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best breed for emotional support dog given these caveats?


AngieW in Texas
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We are trying to determine the best breed for emotional support dog for our 18yo given the following caveats:
 

1. The dog needs to be minimum 10 pounds (preferably at least 15 pounds) and maximum 30-35 pounds. 

2. The dog will be on an airplane flight 4/year for 4-6 hours each time.

3. Must have soft fur that is long-ish. Fur feel should be similar to a Golden Retriever's fur. The fur feel is a major need for emotional support.

4. The dog would be emotional support for an 18yo who has grown up with and loves larger dogs (Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd mixes). Prefers larger dogs, but has physical issues that limit the size of the dog that can be handled. 

5. Already approved to have an emotional support dog in the dorm.

6. Must be very trainable and not super-high energy needs due to physical issues.

 

Right now we are mostly considering Shelties and American Eskimoes. We have never had either of those breeds. Ours have all been Shepherd or Labrador mixes from a shelter or Golden Retriever from a breeder.

 

 

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I had a dog that was half sheltie, half black lab growing up, and she was really nervous and tended to nip on occasion from anxiety. She also barked a ton. From what I read, that's not uncommon with shelties. She was a good dog, but not one that I would want to use for an emotional support dog, nor one that I would want to have in a dorm situation.

 

Is the upper weight limit a strict rule? A lot of the best emotional support breeds are bigger than that.

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Our American Eskimo's fur feels . . . "fuzzier?", less silky than a Golden's. I'm not sure how typical he is, though, since he's the only one I've ever known. Personality wise, though, he is a delight. Total lover-boy, super affectionate.

 

ETA: He is a barker. That could be problematic in a dorm. Again, though, I don't really know how typical he is for his breed.

Edited by Greta
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I want to say Cavalier King Charles..but they have SO many health issues....and dealing with a dog with issues would hardly be emotionally healthy. 

 

Maybe a Lhasa Apso? Small dog, but not a foo foo dog personality. Long hair. Bred original as watch dogs/guard dogs for monasteries in Tibet. 12-15 pounds. 

 

Or Cocker Spaniel? Great fur for petting, and 20-30 pounds. 

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Do you want to look at shelters? Sometimes you find an odd mix of Lab / Retriever with a dachshund or something of this size. :) My friend had one and he happened to be very mellow.

 

:iagree:  That's probably what I would do. That way you know what size the dog is going to be, and you'll have a good idea what the dog's temperament is like.

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Is this for the same daughter that wants to adopt a cat?

My 18yo decided that a dog would be better than a cat. While cats are better in a dorm room than dogs are, what my 18yo is really looking for is a very cuddly, furry animal to bond with. We decided that a cat would probably not be as cuddly as needed.

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Go with a small breed so your dd can being the dog right on the plane with her. Get a the pet carrier that will fit under the seat of the plane and make sure the dog will fit in it -- there are carriers that are guaranteed to be accepted by certain airlines, so definitely check into that. Also know that she will have to buy a special ticket for a carry-on pet. When we traveled with our cat, it cost $250 round trip to bring him on the plane and we flew first class so his carrier would fit properly under the seat in front of me. You also need a dog that's friendly enough to tolerate TSA pat downs (sounds crazy but I'm not kidding!)

 

Shelties are incredibly great dogs and are super-loyal and affectionate, but they are too big to fit in a small carrier. We had two pomeraneans and they were very devoted, cuddly, and sweet, and some are small enough to take on a plane. Housebreaking a Pom isn't as easy as it is with a Sheltie, though.

 

Does your dd want a puppy or a grown dog?

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I forgot to mention this, but our Pomeraneans liked to bark, and so did our Sheltie, but our Sheltie stopped barking immediately with a hand signal. The Poms... not so much. :D I'm wondering how the other dorm residents will feel about a dog barking every time he hears someone walk down the hallway past your dd's room, especially when she isn't there to keep him quiet.

 

I'm surprised they allow dogs.

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a kind Charles spaniel or a papillion (my mother's was so calm) -

 

in any case - you want to get good observation of the animal.  some within the same breed will be calm, and others high energy.

 

I love big dogs, but I would look at a smaller breed in this situation.   one other thing to watch for is some small dog breeds are VERY bossy.   (like they're trying to make up for their small size.  ds's gf has a couple very very bossy klee kleis - they boss around the other - much larger - dogs.)

 

eta: mother's Papillion almost never ever barked.  

Edited by gardenmom5
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a kind Charles spaniel or a papillion (my mother's was so calm) -

 

in any case - you want to get good observation of the animal. some within the same breed will be calm, and others high energy.

 

I love big dogs, but I would look at a smaller breed in this situation. one other thing to watch for is some small dog breeds are VERY bossy. (like they're trying to make up for their small size. ds's gf has a couple very very bossy klee kleis - they boss around the other - much larger - dogs.)

 

eta: mother's Papillion almost never ever barked.

I love Papillons! They are so cute and they're so smart, too!

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Do you want the dog to fly in the cabin? Maybe not since you're saying up to 35 pounds. But if so, that's too big. Your going to want to aim for something under 20 pounds and not too long-bodied or it'll be squished in the carrier and you'll totally be stressed wondering if it's going to be allowed onboard.

 

Putting a dog in cargo is really not an emotionally supportive situation, at least it wasnt for me. It made me feel sick when I had to do it.

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I honestly think shelties and American Eskimo Dogs would both be much too hyper and high energy for your daughter's living situation. 

 

I would try searching on Petfinder.com for the size of dog you're looking for, and then read the descriptions of each individual dog's temperament. If a dog has been kept in a foster home as opposed to a shelter, the person doing the fostering should have a very good idea of the dog's energy level, affectionateness, and suitability.

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A cavalier would be perfect. My boy is the sweetest.

 

I agree that Cavaliers are remarkably sweet, affectionate, good-tempered dogs. They love nothing more than lying in their owner's lap. They have silky hair and are about the size you are looking for, OP. However, as ktgrok noted, they are prone to health problems, and you *must* choose a breeder very carefully. Please review the information on this site if you are considering a Cavalier and search for your breeder's health data here

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I am a dog expert because I watch the Westminster Dog Show every year. :::eyerolll:::

But I do think a shepherd in a dorm might be a little bit of a mismatch. Our neighbor's sheltie was a lovely dog but always on patrol and kinda made me jumpy when I went over to my neighbor's house. I was something to be herded away from the owner.

The lady who brought her dog around in my dad's final weeks in hospice had a Lhasa apso. That dog was so sweet and adapted well to the different patients, and everyone loved to pet her--even me. And I'm allergic!

 

Edited:  I think I meant a Shih Tzu, not a Lhasa.  Idk.  It was a sweet little dog though.

 

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I would call around to rescues, because they tend to really work with the dogs and get to know their personalities.  I'm assuming you're looking for a pre-August bonding/trained date, and they may be able to identify which animals in their care are most likely to fit the bill by then, as opposed to just generalizing a breed.

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We have a bichon frise crossed with a shitzu. She is calm, loving, loyal dog who never met any person or animal she didn't like. She is always the submissive one, so she doesn't cause fights and usually plays well with every dog she meets. Doesn't bark either, unless she's playing. She's about 17-20 pounds, but can still go on the plane. Hair grows long, so grooming is required.

I have no idea what breed is coming across in her personality, though. She's the first little dog we've had. Perhaps it's the bichon frise?

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If the dog is going to be living in a dorm situation I would pay very close attention to the tendency (or not) to be barky in whatever breed or mix she chooses. That would mean I wouldn't be considering Shelties or Eskies. The Poms i've known have also tended to be barky.

 

I'd also re-think your weight ranges if you want the dog to fly in cabin, although I admit to not knowing much about the rules on that or if the ADA applies to emotional support dogs. I'd check out all the rules and regulations thoroughly.

 

FWIW -- Of the smaller breeds Shih Tzus have the reputation of being the least barky. Ours is very quiet. Fur can be as long or short as you want it to be (although regular grooming is a necessity). His is very soft, but I couldn't say how it compares to a Golden since I'm not a very tactile person. Everyone will have their own criteria for what constitutes low/high energy. On my scale he's a slug. IMO trainability is largely related to the skill of the person doing the training. Most people who say they want an easy to train dog mean they want one who has been bred to work closely with people and be willing to take direction (in other words, not a breed who has been bred to think independently while working away from a hunter or farmer/herder). So when looking at breeds consider what they were bred to do and how closely that task required working with a person. That will tell you a lot about how biddable they will be. Of course there are quite a few breeds (like Shih Tzus) whose sole purpose has been to be human companions. Those are the ones I'd be limiting my search to. Although keep in mind some of those breeds can have a tendency for separation anxiety and that's definitely not something you want to deal with in a dorm situation.

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my only experience with american eskimos is as a dog washer, my high school job.

 

That said, in that experience, they are not intelligent dogs. they are in fact obnoxious dogs.

 

Shelties are calmer and smarter but their fur is not like a golden's; it's less silky and more sort of dry.  Maybe a good poodle mix of some sort?  Kind of hit or miss but they don't shed much and can be quite good dogs.  Single old people seem to like them.

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Although keep in mind some of those breeds can have a tendency for separation anxiety and that's definitely not something you want to deal with in a dorm situation.

 

That's another reason to already have a thorough personality assessment on a specific animal.  

My chi-mutt doesn't actually bark all that much under most circumstances.  He'll sometimes bark at another dog passing by.  He'll occasionally bark if his needs are being ignored.  Sometimes he barks if the kids get him all riled up.  None of that is too terrible, and usually avoidable.  BUT, if dd is gone for more than 2 hours or so?  The second she comes back, he has a full on fit, barking and howling, even while IN HER ARMS, and it feels like it lasts an eternity.  (It's probably only 2 or 3 minutes, but it's torture to listen to, and happens every. single. time.)  I just consider us lucky that he's not doing it for the hours she's actually gone!

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My 18yo decided that a dog would be better than a cat. While cats are better in a dorm room than dogs are, what my 18yo is really looking for is a very cuddly, furry animal to bond with. We decided that a cat would probably not be as cuddly as needed.

 

Your kid's call, of course, but fwiw I bet she'd have a much easier time finding a cuddly cat that lives happily in a dorm room than a cuddly dog that lives well in a dorm room.

 

A dorm room just seems like such a small area for a dog to stay in all the time.  Is there a chance she will live off campus at some point, or want to?  In that case you'll have to consider:

A. the increased costs and decreased odds of renting with a pet

B. the possibility of having to take the animal in yourself at your house semi-permanently.

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I think a poodle mix would be helpful for the shedding aspect. I doubt any college kid is going to clean often enough to keep the fur down. 

 

We have a small mini poodle (I know the fur is not right the texture) but she was very quiet, not a barker until recently.  I think some dogs get noisier as they get older. 

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I agree that Cavaliers are remarkably sweet, affectionate, good-tempered dogs. They love nothing more than lying in their owner's lap. They have silky hair and are about the size you are looking for, OP. However, as ktgrok noted, they are prone to health problems, and you *must* choose a breeder very carefully. Please review the information on this site if you are considering a Cavalier and search for your breeder's health data here.

So many health issues. My mom's has syringomyelia and there was no way to know before she got her or even early on in her puppyhood. The breeder swears up and down that none of her dogs have ever had SM and that my mom's dog has just been mis-diagnosed. Given the breeder's response, who knows whether it's true that none of her dogs have ever had it. And, for future buyers there's no way for them to know that one of her puppies did in fact have SM.

 

She is such a sweet dog, but Cavaliers are the last breed I would consider. I have dog sat for her many times. She needs more support than she would be able to give in return.

 

More here on SM - http://cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm

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Just chiming in to say, not a Lasha Apso. I grew up with pure bred one and the breed tends to be very anxious, nippers and they can get VERY overprotective when they bond to one person. My mom and I had the scars to prove it, because mine was bonded to my dad. Oh and they bark a lot, that shrill high bark. And they are LOTS of work to maintain that hair (tangles, etc) you have to have it done professionally often (at least we did, cleaning can get kind of um, unpleasent as they tend to get "stuff" stuck around the rear end, iykwim). 

I can't see them doing well in a dorm situation, they aren't fond of lots of strangers.

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a kind Charles spaniel or a papillion (my mother's was so calm) -

 

 

eta: mother's Papillion almost never ever barked.  

 

 

I love Papillons! They are so cute and they're so smart, too!

 

 

 

Papillon is a great suggestion!  I've never owned one myself, but I've been around them and they are great dogs!  Small enough to be easy to travel with, silky fur, calmer than most dogs that are that little, super sweet.  And I never heard one bark.  

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Our 10 year old Cavalier is free from health problems. Might be an oddity, but she was an impulse buy and we didn't research her breeder, although it was a local backyard breeder rather than a kennel breeder if that makes a difference. Most mellow dog in the world.

My neighbor has a Cavalier that they got from a pet store and he's fine healthwise too so far as I know (he barks a lot, but then again so does my mom's when she is feeling well enough). I still would suggest staying away from a Cavalier.

 

According to the Cavalier Health Fund:

 

The number of diagnosed cases in cavaliers has increased dramatically since 2000. Researchers estimate that up to 95% of CKCSs may have Chiari-like malformation (CM or CLM) – also known as caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS) or occipital hypoplasia (OH), the skull bone malformation present in all cases and believed to be at least part of the cause of syringomyelia – and that more than 50% of cavaliers may have SM. The severity and extent of syringomyelia also appear to get worse in each succeeding generation of cavaliers. It is worldwide in scope and not limited to any country, breeding line, or kennel, and experts report that it is believed to be inherited in the cavalier.

Not all dogs are symptomatic and sometimes symptoms are misinterpreted. More on SM/CM in Cavaliers - http://www.sm.cavaliertalk.com.

 

Yes, they are sweet dogs and no, not every dog is going to end up with SM, but for the OP's needs this is not a breed I'd want to gamble on.

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My moms dog is the same situation. Heartbreaking.

So many health issues. My mom's has syringomyelia and there was no way to know before she got her or even early on in her puppyhood. The breeder swears up and down that none of her dogs have ever had SM and that my mom's dog has just been mis-diagnosed. Given the breeder's response, who knows whether it's true that none of her dogs have ever had it. And, for future buyers there's no way for them to know that one of her puppies did in fact have SM.

 

She is such a sweet dog, but Cavaliers are the last breed I would consider. I have dog sat for her many times. She needs more support than she would be able to give in return.

 

More here on SM - http://cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm

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Papillon is a great choice.

Papillon is a great suggestion! I've never owned one myself, but I've been around them and they are great dogs! Small enough to be easy to travel with, silky fur, calmer than most dogs that are that little, super sweet. And I never heard one bark.

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Papillon is a great suggestion! I've never owned one myself, but I've been around them and they are great dogs! Small enough to be easy to travel with, silky fur, calmer than most dogs that are that little, super sweet. And I never heard one bark.

We intended to get a Papillon, and were working with a Papillon rescue... a big part of our choice for this breed was that it was a smaller dog that we'd heard was not barky. But what ended up being available was a very adorable Papillon/Pomeranian mix. He looks just like a Papillon except with different coloring (reddish-brown and black, no white). He's got the fringed Papillon ears, and is not at all poofy like a Pomeranian. But unfortunately he seems to have not gotten the no bark thing from the Papillon side, instead he may have gotten some Pomeranian in there... Actually, he really only barks when someone comes to the door; it's just he gets really excited then for a couple of minutes. Other than that he pretty much hangs out quietly and wants snuggles.

 

Anyway, I also think a Papillon might be a good breed to look into. :)

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I have never liked a papillon much, but they are small (smaller than 10lb, though, I'd think) and fluffy.

They vary. Our dog is about 12 pounds? He looks bigger though because his legs are long; he's also skinny and could weigh a lot more if we fattened him up. ;) But I think he does run large for both his breeds.

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Will the dog be spending most of the day out and about with your daughter at classes, etc? Or will it be spending lots of time alone in a dorm room?

 

If it's the latter, I think a cat would be a better choice.

 

 

there are some long haired cats . . . persians, himalayan (cross between a persian and siamese  - doesn't have a smashed face and siamese coloring.   good personality.)

ragdolls have a long coat - and they're mellow and like to be held.

for something big - the main coon cat.  has a feathery tail.  can be 20+ lbs when grown.

 

my concern with cats would be allergies. 

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If your 18 year old reconsiders the idea of a cat Vs dog, and goes with cat---  have a look at the Ragdoll breed.   I have a nearly 18 yr old who also would benefit from an emotional support animal, and we are seriously considering a Ragdoll at the moment. 

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Although not a huge fan of designer breeds in general, this seems like a good time to look for a goodendoodle or labradoodle, one bred with a small poodle.  However, you really need to do your research.  There can be some with great personalities and of course, ones with health issues and skittish from those just trying to make a buck from the designer breeds.  

 

The coat is what you are looking for but needs to be maintained so that it doesn't mat.  They will need a good bit of exercise which I would think will be good for your 18 y.o.  

 

As the OP should know, an emotional support dog can fly in the cabin without a carrier, they will just need the proper documentation.  

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I know they don't have the fur you are looking for, but have you read up on/watched videos of Italian greyhounds? They have very short fur but it is very silky and feels so good to pet. They are extremely affectionate and are sometimes called "Velcro dogs" because they want to be near their owner all the time. And when I say near, I mean under the covers with you, on your lap, on your head, any place they can find room. They are so endearing and sweet. They are quirky and cat-like but without the independence of a cat. Larger variations are over 10 pounds. They need to be exercised but they also love to snuggle and lay in the sun. They can be trained to use a litter box with some effort. Look them up on YouTube.com and see what you think. The only downside is they can be a little nervous and jumpy in new/loud situations. They are creatures of comfort.

 

ETA: here is a video that shows how lovey these dogs are: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V3WFg7vI-_I

Edited by lovelearnandlive
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We had a border-collie papillion mix who was PHENOMENAL!

Miss that dog daily. She rarely barked, was very loyal, super smart, and really loving. She would give hugs on demand by leaning her head against the asker's chest. :)

 

She looked like a miniature border collie. You may be able to get a similarly miniature retriever.....

Edited by Susan in KY
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No advice on the breed, but I would not buy a tiny (possibly very high strung), breed, just so it can (hopefully) fly with her in the cabin. Which might or might not be allowed and might not be appreciated by other passengers.  4 times a year, I would plan for the dog to be checked with her luggage (possibly at the Gate) in a Kennel Aire crate, big enough for the dog to stand up in without hitting the roof and being able to turn around in.  Have the crate available to the dog at all times and he/she will probably choose to sleep in it. Dogs are den animals.  GL on the choice of the dog and to your DD!

 

P.S.

We had a cart (that is not the correct word, but I cannot think of the word, sort of a frame with a handle with 4 wheels on it, that we put the Kennel Aire crate onto. That made it *very* easy to roll the dog through airports.  That thing died, but we still have the Kennel Aire crate.

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We love our Cavaliers so much. In many ways, they are the perfect companion dog.  But they both have health problems that would be impossible to deal with in a dorm, and out of all our dogs (and there have been many!) they were the hardest to house train, by far. And while they both weigh about 26 pounds, I can't imagine either of them fitting into an under-the-seat carrier. I guess it's possible, but they wouldn't be comfortable.

 

ETA that if you could find a mix that was part Cavalier and another smaller breed, that might be a great dog.

Edited by Sugarfoot
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An idea!

How about a Maltese?

Most are smaller than 10-15 lbs., but a friend has one that didn't make breed standard because it was too large and was sold as a "pet quality."  She's so beautiful! Such a cuddle bug -- and EVERYONE who sees her instantly falls in love!

 

ETA: This particular Maltese (I don't know about the breed in general) does not have separation anxiety issues (she's crate-trained) and uses an indoor "litterbox." I've never heard her bark.

Edited by zaichiki
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