Thanks to guest Author Neil Kilgore for this article.
Many families find that having two dogs is actually better than having one. This is because the two are companions when the humans are gone to their various activities. But it is important that you carefully combine the two dogs because you really want them to care more about your family than they do about each other. Whole Dog Journal has a good discussion of that dynamic here.
Choosing the breed of your pets
A big factor in having two dogs is the compatibility of their breed. Among the top breeds known to get along with other dogs, here are four to consider:
- Golden Retriever–the most popular dog in the US, friendly and calm but loving activity, weighing 55 to 75 pounds when full grown
- Bernese Mountain Dog–a gentle giant weighing 70 to 115 pounds at maturity, excellent with children and other pets but the size difference can cause problems
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel–the classic lap dog at 13 to 18 pounds, very dependent upon companionship and eager to please
- Bichon Frise–tiny at 7 to 12 pounds, tolerant and friendly
The Golden Retriever and Bernese Mountain Dog are larger breeds known for their amiable personalities. The King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frise are smaller dogs that are equally gentle. It makes sense to avoid aggressive or highly territorial breeds when you are combining your household pack, because the pack dynamic is unavoidable. Dogs who are naturally inclined to be laid back about things make the adjustments easier.
Planning for your pets
But there is more to a multi-dog household than breed compatibility. Veterinary Partner suggests that combining a male of larger breed with a female of smaller breed will use the natural inhibitions of aggressive behavior from male to female and large to small in your favor. There will be adjustments as each member of the pack finds their place; you and your household members will be considered members of that pack so be diligent to stay “alpha”. It is extremely important that you work with each dog individually and know not only the general breed characteristics but the personality of your own pets.
A multi-pet household is common and most owners will tell you that the extra investment in time and training is well worth it. Take the time to do research on the animals you are considering and make your choice with an eye on the future: your dogs will be with your family for a long time. Think about who will be in the home at the end of your pet’s natural lifespan and be aware of each breed’s tendency toward specific health problems.
With two or more dogs, your vet expenses will be at least double. Knowing what to expect with the breed you choose will help you deal proactively with potential problems. Owners of multiple combinations in these breeds; the Golden Retriever, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and the Bichon Frise, are all pleased with their choice and glad to have more than one canine companion.
Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.