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Well, you DON'T want your dog to actually bite someone that comes in the house anyways. Dogs are for warding people away from the house. So how the dog behaves once the intruder is inside is irrelevant. However, if they get excited and happy when the people merely get out of the car.. yeah, that's a bit useless. For the most part, as long as the dog barks and sounds big, it should achieve it's "scare away the intruder" purpose, because a great many intruders don't want to mess with ANY dog.
You're right Kes. We don't want the dog to bite. That could open up too many bad situations and accidents, especially with kids, one of which is an infant. Dh still has his heart completely set on a GS, which I think will fill the big and intimidating category.
We had a friend of our tells us his mother breeds Husky/Timberwolf mixes. While that sounds awesome, I'm too wary the wolf side would affect the dog's temperament.
I think the shelter or breed rescue is a great idea. There are so many dogs out there sitting in shelters or rescues waiting for a new home.
As far as what the best dog is, I think it varies on your family and lifestyle. A lot of times people don't research enough before they get a dog and then they end up getting rid of it because it was too energetic or it barked too much.
My inlaws bought an Irish Setter a few years ago without doing research and they now realize that he's too much for them. Their reason for buying the dog was because they're Irish and they liked the color. NOT reasons to buy a dog. Irish Setters are stubborn and high strung and they get pretty big. So now they are looking for a new home for him and it makes me super sad. They also don't have a lot of land for him to run around on, which Irish Setters need.
I think a German Shepard is a good choice for you from the sounds of it: Loyal, Smart, and protective.
Great Pyreneze (sp?)....my il's had one that was recently put down due to medical issues but it is not their nature to be friendly. They are herd protectors. My il's dog use to guard the back fence. She was a really friendly dog if you knew her but if you did not, she could act viscious. From what MIL told me, great p's typically do their protecting and then keep to themselves. But I just wanted to put that out there.
I think a lab or golden retriever would suit you best
I have a Jack Russel service dog (hearing dog, jack russels have AMAZING hearing!) and love him to death. I lived in an apt when I got him, so had to choose a small dog that could be trained as a service dog. When I get a house of my own after I graduate, I want to get a lab and get him/her trained as a second service dog. By that point, my dog will be 9-10yrs old, and I think already having the new dog before the first passes would be better for me emotionally. As well as needing the dog to wake me up every morning, lol.