Adding a new pup to your family? If you have kids, taking time to research the best dog breeds for children can make the whole dog ownership experience more fun for everyone.
Puppies and children go together like PB and J! There's a special bond between a child and their dog, and many of us have a ton of happy memories of a childhood dog who was a big part of our lives.
As a lifelong dog lover and owner, mother of 6, and 'mom' to an ever-growing number of canine kids, I know first hand the joys and difficulties of raising both humans and dogs together!
Although breed type (and the resulting breed-specific traits) play a role in how well-suited a dog is for a family environment, there are as many different types of families as there are dogs.....
..... and the best choice for one family isn't necessarily the right one for their neighbors, relatives or friends.
Plus, every pup is unique and has their own, individual personality, meaning that just because your new pooch is of a particular breed that doesn't mean he'll be exactly like any other pup of the same breed... or even from the same litter!
But with over 400 recognized dog breeds, and an infinite number of mixed-breed combinations, it helps to have somewhere to start.. and luckily, over time, some breeds have proven themselves to be especially suitable for a home with children, so they make a good place to start.
They're what I call the the 'kid-tested, mother-approved dog breeds' and in my personal opinion this makes them the best dog breeds for children :o)
Interestingly, the best dog breeds for children aren't necessarily the first ones you think of, so it pays to have an open mind.
There are a lot of things to consider, including the ages of your kids, your lifestyle, family's activity level, living environment (house or apartment; big or small; acreage or small back yard; city or country; other animals/pets).
The number one priority in a family dog is a friendly, calm and tolerant temperament... and this is more important than size, age or individual breed.
Of course, there are 'good' and 'bad' specimens of every dog breed, but individual breeds have characteristics that often make them more suitable for one family/lifestyle/environment than another.
Of course there are no guarantees because all dogs are different, and have their own personalities and quirks. But in general these guidelines will point you in the right direction ....
When you're looking for the best dog breeds for children who are still toddlers, don't assume a small or tiny breed fits the bill.
It may seem logical at first (ie small child therefore small dog), but many little dogs are very delicate and very young children can easily injure, or even kill, a tiny dog by dropping them, stepping (or falling!) on them, shutting them in a door etc. Obviously totally accidental, but no less harmful. There are lots of different types of small dogs though, so don't rule out a breed just because it weighs less than 10lbs or so.
Conversely, the very large or giant breeds aren't necessarily the best choice either. Large breed puppies are pretty sturdy and robust and the scenario above is turned on it's head, because some large to giant breed dogs are very laid back, easy going and tolerant pets but their sheer size can make them a potential hazard to very small/young children. A Mastiff could quite easily knock down your toddler while trying to play, or say 'hello'.
It's difficult to stop very young children from poking, prodding or pulling at a puppy, or from smothering him (perhaps literally) with hugs and kisses. A mid-sized breed known for their calm, confident and tolerant temperament are a great choice here, these include:
English Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Grade school kids are bigger, stronger and better co-ordinated than pre-schoolers plus they can understand and follow puppy-care guidelines and show empathy.... all in all, choosing the best dog breeds for children of this age is quite a bit easier!
It's not necessary to rule out breeds on either end of the size scale, very small breeds and very large ones can both be suitable for a family with children aged from 6 - 18.
If your children are a bit older and
you have the room for a big dog there are lots of good choices, including popular breeds such Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds - plus those you might not see as much such as Great Pyrenees, Old English Sheepdogs, Great Danes or Mastiffs.
In this situation taking a close look at your family's activity level, lifestyle and home are the best way to make sure that you make the right decision.
If you're active as a family and enjoy camping/hiking/fishing/bike-riding/sports/horseback-riding etc., then you should can look at fairly high-energy breeds and working dogs.
If you have grade-school to teenage children, have plenty of space and time to exercise and 'work' with a pup, and are interested in dog-related sports such as Agility, Obedience, Flyball etc., then a Border Collie puppy (or one from another energetic breed) could be the perfect match for you.
Other possibilities might include:
Bernese Mountain Dog
Jack Russell Terrier
If you're a more laid-back, indoor-loving family then the lower energy breeds, or some of the smaller lap-dogs may be a better fit. Try one of these on for size:
Old English Sheepdog
There's no such thing as an 'allergy-free dog', but there are certain breeds that are more suitable in this sort of situation.
People can be allergic to dog hair, dog dander and dog saliva - so even hairless dog breeds can still trigger a reaction, but less common and less likely to be severe.
There are only a handful of hairless dogs, these include American Hairless Terrier and the Chinese Crested, but there are also more 'mainstream' dog breeds whose coat is considered to by hypoallergenic.
These include dog breeds with long silky hair, those with certain curly coats, and some hybrid or designer dog breeds.
Here are a few of the best dog breeds for children who have allergies.....
American Hairless Terrier
Coton de Tulear
Kerry Blue Terrier
Peruvian Inca Orchid
Don't Forget The Adorable Mixed Breed Puppy!
Although this page focuses on purebreed dogs, please don't forget that mixed breed dogs usually make wonderful family pets.
A puppy of mixed heritage is more of an unknown quantity in terms of size - unless you know for a fact that both of his parents were purebred dogs, of different breeds obviously! 'Mutts' or 'Mongrels' as they're often called are also definitely not second-class canine citizens when it comes to health - they're usually free from the genetically inherited health conditions that plague most purebred dogs.
There are always MANY mixed breed puppies in pounds and shelters across the country who desperately need a home and family to love.
There's pretty much something for everyone on this page of best dog breeds for children, so if you've managed to choose a breed (or a shortlist of several potential 'winners'), it's now time to move on to searching for that perfect puppy!
Here are a few tips and links to other pages and articles on my website that will help you in your puppy quest....
Finding the best 'fit' for your home, lifestyle, family, budget etc., can be a challenge, but with a little thought and preparation it will be much easier.
Of course, it's always important to be sure to buy your puppy from a reputable breeder and always try to see the parents of the puppies to be sure that they're sound physically and temperamentally. Then you need to know how to pick the right puppy from that litter or wriggling furballs!
New puppy owners are often a little unsure of what to expect during the first few days with their new pup.
To make sure that you know what's normal and what's not, and whether you need to worry, check out my Bringing Home A New Puppy page. They will make those early days easier.
Don't forget that there are also many wonderful dogs (and pups) in shelters and pounds across the country, who desperately need new homes and families of their very own. Adult dogs can also make excellent pets for kids, with the added benefit to you of skipping the house-training, chewing everything and running amok puppy stage!!
You'll find an image link to my page on Adoption in the right-hand column of this page.
If you're planning to add a new dog to your family (or already have!), this book will help you get everyone on the same page - pun fully intended!Raising Puppies & Kids Together: A Guide for Parents
This is a great 'Puppy Owners Manual' for anyone who has kids and is wanting to add a dog to the mix (or vice versa!).
An easy to follow, reader-friendly guide way, this book covers all the basics. Including showing new puppy owners how to learn about dog behavior, how to communicate with and socialize their new 'furchild', and help their children learn responsible dog ownership.
Choosing the best dog breed isn't the only task if you're adding a new pup to your home, this book will guide you through the next stages. Recommended!
There are lots more excellent books that can help you and your kids prepare for dog ownership, and also explore training methods, tricks and other fun stuff. Kids and dogs can make the very best partners, but it's up to you to help them all learn how to show love and respect to each other.
You can see lots more great books featured in the right column >>>>>>