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Lab thoughts for a GSD guy?

Discussion in 'Woof Memorial Critter's Corner' started by tslex, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. tslex

    tslex

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    We're just about ready to buy a dog -- my youngest boy is about potty trained so we'll only have to deal with one critter making a mess when we bring a puppy home.

    All my life I owned and/or worked with German Shepherds. To my mind they are, bar none, the finest, smartest, most loyal, bravest -- etc forever -- dogs in the world. Only other breed I have daily first hand experience with was Irish setters, which my sister owned. Sweet dogs but OMG are they stupid.

    Despite my love for GSDs, I'm not inclined to own one here in South Florida -- just seems a cruel fate given the heat. I never had one that was water loving, so the pool wouldn't help. Any dog we have will be in the house plenty, but needs to be able to tolerate our weather, too. I feel a bit of traitor considering -- hope Elsa the Wonder Dog will forgive me from Dog Heaven --

    SO. . . .

    I'm thinking Labrador (wife and sons favor chocolate, but I can't imagine the flavor makes a huge difference). Any thoughts on Labs for a family with two boys (12 and 3)? Compatibility with kids? Temperament? (I realize I probably won’t be getting the natural drive/protection level I'd expect out of a GSD (which would have been nice since I travel some) but I'm hoping for a decent natural watchdog.) Etc?

    Your thoughts/experience would be welcome, especially if you ever gone from GSD to Lab or vice versa.
     
  2. sy2k

    sy2k

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    Labs are great family dogs - should be fine with your boys (with training, of course). They are generally friendly, good natured and fun-loving. You might be surprised at how energetic they are as pups and for maybe 2-3 years. They are also highly trainable - you see them doing S&R, bomb/drug detection, therapy work, and, of course, they are water loving and great natural retrievers for bird hunting. A few labs have even titled in Schutzhund to the highest levels. The only question mark to me is whether they make good watchdogs...what do you expect? A lab might be fine for alarm barking, but they don't generally have that instinctive aggressive-protective type drive like a GSD.

    I'm partial to chocolates, myself.
     

  3. PeterJasonMN

    PeterJasonMN ****

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    The only ones I've seen that have had the hardcore "protect" instinct were male black labs. I knew one girl who had one where if you tried to get anywhere near her kid or try to hug/kiss her you were soon facing a very PO'd doggy.

    If I get a retriever again it'll be a yellow or black. I have a Golden right now and the hair is just too much.
     
  4. tslex

    tslex

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    Thanks sy2k.

    That's my point exactly. I'll settle for alarm barking and some natural pack instinct.

    Is there a measurable temper difference correlated to the different flavors? PeterJason's post suggests that there is. I like the look of the brown ones best, but assuming there's not a correlation, picking from a litter, I'd look for all the things you look for first -- appropriate puppy aggression, attraction to humans, no shying etc -- and take whatever color that might be.
     
  5. Ender

    Ender ComfortablyNumb

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    i don't think a short haired GSD would have any more problems than a lab in the heat. not overexerting and keeping plenty of water around would certainly help also.

    that aside, my experience with labs is that they are either EXTREMELY smart or MIND NUMBINGLY dumb.

    a Lab would probably be easier in the long run to own than a GSD, just because of energy and a tendency to test the limits all the time ;)

    only Lab i've met that i didn't like was an ill tempered mother of a dog. only dog that ever snapped at me. that said, i've met COUNTLESS wonderful Lab, smart or dumb they are loyal good pups.

    might i suggest a trip to the pound before you look at breeders? up to/around 50% of dogs at the pound are purebred (thats where i got my GSD), and you not only save a crapload of money, you save a life. oh, and rescued pets love you more. :cool:

    one way or another, GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!! :)
     
  6. lefteye

    lefteye

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    Labs are terrific family pets. Another good option is a Golden Lab, a cross between a Lab and Golden Retriever. Ours ("Ruger") is a second generation Golden Lab. More golden than a yellow lab. Big, beautiful, smart, loyal, protective and incredibly affectionate. Gets along with all ages of humans - babies to nursing home residents - and almost all dogs, especially his mother, cousins, siblings and, most of all, his "Aunt Bailey", a beagle. We have a radio "fence" so he won't go out to the front sidewalk or street, but he barks at strangers. Good alarm dog when he is awake, but I don't know if he would ever attack an intruder. He loves to play. He brings my wife's shoes from the closet to her when she says the word "walk." If he gets an incorrect shoe, she tells him to take it back and get the right one -- HE DOES! And then he gets to go for a long walk/run. She brushes his teeth, and takes care of him like he's our child. He is spoiled beyond belief, but well worth it. He is BEST - IN - HOUSE!
     
  7. sy2k

    sy2k

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    tslex-

    I've known alot of labs in all flavors. I've never observed coat color having anything to do with the dog's protectiveness. The only aggressive lab I've ever known was black, but mixed with Chow. He was very sharp at strangers and dangerous around other dogs. I gotta think it was the Chow...not his color. Well, his upbringing and training left ALOT to be desired.

    If it were me, I'd work hard to find a lab that had a working lineage, not AKC show stuff. It's sort of like the difference between a European GSD bred to the standards of the SV, versus an American show GSD - no comparison in working ability, drive, nerves and temperament stability. Labs are supposed to be a working dog and they should be selectively tested and bred for their hunting ability and soundness of their physical construction - not looks. Be very careful that the parents are over two years old and have had OFA certification on the hips, with preferably a known working pedigree. Hip dysplasia runs rampant in many Lab lines.

    Good luck!
     
  8. marley

    marley 17-26-32

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    Marley is going to be 13 on july 2. I would not trade him for the world. He is an ok watch dog. Every time I would have wanted him to do something he has. He just knows. Not shy around guns and a great swimmer. Check out gun dog by Richard A Wolters. He knew a lot about labs. The colors other that black are for style I would really want a black one. The heat is a little hard on them but in the Richmond summers he does fine. Best of luck they are great dogs.
     
  9. Goldendog Redux

    Goldendog Redux Shut your mouth

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    My older yellow lab sounds ferocious when she barks. The puppy is learning. They only bark when there is something out of the ordinary going on. I never worry about the dogs biting.

    They are wonderful critters and they certainly aim to please.

    MF
     
  10. SkippyThe

    SkippyThe

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    My 10 month old black lab Gypsy is a doll. Great with my kids 13 and 7 and a total love. She will bark when someone or something is out of the ordinary. and is protective of the kids. For what it's worth a friend of mine has a big lab that barks like a mastiff. I've had Neufies, Akitas, and A Neufie Akita mix " friggin huge dog" and Gypsy is just as loyal and smart "when she wants to be". ST
     
  11. Steve #1

    Steve #1

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    If you keep it trimmed, the standard poodle fits all your criteria.

    - granted, it's not what you asked about, but they are great dogs.
     
  12. tslex

    tslex

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    Thanks for all the good input.

    I figured flavors were a matter of aesthetics only.

    I'm keyed into the OFA and HD issues from dealing with GSD's; I understand it's an issue with labs as well. Hadn't thought about the parents being more than two -- guess I'd hope no reputable breeder would be commercially breeding a female [FUNNY: just found out the word filter isn't set up to talk about dog breeding in proper lexicon. So I'll say "female"] younger than that, but I will think to ask. (I always want to see at least mom before buying; ideally dad too.)

    Also, excellent advice on show vs. working lines. (And good analogy to the various GSD lines.) Not looking for any perfect conformation -- hoping to find a great tempered dog to make a part of the family. What you all have said about alerting only to the unusual would be perfect. Don't expect him/her to be a protection dog.

    Ender, I'm very sensitive to the idea of rescuing a pound pup. Here's the problem -- I'm adamant about raising my dogs from puppies. I suppose a 4- or 5-month-old would be OK, but I really want my home to be the first one the dog is deeply socialized in. Good breeders handle the pups to the right degree and lay the foundation, but I want the dog housebroken/socialized/obedience trained my way. So I'm leery of adopting a grown dog or even older pup (past say six months) from a pound -- especialy with a three-year-old boy in the house.

    [We've had cats rescued from the pound -- and why not -- not like the darn things actually get TRAINED anyway. But a dog? I dunno.]

    Thoughts?

    Also, thoughts on male/female in Labs? Best working dog I ever knew was a female GSD. She was just a bit more tractable than the males, but still tough as nails. I'd be inclined to a female Lab, but get the sense dominanc issues aren't as acute with Labs.

    Thoughts?

    [thanks for all the great feedback so far]

    PS STEVE: I hear from lots of people what great dogs standard poodles are. I just. . . couldn't.
     
  13. Ender

    Ender ComfortablyNumb

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    i'd have to say thats all personal preference, and i can't blame ya.

    i often think that if i'd raised my dog from a pup, i wouldn't have some of the problems that i do with her. shes a GREAT dog, but sometimes her prey drive overtakes and she ignores me COMPLETELY. i wonder if i'd had her from a pup if she would listen better...etc, etc.

    that said, i firmly believe her previous owner got rid of her because she was uncontrollable (or rather, they couldn't control her)...and i'm glad i got her, and she is overall a good pup.

    with a three year old in the house...i'd be careful whether i adopted a pup or got one from a reputable breeder. i know one couple who got a dog from a breeder, had a baby a year or two later, and the dog was GONE three days after she got home from the hospital...couldn't deal with the competition.

    then again, i know a couple who were very worried that their 8 year old GSD wouldn't accept their new baby; within a couple days it was clear that the dog viewed the baby as part of the family and would do anything to protect it.

    imo, it isn't so much the age of the dog as it is the temperment. whether you take the steps to find that out, or try to train the dog yourself is your call...i'd do whatever feels right at the time :)
     
  14. Steve #1

    Steve #1

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    That's the biggest problem with 'em.... they're still poodles. I couldn't bring myself to have one either. :)
     
  15. Mayhem like Me

    Mayhem like Me Semper Paratus

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    As a dyed in the wool GSD guy I lived in south fla and they were fine, they loved the water and the beach because we always took them as pups .
    But if you want a retriever let me suggest the Chessie
    http://www.amchessieclub.org/
     
  16. mavrick

    mavrick

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    I'll second the suggestion of staying with a Shepherd. The way I see it, as long as you do your part in caring for the dog, you shouldn't have a problem. I have 3 GSD's currently, between them we're into AKC obedience and rally, therapy work, tracking, schH, and personal protection. ( I'm not a professinal trainer, these are our personal dogs ) Literally thousands of GSD's have lived and worked in enviornments hotter than florida.

    Anyway.. Nothing against labs, they're great dogs.. but for me, I just couldn't see myself at this point with anything other than Shepherds.. there could be a mal in the mix.. but there will always be Shepherds..

    Good luck though with whatever dog you choose!!

    Cheers

    mavrick

    PS.. if you decide to look at chessie's.. do your homework.. espeically if you have young kids..
     
  17. headphonefreak

    headphonefreak

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    I would say for the average American family a lab is the perfect dog. Mine is about a 2.5 year old female yellow. She is GREAT with my cousin's baby, Chloe (my lab) TOWERS over the kid but is still SUPER gentle around her. I got a kitten when Chloe was about 2 and she takes care of the cat like it’s her own pup. They sleep together and when they play the dog knows not to play too hard because the kitty is fragile. Most labs are good with kids, other dogs, cats, small animals and new people.
     
  18. kevfan

    kevfan

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    We have two boys (9 and 6) with a 2 yr old male black Lab. If I were to do it over again, I'd get a female. The boys wanted a male, I wanted a female but you can tell who won out.

    I think the female would be more gentle. Our lab sometimes tries to show his dominance over the kids when at play. At close to 100lbs, the boys are no match for him barrelling up to them.

    Between a Lab and a GSD, I'd take the GSD. Had a GSD as a kid, a very smart and protective dog.
     
  19. Rondog

    Rondog

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    I HAVE TWO LABS THAT LIVE IN THE HOUSE AND ARE GREAT WITH MY GRAND KIDS ONE IS BLACK ABBY AND A BLOND HARLEY. THEY ARE GOOD COMPANY FOR MY WIFE AND I AND WERE EASILY HOUSEBROKEN. WE KENNEL TRAINNED THEM AND THATS THE ONLY WAY TO GO. MY GRAND KIDS LAY ON ABBY AND USE HER FOR A PILLOW AND ALSO RIDE HER SHES VERY GENTLE. HARLEY IS MUCH YOUNGER GOOD WITH KIDS BUT I HAVE ISSUES WITH HER BEING WIDE OPEN ALL THE TIME., BUT SHE SEEMS TO BE COMING AROUND. MY OPION ABOUT LABS ARE THEY ARE MUST OWN DOGS. IF YOU GET ONE WORK WITH THEM EVERY DAY AND YOU WANT BE SORRY. PS WE HAVE A POOL AND THE DOGS LOVE IT THEY WILL EVEN GET IN THE HOT TUB THEY ARE CRAZY. IN THE WINTER ABBY WILL GET IN NO MATTER WHAT THE TEMP IS THEY ARE COOL. RONDOG.
     
  20. MtnBiker

    MtnBiker NRA Member Millennium Member

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    My family has had labs for a while.

    I have a lab/gsd cross breed that is, IMHO the best solution!

    Labs are great dogs, but they act like pups until they are 2 years old. That isn't what you'd expect from a GSD. After that they are usually great dogs.

    Labs usually alert by barking when there is a stranger; however if the stranger then throws a tennis ball, the dog can't resist retrieving it for him!