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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! I'm hoping to get a puppy sometime in the future, probably within 2-3 years. I've been researching dogs and breeds for years, but I like hearing from others and getting outside opinions. I am aware that some of what I'm asking for will have to do with training or the lines the dog comes from, but I will include everything I'm looking for. It will need to be a dog that will fit into my household with a cranky Chi x Pom, my rough-and-tumble GSD, one cat who is dog neutral, one who likes dogs sometimes and hates them others, and one who pretty much hates everyone that's not human these days. I can offer about an hour to two hours a day of exercise and training, plus Kongs, puzzles, snufflemats, etc. Osiris would also be happy to play with another dog, so that could probably add another half hour or so of exercise.

What I'm looking for:
  • Medium to large in size - I care more about height than weight; preferably no smaller than a border collie
  • Working Ability/Drive - Preferably versatile as I'd like to try out a few sports, but my main interest is agility; I want a dog who wants to work with me; would like to have food and toy drive
  • Biddability - As above, I want a dog to work with and that is going to enjoy working with me; not looking for a 'challenge'
  • Off switch - A dog that will be able to settle in the house and not need constant attention or stimulation (not counting when they're a puppy)
  • Aloof with Strangers - This goes for people and dogs; I want a dog that's more handler-oriented, but one that would play with Osiris sometimes would be a plus
  • Minimal Grooming - I will brush 1-3 times a week and basic stuff like nail trimmings, but nothing that requires going to a groomer or special care
  • Off-leash Reliability - I would prefer a dog I can work towards being off-leash at some time; I do not mind putting the time and training into it
  • Traveling - A dog that I can take places without worrying about; one that will do well in the car
  • Beginner Friendly - I have no experience doing sports with a dog or a dog that's high energy and has a lot of drive, so this will be a learning experience for me and I'm not looking to get in over my head

Now for the breeds I like/am considering:

German Shepherds

GSDs are definitely one of my favorite breeds and one I'd very much like to have someday. However, I'm not sure this is the best breed for me to start with, especially considering I prefer working line dogs. So, as much as I might wish for this breed, I think I'll put them off until I have more experience working with dogs.

White Swiss Shepherds

In looking for essentially a less intense GSD, I came across this breed. They sound like they could be a good alternative and I already know of a breeder not too far from me who works her dogs as well as does conformation. I even reached out to her on Instagram a little while ago and she answered some questions for me. She assured me that they could be a good option for a beginner with little to no experience. I think my main concern with this breed is that, from what she said, they tend to not be so aloof which is a trait I would like to have. I am also a little bit worried about keeping the dog looking white! They're a bit expensive as well, so might require some more saving up of money.

Australian Shepherds

For some reason, despite them being one of the more common breeds I've been considering, I have a hard time getting a feel for what Aussies are like. High energy, I know, but they seem less neurotic than border collies. I don't seem to hear much talk about what an off switch is like for them. I do like the breed, but feel like there's a lot more I could learn. I think they'd definitely be a good option for agility though. Some do have more coat than I care for, but I've also seen plenty with less coat. One big concern with them is that I don't want a docked dog which means finding a breeder who doesn't dock. I know that'll make it more difficult to find an otherwise good breeder, but it's something I'm set on.

Silken Windhounds

I know this breed is less common, so it might be harder for people to give an opinion, but I've been doing a lot of research on them and met a couple at Silkenfest a couple of weeks ago. The community of silken owners and breeders is absolutely fantastic and have been open to answering all of my questions. Even though silkens are sighthounds, they are known for being more biddable and handler-oriented than most. However, they still have the sighthound trait of being mostly a couch potato. It does seem like there's a lot of silkens who don't have much energy or much drive, but there are plenty that do so it would be a matter of finding the right breeder with the right dogs. I think they'd be a good safe option in that I wouldn't likely get a dog that's too much for me, but I could get a dog that's 'not enough'. I do think they'd be a good option while Stella is still with me since she doesn't really care for other dogs. Silkens are known for being mostly dog neutral and very gentle, so I don't think one would bother her too much. My main concern with them is getting a dog that's 'not enough' and that they require a different training style than herding breeds. A lot of what I've read reminds me of Osiris, so it wouldn't be something I'm not used to, but just maybe not what I'm looking for.

Any opinions are appreciated. I am willing to consider other breeds if anyone thinks there's another that would be more fitting.
 

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Im assuming you didnt mean to put that you have a 'rough and tumble GSD' then if you actually dont have one!? What do you really have? LOL

TBH Id consider giving gundogs a look. They are easy to train, like having a job, tend to fit in well with other animals and are good for all levels of dog owner.
Not sure you will get a breed that can be all those things and 'aloof with strangers' though...that tends to be a characteristic that cancels out alot of the others!
 

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Australian Shepherds aren't docked, they're naturally bobtailed (well, some of them are).

ETA: maybe some breeders dock ones that aren't bobtailed where you are.

Out of interest, why do you specifically want the dog to be aloof?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Im assuming you didnt mean to put that you have a 'rough and tumble GSD' then if you actually dont have one!? What do you really have? LOL

TBH Id consider giving gundogs a look. They are easy to train, like having a job, tend to fit in well with other animals and are good for all levels of dog owner.
Not sure you will get a breed that can be all those things and 'aloof with strangers' though...that tends to be a characteristic that cancels out alot of the others!
He's a GSD mix. I forgot the put the mix part. He doesn't have the stamina or drive that GSDs typically have and probably has more similarities to a sighthound, so I don't count him as having a GSD.

I did look into some gundogs briefly at one point, but I think I struggled with figuring out which would be good options for beginners as I know some are easier than others. They're a group that I'm just not overly familiar with.

Which characteristics are canceled out by aloofness? From all the research I've done, I was under the impression that the working-type dogs who were bred to work with their handler are the ones who are typically aloof.


Australian Shepherds aren't docked, they're naturally bobtailed (well, some of them are).

ETA: maybe some breeders dock ones that aren't bobtailed where you are.

Out of interest, why do you specifically want the dog to be aloof?
Sorry, I should have clarified. I'm the U.S. and it's part of the Aussie's standard to have bobbed tails, so if they aren't born with one then they're docked. That means the majority of Aussies here are docked. Some breeders may leave one pup undocked for you, but that would require picking a puppy when they're only a day or two old. I'd have to find a breeder who leaves all the pups undocked which I think is becoming more common, but it's still not easy to find.

Because that's the type of dog I would prefer to have. I have a Chi who loves all people and a GSD who struggles to focus when dogs are around. Now I would like a dog whose natural inclination is to not care. I don't want to fight a dog's natural instinct if I don't have to.
 

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Swamprat
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Honestly a good lab or standard poodle would do well for you. Poodles are not hard to groom if you keep them in a puppy clip and you could learn to clip them yourself.

Silkens might not be as biddable or off leash reliable as you want. They're also not as couch potato-y as you would think. Not for a long time at least. They're awesome dogs, I know several and they're all great dogs, but I think they tend to get called a sighthound "lite" when they're still very much sighthounds.
If you're interested, I do know a breeder in the northeast, I don't think she's planning any litters anytime soon but she can direct you to someone who is.

And yes, as you say a lot of what you're looking for comes down to training and working with your dog. If you want a dog who can do all the things, you have to do all the things with the dog :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Honestly a good lab or standard poodle would do well for you. Poodles are not hard to groom if you keep them in a puppy clip and you could learn to clip them yourself.

Silkens might not be as biddable or off leash reliable as you want. They're also not as couch potato-y as you would think. Not for a long time at least. They're awesome dogs, I know several and they're all great dogs, but I think they tend to get called a sighthound "lite" when they're still very much sighthounds.
If you're interested, I do know a breeder in the northeast, I don't think she's planning any litters anytime soon but she can direct you to someone who is.

And yes, as you say a lot of what you're looking for comes down to training and working with your dog. If you want a dog who can do all the things, you have to do all the things with the dog :)
I will admit, I think I overlook labs because they're so common and, at least of the ones I've met, tend to be very over-the-top friendly. That being said, I don't mind the look of some of the working line labs... I do agree on poodles and have looked into them a little, but quite honestly, even if I liked the curly fur, I just would not trust myself to keep up with the grooming. I tend to forget/put off things that aren't done frequently and right now I'm struggling just to keep my long-haired cats looking decent. I think they're slacking a little in taking care of themselves as they get older, so they have me questioning if I want another long-haired cat ever again.

The biddability is also my concern with silkens. Not being a couch potato isn't something that scares me as much because I would want a dog that has enough energy to work and do sports. It seems to me, from all the reading I've done and talking to owners/breeders of silkens, that there may still be a lot of variety in the breed. I've heard of some that have pretty much no drive and minimal exercise requirements and some who are very energetic and on the go. Also, some are very friendly with everyone while others are definitely aloof. I am definitely interested in silkens and am pretty much set on wanting one; it's just a matter if that will be my next dog or if I'll wait until maybe I'm less worried about getting a sport dog.

Yes, I'm definitely planning on attending classes and doing training with the pup.
 

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A Belgian Shepherd, particularly a Groenendael, could be a good dog for you.

They're extremely biddable and handler focused, have little to no prey drive and seem able to settle well indoors.

A good brush once a week will keep the coat in good order.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A Belgian Shepherd, particularly a Groenendael, could be a good dog for you.

They're extremely biddable and handler focused, have little to no prey drive and seem able to settle well indoors.

A good brush once a week will keep the coat in good order.
Really? I didn't expect to have any Belgian shepherds recommended. I guess because I'm most familiar with the Malinois, I tend to think of all of them as being the same. I also would've expected more grooming requirements with the amount of fur the Groenendael has, but once a week is certainly manageable. I'm brushing my short haired dogs at least that often just to keep up with the shedding. :rolleyes: I suppose I'll have to look into them more as I don't think I ever really did much research on them since I sort of lumped all the Belgians together. I have always admired them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sure. I was just going to say that I don't think 'aloof' needs to be in the breed description to be able to fully focus on their owner with other dogs/people around. I think that's much more training and relationship. But whatever works for you.
I'm just trying to set myself up for success as much as I can. Maybe it doesn't matter that much if you're raising a dog from a puppy. All I know is that I got Osiris at 5 months and maybe that was already too late, but he would rather play with another dog over me any day and it's not because we have a bad relationship. I worked on our relationship long before I ever let him play with another dog. As I have said, I am not looking for any sort of 'challenge' or to fight against the dog's nature. I am well aware that training and relationship is going to be a big part of it and said as much in my original post, but why can't I use genetics to my advantage? Isn't that the point of going to a breeder and getting a purebred dog? To stack the odds in your favor? And why do people seem to have something against getting an aloof dog?
 

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Really? I didn't expect to have any Belgian shepherds recommended. I guess because I'm most familiar with the Malinois, I tend to think of all of them as being the same. I also would've expected more grooming requirements with the amount of fur the Groenendael has, but once a week is certainly manageable. I'm brushing my short haired dogs at least that often just to keep up with the shedding. :rolleyes: I suppose I'll have to look into them more as I don't think I ever really did much research on them since I sort of lumped all the Belgians together. I have always admired them.

The four varieties, named after the Villages from which they originated, are very different.

A Malinois is normally a very 'driven' dog which, typically, needs a 'job'.

Groenendaels are much, much less so. Mine, Sweep, was very chilled in the house and was certainly not vocal. She lived with six feisty Terriers and took it all in her stride. Walking her was a dream compared to the Terriers, she was so obedient and focused on me.

She lived to nearly seventeen and never ailed a thing in her life.

She was very well bred though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The four varieties, named after the Villages from which they originated, are very different.

A Malinois is normally a very 'driven' dog which, typically, needs a 'job'.

Groenendaels are much, much less so. Mine, Sweep, was very chilled in the house and was certainly not vocal. She lived with six feisty Terriers and took it all in her stride. Walking her was a dream compared to the Terriers, she was so obedient and focused on me.

She lived to nearly seventeen and never ailed a thing in her life.

She was very well bred though.
That's good to know! The four seem to get lumped together in one group like they're just different versions of each other. And, of course, the Mals seem to come up the most. Yours sounds like she was a truly wonderful dog. Thank you for the information. I will have to look into them some more. I have seen a couple at conformation shows and they are very pretty dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My perception is that those breeds described as aloof generally aren't handler focused.
I've heard of it going both ways which is why I specified aloof to strangers. It seems a lot of sighthounds are described as aloof, including towards their handlers, but a lot of herding breeds are also described as aloof though in this case not towards their handlers. GSDs were probably the first breed I'd ever heard be called aloof, but they are also very handler focused.
 

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Why not a collie? There must be some nice lines in the US that breed multi-purpose dogs. Collies are handler focused and not aloof, but usually just not interested in other people, a bit like other shepherd types.
I also agree that a Belgian could be a good fit. Better health wise than a GSD and not as heavy. My boss breeds Tervs (and has the top bitch in the country at the moment) so I'm around them a lot. Very intelligent and trainable, great at whatever you put them to really. Some can be a bit 'sharp', but so can collies and other breeds. Coats can take some maintenance as it's a thick coat, but as mentioned just keep on top of brushing and you should be OK, just make sure to check round the trouser area as that's where they tend to get matted when it's overlooked for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Why not a collie? There must be some nice lines in the US that breed multi-purpose dogs. Collies are handler focused and not aloof, but usually just not interested in other people, a bit like other shepherd types.
I also agree that a Belgian could be a good fit. Better health wise than a GSD and not as heavy. My boss breeds Tervs (and has the top bitch in the country at the moment) so I'm around them a lot. Very intelligent and trainable, great at whatever you put them to really. Some can be a bit 'sharp', but so can collies and other breeds. Coats can take some maintenance as it's a thick coat, but as mentioned just keep on top of brushing and you should be OK, just make sure to check round the trouser area as that's where they tend to get matted when it's overlooked for a while.
I did look into collies at one point. If I remember correctly (it's been a while now), I ruled them out primarily because it seemed like they could be very sensitive and very vocal dogs. I don't mind vocal if it can be controlled, but prefer not to have another dog who barks at every tiny thing and won't stop. I am also aware that many of the handler-focused breeds have been described as sensitive, but it just seemed like there was extra emphasis on that for the collies. I am still inexperienced and learning and there have certainly been frustrations along the way, so was not just that would be a good option for my first sport dog. There was also the matter of rough collies have a lot of coat though I could get a smooth collie. I'm not sure how easy they would be to find though. I am happy to be corrected if I have anything wrong though. I didn't talk to anyone about them because it was still very early days.

I am definitely intrigued by the Belgians. I do like that they still have some of the GSD looks, but are lighter and probably better suited to agility. Health of GSDs was definitely a concern of mine as well. The Belgians sound like lovely dogs. Do you know if there's any difference between Groenendaals and Tervurens? From what I'm reading, it sounds like they are essentially the same other than coat color, but a lot of people are also saying they're the same as Mals and I know Mals are very intense dogs so not sure what's true. That is also where my two long-haired cats get matted, so that shouldn't be an issue. As long as I'm not having to brush for an hour every day, I think I'll be fine.


It's fine - you want what you want. I was just thinking that if you're specifically looking for 'aloof', you might discount some perfect breeds just because they don't have that in their description.

Just trying to help.
Do you mean if I'm looking at descriptions written for their standards or other breed sites? If so, I understand the concern, but I don't like relying on such things to pick a breed anyway. I might refer to them in the beginning of my research, but I prefer talking to people directly who I know are being honest and have breed experience. So if you know a breed that would fit, but doesn't have 'aloof' written in its breed standard then that does not mean I would discount the breed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Is there any reason the breeds I mentioned wouldn't be a good fit? I'm just trying to figure out which, if any, I should cut out. I was wanting to narrow my list down and instead it's growing. Lol.
 

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Collies for sure can be sensitive, but I find shepherds are also quite sensitive to their handlers. I don't think there's any difference re: noisiness collies vs shepherds. Honestly (and I work in kennels and see a lot of different dogs) GSDs are way noisier than collies in general. Collies tend to bark when they are over excited, but not constantly...unlike the shepherds who seem to bark constantly! Obviously this is a general observation from the hundreds/thousands of dogs I see in kennels, there are exceptions but this is what we generally find. Belgians open their mouths and noise comes out....lol. Again they are only generally noisy when expecting something, but remember GSDs and Belgians are guarding breeds so they are more likely to bark at noises.
Not much difference re Tervs and Groens. Groens may be a bit more laid back? But that could just be due to the lines they are breeding. You also want to be careful with Groens as there is a high prevalence of Epilepsy in the breed, so make sure you find out health results of the lines you are looking at. (It was the main reason my boss didn't breed her Groen bitch, she was too worried about Epilepsy despite her bitch being healthy. She has bred an inter-variety litter Terv/Groen, the pups are registered as whatever colour they come out as! No difference in temperament).
Rough collies have a massive coat, bigger than a Belgians (and they are larger dogs too), but Smooth Collies are much rarer (nice looking though).
 

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Is there any reason the breeds I mentioned wouldn't be a good fit? I'm just trying to figure out which, if any, I should cut out. I was wanting to narrow my list down and instead it's growing. Lol.
GSDs - as you said probably too much dog at this point unless you go with a really nice pet bred one, and structurally those are harder to find.
White Swiss Shepherd - I'm personally just not impressed with the breed. I think temperament and health wise you would do better to go with a pet bred GSD.
Aussies - another breed I personally haven't been super impressed with. IME they can be every bit as neurotic as BCs, they tend to have a really hard eye and don't get not to use it with other dogs which causes issues, then the dog develops further issues with dogs because they keep setting dogs off. So there's that. Also health wise they're not the best.
Silkens - I do like a good silken but I don't think they tick the biddable box for you. Like I said I do know a breeder in the northeast who might be a better source of info.
 
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