Good Dog Breeds for Kids
Sometimes the most special bonds are made between a child and a dog. Studies show that children who grow up with dogs are healthier, more active, more socially adept, and even happier than kids growing up in dog-less homes.
Still, choosing a good dog breed for kids is a decision that must be thoughtfully approached. Not all breeds are equally suited for all situations, and every individual dog is different and may not possess the assumed characteristics of their breed. If your family is ready for a new dog, consider these factors when choosing the right breed.
Size matters. In most cases, a medium-sized dog will fit the needs of a young family. A tiny Maltese or Chihuahua is too frail for rough-and-tumble play, while a Mastiff can easily overwhelm a small child. If your children are already in school and can take a hard day’s play, a larger, more vigorous dog can be the perfect fit, but toddlers need to feel safe around the family dog and not worry about being knocked over.
Members of the Sporting Group such as setters, pointers, and retrievers have an excellent temperament desirable in a family pet. They are typically patient and tolerant of kids. In general, guardian breeds including the Great Pyrenees and terriers are excellent with the family’s own children. However, they may be overprotective when around your kids’ friends. Herding dogs such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds may nip or be so exuberant that they can overwhelm a small child.
Dogs who require a lot of grooming are more work than wash-and-wear dogs. This doesn’t disqualify them from being a great family dog, but remember that as the adult, you will be the one doing the brushing, no matter what your children say now. Be prepared to take on the full responsibility of grooming.
Top 10 Best Dog Breeds for Kids
The following breeds generally do very well with children (your own and others). It almost goes without saying that a dog of mixed heritage may be a great choice for your family, but it’s impossible to generalize about them. In all cases, dogs and children should be supervised when they are together.
Size: Medium (40 to 55 pounds)
Temperament: The steady, unflappable, huggable Bulldog has a wealth of tolerance for even the youngest children. Bulldogs are careful dogs who, while not the most trainable breed, are naturally well behaved.
Bulldogs are unable to play for long periods, sometimes present a stubborn disposition, and can have health problems including breathing difficulties. This breathing trouble often results in snoring and makes it hard for Bulldogs to feel comfortable in hot climates.
Grooming: Bulldogs have a short coat that’s relatively easy to maintain. They should be brushed several times a week and the wrinkles on their face should be cleaned regularly.
9. Irish Setter
Size: Large (60 to 75 pounds)
Temperament: The beautiful, lovable Irish Setter combines a friendly disposition with a willingness to play all day. These gentle, sensitive pets are a good dog breed for kids of all ages, including babies. They are also a long-lived breed that will be a happy companion to your child for years to come. English Setters, too, make excellent dogs for families with young children.
Irish Setters are particularly enthusiastic, which may can cause them to be distracted during training. They do best with short, frequent training sessions.
Grooming: This breed's long flowing coat requires regular brushing and combing.
Size: Medium (40 to 75 pounds)
Temperament: The watchful, reliable Collie is a faithful and intelligent dog who will play with, cuddle, and protect your kids. They are easily trainable.
Many Collies are protective and controlling, which may make them gently nip their family to keep them in line. This is not usually a problem, as children learn to obey the dog very quickly. They also have a tendency to bark when not given enough personal attention.
Grooming: Collies have a dense coat that requires thorough daily brushing but not professional care. These dogs are seasonally heavy shedders, so have a vacuum cleaner ready!
7. Bernese Mountain Dog
Size: Extra Large (80 to 110 pounds)
Temperament: The charming, easygoing Bernese Mountain Dog is patient and sweet with children. Berners enjoy work, which includes carting the kids around the neighborhood. As an alpine breed, they prefer cold weather.
These dogs can grow to be very large and need watching so that they don’t step on or knock over a child. Additionally, they cannot tolerate heat.
Grooming: Berners have a double coat that sheds heavily, particularly during spring and fall. These dogs should be brushed a few times a week and dried thoroughly after baths.
Size: Large (55 to 70.5 pounds)
Temperament: The exuberant Boxer is very playful and will keep your kids entertained for hours. They are also protective, intelligent, and thrive while performing physical activities such as agility and flyball.
Boxers may be too strong and willful for younger children to control, and interactions may require more supervision than with other breeds. If you’re considering adopting one of these dogs, make sure your children are old enough to play with a full-grown Boxer.
Grooming: Boxers have a short, smooth coat that’s easy to maintain. Similar to Bulldogs, Boxers have facial wrinkles that need special attention.
Size: Extra Large (100 to 152 pounds)
Temperament: The Newfoundland is reliable, tolerant, and protective in the best sense of the word. While they are indeed giant dogs, they are polite and safe with kids. The family with a Newfie needs to be as tolerant as the dog is. Despite their size, Newfies are relatively calm dogs who can thrive in an apartment.
Like many breeds, Newfies prefer to spend time with family rather than be left alone and may bark unceasingly if they feel abandoned.
Grooming: Newfies have a thick coat that must be brushed often. Keep in mind these dogs are more than capable of covering an entire house in hair and drool, but there are plenty of dog shedding shampoos and grooming tools available to help keep your pup and home clean.
4. Standard Poodle
Size: Medium (45 to 70 pounds)
Temperament: Poodles are brilliant dogs who manage to thrive despite the funny haircuts they are traditionally given. Easily trainable, the elegant Standard Poodle makes a delightful pet.
As highly intelligent dogs, Poodles regularly outsmart all members of the family.
Grooming: Poodle coats require professional care, but the low shedding factor makes this a good dog breed for kids with allergies.
Size: Small (22 to 35 pounds)
Temperament: The happiest of dogs, the Beagle is a long-lived family pet who will keep you entertained for years. Beagles get along with most other animals (with the exception of rabbits) and just live for fun. They are small enough to be a suitable companion to a toddler, vigorous enough to go many miles on a dog-friendly hiking trail, and set a great example for how to enjoy life. Plus, their smaller size is perfect for a middle schooler to handle comfortably on a leash.
Beagles are not reliable off lead and require diligent supervision during playtime. They also tend to bark often.
Grooming: Beagles have a short coat that can be easily maintained at home or by a groomer. These dogs tend to shed frequently and have loose skin around the eyes that should be kept clean.
2. Labrador Retriever
Size: Large (55 to 80 pounds)
Temperament: The popular, hardy Labrador Retriever is a vigorous, highly trainable family dog. These dogs are loyal and friendly, and they get along well with other pets and people. Labs adore children and are never happier than when they are playing fetch or learning new tricks.
Labs need lots of exercise; a big yard is a must with this breed.
Grooming: These dogs shed moderately to heavily, so frequent brushing will help keep excess hair off your furniture.
1. Golden Retriever
Size: Large (55 to 75 pounds)
Temperament: Less intense than the Labrador, the polite, eager-to-please Golden Retriever is the best dog breed for kids and perhaps the most trainable. This is a truly “golden” dog! Golden Retrievers are an excellent choice for first-time dog owners, as they are tolerant of mistakes. These loyal pets are sure to win the hearts of you and your family.
Golden Retrievers do not do well when left alone for long periods and can face health challenges such as skin conditions and canine hip dysplasia.
Grooming: Goldens have a thick coat that must be thoroughly brushed every day. Mats and tangles can be especially problematic and will require attention.
Planning for your new dog can be exciting for the whole family—especially your kids! Let your children assist with setting up your pup’s living space, picking out toys and treats, and choosing a dog name that you’ll all be calling for years to come. No matter which breed you choose, we hope your family and Cadet have a furry, fun-filled adventure together!