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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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Old 04-04-2008
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Dogs living aboard

I'm currently looking for a boat to live aboard on, and was wondering how many of you out there have lived aboard with your dogs? Me and my boyfriend both are big dog fans but wanted to put in some research about which breed is the best, and how they fit into boating lifestyle. Any input that you can give me, good or bad would be great.
thank you,
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Old 04-04-2008
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Just one suggestion, a breed that does not shed a lot.
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One good choice might be a Portugese water dog. IIRC, these dogs don't shed fur, since they have hair instead of fur. They're also very, very comfortable around the water, having been bred for it for years. They're a medium sized dog.
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Quote:
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One good choice might be a Portugese water dog. IIRC, these dogs don't shed fur, since they have hair instead of fur. They're also very, very comfortable around the water, having been bred for it for years. They're a medium sized dog.
You're correct, good idea. They are also extremely smart, easily trainable, and have a mellow temperment.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katejoy View Post
Me and my boyfriend both are big dog fans but wanted to put in some research about which breed is the best,
Do you mean BIG dogs, or you're big fans? Because for obvious reasons, big dogs don't do too well living in confined quarters. Plus, their poo becomes more of an issue.

We've had shi-tzus for 20 years as summer liveaboards on our last three boats. Both have made excellent boat dogs, due to their low center of gravity and, being hair dogs, the breed never sheds.
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Don't forget, dogs need exercise. While they can be trained to do their business on a boat. They still need shoretime to get in some exercise to stay healthy. So you have to keep in mind getting them in and out of a dinghy (not to mention, up and down the companionway).

The vast majority of dogs I've seen while cruising are small to medium sized, with small the largest percentage. I've seen dogs as big as Rottwielers though as well.

Please remember, before bringing a pet aboard, to think about the pet's needs, ahead of your need to have them there.
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Couple of other things I am remembering about the water dog. I have recently developed an allergy to some dogs, which is a major bummer for me, but because they have hair, the allergy is greatly reduced. They will shed a little. I do remember a friend that had one. Her's was a big food thief and a good watchdog too. Heres a link for you. PWDCA [Home]
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A few good breeds for someone with dog allergies and who want to live on a boat with them are the Portugese Water Dog, the Golden Doodle (half golden retriever/half poodle), the Labradoodle (same thing but labrador retreiver instead of golden). These three dogs do well in the water, have good personalities and don't shed--since they have hair and not fur.

They do need haircuts on occassion. Also, try and get them in the smaller sizes, as the larger once can be very big. My friends have a Golden Doodle that is headed for 120+ lbs... at less than two years of age.

These dogs do need exercise, but can often get it by swimming, rather than running.

The other dogs that seem to do well aboard are the fairly small dogs, like Jack Russell Terriers, Chihuahuas and such...
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Living aboard with Dogs

I have lived aboard with dogs. We had 2 miniature Schnauzers that had spent most of their lives on a boat.

The goods:

They are great companions. We love dogs and are def dog people. It was always fun watching them run the shore or take them out in the dink. Our dogs really took to it and loved dink rides. To this day Scooter, the only one still living and at age 14, still prefers to ride in the dink over the main boat!!! No lie. We pulled him down the ICW a few times in the dink (In protected weather and life jacket, of course). I guess they provide some level of protection. I guarantee you no one would get on that boat without Myra (our other dog) knowing about it. Not sure either one would be able to stop an intruder, but sure would not get far without us knowing it.

THat is probabyl the end of the positives.

The negatives:

You really take the dog out there more for you than them. Although our dogs love it, I think they would probably be more happy running in some back yard somewhere. The exercise issue has been brought up. I guess I am not really that worried about it since we would often go to shore and let them run - which is probably more than 90% of dog owners do that stay inside (where all of our dogs have ever stayed... no outside dogs for us). None of our dogs have gotten motion sickness except for our current dog (an English Bulldog). We found that by keeping her stomach with food in it, we would reduce/eliminate that problem. The motion sickness goes away for her within a day or so and she is back to normal. Scooter could care less.

If it is just you and your boyfriend/husband and your aspirations are US cruising and marina liveaboard (that accepts dogs... you better ask), I would say you will be moderately happy. If you plan on living on the hook, doing cruising outside the US, cruising places inside the US with difficult shores (to potty the dog), or in a marina that does not allow dogs, you will be miserable. Dogs crapping and peeing in the cockpit is a grosse reality of what to expect (and hope it is in the cockpit). I found most of the other cruisers around us that lived aboard did not get out much and do much exploring becuase of dog issues (they have to crap somewhere). They mostly hung around the marina. That was no us... but many did.

Also, you need to get a small dog, or one that can make it up the companionway steps on their own. Hauling their fat butt up the steps gets old, really quick - as well as on/off the boat. Getting a dog that does not get sea sick is a crap shoot with ANY breed... period. I would not beleive anyone that tells you different. If you get one that gets sea sick and cannot recover, you will have to get rid of the dog, the boat, or the cruising aspirations.

In essnse, though we love dogs, doubtful they will go with us this time - esp the bulldog. We have family members that are fighting over who would get to keep her (luckily). Scooter won't make it much longer, so he is not an issue (unfortunately). Make sure you have a backup plan.

I would probably discourage taking dogs unless you are REALLY mentally set for it, and meet the criteria I have listed above.

- CD

PS All that being said, there are many people that LOVE and will ALWAYS have dogs on board. Even with the many negatives I have listed, we bought another. Do not listen to closely to the Nay-sayers - especially that have not lived abord or cruised with a dog. Only you know yourselves and how much crap (hehe) you are willing to deal with for a companion.
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Old 04-04-2008
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My wife and I have always had a Schipperke. While we have not lived on the boat we have taken them aboard for as much as ten day trips. Never had a problem with them. A Schipperke is a belgian breed, bred as watch dogs and rat catchers on the canal barges in Belgium. They are fairly small, about 15-20 lbs, heavy black coat, fox-like face with pointed ears, no tail. Properly cropped, they don't even have a stub. A recent article in Boat U S magazine called them the perfect water dog. Our current pup is being trained to do his business in a litter box. If you look at the web site "Libertysails dot com" you can read about Rudy, a long haired Dachshund, owned by Suzanne Geismann, a retired navy commander and author. Rudy has always used a litter box when Suzanne and her husband are cruising. BTW, her book "Living the Dream" is a wonderful cruising story. Both Dachshunds and Schipperkes are good breeds for boats. They are small enough to get some excersize on deck, easy to carry when too old to climb the companionway, large enough that you won't step on them, very intelligent and easy to train, noisy watchdogs with a kind enough temperment they will not attack and get their owner in a lawsuit!
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