If you’re looking to bring a dog into your home, it’s a good idea to consider which dogs will be best for your kids. While dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds can make great family pets, there are some that are known for their docile and caring behaviors.
Many families choose rescue dogs for their family because they can get to know the dog better before welcoming them home. But there are thousands of dogs out there looking for a home, so where do you even start? Luckily, looking at family-friendly breeds and mixes is a great way to find your next family member.
What Makes a Dog Good for Kids?
Every dog is unique. When choosing a dog, you’ll need to focus more on their individual personality than their breed’s stereotypes. Here are some things to consider when finding that lovable furry friend.
Family dogs tend to be calm and easygoing. It’s great if they’re willing to learn new things and adapt to different scenarios. Dogs with a relaxed and loyal temperament tend to be better companions and form closer bonds with their humans. If you have younger children in the home, a gentler dog will be your best bet. But no matter how well-behaved your dog is, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone with young children.
Ideally, dogs with low exercise and grooming requirements are best for families with children. High energy dogs need to be walked and played with frequently throughout the day, which could be overwhelming for children and tiresome for parents. As for grooming, a dog that sheds a lot means more cleaning and a dog that needs regular haircuts will be more expensive.
Yet, every family has a different lifestyle, so the dog’s care requirements should work best with your routine. For example, someone who jogs every day might prefer an active dog while a family who lives in an apartment might want a small, low-maintenance dog.
Best Dogs for Kids
You can learn a lot about a dog based on what breeds they’re mixed with. Some breeds were bred to be working dogs while others are strictly companion dogs. While a dog’s breed is never the only factor for their personality, it can certainly guide you in the right direction. So, what are the best dogs for kids?
#1 – Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever has been labeled as the most popular dog breed for countless years in a row now. These dogs not only make great companions, but they’re also commonly trained as service dogs.
The reason Labs are so well-loved is because they’re smart, even-tempered, and playful. They learn new tricks and commands quickly, so they know what’s expected of them. Despite being a larger breed, they’re gentle around children and are often more tolerant of young kid behaviors.
What many families don’t realize is that Labs still need their fair share of exercise. They crave intense exercise daily, especially if it includes fun activities like hiking and swimming. They do best in a home with a fenced-in yard for them to play in. And don’t be fooled by their medium-length coats because they can shed like crazy if you don’t brush them weekly.
#2 – Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are like the fluffy cousins of Labrador Retrievers. These golden canines also rank high on the popularity list, and for many of the same reasons as Labs.
Golden Retrievers are some of the happiest dogs you’ll ever meet. They’re always ready to play with their loved ones, and like Labs, they’re also obedient and easygoing. These dogs are excellent companions for kids who want a pet they can play with. Golden Retrievers are especially great around kids because they can keep up with a young child’s energy with no problems.
One thing many dog lovers forget is that Golden Retrievers shed a lot! Their coats are thick and soft, which is perfect for cuddling, but not so fun for cleaning. It’s a good idea to brush your furry friend about once a day if you can. Otherwise, you might end up with an explosion of fur all over your home.
Also, Golden Retrievers need an active family. They love going on new adventures, whether it’s just a walk at the park or a weekend camping trip. Their favorite way to pass the time is playing endless games of fetch outside.
#3 – Boxer
Boxers are often overlooked when compared to Labs and Goldens, but they can be just as lively and affectionate. They are one of the best dogs for kids because they have a silly, child-like personality that kids can relate to.
Like children, Boxers are silly and energetic. They love to play and run around outside. Kids are easily amused by them and are sure to enjoy their company. Yet, these large dogs can also be clumsy, and it’s easy for them to knock objects over with their tails. So, they should be closely supervised when playing with children.
Boxers are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they have a flatter snout than most dogs. This makes them prone to breathing problems. So, while they love exercising outside as much as they can, you might want to limit their time in the heat to prevent heat stroke. But make sure they still get enough exercise to live up to their high energy levels.
#4 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Large dogs aren’t for everyone. That’s why the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is an excellent family dog for those looking for a small, more relaxed breed.
These beautiful dogs are affectionate and loyal. They love to cuddle up beside their family members and comfort them when needed. Unlike similar small dogs, they are incredibly gentle and don’t get irritated easily. So, they’re more tolerant of kids giving them attention. But like all small dogs, it’s still a good idea to teach your kids to give them space and not pick them up too often.
Unlike the above breeds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have low exercise requirements. They still need daily walks like any other dog, but they don’t desire any intense exercise. They only shed moderately, but their silky, delicate coats can get tangled easily. To keep them clean and comfortable, it’s recommended that you brush these little dogs almost daily if you can.
#5 – English Bulldog
English Bulldogs are popular due to their unique appearance. But as it turns out, they can be great dogs for families, as long as you’re willing to pay extra attention to their health concerns.
These dogs are especially patient around kids. They’re laidback and spend most of their time napping if they can. They are great at adapting to new atmospheres, and they adore lounging around with their loved ones. Unlike most dogs, they’re very quiet and unlikely to cause chaos when friends or family come to visit.
In terms of exercise and grooming, English Bulldogs are incredibly easy to care for. But they are prone to a lot more health concerns than other dogs. Like Boxers, they are a brachycephalic breed with one of the shortest snouts possible. They’re bred to have short snouts because it’s cute, but it can make breathing uncomfortable and possibly life-threatening for them in some situations.
Bulldogs are also known for their wrinkly skin. Wrinkly dogs are more prone to skin infections, so when you bathe an English Bulldog, it’s important to clean in between all their skin folds too.
#6 – Poodle
Poodles of all sizes are often mistaken for dainty designer dogs. But they’re so much more than their pretty appearance. These fluffy dogs can also be great companions, especially around children.
Poodles are friendly, playful, and loving. They enjoy running around, but they’re also gentle and patient around children. Like Labs, they are intelligent and eager to learn new commands and tricks. However, they aren’t quite obedient enough to be a common service dog. The best part about this breed is that you can find Poodles of all sizes, making them a great choice for families of all lifestyles.
Unlike most family-friendly breeds, Poodles barely shed. They have hair instead of fur, which means their silky coats grow continuously like human hair instead of shedding and regrowing. Their hair is more likely to get tangled than fur, so they should be brushed at least a few times a week. You’ll also need to find a groomer to trim their hair when it gets too long.
While these dogs might look delicate, they have lots of energy, especially Standard Poodles. Standard Poodles need to run around and play just as much as a Lab or Golden Retriever, but Miniature Poodles prefer shorter walks instead.
#7 – Bichon Frise
Despite being small, Bichon Frises are some of the best dogs for kids. They have a beautiful cotton-like coat of hair, but also a lovable personality that’s difficult to resist.
Bichons love to play, but they’re not too crazy. They can be content with daily walks and some added playtime. They’re adaptable, meaning they’re happy to spend time running around or napping depending on what their loved ones are doing. They are more relaxed and even-tempered than other small breeds, but they might snap if a kid refuses to leave them alone.
Like Poodles, Bichons have a silky coat of hair that continuously grows. Their hair is curly and tangles easily, so it’s a good idea to brush them multiple times a week to keep it soft and comfortable. If you don’t brush your Bichon, their hair will become so matted that the groomer will have no choice but to shave down their hair and let it regrow. Mats can be painful for dogs, so while these dogs have low energy levels, frequent grooming must be maintained.
#8 – Irish Setter
Irish Setters are recognizable for their gorgeous red coats. They might look like fashion models, but like Poodles, there’s more than meets the eye with these lovable dogs.
Irish Setters have some traits that are notably similar to Golden Retrievers. They’re sweet, energetic, and obedient. They love being around their family members as much as possible, and they can be especially gentle with kids. Their lively personality is similar to a young kid, so they tend to get along really well.
These gentle giants still need a lot of exercise. Their long legs and slender bodies were built to run. They do best in a home that has a fenced-in yard for them to play in. They also need a lot of brushing because they have a longer coat that sheds a lot. If you neglect brushing an Irish Setter, be prepared for red fur covering your floor.
#9 – Collie
Collies were bred to herd, but they can be great companion dogs too. Their balance between hard work and cuddles is what makes them one of the best dogs for kids.
Collies are friendly, hard-working dogs. When they have a job to do, they won’t rest until it gets done. They’re also great at listening to their human’s commands and learning new tricks. Despite being so active and focused, they enjoy spending time with kids as well. They’re always interested in a game of fetch, and after a long day of exercise, they’re excited to snuggle with their humans.
Since Collies are a herding dog breed, they can’t be confined to a small apartment. Instead, they need plenty of opportunities to run. A fenced-in yard is a great place to start, but they do best if their mind stays busy. If you don’t have livestock for them to herd, consider providing them with puzzle toys and training sessions to keep them thinking.
If a Collie is cooped up for too long, they could develop destructive behaviors to keep busy. So, it’s a good idea to have your kids play with the dogs as much as possible. Collies might not be easy to care for, but they make great additions to active families.
Choosing the Perfect Pet for Your Family
All the above breeds can be great options for families with kids, but they might not be the perfect fit for your home. You know your family’s routine and lifestyle better than anyone else. So, take your time when meeting dogs to adopt. Get to know them to help you decide if they will fit in at your home.
Adding a dog to your family is a big decision that requires a lot of time and money, so it should never be rushed. Discuss it with all family members first to make sure you’re ready to make this life-changing commitment. With enough preparation, a loving dog will surely make your home an even happier place!