Quietest, calmest, most self-sufficient breeds of large dog for a person who doesn't like dogs?
February 10, 2012 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I do not want a dog but I'm considering getting one. What kinds would be most quiet, self-sufficient, and non-active?

My husband really, really wants a 'doggy' dog (playful, energetic, greets you by jumping up). I don't want any dog, but I most of all I don't want a doggy dog. (I've been totally upfront that I don't like doggy dogs ever since he first asked me, on our second date.)

It can't be a small dog because that wouldn't feel enough like having a dog to my husband. He's said a Greyhound might be an acceptable compromise. I really (really!) do not want a huge dog, but apparently they're at least very calm and non-barky. No question we'd get an adult, not a puppy.

This is a really hard conflict that we keep talking about. I keep trying to think how it could work. (We have, btw, looked at all possible shelter-volunteer options near us, and none fit his schedule or seem to excite him anyway.) In the broadest sense, I have a loving, supportive husband who's made real compromises for me and I truly want to make him happy. I don't want to see him this sad that he doesn't have a dog like he used to years ago.

My concerns are that we're already really struggling with time and priorities; we have a young toddler; and we both work at home (our child's in daycare several days a week) and I depend on uninterrupted, quiet worktime. And maybe most tellingly, we still have an ongoing, exhausting conflict over the care of the two cats who already lived with him when I moved in (specifically about changing their litter, which gets horrible). My instinct there is that if we can't even provide a clean home for undemanding pets like a pair of cats, a dog would cause conflicts and issues I can't even imagine.

Our toddler seems very good with pets -- gentle with our cats, excited to see dogs on the street.

My big questions are these:
- what kinds of dog would be totally safe for a young child (and cats);
- what kinds of dog would feel least deprived living with me (a person who will never want to play in a doggy way, be jumped on, be slobbered on, etc.), especially if my husband is traveling for work and the dog and I have to be alone together for entire daytimes;
- what kinds of dog would stay quietest and calmest in the house, bark least, and need least frequent attention; and
- whether, as my husband thinks, the dog can just use our backyard as a big doggy litter box. That sounds to me like it has the potential to become nightmarish smell-wise and a source of much greater conflict than cat litter boxes. I'd welcome any reports about how you do that, if you do it.
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (79 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My brother has an Italian greyhound who fits this description.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:39 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

A well-trained dog is what you want. Please do not get a dog and expect it to behave the way you want it to without proper training.
posted by Dolley at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2012 [32 favorites]

"- what kinds of dog would stay quietest and calmest in the house, bark least, and need least frequent attention"

This part is obtainable through most species simply by giving the dog lots of exercise. Seconding a well trained do is what you want. Training is not a one and done thing, it has to be consistant.

I always though greyhounds were active dogs because of their "racing" spirit?
posted by amazingstill at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2012

As I understand it, greyhounds are incredibly active, high energy dogs.
You want a big, lazy, gentle house dog... that still has that manly mystique. Say, a St Bernard. :)

But they turn slobbering and snuggling into an art, so maybe not.

Your backyard is going to require cleaning. Your dog will require attention. You can get a large, low energy breed, but they're still going to be a dog. :) Give it training, give it love, and develop a healthy relationship with the animal. If the dog things you ignore it, the dog will probably ignore you, and then you're going to have a problem.

... honestly, my gut says that if you really don't want a dog, don't get one. There is no way that you are going to live with an animal without having to give it attention and bending on some of your demands.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:46 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Um, hello! Is this thing on? You've got an "ongoing, exhausting conflict over the care of the two cats," and your main goal is to get a dog that you can ignore while your husband is traveling? The answer is obviously NO DOG until you and your husband learn how to resolve your underlying ability to discuss difficult issues with each other.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2012 [109 favorites]

I think if you find cat litter boxes abhorrent, you're certainly not going to like cleaning up after a dog. I've never owned one, but I've lived around people who do, and using your yard as a big doggy toilet is a bad idea. For one thing, it will stink and look gross (consider your neighbours), and what are you going to do if your little one wants to go play in the yard and there's dog shit everywhere?

If you can't face the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for a dog (that is: walking it, playing with it, cleaning up after it), you shouldn't own one.
posted by fight or flight at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

While a greyhound meets all of your other requirements, SOME greyhounds aren't safe around cats, so be careful about that if you decide to go that route. Otherwise though, I think that could be a good choice for you.

I think the right calm, older dog from a shelter should fit your needs pretty well.
posted by mjcon at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2012

Nthing Dolley. Dog are not consumer products that behave according to spec. They are animals, and their behavior is highly dependent on their lifestyle and the way you relate to them. Some dogs will have a calmer temperament, but none are "independent."

Stagger Lee:As I understand it, greyhounds are incredibly active, high energy dogs.

Wrong. WrongWrongWrong. Greyhounds are face-meltingly fast for like 2 minutes at a time, and then revert to couch potato for the rest of the day.
posted by jon1270 at 10:48 AM on February 10, 2012 [17 favorites]

Thanks for clearing that up, I've never met that particular hound. :) Consider that corrected.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:49 AM on February 10, 2012

"I depend on uninterrupted, quiet worktime"

"we still have an ongoing, exhausting conflict over the care of the two cats who already lived with him when I moved in (specifically about changing their litter, which gets horrible)"

Your question : - what kinds of dog would stay quietest and calmest in the house, bark least, and need least frequent attention?

You need a large stuffed animal, not a live dog. Given what you've said, I would not advise you at this time to adopt any kind of dog. At all. I say this as a current cat owner who dogsits for my brother's dog on weekends from time to time - dogs are exhausting. They want to go out. They want to be near you. They want you to pay attention to them. They bark sometimes. Dog hair gets everywhere. You *cannot* ignore them. I love that dog with all my heart, and that's what makes it worth the effort - you don't have that dog love.
posted by HopperFan at 10:49 AM on February 10, 2012 [21 favorites]

At lunch today, I was listening to two new dog owners discuss their experiences. Both agreed that the dog was far, far more high maintenance than they had anticipated (and these were not hugely hyperactive Jack Russells, either). My immediate response, given the wording of your query, was that you need to not have a dog, period.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:53 AM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Stagger Lee: "... honestly, my gut says that if you really don't want a dog, don't get one. There is no way that you are going to live with an animal without having to give it attention and bending on some of your demands."

This, a thousand times this, especially given this from your post:

anonymous: "And maybe most tellingly, we still have an ongoing, exhausting conflict over the care of the two cats who already lived with him when I moved in (specifically about changing their litter, which gets horrible). My instinct there is that if we can't even provide a clean home for undemanding pets like a pair of cats, a dog would cause conflicts and issues I can't even imagine."

The dog will be more in your face about the fact that they're not getting the care they need from you, which may solve the problem is the issue that nobody wants to think about cleaning up after the animals. But since you specifically don't want an animal that will be in your face, I strongly suspect it's going to end up causing you, and possibly your relationship, even more problems.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 10:54 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of non-dog people aquire dogs and become dog-lovers. But in those cases, I don't think they're already juggling a toddler and cats over which they feel conflicted.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:56 AM on February 10, 2012 [7 favorites]

Wait, you have conflict over who has to care for HIS cats, and HE wants to get a dog that you don't even want? I wouldn't get a dog if I were you. If you had no conflict over the cats, then a dog might not be a hard thing to manage, but if no one is taking enough responsibility for the cat litter, who is going to take responsibility for the dog? Sounds especially unfair for you, since you're going to be the one home with the dog and he will be traveling for work.

Can you do some kind of foster care, where you get a dog for a few weeks or a month, and see how things go? Don't commit to getting one yet, but maybe you'll fall in love with it, and picking up poop won't seem like a horrible idea. Or maybe you'll see that having a dog and cats is not manageable for you.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

This may sound extreme to some people, but deciding whether or not to get a dog is (/should be) like deciding whether or not to have a kid. You are talking about being responsible and nurturing another living being that can't really fend for itself. And from personal experience, having a dog is a TON more work than having cats (I have a dog and a herd of cats and the dog is still more work).

You can definitely go by breed to get a low energy dog - greyhounds are a great example of this, but all dogs need attention and training and exercise. I am a cat person, but I love, love, love my dog. I love him so much that it's worth having to figure out what to do with him when we have plans that are over a couple of hours. I love him so much that it's worth getting up at 2 a.m. sometimes because he really, really has to go potty. I love him so much that when he ate part of the bathroom door we spent a bunch of time and money repairing it. I love him so much that I spend a ton of money on him to keep him exercised, in good health, and fed good food. From the way it sounds, you will not have that kind of commitment to a dog.

Practically speaking, if you're going to introduce a dog into a household with established cats, you probably want to get a puppy who can learn to get along with cats And puppies are A LOT of work. There are definitely some older rescue dogs that will be ok as well, but they also can come with other surprises depending on their previous life. Although some greyhounds are ok with cats, many of them are genetically and experientially predisposed to think of them as prey/toys.

As others have said: Please, please, please do not get a dog.
posted by Kimberly at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2012 [17 favorites]

Do not get a dog. All dogs are doggy dogs. Your question is basically - what kind of a dog is not a dog? The answer is: No dog.

If your husband and you can't agree on how to care for cats, which are far more self-sufficient, please do not get a dog. I believe that it's inhumane to get a dog and then train it poorly. You will wind up being miserable and abusing or ignoring the animal, or worst case scenario, giving up on it and giving it to a shelter because your lives have become unmanageable. An untrained (or rather, poorly trained, because all dogs will be trained, either by good example or terrible example) dog is pretty much unadoptable.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2012 [43 favorites]

Nthing everyone that you totally should not get a dog given your requirements, and also just want to emphasize that "exercise" for a dog is not just running around in a yard (although that is good to have available): dogs need to be WALKED. With a human. And a leash. Like several times a day, preferably. When your husband is traveling or has the flu or whatever, the responsibility for that falls on you.
posted by hansbrough at 11:01 AM on February 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

So, your husband is already not shouldering much of the burden for the cats he brought into the marriage? If he was doing everything, taking out the kitty litter every time and so on, I could see agreeing to a dog if he also agreed to do all the work and if you had faith that he would keep up with it. But he doesn't even think one has to clean up dog poop in the yard and that is not a good sign.

That said, you can find dogs that aren't very disruptive. I needed a fairly quiet low-maintenance dog and picked out a Boston Terrier by going through a book called "The Right Dog for You" or similar. Bostons are good with kids and while active, they don't jump all over you.
posted by BibiRose at 11:05 AM on February 10, 2012

I'm with Blahlala. Fix the cat issue first. (Maybe train the cats to use the toilet.)

If that works out, a greyhound is not a bad choice. They are very low-key indoors. The caveats would be that they can have problems with bloat (haven't personally know any, but pet insurance for the breed factors this) which can be terrifying and even heartbreaking. Outdoors, they are notorious bolters which is also terrifying and can be heartbreaking. Because of their slim, elegant heads, greyhounds can backout of a flat collar without half trying.

Also, breed people say that they are often poorly socialized and can be dog aggressive, especially with small dogs. I have not seen this, but I know there are rescue groups that won't adopt to homes with smaller pets. Presumably, a good rescue would have vetted their dogs for social skills and children and so forth before suggesting a match with you - but not all rescues are good.

Good luck with the catbox! I would not be entirely myself without a dog. I hope your husband appreciates that this is gift and doesn't think you'll love the dog when you get it.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:05 AM on February 10, 2012

i would say that you should, at the very least, wait til your toddler is out of diapers--kindergarten would be better. and work out the litterbox situation-get an automated one, make taking care of it part of the gift that getting a dog would be, or heck, hire someone. you can do that for the backyard too, the cost might be worth the harmony.

but ultimately I agree with the others who recommend against getting a dog. to have one and do right by them, they are much like another child, as far as their needs. you will be unhappy, and so will the dog, the cats, and probably your husband too.
posted by lemniskate at 11:06 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing don't get a dog because what you really want apparently is a stuffed animal.

That said, if you do get one and turn your backyard into its bathrooom, maybe look into pet waste removal services like Doody Calls.
posted by postel's law at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2012

Do not get a dog, yet.
Solve your cat conflict problem. There are lots of solutions to cat litter box problems. Find one you like, discuss the issue then talk about a dog.

Dogs are really great companions. But they need attention, some more than others.
There are breeds that dont bark and breeds that are more lazy.

But the dog you want does not exist.

If you decide to let him get a dog (is what it sounds like) you will have to deal with it.
Who knows it may melt your heart. and you may find excuses to stop working and take it for a walk.

But you have to at least be willing to like it, otherwise you will not and it will always be an issue.
posted by misformiche at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2012

Do not get a dog. Some breeds are more affectionate than others, some breeds are more mellow than others, some breeds are more active than others, but ALL breeds require a level of consistent attention and commitment that you, by your own description, cannot provide. This is not a judgment, but just an observation based on my own lifetime of owning dogs (and having tons of friends and family who are dog owners) compared against your circumstances and requirements.

Once your child is older AND you and your husband resolve the cat issue, then you might be in a situation in which certain types of dogs could be a good addition to your family. But presently, given what you've described, adding a dog into the mix seems almost guaranteed to make everyone (including the dog) miserable.
posted by scody at 11:09 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would not trust a dog that is not VERY well trained and exercised near a small kid. Actually, I never really trust any dogs near kids, and I am a HUGE dog lover. My little sister was nearly killed by a (well trained and up to that point extremely gentle) collie she was playing with. Dogs are dogs, they do not behave "rationally" by human standards, they behave like dogs.

N'thing that I can't see any way that this could play out well for the dog or your kid right now.
posted by lyra4 at 11:12 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a dog who has entered into doddering old age. Incontinence, arthritis, irritability, skin problems which are nigh on impossible to stay on top of. We can't take her anywhere, and boarding her is very challenging with her issues. So we are stuck at home and getting very resentful.

My dog has been wonderful, but this long twilight of her life (and we are trying to maintain her quality of life for as long as we can, mostly with Rimadyl) causes me to advise others against dog ownership.
posted by Danf at 11:12 AM on February 10, 2012

Once you're actually ready for a dog, it sounds like a greyhound might be perfect (for you and your toddler and your cats, but maybe not "doggy" enough for your husband). That said, I agree with everyone else in the thread that you are really not ready for a dog. It's a lot of work/time/money/attention. I think that - like children - people should only have pets if they believe their life would be utterly miserable without them.
posted by judith at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2012

As I understand it, greyhounds are incredibly active, high energy dogs.

Ixnay. Greyhounds are the ultimate couch potatoes when you are not playing with them and make great family pets. A retired greyhound is not a bad choice for Anonymous. But any greyhound must be cat-tested; greyhounds have a very strong chase instinct.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:15 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have money to throw at the problem? If you were to adopt an adult dog, take some intensive training classes, hire regular dogwalkers and poop scoopers, and invest in frequent doggy day camp sessions, you can pretty much have all of the benefit of a dog without much of the hassle. We are talking significant amounts of money though, like maybe $1000/month.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:15 AM on February 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

whether, as my husband thinks, the dog can just use our backyard as a big doggy litter box

Most dogs don't poop that much. Mine typically only goes when he's just eaten. So, I feed him, I walk him, he poops. It's not a difficult routine. It sounds like maybe your husband isn't willing to take on the unpleasant work that comes with pet ownership (scooping cat litter and walking the dog are pretty basic, but also aren't as fun as snuggling or playing fetch). That doesn't mean he's a bad person, just that I suspect your family should either not get a dog, or you and he should hire a dog walker (and perhaps find one who can also clean the litter box).

Also, do you want your toddler to be able to play in the backyard? If so, this "doggy litter box" will need to be cleaned. Frequently. If your husband has trouble scooping an actual litter box--which can be done indoors, easily, at any time of the day or night, in five minutes--I don't think he's ready for checking the backyard on any kind of dependable schedule. Moreover, even if he diligently checks the yard thoroughly every few days, he's going to miss some poop. And if you use the yard much, someone is going to step in that poop, and track it into your house.

My parents do this with their dog. They have the same kid who mows their lawn scoop the poop every week. It works for them, but they don't have little kids running around the lawn anymore. There isn't a smell issue (though I suppose in a smaller yard, or with more lax cleanup that could be a problem), but you do always have to watch your step.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:16 AM on February 10, 2012

Do not get a dog until the cat litterbox issues have been completely resolved, and the other cat cleanliness and care issues have been completely resolved. Do not get a dog until you feel confident deep down that you and your husband will be able to handle the dog cleanliness and care issues to your satisfaction. To do otherwise results every day in hundreds of healthy, friendly young dogs being destroyed in shelters because their owners didn't realistically consider much beyond their own whims. You are obviously putting a ton of really great thought into this but your husband isn't. For someone who doesn't like dogs you are the one asking the questions that will prevent the dog from ending up in that shelter scenario or just a life of loneliness, boredom and misery.

You are not being a big meanie to insist on the above issues being resolved before getting a dog, you are doing the correct and responsible thing that will result in the best outcome for everyone.

Just want to also say, I AM a rampant dog person and I had a dog for many years, who I loved more than anything or anyone on this earth. And the amount of care and attention he needed was still a burden for me. A large burden. I can not even begin to imagine taking on all that work if I disliked the dog and it had been foisted on me by someone else. Resentment, anger, rage, loathing are all words that come to mind.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 AM on February 10, 2012

I'm going to try to answer a couple of your questions, but first I want to join everyone else in answering a question you didn't ask.

You should not get a dog. Getting a dog is a LOT like having a kid. Much more like having one than it is unlike having one. For context, we had a kid 5 years before having a dog, so I'm not a childless dog person who thinks dogs are people. In fact, I think getting a dog was a (my) mistake. And I like dogs! But I completely underestimated the degree to which it is like a kid and needs attention. If it doesn't get it, it will act out. You will hate it more. If your husband could honestly say he'd do literally everything dog-related, and you believed him, fine. If he travels for work, you've got to be the bad cop here. It's unfair to you and the dog to bring a dog into the house. I agree with everyone else that you should break this to your husband as many times as is necessary for himt o understand.

That said: While I have no big dog experience, I would say a shih tzu meets most of your other requirements. They do love to play, but they can take no for an answer. They FREAK OUT when you get home and are thrilled to see you. My wife plays with ours. I don't often. He doesn't seem to hold it against me. He doesn't bark unless someone comes to the door, although he will whine if I try to close a door with him on the other side. And it's an awesome breed for kids.

In winter, we sometimes stay local for waste purposes rather than taking him for a walk. We actually use our front yard. It's fine as far as it goes, if you're not going to be embarrassed if company sees it, and you don't mind walking around it. It's not stinky. It seems to disintegrate after a couple of weeks. Your kid playing in the backyard is definitely a factor, though.
posted by troywestfield at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your husband can't be arsed to clean the kitty litter (and btw, I highly recommend getting a Littermaid), he is not allowed to get a dog. Not only do you not want the dog, it sounds like you are going to end up the dog's primary caregiver. He just wants to be a "weekend daddy" pet owner, it sounds like.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:23 AM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

A dog is just a toddler on four legs and considering your unwillingness to have one and all the rest? I wouldn't do it regardless of the breed. Both partners need to be on board with the dogs care especially training, or you'll wind up with one confused puppy, or worse.

I had a dog, after spending time around other people's dogs I thought I'd like one too. They're always sweet when you give 'em back after playing with 'em. I was wrong and I'll never get another.
posted by squeak at 11:24 AM on February 10, 2012

Getting a dog is a LOT like having a kid. Much more like having one than it is unlike having one. For context, we had a kid 5 years before having a dog, so I'm not a childless dog person who thinks dogs are people.

This, too. This is a phase my own mother (who grew up with dogs but didn't like them) repeated for years when we asked for them as kids. Then she repeated it even more over the following years when we did get one, and she was doing most of the work in those days. After I got older and took over, I found out she was right.
posted by cairdeas at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2012

nthing "you guys are not ready for a dog _yet_"

But, when you are ready, a breed that from my readings seems to have much of the qualities that you are looking for is the English Bulldog.

From this site: "minimal exercise... he would prefer not to take any exercise...should not be over exerted in hot weather. He does not make a good dog for the obedience enthusiast"

I don't have one (or any dog for that matter). I just have a thing for underbites and slothfulness.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2012

whether, as my husband thinks, the dog can just use our backyard as a big doggy litter box. That sounds to me like it has the potential to become nightmarish smell-wise and a source of much greater conflict than cat litter boxes. I'd welcome any reports about how you do that, if you do it.

Even if you can work out a method of picking up the poop regularly, I disagree with your husband. A dog having space to pee and poop outdoors isn't enough, IMO. I think dogs need walks. They need them for exercise, for stimulation, for having a doggy job to do. Having a space to eliminate isn't sufficient. I think dogs need 2+ walks a day, and if the household can't provide that, it isn't a good place for a dog.

(I know a lot of people don't walk their dogs and just let them out in the yard. I guess there are some dogs who are cool with that, but I think it causes a LOT of behavior issues.)

Good luck negotiating this. I think you are right, given the circumstances you have mentioned, to be concerned about adding a dog to your household.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:33 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

"English Bulldog"

My other brother has two of these. They are *very* doggy dogs in the aspects of hair, jumping up, low "ruff ruff" sort of barks on a semi-regular basis, needing to go out, etc.. Also, they snore. Loudly. And they get stinky very quickly.

However, they are champion sleepers.
posted by HopperFan at 11:41 AM on February 10, 2012

Just want to reiterate that letting a dog out in the back yard is ABSOLUTELY NOT a substitute for going for regular walks.

Dogs don't want to shit in their own back yard any more than you do, and there's none of the adventure and satisfaction they get from patrolling the neighborhood and checking out all the scents left by other creatures. From a dog's perspective the backyard is boring, and more like a prison yard than a park.
posted by General Tonic at 11:46 AM on February 10, 2012

Take the money you would have spent on a dog and get a Litter Robot.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:52 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I need to clear up some misconceptions.

As I understand it, greyhounds are incredibly active, high energy dogs.
You want a big, lazy, gentle house dog... that still has that manly mystique. Say, a St Bernard. :)

WHAT. Greyhounds are known as the 40mph couch potato. They are like giant cats. They rarely bark, are calm, and don't have much of a "doggy smell". Dogs like St. Bernards (much as I love them) are smelly, drooly, hairy things, which is not good for someone that's dog-averse to begin with. I have won over cat people with my greyhound, because greyhounds are so calm and sweet. I have two cats and all greyhound adoption groups cat-test their dogs to make sure they're ok with that situation. My greyhound has no interest in wrestling or any of that uber-doggy stuff, but he does like squeaky toys and would be cool playing tug of war with you now and then, if you'd do it.

That said, you do need to clean up after ANY dog in the backyard. (Think about it - the more poop you leave out there, the more chance you have that the dog will step in it next time it goes outside and track it in the house. Ew.) You do need to give it attention, even if it's just a pat on the head and a walk now and then, which is all my greyhound asks for. You need to be ok with prioritizing its needs in terms of going for walks, budgeting for vet visits, etc. No dog can understand when part of its pack ignores it or actively hates it. And talk about the bad situation you and your husband could find yourselves in if your dog needs expensive, life-saving veterinary treatment. That's a hard enough decision to make as a household even when everyone wants and loves the pet...

Personally, I don't think you should get a dog. Most greyhound adoption groups that I'm familiar with wouldn't adopt to someone where one of the household members so clearly doesn't want a dog. So unless you lie or are willing to open your heart to the possibility (maybe volunteer with a greyhound or other rescue group, to see if they can win you over), you will have a hard time even getting a dog from reputable groups.
posted by misskaz at 11:55 AM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had dogs for many years but now I have a cat. Caring for a cat is magnitudes easier than caring for a dog. It's essentially the difference between your friend giving birth to a child (oh hey, look how cute!) and you personally having a child (oh hey, MY ENTIRE LIFE CHANGED). Like many others have mentioned, your husband needs to nut up and clean the litter boxes every single day. (I do mine in the morning before work and it takes literally two minutes.) Make a deal with him that if he can clean the cat box out every day for, say, six months you'll move forward with getting a dog. Remind that if he doesn't keep the litter box clean when you have a dog the dog will just be eating cat shit all day every day.

Although I'm giving this advice sincerely, my true hope is that your husband demonstrates his true inability to care for the cats and precludes himself from getting a dog. Because it just sounds like a terrible idea.
posted by kate blank at 11:56 AM on February 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Most greyhound adoption centers are very strict and as you've presented your situation it is unlikely an adoption center would even approve you for a greyhound.

Greyhounds are not living toys and I hate how every question about getting a dog here has a bunch of people suggesting greyhounds as if they're right for all homes. They have a number of health and emotional issues, require substantially more adjustment to home life than other dogs, and a large percentage of them are not cat safe.

The op should not get any dog, but especially not a greyhound. Fortunately, most greyhound adoption centers would recognize that and not give them one. In fact, given the huge kerfuffle about this very issue a few days ago I really suspect we are being trolled.
posted by winna at 11:56 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Italian Greyhounds are not only much smaller, but much different in temperament. They are like velcro, and typically attach themselves to one person - if your husband is gone, it might just mope or complain or misbehave (again, training is paramount). They are very much like a cat at times, and in my experience, they don't have a lot of the smell and cleanliness (drooling and so on) problems of "doggy dogs".
posted by kcm at 12:06 PM on February 10, 2012

Take the money you would have spent on a dog and get a Litter Robot.

Take the money you would have spent on a dog ($1100-3500 every year you own it) and go on a great vacation every year. You don't want a fucking dog, you don't have the time for one, and your husband is a child if he can't live without one.

But if you get a dog anyway, get a rescue dog and don't make up any excuses about why none of them are right for you. Wait until one is right. It might even be a dog that was eventually abandoned by someone who should never have gotten a dog but did it for some silly reason like acquiescing to a husband's dumb whim. Then when you abandon it, it will be no worse off than it was before you got it.
posted by pracowity at 12:07 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, winna brings up a good point. My best friend has a greyhound and we love that dog to death. HOWEVER, she has major stomach issues and teeth issues (and my friend brushes that dog's teeth every week). She has spent literally thousands of dollars on special food and vet visits. The dog is also kind of a nervous poo-er and requires long walks or trips to the dog park before she's willing to go (this is the spot! oh wait! the wind blew! not the spot!)
posted by Kimberly at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give your husband 6 months of keeping the cats cared for and the litter box clean without any pressure/reminding from you. If he can do it, you can then revisit the conversation.
posted by Vaike at 12:15 PM on February 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

I am begging you not to get a dog. Would you send your child to live with someone who stated in advance that they would never want to play with it, teach it, or clean up after it?

No, really. Stop and think about that for a minute.
posted by HotToddy at 12:28 PM on February 10, 2012 [13 favorites]

Adopting an adult dog with a possibly unknown background is NOT ADVISABLE for people with small children. I LOVE LOVE LOVE adult shelter dogs and have had many successfully, but local shelters would not adopt us any dog with an unknown past since we have 2 kids, 13 months and 3 (one shelter was totally assholes about it), and they were really right - you don't know what the dog's been socialized around, you don't know what they will do when under pressure. And toddlers can't be trained not to poke or prod or be gentle at all times.

My son was bitten by my own dog several months after adoping her. She had been fostered for nearly a year by a woman who I had talked to about the dog for months, and at the foster home had been OK with cats, OK with dogs, and OK with kids - but my son caught her off-guard and whacked her on the bum one time and blam, a bite to the face. Superficial, everyone was fine, but it was just tragic for everyone. And that was with doing all the homework I thought I needed to do. She's living with my inlaws, and loves it, but it would've sucked if she had to go back to a shelter.

For the above reason, we are going to get a puppy young enough to be socialized around toddlers and cats in a few months. But dear lord, dogs are work. A lot of work.

Oh, and if you let them out in the yard and don't clean up the poo immediately, THEY EAT THE POOP, AND SOMETIMES AFTER THAT THEY PUKE, SO YOU HAVE VOMIT THAT IS MADE OF POOP ON YOUR CARPET, AT 2 AM. I learned this the hard way.

I love dogs and having a dog is awesome, but I have to be straight with you, it's not easy.
posted by kpht at 1:08 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

My kids had been bugging me for YEARS to get a dog and I just didn't want to. I really love dogs but I also know how much work they are and how much attention they REQUIRE. I finally caved when we found a really awesome dog. He was already crate-trained and house trained, and he was two years old (so well out of the chewing puppy stage). He's really very low maintenance, for a dog, and he loves to just laze on the couch with any one of us as much as he possibly can. But he still needs to have at least one walk per day and he has to run several laps around the yard once a day. He needs us to play with him or he gets antsy. Right now, as a matter of fact, it's been too long since he had a playmate and he's bouncing around next to me to try to get me to play with him. We have to make arrangements for his care or bring him along with us if we're out of the house for more than 5 or 6 hours. My kids are 15 and 11 and they really do pull their share; I can't fathom taking care of a little kid and a dog. I think my head would explode.

Here's the thing: I love him and I think he's awesome and I'm so glad we got him (he's the perfect dog for us), AND sometimes he annoys the hell out of me and I wish he'd stop following me and it's just SO. MUCH. WORK.

And I knew exactly what I was getting into and he's really very mellow. But he's still a dog, and they are much, much more work than cats.
posted by cooker girl at 1:08 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Give your husband 6 months of keeping the cats cared for and the litter box clean without any pressure/reminding from you. If he can do it, you can then revisit the conversation.

This a million times. We have 2 cats. My husband would like a dog; he claims he is not a "cat person." However, I am the cats' sole caretaker. I scoop and scrub and clean their litterboxes. Scrub their puke out of carpets. Take them to vet visits. Feed them. Sweep up the food crumbs they leave on the floor. Other than the occasional scoop of dry food he gives them, he never has to interact with them if he doesn't want to. He knows that until he can provide this level of caretaking for a dog (which will be 10x more work than a cat), we will not have one. Since his work makes this virtually impossible, he's accepted that there is a .0001% likelihood of his having a dog in the future.

Sorry, but your husband needs to show that he can take care of the pets he already has before he even thinks about a dog.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:09 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say you don't want a small dog, but the bigger the dog, the bigger the piles of poo that will be dotted all over your backyard. Unless you're out there scooping it up regularly, it's going to turn your backyard (where I assume your child will want to play at some point?) into a giant poo-poo platter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:10 PM on February 10, 2012

By the way, I mentioned upthread that my parents let their dog use the yard to relieve himself--I forgot to add that they also have someone come to their house daily to let him out midday and give him some exercise and attention, in addition to taking care of him themselves in the mornings and evenings before and after work.

Other families I know who have an arrangement that might work for your family tend to have a housekeeper or nanny who is responsible for pet care.

In short, dogs need exercise and human attention: it's what they're bred for, even the "lazy" breeds. Even if you're sick, or tired, or working, or just don't feel like it. I don't judge people who have the financial means to pay for dog walking services, doggie daycare, or a housekeeper. But dog owners do need to make some kind of arrangement that will keep their dog healthy and happy.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the idea of just letting the yard become a poo graveyard is disgusting. It will smell, no matter how big your yard is. I have lived in a house adjacent to a yard wherein a Great Dane was just allowed to do his business without anyone ever cleaning it up. Warm days made the walk from the car to the door a real horror show.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:13 PM on February 10, 2012

Yeah, don't get a dog. I love love love my Vizsla, but now that we have a baby we don't always have time to give her the attention she needs. I'm lucky that she's almost 5, and forgives the occasional day off from a walk, so long as the following day contains a good, hours long hike.

Good, chill dogs come from dogs that get lots of exercise and stimulation.

And just change the cat litter already. They depend on you to give them a clean place to do their thing. If it gets too dirty, they eventually may find other options. I've scooped boxes thrice weekly for 13 years because that's what my cats deserve.

posted by tkerugger at 1:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is no dog which meets your requirements (and do NOT get an English Bulldog unless you have vast quantities of money to spend on vet care). No dog is 100% safe with children (and no dog should ever be left alone with children), and no dog is going to be happy in a home where half the home really doesn't want it there and doesn't intend to have much to do with it.

Please, please, please do not get a dog. You will have a hard time (with good reason) getting a dog through any ethical means under these circumstances anyway - no good breeder will place a dog in a home where the entire household is not in agreement about getting one, no reputable shelter or rescue will either. There is a reason for this, your situation is precisely the sort of situation which ends up with the dog back in rescue and/or neglected. Please just don't. Dogs have been selectively bred for generations to want to be with people, a dog isn't for you.
posted by biscotti at 1:50 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get a Litter Robot. Best 300 bux I ever spent. Then relax and enjoy the feeling of not having a dog.
posted by tatiana131 at 2:26 PM on February 10, 2012

It sounds like you both think of cats as not interactive. Try playing with them every night for a month, and talking to them (i.e., have your husband do this). Even if they're older cats, they will probably surprise you by how much of a difference it makes in their relationship to their people.

Also -- look into litter box alternatives. There's one kind you can hook up to the plumbing that cleans itself, for example.

Maybe your husband would enjoy dog-sitting for a friend?
posted by amtho at 2:27 PM on February 10, 2012

And maybe most tellingly, we still have an ongoing, exhausting conflict over the care of the two cats who already lived with him when I moved in (specifically about changing their litter, which gets horrible).

Yeah, what the? My girlfriend had a cat when I moved in with her, and we later got a dog together. I feed the cat in the mornings, because she usually gets up before me and takes care of the dog. But that's it. We've lived together for a year and a half and I have never changed the litter box. I would if she asked me to, but she never has because it was her cat, long before I was around. You are not being the bad guy AT ALL to demand that you figure out how to take care of the pets you have first.

Our dog can miss a walk without being unbearable, but we also take her to the dog park about once a week and stay for at least an hour. We've also done a 6-week beginners' training class (which took about 2 hours out of an afternoon, with travel time), and are now on an intermediate class. She hardly ever barks, but she does still jump on us even after many efforts to train her out of it. And that's the thing: you'll probably have to be willing to compromise with the dog itself. There is no way to guarantee that your dog will never bark or jump or drive you crazy running in circles around the house. Two out of three might have to be good enough.

YOU have to train it what to do and what not to do, and even with awesome dogs there might be one thing they never really "get". And if you are already stressed out and tired and have an ill-mannered dog, the last thing you will want to do is invest more time in correcting their behavior if you want to interact with them as little as possible in the first place.

I never had a dog before our current one. I was also concerned about the level of time and commitment. I love our dog so much now, but when we got her, I had to really tell myself "Even if I am sometimes frustrated at the commitment this is, I will make it because I chose to have this animal depend on my care". If you are not honestly willing to commit to that in your head (and it's OK if you're not), then I don't think you will ever like having a dog.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:39 PM on February 10, 2012

I know people have mentioned greyhounds, but I came here to say, "greyhoud." Plus, you can adopt one from a greyhound shelter, giving it a home. My mom adopted a greyhound and it's very sweet, gentle, and a HUGE couchpotato- she sleeps most of the day away, but also likes to be around people. She hasn't really had to train the dog, either.
posted by bearette at 3:57 PM on February 10, 2012

My instinct there is that if we can't even provide a clean home for undemanding pets like a pair of cats, a dog would cause conflicts and issues I can't even imagine.

your instinct is correct. cats are easy. so if you are having issues with taking care of the cats, you will have even more issues taking care of a dog, even the easiest of dogs. i used to have two cats. then i got a dog. the difference is night and day in terms of how much time and energy i put into caring for my dog. and he's a fairly easy dog.

if you are already so reluctant to get a dog and the both are you are having a difficult time properly caring for your (existing) cats, please, please, please do not get a dog—you won't be happy and the dog will not be happy. and i guarantee you that eventually you will give up that dog and that will suck even more for the dog.

your husband sounds like a lot of people who want a pet for it's benefits but refuse to do the work to properly care for them. he's just going to have to suck it up and deal with not having a dog in his life, at least for the time being.
posted by violetk at 4:05 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Based on what you have said, and all of the excellent advice passed on by others in this thread, having a dog in your life is a truly bad idea for your family presently. If your husband really wants his dog fix, however, what if he became a volunteer at an animal shelter? He can interact with the hounds, play with them, feed them and so on, yet need not worry about stressing you out or being responsible for its long-term well being, etc. Bringing an animal into a home where it is not really wanted will make the humans unhappy, and sensing it is not loved, will make the dog lonely and sad, standing outside in a feces-filled back yard, all because the humans weren’t forthright and thoughtful from the get go.
posted by but no cigar at 4:55 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

FWIW, my cats were wonderful until I got a dog. Then one of them started pissing on every available soft surface, and none of the dozen or so recommended, "full-proof" methods I've tried have fixed her.

A dog won't fix any of your problems, but it might create some new ones in unforeseen areas.
posted by coolguymichael at 5:02 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Please do not get a dog - at the very least, not right now (but frankly I'm thinking "ever"). If he won't even take care of his cats, and he can't even make time to volunteer with dogs, and you don't even like dogs, and nobody is even going walk the dog... I mean, I hate to add onto the pile-on, but no amount of "well I don't like dogs, but we got this one and it worked for us" is going to help.

I get it; you want to make your husband happy because he's made (apparently) some large sacrifices or compromises for you that make you feel obligated. Don't. You're not a bad person for not liking dogs or not wanting one as a pet, especially given your lifestyle at the moment.
posted by sm1tten at 5:11 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your husband has cats that you take care of, and now he wants a dog that you will take care of? Put your foot down, friend.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:12 PM on February 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

A retired racing greyhound sounds perfect for you - they're basically overgrown cats who will contentedly lie on their doggy bed near you while you work in your home office and only bother you when they need to go outside for their toilette. You would, of course, take at least half an hour out of each day to take the grey out for a proper walk. But they really don't need all that much exercise, are not very "barky" and they don't shed a whole lot. However, they traditionally aren't "doggy-dogs" who like to roughhouse on command when you feel like picking up a chew toy and playing tug-o-war. Our grey greeted me enthusiastically every day when I got home (during the time I worked outside of the house), but after the initial reunion he retreated to his bed. But no matter what breed would be best suited for you, a non-dog lover or a reluctant owner should never adopt one under duress!

Regarding using the lawn as a giant litter box, any back yard will eventually have to be cleared of dog poop, whether you do it after each elimination or once a week. Otherwise you'll have hordes of flies hanging around and you won't be able to walk around without stepping in a mess. Not to mention it getting caught and flung around by the lawn mower. Yech. Why exactly does your husband want a dog? Ask him his reasons. He already has a child and two cats; what "need" would a dog fulfill?
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:22 PM on February 10, 2012

Golden Retriever or Spaniel. Very gentle, loving, placid.

Or, do an old dog at the pound a favour, and give their last few years some love and attention.

n'thing training - and be aware the terror that is the puppy no matter what the breed.
posted by the noob at 6:17 PM on February 10, 2012

Noob, i'm not sure what animals you've been around, but i don't think anyone i've ever known who has owned a cocker spaniel would recommend that breed to a family with small children. Giving the small child a box of knives and matches would be a better idea.
posted by efalk at 6:32 PM on February 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Or, do an old dog at the pound a favour, and give their last few years some love and attention.

I'm all for rescuing older dogs (or dogs that are otherwise hard to place), but it's really important to remember that while older dogs certainly tend to be less demanding in terms of sheer energy expended, that doesn't mean they are any less work. We have two elderly dogs (one of which we rescued just a few years ago), and they both have significant medical/continence issues that require daily attention and accommodation. On top of that, they still require walks (3x/day), potty breaks/poop scooping, and arranging for a dog sitter whenever we go out of town.

That all takes a level of time, patience, attention, and financial commitment, which -- again, without any judgment implied -- neither the OP nor the OP's husband seem to be able to provide. The age or breed of the dog isn't going to change that.
posted by scody at 6:46 PM on February 10, 2012

If you don't pick up the backyard, there are diseases that can be passed to your child through dog feces. Or worms -- hookworms and roundworms, for example. You have to be on the ball when it comes to vaccinations and worming, and you also cannot let the feces pile up in the backyard. It will create a health hazard for your child. If you think that you'd let these tasks slide, I would advise against getting a dog.

Older dogs are not necessarily more placid. My dearly departed 14-year old lab could fetch in the backyard for a half hour at a time or happily hike 5 miles right up until he died. He was happiest when he got lots of exercise. Exercise does not equal letting the dog out in the backyard. Dogs are pack animals. They want to be with you! YOU must exercise your dog.

Newfoundlands have been described as "living bear rugs" because they are lazy -- but they are short-lived, eat a lot, poop a lot and drool a lot. No animal is going to be perfect.
posted by Ostara at 6:52 PM on February 10, 2012

Please do not get a dog, and especially do not get an Italian Greyhound. This is very, very typical behavior for an Iggie. You would be miserable with an Italian Greyhound, and so would the dog.
posted by Lexica at 8:07 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Please do not get a dog. I love dogs but don't own one because I know the time, energy, & money they require are beyond my means. Instead I enjoy playing with and petsitting my friends' dogs, whom I can enjoy and then hand back at the end of the day. Your husband can get his doggy fix this way. Now & then when I'm in a doggy mood I call friends nearby and ask to take their dog for a walk; I'm thrilled by the dog, the dog's thrilled by the exciting novelty walkies, the owner's thrilled to cross the daily walk off the To Do list without any effort. Your husband can volunteer at any SPCA or rescue center. There are also organizations of volunteers who walk and care for dogs with owners who can't, like older people no longer mobile enough to walk dogs and people hospitalized with serious illness. This gives the incapacitated owners peace of mind and keeps the dogs from filling up shelters.

Since you're already comfortable with cats, consider being more active with your current cats and then getting a cat with a more doglike personality for your next cat. Many cats are outgoing, affectionate, and active like doggy dogs, and even ones I've known that weren't still enjoyed playing fetch, coming when called, and walking on a leash. All the cats in cat food commercials were trained by somebody.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:49 PM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't read through all these responses, but please don't get a dog unless you feel secure about committing emotionally, financially, and kind of unconditionally to this independent, living, loving being. It's a big deal.
posted by whalebreath at 9:55 PM on February 10, 2012

And: foster? Help dogs out while you work out what you're ready for.
posted by whalebreath at 9:56 PM on February 10, 2012

Do not get a dog.

This situation will not be fair for a dog. Dogs need exercise, discipline and love, and it sounds like nobody is committing to that. Dogs that sleep all day are not happy dogs. If you want to end the debate take what you wrote with you and no reputable shelter, rescue agency or breeder will give you a dog.

If, after everything people have said here, you still want to get a dog, go to your local big box bookstore and read about the breed you're thinking of getting. It will tell you it needs exercise and training. And maybe more.

Do not adopt a dog without fostering first. We may all be wrong, but at least prove it before you commit to a dog.

Talk to a dog trainer before you get a dog, so you know what you're getting into. Do not think you can do this without a professional trainer.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:17 PM on February 10, 2012


No dog is completely safe for a young child or cats. Your child will need to take part in training sessions so he knows how to handle the dog.

Almost any dog can be trained not to jump, slobber or play on you. Some dogs are easier than others, but with a professional helping you, you will be shocked at what your dog can do. Almost any dog will surpass your expectations, but it takes time and energy and commitment to the training program. But you still have to exercise it.

Most dogs don't bark for the sake of it. They bark because of external stimuli, such as cars, animals, other dogs and people. Or they bark to get your attention. What you don't want are hunting dogs (no beagles or terriers), no guard dogs (no rotties, pits, dobermans, etc), and no little tiny dogs. Other sorts of barking, again, can be trained out (well, diminished). But you have to consider the environment you're in. To a large extent this will depend on the individual, not the breed.

They can poop in the yard. If its small enough it goes away with the lawn mower. But for the size you are contemplating you'll probably have to pooper scooper. I do it once or twice a week for my dogs, but ymmv depending on breed and the size of your yard. And if you want to let your kid out to play in a shit filled yard or not. My dog's shit only smells bad when it's fresh. You can hire people to deal with this for you.

Please remember this is a 5 to 15 year commitment. If your husband isn't going to take car of the dog, and you don't want to, you need to be the adult and stand up for the dog.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:36 PM on February 10, 2012

What about a Japanese Chin? Might be too small for you.

Disclaimer - I am a cat person
posted by humpy at 2:09 AM on February 11, 2012

I like the fostering idea. I'm a little uncomfortable that we're all piling on (myself included). You're not a bad person, you're just not a dog person. But this is causing conflict in your marriage, and fostering seems like a good compromise. Even if you decide dogs don't work for you, the foster dog will have been better off for the time they were with you.
posted by postel's law at 5:19 AM on February 11, 2012

I'm a little uncomfortable that we're all piling on

OP, if it helps please interpret these responses as us all piling onto your husband, not you. I think you've already gone above & beyond what's reasonable to ask or expect of someone in terms of taking care of someone else's pets. The vehemence, at least in my own reply, is intended towards your husband: Dude, this is a TERRIBLE idea and just because your wife is willing to consider it doesn't make it a good one! You shouldn't get a dog because history indicates that you won't be the one looking after it, your wife will wind up caring for it, and she's already overloaded.

Best wishes.
posted by Lexica at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm late to this, but please do not get a dog at present time, if ever.

And please do not get a greyhound. They are sensitive dogs who bond very deeply, and it is heartbreaking in every sense when they are returned. I've known greys who have been returned to an adoption kennel who have nearly died from grief, and the only thing that saved them was being in a home again.

Please don't give into this when you clearly don't want any part of it. The animal is the one who pays the price in the end.
posted by vers at 5:20 PM on February 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

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