Whether you feel it is time to add a dog to the family or you have finally caved in to your children’s pestering, you have finally decided to get a dog. But, with so many breeds available, which one would be good for your family and what characteristics should you look for?
Children are often unaware of their own strength and can unintentionally play a little rough. It is the responsibility of the parents to supervise any interaction between pets and children and to teach the children to play gently. There are, however, times when a clumsy child may tumble near the family dog and latch on in an attempt to stop a fall. Or, the child may pet the dog a little too rough as she is learning how to be gentle. For these reasons, any family dog should be tolerant enough to allow some hard patting or tail and ear tugging. He might also have to be patient enough to sit through a “dress-up” session or tea party and even periodically allow his nails to be painted. Dogs living with children need to have enough energy to withstand hours of play and yet not be so rambunctious that injury could occur.
Many breeds work well with children, but always remember: There are good dogs and bad dogs in every breed. It’s important to know that individual dogs within breeds can demonstrate their own, unique personality traits. No matter what breed you choose, you shouldn’t leave dogs and young children together unsupervised – for the safety of both. Here are some of our favorites.
Top 20 Dog Breeds for Families
- Golden retriever. The golden retriever is an excellent choice for families that enjoy lots of outdoor activities. Though originally developed to help hunt birds, the golden rapidly proved himself as a loyal and devoted family member.
- Pembroke Welsh corgi. At about 25 pounds, the Pembroke Welsh corgi is a popular pet. This stocky short tailed breed needs daily exercise and loves romping with the kids. They are best with older kids (over 6 or 7 years) as some dogs can be bossy and possessive.
- West Highland white terrier. This small white terrier is playful and lovable but does require some exercise to keep him happy. The Westie is a good watch dog and faithful friend that needs some grooming to keep his coat mat and tangle free. The Westie can be an excellent dog for older children. They tend not to be tolerant of children’s accidental mistreatment. They are often not recommended for households with children under the age of ten.
- Irish setter. This beautiful red dog was originally developed to help with hunting but early on, the breed showed his natural aptitude as a companion. Loved by many and always eager to please, the Irish setter is a part of many families.
- Schnauzer. The schnauzer is a wonderful family pet. Eager to please and to keep the family safe, this breed usually requires regular grooming and daily exercise. This breed thrives on human companionship and is available in three different sizes.
- Labrador retriever. The lab is a popular choice for active families, especially those that enjoy water sports. The Labrador seems to have boundless energy to keep up with the kids as well as natural protective instincts. Though originally developed to help hunt birds, the lab is also a loyal and devoted family member.
- Poodle. The poodle is an intelligent and friendly dog that craves human companionship. Happiest when allowed to run and play, the poodle is well known for being low shed, and comes in three different sizes to suit any taste.
- Bichon frise. This white fluff ball is a happy-go-lucky dog. Faithful and obedient, the bichon is a wonderful addition to any home. The bichon does require regular grooming to keep his coat looking great but loves to investigate and participate in anything.
- Airedale. A sturdy dog, the airedale takes his job as a family friend and protector seriously. Willing to join in the fun anytime, the airedale always keeps a watchful eye out for any potential dangers.
- Basset hound. With his sad droopy eyes, you may think the basset is a lazy hound. But, as soon as kids are around, this dog will jump right in and keep up with the best of them.
- Beagle. The beagle may be an active breed but he fits in well with very active families. Needing a good place to sleep and plenty of games to play, this breed can easily join any family.
- Shih tzu. Originally bred as a companion animal for royalty, the shih tzu still enjoys a life of luxury. Not too proud to get down and dirty with the kids, this dog loves nothing better than sharing time with people, even if that means getting dressed up for a tea party.
- Boxer. The boxer may look a bit intimidating but he is actually a sweet and friendly dog. A natural guardian, the boxer prefers to spend his time with people than with other canines. Though this breed can do well in quiet homes, he can also thrive in busy active families.
- Cairn terrier. Despite their small size, the cairn terrier is a tough little dog. This breed does well in any living environment as long as there are people around. As a terrier, this breed does need exercise and a romp in the park or running with the neighborhood kids suits him just fine.
- Collie. Forever connected to “Lassie”, the collie is considered by many to be one of the best family pets. Intelligent yet patient, the collie is loved by families all over the world.
- Boston terrier. The Boston is a small black and white terrier that loves to make you laugh. After brief periods of activity, the Boston loves to curl up on the sofa while you read a good book. Obedient and loyal, the Boston is a good watch dog and loyal family pet, especially for the not so active families.
- Newfoundland. This gentle giant may drool a little too much for some people but has made a wonderful big protective teddy bear for many lucky children. Because of his size, families with very young children may want to wait a few years but those families who enjoy life near water can rest easy with this dog nearby.
- Pomeranian. This little fluffball looks just like a tiny fox. Weighing around 5 pounds, the Pom is an adorable breed that thrives on human companionship. Requiring little space, the Pom is great for a family with older children.
- Pug. Not at all pugnacious, the pug is an affectionate, lovable, even-tempered breed with great charm and dignity. Pugs love being part of the family. They are playful companions for children and will happily curl up on your lap for a nap.
- Whippet. Whippets are quiet, gentle and loyal. This dog tends to greet strangers with a kiss and loves children. They also love to chase things so should always be kept on a leash or in a secure yard when venturing outdoors.