    Spending time in the yard with your pup – does not count. What do you see yourself doing with your pup in the yard ?

    You liked the sound of a ‘Lagotto Romagnolo’ - but - you don’t like what this breed looks like? Really ? I hope you realise that this breed is a ‘gundog breed’ ?


    Please change your way of thinking. You really have things around the wrong way !

    I agree with the others above - a basenji would be not what I would suggest in your sort of situation – in fact it would be the last breed I would suggest.

    Please do some more homework – your criteria that you have stated above – that you want - is pooped and totally unrealistic !

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