Adopting a dog is like choosing a brand new family member. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and you should do proper research before bringing any new fur baby into your family. When there are kids involved, the decision is even more important.
The truth is that some dog breeds are not naturally great for families with children. They may be prone to nervousness, get easily injured during rough play, or simply prefer low-key home environments.
If you’re looking for the best family dog, here are a few things you should keep in mind, along with ten naturally kid-friendly dog breeds.
Qualities Of Dogs Who Are Great With Kids
No matter which dog breed you decide to adopt from the shelter, there are certain qualities you should look for if they’re going to live in a home with human children. These qualities will help keep kids safe, as well as dogs.
Here are a few traits to look for in a dog who will be living with children:
- Sturdy: Kids aren’t always as gentle as they should be, so you need a dog who will be patient and resilient. This is for both your child’s safety and your dog’s happiness. Miniature or toy breeds are known for being nervous and delicate and may not be great choices.
- Energetic: Similar to “sturdy,” the perfect kid-friendly dog breeds have plenty of energy. They need to be able to keep up with the kids without getting exhausted or irritated. Make sure you pick a breed whose needs match your family’s activity level. Choosing a young dog may help, but breeds like Retrievers and Spaniels are generally known for their high energy levels.
- Intelligent: Although all dogs should be trained, it’s especially important around kids. Your new pet needs to know that no means no as soon as possible for your kids’ safety. Hunting dogs, for example, are known for their high intelligence.
- Friendly: This trait is especially hard to quantify and can vary the most by individual pet. However, when looking for a new dog to add to your family, it’s important to select one with a warm and open demeanor. Avoid breeds that are known for being impatient, nervous, or prone to unwanted behaviors.
With those traits in mind, here are the ten best kid-friendly dogs for families. Remember, you can find almost any breed at a shelter, so adopt! Don’t shop!
You might not guess from their small stature, but Bulldogs are descendants of ancient Mastiff-type dogs. Though they may be a little vertically challenged these days, they still retain their stocky build.
Not the most energetic breed on this list, the Bulldog is comfortable with being a lapdog and letting some of the minor annoyances slide. They tend to be relaxed and move at a slower pace, but that also means you won’t have to worry about them chasing or nipping at kids who play, like some herding dogs do.
If you want a dog who won’t sweat the small stuff, the Bulldog is one who stays cool as a cucumber.
9. Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for being large, calm, and goofy. They truly are “gentle giants.”
Originally used for farm work, this breed is eager to learn and easy to train. These gentle beasts make great companion animals.
However, due to their large size, they are not suitable for living situations with limited space. If you have the space for one, they’re an easy choice for their happy-go-lucky demeanor.
Another stocky breed, the Pug has a distinct look and a personality to match. These little dogs are quite a bit more active and playful than Bulldogs, and their size makes them a good choice for families who live in apartments or smaller homes.
Pugs make decent watchdogs, too, though they may get a little yappy, especially if they aren’t properly trained. Speaking of which, the Pug’s intelligence makes them quite capable of learning, though they tend to be stubborn and willful. They need consistent training.
This breed craves companionship, and they’ll be happy to follow their humans in whatever they do. While they enjoy a good nap and cuddle session, they’ll also do best with humans who want to play and stay active.
7. Boston Terrier
Nicknamed “The American Gentleman” due to their tuxedo-like markings, these dogs were originally–believe it or not–bred as fighting dogs. But don’t write them off just yet!
A Boston Terrier is a lover, not a fighter. These dogs are highly intelligent and are full of energy, despite their small, stocky size.
They’re affectionate and loving, if a little cheeky. Their size, energy, and sturdy build make them great family pets.
6. Brussels Griffon
Brussels Griffons hail from Belgium where they were prized as ratters who kept stables free of rodents. They still retain their high energy and enthusiasm.
Kids might love the Griffon’s monkey-like face, friendliness, and pleasant demeanor. Dogs of this breed will return that affection in kind, so long as they get plenty of early socialization and training.
The Brussels Griffon also makes a great watchdog, as their enthusiasm keeps them on their toes and ready to bark greetings to anyone who walks past the door. It may be best to train these pups when it’s appropriate to “speak” starting in puppyhood.
5. Basset Hound
Another hunting dog, the Basset Hound is well-known as one of the best family pets. They’re a slower-pace hunting dog, making them lazy around the house.
Bred as pack dogs, they’re loyal to their families and may always be “under foot.” Their medium size–50 to 60 pounds–makes them adaptable to almost any living space.
Bassets Hounds are loving and gentle dogs. The only downside may be that they’re stubborn, and training can take patience, so they’re best for families with some extra time.
4. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever used to help fishermen haul in their nets and spent a lot of time diving into frigid waters–and some still do. So if you happen to have a pool or go on frequent family trips to the beach, this pup will probably lead the pack when it comes to jumping in first.
Known for their natural friendliness, intelligence, and gentleness, many Lab owners make the mistake of thinking they don’t need training. On the contrary, Labs do best when they get a lot of mental stimulation and physical activity from a good training session. Anything less could result in unwanted–and destructive–behaviors.
That said, Labs respond to training quickly, and their love for their human families make them a great choice for kids. Just make sure children know not to overfeed their pooch, as Labrador Retrievers are prone to overeating and weight gain.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was bred to be the lapdog of the Spaniels. They love cuddling up and getting belly rubs.
This breed is perfect for kids who want to give their pets constant physical attention. But don’t let their calm disposition fool you. The Cavalier retains some of their heritage with a hearty appetite for games and an easy-to-train attitude.
They are very affectionate and form close bonds with their humans.
Beagles are a small to medium in size, energetic, and very friendly. They make great family pets for all of those reasons and more.
As a hound, Beagles can be a little stubborn, like Bassets, but they are great active companions for all ages, making them a fantastic choice for most families.
Another pack breed, these dogs will bond strongly with their families–adults and children, alike.
1. Golden Retriever
Arguably one of the best family dogs ever, the Golden Retriever is your quintessential family dog. They are one of the most popular dog breeds in the US.
They’re an all-around great pet, being smart, even-tempered, easy to train, and friendly. They also require plenty of activity to keep them happy.
This breed is another “pack” breed, so they bond quickly with all members of the family. One of the friendliest and most social breeds, most families can’t go wrong with a Golden Retriever.
As always, it’s important to remember that every pet is an individual. While every breed has a general personality and disposition, there will always be variations. Proper training, attention, and a healthy environment are necessary for any dog—and your family—to feel happy and safe.
Do you have a dog breed in mind that makes a great family dog? Is your pooch at home great with kids? Let us know in the comments below!