So... after some discussion, the bf and I decided that right before or after our next move, we would consider getting a dog.

Now, my heart tells me to get a rescue dog, but logic has to win out. We have a specific set of NEEDS, (not to be confused with desires) for our dog. Being that we globe trot, work on boats, has to conform to a certain ideal of expectation, and if it doesn't fit the bill, I have to be able to sleep at night knowing it's going back to a loving home, not a shelter. This is a type of support only a dedicated breeder can provide. They can from day one start watching for signs and enforcing socialized behavior. They know their own animals well enough, and with experienced have developed the ability to predict what will work and what won't.
The breed we've decided on is a Doberman.
It will be trained for water rescue.
(Now you see where this special set of 'needs' comes in, huh?)
While we were on the path of research leading us to the point we are at now, there came the usual questions of cropping/docking or not.
I am NOT an advocate of breeding any animal in sub-prime health to get a 'look' British Bulldogs, pugs...any creatures that can't breathe properly because you want a squished face isn't cool with me. To physically handicap a dog for only aesthetic reasons isn't something I support.
However, I do support docking (cutting off the tails) in dogs if they are done as newborns, because based on my education (though admittedly biased as my aunt and uncle bred and docked lines of champions) it's better for the dog under certain circumstances. Dogs don't need their tails. In working dogs, it's actually a hindrance or danger. For house dogs, it can be a matter of an animal suiting you or not. (Wagging tails break things on tail-high tables.) Cancer, blisters, breaks and other physical issues don't exist if the body part isn't there. The list goes on and on, as does the list for NOT docking. I agree there is some debate, but it's not nearly as hot as the ear cropping debate.
We are getting ours cropped.
Before you flame the crap out of me, just keep reading, ok?
I've talked to multiple vets (in and out of the U.K where it is ILLEGAL) as well as multiple breeders. The general consensus is that the benefits of cropping are very real in this particular situation. Cropping and docking wasn't just done in the Doberman breed for aesthetics. They were a work/guard dog. That's why they make such good security/police animals. Cropping the ears and docking the tail was a means of reducing parts that another animal or person could use in a grappling situation. (Which is a very real danger in water rescue. Dogs do get drowned by humans) It was done to prevent injury to the dog, and that's why it's still pretty wide spread in working animals today. It also (allegedly) increases the cone of hearing by 20% and reduces the rate of ear infections because it allows water to dry better and more thoroughly without a flap of skin covering the orifice. Now, faced with this information, and the pressure from bf (who just likes the look and that's the only reason he wants it) I've decided to go along with it. If it's better for the dog, that's fine. Hell, I'd gladly have surgical modifications if it made my diving easier, let alone safer.
So.. I'm thinking on all this and wishing I could.. you know... ask the dog first? I mean, a dog can't tell you: "Sorry, I'd much rather be a house pet" so the best I can do is find a breed that loves to work, and a breeder that will find the right pup and support me through the process.
I'm still having feelings of guilt, though. It's a potentially dangerous job. I'd rather give it a choice then just buying it and assuming.
I guess that's where the training comes in. If a dog doesn't want to/isn't fit for work, it won't pass the standards. Only the most enthusiastic, intelligent animal will.
If that's the case, someone will have a very well trained house pet with perky ears.

So anyway, that's my story.
Anyone have something similar to share?
What's your view on working dogs? On designer breeds (with SEVERE medical issues due to their looks)

General opinions?

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Our dog gets ear infections easily; we have to do special drops after he gets a bath or after a day at the river. If I had known this when we got him as a pup, I might have considered having his ears done.

The tails is debatable. I've read of case studies where some varieties use their tail for steering and balance. I also know that for some breeds it is a hazard. A friend-of-a-friend didn't have the tail done on his rottweiler. After she broke it the fifth or sixth time (before she was even two years old); the vet insisted on amputating. I've heard dobermans are similar.

According to my brother (a vet tech in the Army), Europe has some of the best breeders when it comes to working dogs. So you're in the right place.
Yeah.. only problem is, because it's illegal to crop ears in most of the U.K, I'd have to get one in either the Irish Republic or Spain.
I can get one wherever. (Looking at Germany) and have a certified letter saying it will be a work dog, so they'll dock the tails, then take the dog over to Ireland or Spain at 10 weeks to have the ears done.
That's only an option if the breeder agrees to it and if our schedules can line up, ect.
I'd rather have the breeder know the vet, have the ears done and the stitches out BEFORE we get the pup. I can stack and tape ears fine enough, but I think being in a new home with new people in a new country with achy ears is just too much for any baby. I don't want the move to be that stressful.
There's actually a line of Rotties that are tailless, but it's rare.
I really like that idea, but worry that if you're breeding for only one specific trait, you'll not be able to be breeding for health and temperament. I don't know enough about it to say if that's the case or not, but it would be a worry in my mind.
What kind of dog do you have?
He's half Japanese Chin, half mutt. Great thing about chins (if raised correctly) is that they are naturally infrequent barkers. He weighs about 15 pounds.

I'm against docking tails and ears for the same reasons I'm against declawing and circumcision. Unneeded removal of parts is unneeded. I met a guy at the dog park who had had several dobermans through the years and never cropped anything. He told me he never had any problems with any of his dogs other than the normal ones. The argument that you avoid problems by removing the parts seems questionable at best. You won't get breast cancer if you have a double mastectomy now...but that's just silly to do it as a preventative measure. Docking for your own aesthetic preferences is just plain selfish and cruel, I don't care what age the dog is. Besides, the dobermans without docked ears/tails are way cuter - and that's a fact! um. because I said so. or something. If your dog breaks its tail 6 times in 2 years...that's different. That's a legitimate problem.

I'm unclear why you don't get a breed that is used for water work instead of a doberman. Most dogs used in water work have floppy ears and tails (portuguese water dog, labs, newfoundlands, etc.), so your arguments confuse me. It seems that your needs are mostly focused around a natural love of water and training more than breed. If you are going to get a puppy, it won't be trained no matter what breed or mutt you get, so I would lean toward something that loves water. (Of course, I have a lab/german shepherd mutt who hates swimming. He won't go deeper than his ankles and usually avoids walking into the lake all together. So the individual makes a difference as well.) Soooo...

My suggestion to you is to NOT get a puppy. It's not a breeder's support you's a trainer's. Unless you are a professional dog trainer, don't do the training yourself - especially for such a specific and difficult job like you require. If you plan on getting rid of it if it doesn't take to the training, consider that the last thing the world needs is another dog up for adoption. If I were you (and I know I'm not), I would get a dog that has already been trained for the tasks YOU need it to perform. Then there are no questions. It's much the same as a seeing eye dog - they are only used for that very special purpose after they have been trained. Most dogs aren't going to be able to handle it. Almost no one is going to be able to train a dog properly to stay off the couch, let alone save a life. If you can't afford such a dog with the proper trainer, then consider waiting until you can. Or, make the commitment to the dog that even if it hates water, you'll keep it and love it until the day it dies. It can hang out on the boat like my dog.

I'm guessing you won't love my ideas, but that's my input (as jumbled as it may be).
I'm not really a kid person, but on paper at least, I can identify with appropriate behavior in age groups.
I actually would have ranked dogs as more intelligent up until recently. Then again I've been privileged to only have made close relationships with dogs bred and trained for work.
Then I met Charlie.
Charlie is my boyfriends-brothers-King Cavalier Spaniel.
I know a bit about these dogs because once my aunt and uncle were a bit older, they wanted smaller dogs instead of the Rotts. They had at various times champion line wire hair Jack Russel terriers, West Highland terriers and Cavies. I was an adult and no longer living with them or the dogs, but from what I observed from normal socialization was that the Cavies were mellow, sweet tempered little lap dogs that thrived on attention and were basically bred as hand or foot warmers.
Charlie is neither mellow, sweet tempered or....well...even the vet isn't sure what went wrong. He described him as "A Cavie with spunk." My experience after three days house sitting was more along the lines of can-dogs-be-possessed?
Part of it is an inconsistency in training. Further, they purchased a Cavie because they wanted a sweet little lapdog that wouldn't take a lot of work to train, so being gifted with a problem dog put them in way over their heads. Even the breeder could only stare wide-eyed at the furry little spawn they created.
It took me two days to teach him the down command. Not because he wasn't eager to please, but just because he's...well....stupid.
He knows the down command now.. but only does it for me.
You're entitled to your opinions, of course. And I actually didn't take any offense to them. I feel much the same way for any unnecessary surgical procedures, but according to the professionals I spoke with, they think it's best. Unless you are actually a professional in that field and have some sort of case studies for me to see, I'm going to go with their advice.
Now, the reason I don't get 'any other breed' that has floppy ears or is traditionally used for water rescue is because out of those that I've done my homework on and research don't meet our personal needs. (Short haired, size/weight limit, personal behavior preferences, ect.) Those that are bred for water work are less susceptible to ear infection so don't need cropping. Thank you for the advice, but I have actually done my homework.
As for not getting a puppy...well, I actually agree with you here. As I said in my post, my aunt and uncle (who raised me) bred dogs. They also did security and narcotics training for some of their animals. While I've never trained one totally on my own (I was always assisted by my uncles and aunt) I am confident that it's well within my abilities to do so. Because of my education on dog training, I know an adult dog would be prime, however this will be my boyfriends first dog, and he wants a puppy. (All relationships require compromise.) Likewise, it was this very compromise with my boyfriend that led us to the choice of breed and desired capabilities. He wants a pet. I want a rescue dog. Under our further set of prerequisites, a Doberman does both and it's a breed both of us want. Please don't think I just flipped open a dog book and looked at the pictures. For something I am prepared to invest upwards of seven thousand dollars on, I've done my research.
Further, I'd never buy from a breeder that would put their dogs up for adoption. I have no idea where you got your dogs if it wasn't from a shelter, but I would be greatly suspicious of ANYONE that would. Breeders are there to assist you. If they aren't, they are not proper breeders, and I'd carefully check any qualifications they claim to have. Their entire focus should be on the advancement of their chosen breed. If a dog doesn't work out in a household (which I'm VERY sure it would, however in something this important, I always plan for the worst case scenario, even if there is just a .001% chance of it happening) then the breeder will be happy to have one of her babies return home, where it will be used for breeding or show or as a companion. It will not be 'another dog needed to be adopted.'

The old debate about "YOU wouldn't get a mastectomy to prevent breast cancer, would you?" is tiresome and doesn't even really apply here. If I was a high risk for getting breast cancer, damn sure I would. I don't expect my animal to EVER be unattended, but if it won't be used for breeding, it will be desexed. I don't expect it to come in contact with a rabid raccoon, but I'll still have it vaccinated.

As I said before, I'm not expecting any animal to suffer for the sake of vanity (which I sure have with electrolysis, laser hair removal, permanent eye make up) but obviously even if I did want to foster that on an animal, the golden rule wouldn't apply because I personally have had it done.

Again, thank you for your advice. I really honestly explored a lot of the options you pointed out, and had I not, the idea of getting an adult, trainer, ect would have come in handy.
Sounds like you've definitely done your research. I didn't mean to come off with a lecturing tone. Damn hard to get the proper tone across the intertubes. I just threw out my concerns and some points to think about (which you already had thought about). I assumed you researched...but most people say they have done research, and most haven't. You obviously don't fall into that category.

As to the training, you sound way more qualified then any layperson I've met. Plus, you have family that can advise you. Awesome. In fact, I should be the one asking you questions about training.

I got my dog from a shelter. The type of breeder you describe is light years better than the breeder one of my friends got a dog from. They said they did research, then ended up with a boxer that died at 4 due to cancer. Then went and bought another boxer from the same breeder. So that made me gunshy of breeders. Which I freely admit, isn't really fair to the good ones. But here are not the average joe when it comes to knowledge and research. So again, my point is not needed.

I made the mastectomy argument because you made the argument that "Cancer, blisters, breaks and other physical issues don't exist if the body part isn't there." I think it does apply to that argument. And...of course you get them vaccinated and desexed. But I feel those are more essential to the health of the animal and population than docking. I'm just getting defensive for no good reason.

Perhaps an angle to take with your BF is to get the adult dog first - then you can get the puppy next time? This is the argument my wife made with me. It worked as it was reasonable. Much less time dealing with all the puppy stuff. Actually, shortly after that, my friend's puppy then confirmed that it was the right decision. So much destruction! So I never want a puppy...but I always want dogs. I like the idea of knowing the personality and behavior traits of the individual before you get the dog. But that's just me. I understand the desire for a puppy. They're damn cute and pretty fun.

Hmmm. I've said a lot, but none of it was really needed by you. Oh well, I tried.
Your argument could have been better tailored to any other body part than breasts.
As a girl, I always have the option of getting my already-incredible-rack age proofed. Take out anything that's at a risk for cancer, and have some nice silicone replacements that will stay perky until the day I die!

Arguably the likelihood of my house dog ever encountering a rabid animal or ANY animal outside my supervision for long enough to do some baby-making is a lot less than the likelihood of it getting it's tail caught in the moving parts of a boat generator, slammed in a car door, or wagged into something dangerous. So yeah, it's a preventive measure, but one that stands on par with other preventive measures such as surgical sterilization, which is just as traumatic and painful...even more-so since tail docking happens at such an early age, it doesn't even require follow up veterinary care. In fact, most breeders, including my aunt and uncle did it themselves at home. (They weren't qualified vets, but they did have more advanced training.)
You don't have to preach to me about getting a dog instead of a puppy. Believe me. I would be so very happy to have a nice dobie with it's ears already finished, it's basic training coming along nicely or even complete.........Especially since it's going to fall onto me to see to its proper education.
Training a person to train a puppy is just as hard as training the puppy itself. ESPECIALLY someone that's never been around them for more than a visit to a friend's house. (His best mate has a British Bulldog and that's his only experience with puppies.) So yeah, having to get it through HIS head that yes, the puppy does look so cute when it jumps up and puts its paws on your legs, but it won't be cute doing that in a few months, when it will knock your ass down will be hard, along with don't rough house with the puppy in the living room, because it will think it's appropriate when it's older...or how about trying to explain to him that it's not ok to sneak it people food... it's not ok to go play with it because it's tugging on your pant leg; you can only give it attention when it's sitting nice and polite or it will learn it can tell YOU what to do with it's actions... I mean yes. I realize I have my work cut out for me, not just training the dog, but training HIM. With an endeavor this ambitious, I've got no delusions of it being easy.
I also hope you didn't think I meant I'd just hand the dog back if I couldn't get it to a level of rescue training I wanted. Re-reading, it might have seemed like that. What I poorly tried to convey is that if for some reason the dog didn't work out, such as if it had a temperament issue (skittish to the point of danger, aggressive, ect.) or a physical problem that wouldn't allow it to do the work. (Even then, the likelihood of me being able to give away an animal I've raised for that long just because it's turned into a gimp is nil.)
So there you have it. Like I said, I did agree with you on some points, I realized that overall I agree with you on a lot more, but this situation is a bit unique.
Anyway, thanks for reading and offering suggestions.
If you've got any questions on dog training, I'll be glad to lend what help I can.
Shelter dogs aren't any harder to train just because they are shelter dogs. The only benefit you get with a purebred dog is that you know what to expect (generally) As a downside, they have more physical predispositions towards certain illnesses.

"Don't Shoot the Dog" is a good book on training (I don't remember the author) and then there are a few really good methods that were actually developed for dolphin-trainers that I've found to be effective (on people, as well as dogs, actually!) The concept involves 'blanking' bad behaviors instead of negative enforcements.
Really, there is no secret to dog training. Dogs WANT to make you happy, you just have to show them what it is that makes you happy. Consistency, consistency, consistency. Stop and redirect bad behavior EVERY time it happens (which sucks at three am) and praise good behavior (Even if you'd rather be watching TV or on the computer.
I didn't mean to preach to you about dog vs. puppy. That was me trying to conspire with you against your boyfriend.

I've read "Don't Shoot the Dog" and enjoyed it. I used it on college roommates with great success! Then, when I got a dog I found it to be very valuable as base information on training techniques.

I also enjoyed the books by Patricia McConnell called "Puppy Primer" and "Beginner Dog Training." They are both very short, easy reads with great instructions for people who have or have not had a dog. They use only positive reinforcement, which is important to me. I've loaned them to countless people and they always end up buying their own copy for reference. I had Dr. McConnell as a professor in college and enjoyed her immensely. You don't need them since they are about the basics, but they might be a good reference for your boyfriend (significant others generally seem to listen to strangers better than us and it might save you some time). She has some other books about dog behavior that are less about training and more about her research. They are very interesting and good reads for laypeople as well as professionals.

Our dog behaves very well and we have become the go-to people for "how do I get my dog to do...." or "how can I make the dog stop...." type questions. I have some answers, but have more to learn. I always tell people that training a dog is a lot like training a toddler (Doone's article seems to say I'm not far off). I find dog behavior in general to be fascinating stuff. It's probably all that evolving we've done together.

Good Luck!
Short and easy to read is important. My boyfriend is not a reader. He reads very slowly, but once a book is digested, it's pretty much memorized. He can relocate a fact by page and paragraph months after.
It's getting him to read that's the problem.
Lead training is one of the areas where I don't just use positive reinforcement. With large dogs, I've found pinch collars to be a wonderful asset, or in the case of my Great Pyr (and as much as I love my boy, the reason I'll never have another long-haired dog) a pull harness was a necessity. (Originally I wanted a Newfie instead of a Dobie, but remembering the hair.. oh god the hair...)
Books written specifically for the breed are great. I read a ton when I was young and will definitely need to freshen up. Thanks for the tips.


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