Looking for 'family' dog. Coton? Other hair dogs?

BalTraDecember 27, 2011

Hello all.

I'm new to this forum so I'll quickly introduce myself in pet terms, of course!

I've had dogs my whole life (am 41 now). Always a fan of mutts and rescues. Special weakness for staffordshire terriers/ pitties for their affectionate, eager to please, highly intelligent and gentle and agile nature. Have had one of my own and fostered many.

Learned much about digs and training/behavior from those who followed jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, karen Pryor. Caesar Milan makes me see red.

Now I have a young child. She is amazing with dogs. Calm, thoughtful, affectionate and has lots of fun training.

I find myself in the position of having developed a mild but bothersome (sore throat, tired) allergy to most dogs. However, those with "hair" don't seem to bother me.

I also find myself wanting a smaller (not tiny!) dog for the benefit of my DD. So, my beloved bully dogs are out of the running. So are most shelter dogs. :(

I want a companion dog who has the potential to be a therapy dog. Steady temperament. Can handle alone time while I'm at work. I work pretty regular hours, most always under 40 hours.

Love smart, responsive, people oriented dogs who have potential to be fine at dog park, dog daycare, and with strangers and visitors of all ages (highly social household).

I've been anti-purebred forever. Both for the love of rescue dogs and for the poor health that goes along with most AKC breeds.

I've been searching online for "ethical" breeders, read about the "Purebread Paradox" in Bark magazine.

Came across the Coton de Tuliers. Intrigued. Anyone have experience with this non AKC breed?

Anyone here have suggestions for dogs with hair who have big dog personalities? Non AKC non puppy mill dogs who aren't plagued by inbred genetic disorders?

I ask with full recognition that every dog is an individual!

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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These are great dogs! And the fur is very soft and silky. It requires a LOT of grooming. They are related to Bichon Frises.

These dogs aren't AKC registered, but don't be so down on purebred dogs that are! If you go to a reputable breeder, they will be breeding for temperament and health, to avoid the genetic problems in their breed. This is how I get my dogs and have been very, very satisfied.

Gotta tell you, though. If you want a well bred Coton from a reputable breeder will probably cost you around $2000 or more. They ain't cheap!

Here is a link that might be useful: Coton breeders website

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 9:14AM
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Suggestions from this crowd for other options/ ideas? Will pain me to spend that much on a dog when there are so many in need.

But that doesn't change my need for a "hypoallergenic" dog, and my desire for one who has a reasonable chance at being healthy.

My pittie had two TPLOs. So while I am frugal and not wealthy by any stretch, I will spend on my dogs as needed to keep them alive and happy. From that perspective, maybe not so crazy to spend $$ upfront on a dog who is more likely to be 'healthy.'



How to find the 'right' dog?

These questions sound silly to me, the purebread world is all new.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 9:44AM
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A standard poodle was my uncle and aunt's pet for years, and she was typical for the breed -- calm, intelligent, attached to her owners and a good house pet. No problems with shedding or allergies.

I think that might be a good choice for you.

I'll put a link below to a list of breeds that don't usually bother people's allergies:

Here is a link that might be useful: breeds unlikely to cause allergies

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 11:09AM
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You can have both a rescue and a purebred! There are thousands of purebreds in rescues and many breeds have their own rescue group. New animal arrive daily with this down economy. One local group here specializes in the smaller dogs, and you would think they would always be empty, but sadly that is not the case. Way too many people buy "purse dogs" and then don't know how to deal with the needs of a living creature.

Look on Petfinder for rescue groups in your local area and check out their inventory online. Know that the most high demand dogs rarely make it to the website and are often adopted by volunteers before they make it into the system. Then take some allergy medication and you and your daughter volunteer to help them with some adoption days to get your face known to them. People who have put in a little blood, sweat, and tears (and sneezes!) tend to be higher on the potential adopter list and it's a good lesson to give to your child about "recycling". You will end up with a pet that satisfies your desire for low allergy impact as well as helping to save a life.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

This is what I have learned thus far. Purebred dogs are bred as such so that a person knows what they are getting when they buy a puppy. For example, tempermenmt, size, coat considerations, and required living conditions. The reasons breeders breed purebred dogs are entirely their's personally and somewhere in their reasons is the adherance to a breed standard (usually). Not a bad idea if a breeder can successfully pull this off. However, this does not guarentee the personality of a purebred dog. Generally speaking, temperment is what they are bred for, personality is something they are born with and grow in to. For example, I have been breeding shelties for many years and can tell you that, as a breed, shelties are not "in your face" dogs, they are more cautious and sensitive, they prefer to be beside you at all times, they bark as they are bred to drive stock and alert, they have a double coat which requires lots of grooming and they shed, they are very affectionate, happy dogs and are extremely smart and easy to train. They can develop skin problems, eye problems, hip issues, and a few genetic diseases more exclusive to shelties. That said, this is the case with all purebred dogs, of course, each to their own breed. Reputable breeders will generally strive to produce healthy, balanced dogs with an emphasis on temperment and genetic soundness. To acheive this, a breeder will put in the best in nutrition, health care, housing, training and everyday care which is not only a financially costly venture but a time consuming one. Why?, because they love doing it! Placing our puppies in the "right" homes is the hard part of the whole process. In a nutshell, this is what I have learned about purebred dog breeders.

Mongrels are and always will be a dime a dozen as a dog will do what comes naturally no matter who their choices are. That said, this is why the shelters and streets are overflowing with unwanted and uncaredfor dogs. :( Most of those animals are just as loving as any purebred or designer dog ever bred! And ALL are deserving of love and a caring home.

Designer dogs is s whole different story and one I am not impressed with personally. Designer dogs, that is dogs bred purposely to create a dog to fit the fad at the time, are not bad dogs. They are dogs like all others. People in their infinate wisdom decided to make dogs a fashion statement or novelty! Like we don't have enough breeds to choose from and we don't have enough hoomeless animals out there that we have to create more. Cotons are an excellent example IMO! They are not a registered breed and are therefore a designer dog! Cute, fluffy, friendly little dogs that they are, it is sad that people are breeding them for "their" own gain!!!!! And the sadest part is that other people are willing to shell out the cash for one to carry around on their arm like a Gucci purse! In addition to the insanity of desiner dogs is the fact that many (NOT ALL) of these poor little dogs are bred in so called "puppy mills" ( I call them "sweat shops") home or otherwise, to satisfy the market demands!! Sick!

I won't go any further with my ideas or understanding of how new breeds are developed and come to be as I have probably already said more than necessary. You asked a lot of questions BalTra and I hope to give you my honest thoughts and opinions. I am very passionate about the lives of animals and any other living creatures we have been so blessed to share our planet with. I agree with eahamel in all of what was shared.

My suggestion is that you carefully research breeds you may be interested in. The internet is full of information. As well, contact breeders, go see their homes and dogs, and ask TONS of questions. Be careful of breeders who offer health guarentees (check it out carefully as you cannot guarentee health on any living thing)but don't dismiss genetic testing and medical history of the line. Most reputable breeders are more than happy to share their knowledge and expertise on "their " breed and specifically their line, and many have experience with other similar breeds. Myself, I encourage potential owners to visit my home prior to and shortly after puppies are born to learn as much as they can and get to know where their baby is coming from. I owe that to my puppies. They come first and I will do everything I can to ensure I find the right fit.

Unfortunately , we don't always get the opportunity to pick a puppy this way so we take our chances. Contrary to what we would like to believe, animal sheltiers can only give us a good guess as to what breeds may be included in a mongrel and what their temperment may be like after spending a limited amount of time with them. We have to take a chance. I believe that very few dogs are "bad" dogs and that it is most often the ignorance or neglect/disinterest of the owners that creates an unruly or hostile dog. Baring in mind also that breed inherant traits and characteristics will always be. You can't expect the average border collie cross, for example, not to herd somewhat. It is as natural for them as it is for a retriever to retrieve and like water!

There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Some breeds don't shed as much as others and some have dander that is closer to falling out of their hair (probably why you are more responsive to short haired breeds). If the dog is kept clean and groomed and is fed a quality food with hopes of producing less dry skin, your chances are good you will not react alergically. Some breeds like Poodles, Shih Tzu's, Terriers and such don't generally drop as much coat but require clipping and/or lots of grooming to keep their hair from matting.

There are many breeds to choose from and therefore, you have the advantage of getting pretty close to the perfect dog. Only you know your lifestyle, habits and requirements of your pet. IMHO, the perfect dog can only come about by listening to your gut and following it. Your dog will hear that instinctively!

I hope I have been helpful and not too wordy. Good luck with your search. It will be an adventure and an exciting one that will end in pure joy with lots of love and puppy kisses ^^^^^

A short story I found that I will share with you that just tugs at my "breeder" heartstrings.

Puppy sighs

This is one of the neatest stories. You will know precisely what this little girl is talking about at the end (you'll want to share this one with your loved ones and special friends)!

"Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to
this animal shelter at least five times.
It has been weeks now since we started all of this," the mother told the

"What is it she keeps asking for?" the volunteer asked.

"Puppy size!" replied the mother.

"Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that's what she's looking for."

"I know...we have seen most of them," the mom said in frustration .Just
then Danielle came walking into the office.

"Well, did you find one?" asked her mom.

"No, not this time," Danielle said with sadness in her voice. "Can we come back on the weekend?"

The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed "You
never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there's always a
supply," the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. "Don't
worry, I`ll find one this weekend," she said.

Over the next few days both mom and dad had long conversations with her.

They both felt she was being too particular.
"It's this weekend or we're not looking any more," Dad finally said in frustration.

"We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size either," Mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs. Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted. Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one.

One by one she said, "Sorry, you're not the one."

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The
volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog
and held it closely. This time she took a little longer. "Mom, that's it! I
found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!" she screamed with joy.

"It`s the puppy size!"

"But it's the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last
few weeks," Mom said.

"No not size ---- the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed," she
said. "Don't you remember?

When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!"

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both.

"Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from
work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy
if it sighed when I held it in my arms," she said.

Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said, "Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!"

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you
sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of
a sunset the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot

They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will be
surprised at what you hear. "Life is not measured by the breaths we
take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Good luck

Ginny Garden
Gairden's Shelties
Edmonton AB Canada

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 11:59AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

PS I totally agree with both Petaloid and GreenDesigns! Excellent ideas!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

PPSS OOops! I was just reading back what I had written and sometimes my head is ahead of my fingers. Cotons ARE a recognised breed of dog in some registered kennel clubs and are considered a foreign breed. Although not recognized in the AKC, they are recognized in the CKC. My thought at the time of writing earlier is that Coton's LIKE many designer dogs are bred for their cuteness, coat and "designer" look and can fetch a high price because of this and the fact that they are not common in the US. That was what I was thinking in saying that Coton's are designer dogs. My apologies to the reputable breeders of Cotons and hopefully they can become recognized as a breed in the US.

I don't think they would be the right dog for your situation BalTra, however, that is your choice.

My first choice for you would be a poodle. A purebred, well bred, poodle (size is personal choice). Smart, affectionate, easy to train, very low shedding, good with children, and generally excellent therapy dogs. Grooming is necessary, however, they are easy to keep clean when kept clipped. An old breed with few vices from what I understand and have had experience with in grooming for over 30 years. My sister also bred standards for many years after her daughter was born and alergic to her boxers.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Thanks to you all for your generous responses!
Honalee -- puppy sighs! Love it :) It is e x a c t l y how I brought my 3 month old pit home from the shelter. I'd been looking for an adult for several months. My girl climbed into my lap, went belly up, and I am pretty sure our hearts sighed in unison. I was done! No other living being will ever occupy the same sweet spot in my heart.
You brought up many important points and I hope you didn't feel the need to hold anything back. More info/opinion = better. Interesting take on the Coton. I only read about them yesterday when I stumbled on their anti-AKC declaration.

Petaloid - I've often thought a standard poodle would fit well in my home.

GreenDesigns - fun to see/hear from you on this forum (from kitchens!). "recycling" - you are completely correct, of course. I will look at breed-specific rescues.

eahamel - looks like the link you sent is a larger site of organized breeders? Thanks.

Even if I had the cash, I can't imagine shelling out 2K for a designer dog. Especially after doing a fair amount of fostering myself. Killing me that I seem to have developed an allergy. I think it's more likely the case that I've always had one but never had this long a period without a dog in my home. Now absolutely noticeable that it is when I'm dogsitting that I get the sore throat and fatigue. Bummer. I'll have to get my Bully fix by supporting a reputable Bully rescue like BADRAP in the SF Bay Area.

So, two votes for poodles! From what I've read they share some bully characteristics - solid, intelligent, loyal, dependable, enjoy training.

Off I go to check out nearby poodle rescue.

Wish me well!

Wags, wiggles and licks (but not on the face, of course!)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 1:41PM
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honalee -
does your sister know of which standard poodle rescues are 'good' ones? Or of highly reputable breeders who might have rescue dogs?

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

BalTra ~ My sister has not had a poodle for many years now since she lost her last girl at 15. Here are the links to The Poodle Club of Canada and The Poodle Club of America. Both have links to rescue groups and/or breeders looking to place pet stock or retired show stock. For the right home, breeders will often "place" a poodle for a very resonable price with a spay/neuter agreement or just the cost of an alteration. Good luck and I trust that you will find the right "sighs" of poodle. :)

Ginny and the shelties



    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 4:33PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

PS BT Incidentally, pit bulls are not a recognized breed and are IMO designer dogs, although designed for a very different genre of dog fanciers. Sadly, this is how many of them end up in shelters and the dump. Far too many unethical breeding operations and puppy mills, fighting rings, and "tough guy" 'image' buyers to condone the recognition of these dogs as a breed.Sometimes there just ain't no cure for stupid if you get my meaning.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 5:33PM
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Thanks for the links honalee.

Yes, I am all too well acquainted with the sickening misery resulting from the designer pit. I used to work with SF ACC doing fostering. It was profoundly disturbing to see the "training" gear confiscated from the soulless people who spent much time just flat out torturing these brave animals. My view of humans was permanently altered by that experience.

I pray for peace for these dear dogs and for the neighborhoods infected with violence and pure misery. Fear, psychological and physical injury, desperate starvation etc etc make the people who have to live near all of this rightfully terrified. Which is exactly what the soulless human bullies want. BSL will never even begin to address this. It's the child of poverty, violence, drug economies and brutes like michael Vic as heroes.

But I digress. Sorry. I care a ton about these brave loyal and affectionate dogs and also about the communities forced to live in fear.

Anyway. I'm enjoying looking for a dog. Thinking that perhaps any dog breed would be ok if I bathed and groomed it as frequently as the dogs with "hair" are groomed. That might be a big part of those dogs not bothering my allergies.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 6:12PM
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I agree that a poodle would be a good choice, better than a coton, and certainly more affordable. Especially a standard or miniature poodle would be good. They're great dogs. Cotons are closely related to bichons, and they can be stubborn and hard to housebreak. Not so with poodles (though they can be a bit stubborn, but they're easy to train). The AKC website (akc.org) has breed club and rescue links, and that would be a good starting point.

Coton's aren't registered by AKC, but they are one of their Foundation Stock Service (FSS) breeds, which means their breed clubs can work towards AKC registration if they chose to. And they are working on it. It's a complicated process that a breed club has to go through to get the AKC registration and takes time, and they will eventually have AKC registration. It doesn't have anything to do with AKC "recognizing" them, though. There are many more purebred breeds in the world than AKC will ever be able to admit to their registry, and their breed clubs have their own registration, shows, etc., independent of AKC, and they have to have all of that if they ever want to pursue registration with AKC or any other legitimate registry.

BTW, pit bulls are a recognized breed - their registry is the American Dog Breeders Association. When AKC started registering them, they changed the name to American Staffordshire Terrier to avoid the stigma that the name "pit bull" has. Their breed club had to go through the same process as any other purebred club to get that registration. They had to prove that they had registered dogs going back several generations, put on shows, had to have a stud book, etc., just like everyone else, including the cotons. But so many have been poorly bred, and there are so many mixes with that label, that the breed is in danger of being ruined.

Here is a link that might be useful: Coton breed club website

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 7:25PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Boy, I'm just full of smarts today ain't I! I was referring to Coton's as not registerable in the AKC. Don't know the reasons on one side or the other, just that they are a foreign breed. Here in Canada, the CKC has gone through and is going through so many changes, I shudder to think of the outcome and future of the club at all. I don't show my dogs in conformation anymore for many reasons so it doesn't really effect me in that way however, there are apparently changes coming up for sheltie breeders. :(

As for the sad situations around the planet, I can't even go there. It hurts my head and saddens my heart too much. I am a retired Addictions Counsellor and I just don't have the energy anymore to work with a system that doesn't want to change. Just my opinion today....

Good luck finding a new pup.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 9:18PM
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