How Much Should The Average Baby Weight At 4 Months The Top Ten Family Dog Breeds

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The Top Ten Family Dog Breeds

When choosing a dog for your family, there are more important things to consider than just looks. Ease of training, compatibility with children, dominance traits and aggression should be your top priorities. I have compiled this list based on the following:

– Which breeds do well alone at home

– Overall intelligence

– The amount of exercise needed

– Attitudes towards children, strangers and other animals

– Health problems

– My personal experience

– Typical breed standards

– The results of the American Temperament Test

Small breeds

Havanese

This breed is the classic lap dog. They come from the Bichon Frize and Maltese lines, but are more compatible with children. They are generally well behaved, loyal, quiet and submissive. They are easy to train, hypoallergenic and do not shed. They can weigh between 8-13 pounds and live about 14 years. They are perfect for apartment living and are happy with indoor exercise. They are not very athletic, so they need a relaxed family. They are a long haired breed so a ‘puppy cut’ is easiest to maintain (as seen in the photo). If you are looking for an adorable, compact, ever-lasting puppy, the Havanese is for you.

Boston terrier

Boston Terriers are little bundles of joy. They live to learn, love people of all ages, are easy to groom and require little exercise. They are perfect for indoor life. They weigh from 10-20 pounds and live up to 15 years. They get along well with other pets and love to be where the action is. Their coats are shiny and short so they are very easy to groom, but they do shed. Bostons have very short muzzles so they can breathe loudly, snore or drool. Due to birth difficulties (often by caesarean section), I recommend finding your Boston Terrier from a local rescue rather than a breeder. There are several Bostons available for adoption on petfinder.com.

Cockapoo

The Cockapoo is one of my favorite breeds because even though they are small, they are quite athletic. The Cocker Spaniel traits provide a robust and hardy quality and a love of sports – frisbee, fetch, swimming and hunting (to name a few). The poodle characteristics give it a dignified and intelligent demeanor unlike other small breeds. Cockapoos are not nervous or skittish, but they are at their best when they are around people all day. They are attentive to their masters, very easy to train and love children and other pets. They are also hypoallergenic and do not fall. They can weigh between 6 and 25 pounds, depending on whether the poodle parent was a toy or miniature. The expected lifespan is around 14 years. They come in many colors and their coats can be shaggy or curly. Some breeders attach their tails, but ask yours not to – they have the most lovely, plume-like tails!

Medium-sized breeds

Miniature Australian Shepherd

Aussies are extremely intelligent and devoted to their masters. They do best with a medium to large garden and an active family. Because they are herding dogs, they need plenty of exercise, otherwise they become bored, hyperactive and destructive. About two hours of hard exercise a day is ideal. They can weigh from 20 to 40 pounds and live about 13 years. They are a beautiful breed that come in a variety of colors and at times can have bright blue eyes. Their fur is thick and they shed year-round, so daily brushing is recommended. Their fur is insulating so they don’t need to be shaved – although you might give them a short ‘puppy cut’ in warm months. They are usually a calm breed, but can bark at strangers. Unless properly socialized as puppies, most Australians are wary of strangers and visitors.

Keeshond

Keeshonden are energetic and lively dogs that are devoted family companions. Although not as smart as other breeds, they can be well trained with consistent, firm discipline and plenty of positive reinforcement. If you like the look of Huskies and Akitas, the Keeshond is a better choice for children. They weigh 30 to 60 pounds and live about 13 years. They do well indoors but need about an hour of exercise a day. A small farm is sufficient with this breed. They love to ‘smile’ at people and when they are excited, they spin in comical circles. Due to their thick fur, they shed on average and do best in cooler climates. If they are in a warm climate, they can get a ‘puppy cut’ in warm months. Daily brushing is ideal. They are good watchdogs, so they tend to bark often, which can disturb close neighbors.

American Pit Bull Terrier

The Pit Bull is the most controversial breed these days and you may be wondering why this breed would appear on my list. However, in the hands of a responsible owner, I believe they can be one of the best family breeds out there. They are loving, funny, intelligent and faithful to the end. As puppies, they can be aggressive towards other dogs or small animals, but this can be easily and quickly trained out of them. Pit Bulls are so well behaved that they are often chosen to be service, rescue or police dogs. Although their short coats are easy to maintain, they do shed. They can be a little clumsy indoors, but regular exercise (about an hour a day) and a proper weight can reduce this. Pit Bulls tend to be overweight, so don’t overfeed. They can range between 30 and 60 pounds and live about 12 years. It is important to train a Pit Bull to walk properly on a leash at a young age, otherwise they may become too difficult to walk when they are older and stronger.

Large races

Collie (rough or smooth coat)

The collie is another fabulous family companion. Like the Australian Shepherd above, they are a herding breed, so they are exceptionally intelligent. Eager to please, cuddle and protect, they are loyal and dignified pets. They weigh 50 to 75 pounds and live about 15 years. They are good watchdogs and are natural ‘babysitters’ for the children in the family. Rough Coated Collies do not need to be clipped – they do well in warm months as their coat acts as an insulator against the heat. Although they can overheat if exercised too much in hot months. Smooth Coated Collies have a shorter coat, so they do well in any climate. Both are average traps. Colliers need about two hours of exercise a day and a large yard. Rural life is best for this breed as they love to explore the world.

Golden retriever

Happy, vivacious and loyal, Goldens are one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They love people, so while they may bark when a stranger approaches your home, they would rather invite a thief in than scare him away. They weigh 50 to 80 pounds and live approximately 11 years. They are average shedding and benefit from daily brushing. Because they are retrievers, they need at least two hours of rigorous exercise a day, either swimming, playing fetch, or running alongside you while you jog. Some do not do well alone and become destructive. Although immensely intelligent, they are bred to have more dominant traits which can make training difficult. With firm and consistent discipline, Goldens can be refined pets, but inconsistent training will lead to an out-of-control dog that will take about 4 to 5 years to settle down.

Labrador retriever

The Labrador is the most popular breed in the United States. Their friendly, energetic and loyal dispositions make them excellent family pets. They are wonderful with children and enjoy the water, hunting, fetch, Frisbee – just about anything you love, they will love! Although their fur is short, they are average trappers. They can weigh 50 to 100 pounds and live about 11 years. Like Goldens, they do well indoors but need two hours of exercise a day or they can become destructive. Without proper exercise, Labs can become overweight, which can lead to joint problems. Due to over-breeding, American Labs are typically hyperactive and rarely submissive. These labs will be fierce and difficult to train for the first four to five years. Since Labs are the most popular breed, they are also one of the most popular breeds found in shelters – so check your local rescue before visiting a breeder.

Please understand that while I include Golden Retrievers and Labradors on this list, I tend to discourage families from purchasing them because they are over-bred due to high demand and popularity. This overbreeding creates unhealthy and extremely hyper dogs which then result in either: 1) euthanasia due to expensive vet bills and 2) abandoned dogs in shelters due to hyper (and destructive) activity. There is no doubt that both breeds can be excellent family companions, but I encourage any family to consider other, equally wonderful breeds before Goldens and Labs. If you need one, check your local shelter, rescue or petfinder.com. Please be aware that even the sheltered or rescued Goldens and Labs will most likely be over bred so training and tolerance is a must. Together we can reduce the popularity of this breed and put an end to overbreeding.

Huge races

American Mastiff

For the partial to giant breeds, I recommend an American Mastiff. Calm, dignified and gentle, these dogs are patient and loving with children. They can weigh 140 to 200 pounds and live up to 12 years. As with most giant breeds, mastiffs don’t need a lot of exercise and do well indoors or with a small yard. However, due to their inactivity, they may become overweight. Mastiffs get along well with other dogs, but should be supervised around other types of animals. They can be very protective but rarely aggressive unless threatened. As puppies, they can be rambunctious and clumsy because they grow quickly during the first year, but they mature quickly. And although they are one of the gentlest breeds, their size can be intimidating – so always keep your mastiff on a leash in public.

Remember that there may be exceptions with each litter, so be sure to research breeders and always insist on meeting the parents to determine the general temperament of the litter. With adoption, research breed characteristics thoroughly before bringing a dog home. Even mixed breeds can be properly researched – just check each breed’s traits in their bloodline. For example, if you are looking at a Labrador/Mastiff mix, a good rule of thumb is to combine the characteristics of both breeds so you know what to expect.

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