View Full Version : Between 3 & 5 Dogs is Optimal -- Dr. Fox

22nd July 2009, 06:54 PM
How many dogs should a family have? Veterinarian columnist Dr. Michael Fox writes in the New York Post:

"It is my considered opinion as a veterinarian, animal behaviorist and author of several books that most dogs do best when kept together as small packs. By nature, the dog is a highly social species and a pack-living animal. The human family can serve as a surrogate pack to only a limited degree. Dogs alone all day suffer from separation anxiety, boredom and extreme loneliness.

"From my own research and personal experience living with dogs, between three and five is an optimal number, going up to numbers of eight or nine depending on the breed or type of dogs and management ability of the homeowner."

http://www.nypost.com/seven/04052009/entertainment/by_the_numbers_163007.htm or http://tinyurl.com/l4yklm for short.

22nd July 2009, 07:09 PM
Good grief. :sl*p:

That seems idiotic as well as irresponsible advice -- having more than two is a considerablly larger demand on time and income and in many cases, it is the dogs that suffer -- from lack of individual attention. Having four, and as an experienced mutliple-dog owner, I can hardly imagine struggling with five even as small as cavaliers, on my own -- and most owners I know would have difficulty with three! If people follow his advice a lot of dogs will end up dumped as people fuind themselves overwhelmed. Few would seek appropriate professional trainer help and all the trainers I know regularly have to advise rehoming at least one dog out of large-pack households because they pick on each other and are so hard to manage.

Also small packs inside a house are not the same as wild canids that are free roaming in immense territories. It is well documented that behaviour issues emerge when wild dogs and wolves are kept in captivity -- so seems very likely that in the much smaller confines of a home or apartment this risk is considerably higher. Behaviour problems tend to emerge in my experience as soon as there are three or more as the whole dynamic changes and dogs will fight over their place in the hierarchy. Most people don't have time to give a decent quality of life to multiple dogs eithern once they go beyond two or three -- esp. not if working.

I think it would be hard to find a trainer who would agree with this point of view!

Eight or nine dogs! Insane. Very few could manage that many. A lot of people struggle to manage one!

22nd July 2009, 07:10 PM
Thanks, this is just what I needed in order to convince my husband to get that 3rd Cavalier!!! :badgrin:

22nd July 2009, 07:13 PM
Interesting. I find that having three dogs is definitely better for the dogs (when we're not home, etc) but the more you have, the less quality time you get to spend with each one. All of mine are always fighting (not in the literal sense) for my lap and I only have so much room! ;)

When we take family vacations in the mountains, we have my 3 + my dad's 4 + my brother's 2 = 9 dogs and it is utter chaos! Plus at least 4 cats too.

22nd July 2009, 08:02 PM
Trisha thats sounds great fun :) all those doglets running around:D

22nd July 2009, 08:58 PM
It is fun (for the most part)...my dad's vacation house is in the mountains on a huge piece of property with no one around for miles so the dogs can run and swim and play and hike with us to their hearts content. It's nice because by 7 pm they are all pooped out and lay down and are quite calm.

There are:

3 Cavaliers (mine)
1 Lewellen Setter
2 Labs
1 Irish Setter
1 huge mutt, we think a great dane/ bird dog mix
1 medium mutt, we think a sheltie/ schipperke mix

The only problem is we have to take three cars just to transport all the animals! :eek: And it's a 10 hour drive.

22nd July 2009, 11:15 PM
i would have one more! :D a cav of course a little friend for poppy!

but that would be my limit & i wouldnt even consider it with larger dogs such as the akitas. just to much hard work!

i find it a little dificult now, but only in the sense that i wont lead walk all three together at the moment, Poppy is still quite wary of the lead & my other two stay on the lead permanently! so it is hard to control three dogs of varying size, i usually take them to a safe place in the car where poppy who has fantastic recall is off lead.

i feel mean leaving one of them on their own whilst i walk two but havnt got the time to walk all three individualy so do swaps and walk one a day on their own usually poppy as i am doing training with her!

22nd July 2009, 11:15 PM
Two is my limit, financially as well as the workload more then two would involve plus I haven't a third hand for walks to hold an extra lead :)
Plus my parents would disown me if I had another - honestly! (they don't live with me, but they do they fair share with my two)

22nd July 2009, 11:25 PM
Three is quite enough for me at the moment...I love them all to bits and would maybe squeeze in four if I had more time but would much rather stick to three.

I guess everyone is different though..most people are amazed when I say I have three and claim they would never manage!

I don't really find three anymore expensive than one or two, just more work and I just wish I had three hands (for petting) and a wider lap:)