Your kids have probably come across a fair few fluffy, friendly pups in the park or at their friend’s house. Now they’re desperate for one to call their own, and you’re not sure where to start - or if it’s even a good idea in the first place!
Dogs can be great for children. But - that doesn't mean you should get just any dog. Some dogs do better with kids than others, and since a dog is for life, it's important you choose the right one! So, let's take a look at what makes a good dog for kids.
Should I get a dog for my children?
Are you still wondering whether you should get a dog for you and your kids? Dogs can be fantastic for children - it’s as simple as that! Often, a child-friendly dog will become more than just a pet. In reality, they will be your kid’s loyal and caring playmate, protector and best friend. They can be great for kids who are lonely or shy and need help getting coaxed out of their shell.
As well as bringing fun and love to the lives of your children, dogs can be great teachers of responsibility. You can give tasks such as feeding and watering your pooch to your kids, which can really help them grow, develop and even learn new skills.
And we all know that dogs can be a handful at times. They can slobber, chew, or scratch all over the house. But your kids will learn by example - and as you show patience towards your canine bestie, they will too. They’ll learn that they should never hit or shout at an animal who has done something wrong. Instead, they'll develop patience and understanding.
Your little ones will love your dog to the ends of the earth. One day, your pup’s life will come to an end, and your kids will have to deal with their loss. It might sound like a tough situation for them to go through - and you’re right, it is. But they’ll also learn critical life skills and coping mechanisms as they comfort their dog in its passing and cope with the loss of a loved one.
There's even proof that kids who grow up with dogs build stronger immune systems! So honestly, what are you waiting for?
What types of dogs make good family pets?
So, we know that getting a dog is a great idea - but does it matter which one you get? While all breeds of dogs make a fantastic pet for somebody out there, certain breeds are much better for families with children than others. If you're thinking of getting a dog for your kids, here are the four major points to consider:
Toy dogs aren’t a good choice for young kids, simply because they’re, well, too little! Injuries have been reported because children don’t understand how gentle they need to be with small breeds. At the same time, big, giant dogs aren’t ideal either - sometimes, it can be a struggle to get these breeds to be as gentle as they need to be with kids.
This is probably the most important point to consider. If you have children, you should be looking at dogs who are laid-back, friendly with everyone, and patient. Dogs with fiery natures, jealous tendencies, or aggressive streaks are to be absolutely avoided.
Boisterous, energetic, jumpy dogs may not be the best choice for young children who could easily be toppled over and accidentally injured. Dogs with low energy levels who are calm inside as well as outside are easier for kids to keep up with.
If you've got kids, then your hands are already full. So are you sure you want a high-maintenance dog too? Some dogs require lengthy daily grooming, others require hours and hours of exercise every day. If you're already taking care of a family, best to opt for a low-maintenance dog whose care needs will be easy to balance with those of your human family.
Top 10 best dog breeds for kids
To help you out, we’ve picked our choice of the best dogs for families with children - which will guarantee a playful yet gentle, and fun, yet loving pooch for you and your kids!
Mutts are terribly underrated when it comes to choosing a dog! There are thousands of them waiting for homes in rescue centres and that means you have lots of choice. Shelter staff have cared for these dogs for weeks, sometimes months, so they know everything about them! They can answer all your questions and help you pick the perfect dog for you according to your lifestyle.
Mutts are often healthier and live much longer than purebreeds too! Plus, by adopting, you're saving a life!
Newfies are the nannies of the dog world. Granted, they are HUGE, but they really are just gentle giants and one of the most patient breeds of dog in the world. In fact, 'Nana', in the original Peter Pan, was a Newfoundland!
It would be hard to find a better dog for children. You should, however, consider their considerable size and their care requirements. While they don't need much exercise, Newfies need space and would do better in a house than in a flat. They also cost a lot to feed and make messy pets who slobber and shed.
Bull Terriers are NOT for every family out there. They can be great with older children, in their pre-teen or teen years, because they are energetic dogs who make tireless playmates. They are too energetic and rambunctious for small children.
When trained and socialised properly, they can be very tolerant, gentle, and affectionate dogs. This, however, entails that the dog has been raised by experienced owners, and joins a family with children who have shared their home with dogs before. For mature and active kids though, a well-trained Bull Terrier can make the perfect pet.
There is only one thing that Bichons don't comply to in our list of what makes a good dog for kids, and that's size. These are small dogs which means very young or rough and tumble children may not be the best match for them. However, this awesome breed makes it through all the other points with flying colours!
They have a fantastic laid-back temperament, are friendly with strangers and kids, are playful, gentle, and affectionate. They don't require much exercise and as long as you take them to the groomer's regularly, they are quite low-maintenance. All-in-all, this is a balanced breed with a great personality, making it a good dog for both first-time owners and families with children.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Much like the Bichon, aside from its size, the Cavalier King Charles is a great family dog. They are extremely affectionate, loyal, and gentle dogs. They are generally social with everyone, including little children and other dogs!
They require little exercise, moderate grooming, and fit well into any type of family structure. As long as your kids know how to interact with small dogs, this is a fantastic breed to consider.
Clever, caring, and calm? That’s the Golden for you! These beauties are undoubtedly one of the best dogs for kids. Golden Retrievers are the opposite of aggressive and feisty - they’re pretty much nice to anyone and everyone they come across.
While this popular breed is well-loved for its gentleness, they’re also very energetic and athletic. They will make better pets for kids who are active and looking for a playmate! Goldens are the best of both worlds: they will have energy to play all day long with your kids - but they’ll be equally as keen to settle down to a good ol’ cuddle come evening.
No matter what colour Lab you pick, you can bet on them being an incredible family dog. Like the Golden Retriever, Labradors are remarkably friendly creatures who get along with everybody, including other animals.
They are, however, particularly well suited to adventurous families and older kids with bags of energy (just like them!). Labradors love nothing more than a full day of games and adventures - so they’ll keep the whole family fit and healthy, too!
Your kids will love the quirky and fun looks of a Poodle - and they’re super child-friendly, too! Standard Poodles are especially calm, so they make good family companions, even for small children. Poodles are very smart and easy to train - this can be fun for older children who want to start trick-training with their pets!
And although there’s no guarantee, Poodles are often tolerated well by those with dog allergies. So if your children tend to get the sniffles, they could be the perfect breed!
We all know how cute Beagles look, but did you know they’re equally as sweet in their temperament? Beagles are friendly and love human company. While they're not the easiest breed to train, they make a good partner in crime for children - just like them, they're curious, playful, and fun-loving!
Do bear in mind, though, that Beagles will need a lot of exercise and don’t fare well with being left indoors all day. But if you can keep up with their energetic nature, you’ll have a loyal and fun friend for your children.
In general, Collies are a very gentle breed who are easily trained and rarely misbehave. This makes them a favourite for families with young kids because their behaviour is so mild and predictable. Collies tend to become quite protective and affectionate towards children, which is super cute, too!
Collies do, however, require a strict grooming regime due to their long, luscious coat, so that’s something to factor into your decision. Plus, they’re a herder dog at heart - so they may even try and herd your kids. It may seem funny, but it’s best to discourage it as much as you can. Otherwise, it could get a little irritating.
So, have you found the family dog of your dreams yet?