Parents all over the world have dealt with their children begging for a dog. And who can blame them? Owning a dog can teach kids responsibility, compassion, and patience.
However, it also can be a recipe for disaster.
The unfortunate truth is that not every dog is right for a family with kids.
Many dogs have been bred for specific tasks, activities, and temperaments and it’s extremely important for parents to evaluate and determine their family lifestyle, as well as how much time and energy they are willing to devote to a new furry family member.
Before visiting your local shelter or buying a puppy from a breeder, be sure to consider these six factors when looking for a family-friendly dog:
Size: Small dogs are often more sensitive to ear and tail pulling and probably won’t appreciate the rough and tumble play of toddlers or young children. While large dogs might love the roughhousing, they will likely require daily exercise and might eat you out of house and home.
It’s also important to consider the size of your home, a large dog will need more space to get the necessary amount of exercise. While a smaller dog might get enough exercise walking around a small apartment.
Temperament: Throughout time, different breeds have been bred for specific temperaments. Some breeds are known for their loyalty and patience; others are born with an inherent protective instinct. While training can play a particular role in how your dog behaves, some temperaments are a better match for families.
Energy level: A small apartment is great for a little dog who loves to lounge around and needs less physical activity to stay healthy. While some mid-sized and large breeds will need a consistent exercise regime, this might require a large backyard or a nearby park where your pup can run and expend any excess energy.
Before you bring home your new family member decide if your family is looking for a snuggly lap-dog or an adventure buddy.
Daily care: Breeds with short, slick fur will require less grooming than pups with a long flowing coat. Are you willing to wash, blow-dry, and style your pup’s coat or will you take them to the groomer every six weeks?
Budget: Not every family is willing to spend the money to take their hypoallergenic Shih Tzu to the groomer every few weeks, and some families are not prepared to feed a massive St.Bernard. It’s important as a family to determine where you’re willing to spend and where you’re not. Take a look at what toys, grooming supplies, and nutritional needs your future pup will require and determine if that works for your family.
Age of Kids:
Young toddlers generally are usually not fully aware of what is proper behavior around a dog and what isn’t. Some large dogs may accidentally knock over a small child. Or maybe your child will pull on the puppy’s tail or ears. Also, there is the concern that the parents adopt a dog for their children but aren’t 100 percent committed to taking care of it. Not giving a dog the exercise, attention, and daily care it needs will only cause more issues. That’s why many experts recommend waiting until kids are older before the family gets a dog. Children older than seven are generally ready to start developing a relationship with a dog and can aid parents in everyday care.
Family-Friendly Small Breed Dogs
The Beagle is known for its happy, loving, and congenial nature. The breed has a short coat that generally doesn’t require a lot of grooming. However, the Beagle is an active, energetic breed who typically needs an hour or more of exercise a day. Beagles are also happiest when they have plenty of company and attention. Families with a large backyard and plenty of time to exercise and socialize with their pet will find that the beagle is the perfect breed for them.
Bichons are great little companion dogs that are reasonably adaptable and typically get along well with children. A playful and curious breed, a Bichon loves to make new friends. When considering getting a Bichon Frise, it is good to know that this breed does not require significant exercise. A Bichon is usually happy with periods of relaxing but every so often will need a brief walk or a game of fetch. However, Bichons need to be brushed two or three times a week as well as a bath and clipping once a month.
Although the Bulldog may look grumpy, the breed is well-known for its friendly and loving personality. If allowed, the Bulldog will happily crawl into your lap and take a long snooze. But don’t let their laid back personality fool you, Bulldogs actually love to romp around and need moderate daily exercise to stay healthy. The breed is prone to getting overweight, so owners will need to watch how much they are feeding them. As far as grooming, the Bulldog’s coat doesn’t require much maintenance, but their face wrinkles should be checked regularly to make sure the skin is clean and dry.
The French Bulldog is a quiet breed with a charming personality. One of the world’s most popular small-dog breeds, especially among those living in the city, the French Bulldog does well with families. The breed doesn’t require much exercise, but they do love a pleasant walk through the park. The Frenchie’s coat sheds minimally, but owners should try to brush their coat to remove the old shed hair.
A pug’s large round head and big, twinkling eyes are hard to resist. Known as the ideal house dog, pugs have a charming and lovable personality. The pug is great with young children but also does well with older kids. Pugs will happily spend their day on a cozy sofa or bed, but their love of eating makes it easy for them to become overweight. To keep pugs healthy, they should have moderate amounts of exercise, whether that’s a short walk or game of fetch in the yard. Luckily, Pug owners have little grooming to do as a pug’s coat needs little maintenance.
Family-Friendly Mid-Sized Dog Breeds
A breed that loves attention and playful romps around the house, the Bull Terrier is an excellent pet for those with children who are willing to give the breed a great deal of attention. The Bull Terrier can be quite stubborn, but if given time and patience and proper training, it will be an extremely loyal and affectionate companion. Bull Terriers love to stay busy and would do well in a family that has an active lifestyle. The Bull Terrier’s coat is short and does not require much maintenance.
One of the most recognizable dogs thanks to Lassie, the collie is a graceful and intelligent breed. The breed is well-known for its devotion and affection towards children and is great for a family with a moderately active lifestyle. The collie loves to run and play, but if left alone for too long will develop a habit of barking. Collies are people dogs and thrive off of spending time with their owners. In order to keep them looking at their best, collie owners will need to brush the undercoat to avoid matting.
Vizslas, a hunting breed, were bred to work closely with humans and love spending time and playing with their owners. With a long and sleek body and excellent stamina, the breed makes for a great running or biking buddy. Alongside a rigorous physical regime, vizslas need a lot of mental exercise. Training should be apart of a daily routine. The vizsla has no undercoat so the occasional brushing should be enough.
Family-Friendly Large Dog Breeds
One of America’s most popular dog breeds, the boxer is a sturdy, highly intelligent, and sometimes silly breed. Boxers have an upbeat personality but are incredibly patient with children. An inherent protective nature also makes them a great family watchdog. Boxers require a lot of exercise as they are playful and full of energy. They are prone to jumping, so a backyard with a tall fence is ideal.
With their golden coat, the Golden Retriever truly stands out among all breeds. Famous for their loyal, outgoing, and devoted nature, Golden Retrievers are one of the most common family dogs. The breed enjoys daily exercise, although owners should consult with their vet, as the Golden Retriever is prone to hip dysplasia. Families close to a park with a lake or pond would have a great time with a Golden Retriever as they love to swim and play fetch.
Labrador Retrievers are notoriously friendly with everybody around them. Easily able to bond with people of all ages, this breed is a great option for a family pet. The Lab’s laid back and happy personality doesn’t mean they don’t love to play. The Lab loves to exercise—especially swimming. Luckily for Lab owners, the breed has a thick water-repellent coat that helps keep them clean—so minimal grooming is needed.
Family-Friendly Extra-Large Dog Breeds
Great Danes are a powerful breed that make exceptional watchdogs. When standing on all four legs, the Great Dane towers over most other dog breeds and they are big enough for some small children to ride. However, despite their large stature, the Great Dane has a sweet and patient nature. Known for being tolerant with young children, the Great Dane is a great family pet—if he can fit in your house. The breed has a short and smooth coat that doesn’t shed much, so brushing only needs to be done occasionally. Great Dane owners should take their pup on walks two or three times a day.
This breed can weigh up to 150 pounds, and the average male stands 28 inches at the shoulder. However don’t let their size fool you, the Newfoundland is famous for their gentle giant temperament. With a sweet and patient attitude, Newfoundlands are great for kids of all ages. Newfoundland owners need to be dedicated to grooming these giants as their fur is prone to matting. A breed that enjoys adventure and outdoor activities, the Newfoundland needs at least a half-hour of daily exercise.
While not technically an official breed, mixed breeds can still be a great choice for a family pet. The thing about mixed breeds is they can be a wonderful combination of two breeds—meaning you could get some of the most desirable personality traits and temperaments that official breeds are known for, but you will probably end up spending less. Visit your local shelter and ask for help finding a mixed breed that would be a great fit for your family and lifestyle.
Carlee Linden is a Pet Expert and Content Management Specialist for BestCompany.com and manages the Online Pet Store and Pet Insurance blogs. When she’s not at work, Carlee can be found online shopping or redecorating her apartment.