Doggy People's Advice Request

I’ve just been scrolling the dog photo thread and it’s obvious there’s a lot of dog knowledge here.

So, advice please. Until October we had two dogs, then one reached the end of his struggle with cancer, the other was knocked by a car in December. We’d like to get a replacement (only one this time) but our family set up makes this tricky.

  1. We have cats. Which isn’t a huge problem I know.

  2. Our son (19 years). He’s quite heavily autistic, this can make him stressed which manifests as quite agressive and very reluctant to take advice. He gave one of our dogs a hard time and I put that dog’s fussiness down to that influence. The other (cocker bitch) he ignored more or less though strangely she was the patienter of the two.

So, we are undecided which dog to go for. I would love to take a rescue but we can’t take anything that’s lacking in confidence so we think a breed would be better. I mentioned golden retriever, which I’ve never had but thought their temperament might be placid and easy going for when our son gets stressed and explodes a bit. Don’t get me wrong, he loves animals and they definitely give him the unconditional love that helps him. I miss having a dog and I know he does too.

From what I’ve said you might all say ‘no dog deserves to be in your family’ but if you can think of any chill breeds that are better at coping I’d love to know.

Lastly: how do I know who’s a good breeder? What are the signs of a responsible breeder as opposed to those heading down the puppy farm road?

Thanks very much.

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We’ve had rescues and highbrow dogs, and you can luck out with either. Or equally end up with a problem. All puppies can be excitable and bitey for a while, which could be hard for your son. With an adult dog you get a better idea of what you’re getting. So you coukd visfot some rescue centres and see if he takes to a dog. They are not all abused dogs!

If you go for a breeder then check out how many bitches and litters they have. You don’t want one that is making her bitches have non-stop litters. Ask about what tests they do and how they bring up the pups. Will they get sociability trai g?

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I can’t claim to be an expert on either autism or different dog breeds’ reactions to it, even though I have had and transported many dogs previously unknown to me and, have 3 grandchildren in one family all of whom are autistic to differing degrees. They do not have a dog because one of the boys is terrified of them.

But what I do know is that, although there are skills and behaviours prevalent in some breeds rather than others, and autistic behaviours quite different in different people, as a general rule there is no better way than ‘suck it and see’. I do not know how old you are Caroline, but as a general rule I prefer puppies to not be adopted by older people and also, from bitter experience am not enamoured of breeders either.

My only advice would be to take your son to visit dogs in a rehoming centre like the SPA, or find a reputable charity which rehomes dogs, like Phoenix in the Dordogne. Often the dogs will be in a home environment with fosterers who will know first hand if their charge is suitable in your situation. On that score you could foster yourself for a time and adopt or return according to experience gained.

Lastly, I would advise putting out of your mind any fixation on particular breeds, often the mixture in cross breeds is beneficial in terms of behaviour and health (of the dog), and no-one should rule out breeds on reputation alone. The dog of mine, Boss the Rottweiler, whose photo you admired recently, would have been ideal for your son as he was so gentle and immune to bad bahaviour in others, both canine and human. He was kept as a scrap yard dog in Spain for some years and then discarded without any attempt at rehoming when no longer required. Badly treated by humans he ended in a refuge near Paris and I went to meet him. Down on my knees, at his level, and on a short lead, he marched straight into my arms in a massive hug. By the time we got home the next day he was no longer a foster and the papers were on their way. He was the same with dogs. Mid transport from the Alps to Brittany, I had to keep over the weekend a female Dobermann at our house. In the garden I let Boss walk freely and approached him with the Dobie on a lead. Her teeth came on display and she lunged straight at him, only prevented from making contact by me and the lead. He stood his ground and just looked at her it seemed with sadness more than anything else. The next day, with the help of a friend, I walked the 2 of them on leads together but just enough distance to avoid physical contact between them. After 15 minutes and back in the garden both of them were free and totally comfortable in each other’s presence. If she hadn’t already been adopted I would have considered fostering, and maybe adopting, her.

I relate that not to advise a Rottie, or any other so-called ‘dangerous’ breed but to demonstrate that it is the dog, not the breed which matters. Indeed, I wouldn’t recommend a dangerous breed simply because of the moronic hoops you have to jump through and vast expense you will be put to in obeying the regulations.

Best of luck, I do hope you find the perfect answer for the 3 of you. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you Jane, sound advice.

I have thought of visiting a rescue centre with him, he’ll probably want them all ! But I agree with you, an adult would be better than a puppy for both their sakes. I’ve been scrolling the SPA/RSPCA etc. not always a lot of Information but a frightening amount seem to ask to be the only animal!! I never worried about cats and dogs until we took on a nine year old dog who started picking off our cats and the neighbouring cats one by one!! We had to send him back which caused a rumpus and the children (young at the time) were furious with me.

Thanks for the delicacy of your question!! I’m sixty which is about as old as you can be with a nineteen year old son I suppose. I do agree about not getting puppies when you’re not going to outlast them, I tell my kids that all that love you get is traded for the fact that it’s YOUR job to ease them into death and not the other way around.

And thank you for your story about Boss, he sounds wonderful!! Totally explains why I want to get another dog, they can be such a supportive part of the family. I shall take your advice the visit some rescue centres. It will at the very worst be a fun way to spend the weekend.

Hopefully I shall be posting photos of our new dog soon!

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What a lovely story David.

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I would echo David’s advice about not having set ideas about breed, going to a rehoming centre and being straight about the way your son may interact with him on occasion. I will be honest in that it sounded quite difficult for the dog but maybe I read it as being worse than it actually is. A good rehoming centre will understand you need a particularly confident, laid back, and probably largish dog.

Retrievers do have a great reputation and many of them are lovely dogs but some can be tricky. The same goes for labs. My daughter has one with a superb personality but I’ve met some that are too alpha for anyone’s good.

You are right to be concerned about your cats with some breeds, Huskies, Malamutes and others, even if they’ve been brought up with cats, you are, one day, extremely likely to come home and find the cat dead.

In buying puppies, the most important thing is to see them with their mother. You will immediately be able to see if you have a much loved bitch or a puppy farm victim. Please never ever buy online without seeing the set up and interacting at length with the mother. I’m 62 and like you would not want a puppy again…just in case…

We have a finnish lapphund dog, now 11, bought as a puppy after huge research. She’s lovely in many ways but not keen on our 14 year old, nervy cat. The dog well trained not to chase but gives the cat the evil eye and for some cats that’s enough. We spend a lot of time managing their relationship which will never be good and for that reason I do regret having a dog. I love them both and they’re with us for keeps but it’s tricky. The dog got on very well with a large confident cat we had, who bopped the dog hard on first meeting and they spent the next 5 years sleeping together and hating my nervy cat. I was going to say bloody minefield but seems in poor taste right now…

The only regret my mother ever expressed was that she didn’t get another dog when her last one died when she was just on 80. She died aged 96.

We very much hope ours will last a long time yet, but we would get another one. I now feel that I have good experience in bringing up puppies so happy to have another go!


An interesting perspective. FLs are long lived so we hope to have another 6 or so years with ours yet. I’d probably have another and my OH definitely would but it would be an older rescue and definitely post cat!

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The mother of our grandchild has an older son who is autistic, and recently got a golden retriever puppy that is really good with the autistic boy (aged nearly 8). However the growing dog is energetic and rumbunctious, requiring significant tolerance too, as well as needing lots of exercise.

My personal view is that in this situation a dog does not sound like a good idea, but the right animal may contribute more than it takes out in terms of energy and emotions.


For safety’s sake, I’d opt for a breed with known benign characteristics, whereas a refuge dog may be severely traumatised and unpredictable, without this being initallly apparent. I grew up surrounded by dogs, and my wife and I’ve had a succession of very fine pedigree dogs; but the one time in my life that I’ve ever been bitten by a dog was by a friend’s dog that she’d rescued (at great personal expense) from the streets of Dubai. Her dog knew me because we’d done several long walks together with our dog and people walking group, and when it happened we’d already been staying with our friends for a couple of days, so I wasn’t an apparently unexpected intrusion.

I don’t blame the dog for biting me as I walked past, but I do believe that sort of unpredictability is a major problem, and although the notion of a refuge dog may tug at the heart strings, a pedigree dog bought as a puppy from a reputable breeder and a breed suited to your needs is probably a safer choice.

It’s a bit like the difference between buying a car from a private ad and buying from the local dealer of that marque.

I think not quite the scenario that is being proposed here, but well-run adoption places who will match their dog to the current situation.
We took on an Airedale 20 years ago who had been brutally treated and had been taken away from its owner into care. We were only considered because we already knew Airedales and we only took him because he had been with a foster carer and we had a full description of his personality and behaviour. He proved to be the most loving and grateful of dogs and I miss him to this day.
That I imagine is what @David_Spardo et al are proposing.


Many of the dogs in rescue centres are pedigree dogs, and the good centres will know their history and not match a traumatised dog to a child with his own issues. There are all sorts of reasons why dogs end up in refuges, and many can make safe and loyal pets. It seems a bit snobbish to imply “pedigree dogs from a breeder are better” as this isn’t always the case no matter how much money you pay for them.

(Post-covid the cost of puppies has rocketed - you are looking at up to €2,000 for properly raised golden)

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Yes agreed. A friend’s golden had a tendancy to want to bite due to resource guarding issues (and was otherwise a lovely dog).

Also having had issues with our dogs and reactivity and separation anxiety I joined some groups on Facebook and there are lots of pedigree dogs on those.

I really think like David said it is all about the individual dog and make sure you meet them lots of times first at the rescue -for the dogs sake as well as your own (our big mistake was adopting via an organisation where we didn’t meet the dog first). Also make sure you find out what the rescue’s back up policies are in case of problems. We have certainly been left high and dry. The problems we have are largely because our two dogs don’t get on very well, they are both anxious and trigger each other.

@caroline are you able to say in any more detail what giving the dog a hard time and the resulting fussiness entailed?

You mentioned getting a Golden retriever- I can tell you about them, although only you can judge whether another dog would suit your family situation or not.
We have owned goldens for over 40 years- they make great family dogs, and can be gentle and loving. However- they have all been very food oriented (obsessed) and while this can make training easier as they will sell their souls for a bit of cheese, some can develop resource guarding which is dangerous and difficult to deal with.
They all have very different personalities- for example, until recently we had two, the Aunty and her neice. Aunty was very outgoing, loved meeting people, adored strangers and children, nothing phased her at all. Niece- the opposite. There isn’t a nasty bone in her body, but the only people she wants to interact with are her family. If a stranger tries to pet her, she backs away. While she likes to be petted by children, she will move behind me if a man (such as our neighbour who she has known since a puppy) tries to stroke her.
The dogs are much bigger and stronger than the bitches and can learn to take advantage of that when on the lead.

You would need the “right” puppy- the current girl (the niece from above) would be totally wrong, whereas her Aunty would have been fine. These two came from the same breeder and bloodlines btw.
A reputable breeder should be able to match you to a puppy or know of an older dog looking for a new home. Be prepared to wait for the right one, and to pay- expect over £2000, another from our dogs breeder would be over £3000!

I recognise all you have said @Goldencity which was precisely why I said what I said. The characteristics of dogs can be as different as those in humans, even, like humans, within the same breeds. Choosing a dog by breed is ok, I do have my own favourites, but finding one with the right character is more important.

I certainly wouldn’t pay silly money for a dog, a few hundred in compensation for rescue and care and as a contribution to charity is fine, but not thousands.

As to breeders. I have worked for much of the last dozen or so years with PAD, the French Dobermann rescue association and they charge between 200 and 300 euros I think depending on age and health even though most Dobermanns do appear to be pure bred. I was also required to visit a breeder frequently to collect a dog. This was a ‘good’ breeder who at least endeavoured to re-home (via us) dogs that were passed their ‘useful’ lives. Many simply either abandon their dogs or kill them. But even there I was appalled at the number of bitches worn out from multiple ‘production’, with their undersides hanging down like tasselled curtains.

And with PAD, I was confirmed in my conviction of good and bad within breeds. Much maligned, Dobies can be gentle and obedient, perfect with the youngest children, just as many other breeds with ‘bad’ reputations like Rottweilers and Alsations, can be. But, as with all breeds, I wouldn’t leave a young child alone with a dog. The gentlest of dogs can react badly, just like humans, if poked in the eye or startled from behind.


Withour current dog we actually wanted a bitch from the same litter. But the breeder, who knows us, refused to sell her to us asshe said she was wring for us as too dominant even at 6 weeks! She also insisted on a contract that should we no longer want or be able to keep the dog we had to return it to her. A good breeder!


Thanks for your advice. I know the dog is more
Important than the breed but sometimes blood will out (we had terriers and hens for a number of years and most of thé terriers just couldn’t resist grabbing a hen when they thought we weren’t looking )

This weekend I suggested a trip to the rescue centre but it was turned down.

I’m pretty sure he will love a dog when we get it. But let’s be honest. It’s me who wants another dog. A dog less house especially with a nice big garden feels so empty.

Best of luck with your nervy cat and FL.


You may be right that a dog is just an adding complication. And I am considering that which is why I asked for others advice. Instinctively I think a aimais help rather than hinder someone who struggles with human life. But that’s just a gut feeling and I could well be wrong. Once a week my son goes to a stable where he looks after (grooms leads to the stables etc) some ponies with his class mates. He loves it and the gentle silence and interest of the ponies is a real benefit. He is often quite calm when I pick him up on Friday evenings We can’t run to a horse but a dog ( the right one) I hope would help.

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Well. Without going into an endless family history: the dog had a car accident when barely a year old. His pelvic bone was broken. I’m pretty sure he was often in pain after this and it made him quite short tempered. We all noticed a change character

My son loved the dog and would often take him to bed with him. He would keep the dog in his bedroom much too long and this stressed the dog especially if he then soiled the room. If we tried to explain this it would lead to bad temper from my son. Which further stressed the dog Those who have dealt with autism might relate to this.

It was just a bad combination of circumstances.

A dog who became grumpy because of the car accident and a boy who couldn’t read the signals when an animal wanted to leave his room.