Finding the best dogs for kids doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, many breeds will be just perfect for your family. Looking for that perfect family dog means that you will need to examine some specific breed traits. Just what are those traits that we think are important?
For starters, how about these personality characteristics:
- Easy to Train
- Predictable Personality
- Mild Mannered
- Energetic (at least enough energy to keep up with a busy preschooler)
- Desire to Please
- Less Demanding
We’ve compiled a list of those breeds that are stable and tolerant around children and friendly to strangers. They are easy going, but not necessarily couch potatoes. (although some of the best dogs for kids could be considered very low energy dogs.)
Most of all, they have stable, predictable personalities that are flexible and people oriented. These are dogs that like to please, have fun and generally fit well with most family situations.
If you think you’d like to check out some of these breeds, please be sure to read the “fine print” when it comes to the ages of children versus dogs. It is much easier to find the perfect dog for older children that are respectful of the dog’s needs.
Preschoolers and younger children may not do well with large, playful breeds because there is a definite possibility that an 80-pound dog in high play mode will knock them over and into furniture-causing injury.
Young children also do not do well with very small breeds because of the tendency to drop or play too rough with a tiny puppy, thus injuring the puppy and racking up vet bills. Many toddlers look at small puppies as if they were stuffed animals and it takes a while to teach them the difference.
Families with children should choose a dog that is gentle and loves being around children. Some breeds might be perfect for your kids but tend to guard the house and could prove dangerous if your kid’s friends wandered in unannounced. Big, strong guard dogs are not the best choice for families with children.
Here are our recommendations for the best dogs for kids.
Best Dogs for Kids
Boisterous, but Loves Everyone.
There is a reason why the Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the world. They are easy going, even tempered and very sociable, but they don’t do well if left alone for long periods of time.
They are excellent with children, but the clumsy puppy stage may be too much for very young children. Definitely deserves a place on our list of the best dogs for kids!
Perhaps not the most energetic breed on this page, the English Bulldog, nevertheless, has plenty of spare energy for children. Despite their outward appearance, they are gentle, affectionate and ready for fun.
Just mention the words “fetch” or “car” and the bulldog immediately swings into action. At other times, they are happy to sleep the day away.
Confident, Kind, Friendly.
This is the all round great family dog. They are patient with children and love everyone in the family. They are calm and intelligent, eager to please and a joy to train.
If you can deal with their high energy level, at least during puppyhood and shedding, this is a winning choice for families with children.
This is a hybrid dog, the product of crossing a pure bred Golden Retriever with a pure bred Poodle. As well as being low-shedding, intelligent and affectionate, they are also patient and gentle with children. They come in 3 sizes, depending on the size of Poodle parent.
The versatile beagle, always gentle and happy go lucky. This might very well be one of the best dogs for children. They also do well with other pets.
These are definitely pack animals and do not do well if left alone for very long. They are also escape artists, diggers and howlers. Barking is also one of their strong points.
Pugs are good-natured, affectionate and lively, even clownish at times. They do well with children, especially older kids and they can live comfortably in an apartment.
Grooming is easy, but they do suffer from some health problems due to being a brachycephalic breed. Expect your pug to snore or grunt some and want to spend some time on your lap.
Quiet, gentle and mild-mannered are often traits associated with this breed. They love everyone including strangers and do very well with children. They are playful and patient, two traits that you want to see in a family dog.
Downsides to the breed include frequent grooming and the need for extensive exercise to meet their energy demands. They are not the best choice for apartment dwellers.
These big dogs are docile, easygoing and calm. They are wonderful around children and often prefer the kids to the adults in the family.
They can be protective of the children, but not really a good choice for a guard dog. If you live near the water, so much the better–these dogs love water and may even serve as a life guard if given the chance.
Energetic and Dominate
Boxers make great family dogs, but they need early training and socialization. They are playful and adaptable, but may be too boisterous for small children. Expect to spend plenty of time accommodating their high activity level.
Mention the word “Collie,” and the first thing that comes to mind is Lassie and Timmy, beloved household names from mid-20th century.
They are ideal for families with children because they are social and friendly with people and ready to join any activity that presents itself. They do best with families that have large areas to roam and children that are respectful of their sensitive natures.
Despite their reputation for being diggers and barkers, the Border Terrier makes an excellent family pet. They are very attached and good with children and other dogs, especially those of the opposite sex.
You may have a problem if your family also houses small pets such as hamsters or guinea pigs as these dog normally see such animals as prey. They are easy to train but need a fair amount of exercise to meet their energy requirements.
English Springer Spaniel
These dogs are generally bred for two different purposes – show or field, so always tell the breeder what you are looking for. They are very good with children, at most of them are and they are friendly to strangers and other dogs.
They have endless energy so they are best suited to homes with yards. If not, other arrangements must be made to provide for their high energy demands.
Poodles come in three sizes and all can be fine with children but the Standard is the best. They are friendly with all family members, but there is much individual variation when it comes to other pets.
They are easy to train, highly hypoallergenic, and flexible. The biggest drawback to this breed is their extensive grooming needs. Daily brushing is almost mandatory and professional grooming is recommended.
Generally this is a great dog for families with children, although some may not do as well with toddlers. Their size makes them an ideal choice, not to big and not too small.
They are affectionate, playful, friendly, but strong-willed. Training is usually easy, but they do have a stubborn streak, and grooming is generally a breeze.
For someone who wants a small dog that does well with children, this might very well be the best choice. Playful, energetic, and very friendly, they love older children and other pets.
They are affectionate, even with strangers and very flexible. The big negative with this breed is the amount of grooming required to keep the coat looking good. Add the cost of professional grooming if you are considering this breed.
They may be a low energy dog, but they are very friendly, if not terribly playful. They are excellent with children and do well around all other pets. They do not require too much exercise but need enough to keep from gaining weight. Typical negative traits include the distinctive hound smell, drooling, and difficulty with housebreaking.
Exuberant, Outgoing, Energetic
This breed loves being the center of attention and thrives when they are with their family. The love children, but may be a tad too boisterous for toddlers or small preschoolers.
High energy, Gentle, Loving
The Vizsla bonds closely to his family and is great with kids. Some call them “velcro dogs” because they are so loyal and affectionate they want to follow you everywhere. Don’t leave them alone too long, or you’re likely to hear them cry!
West Highland White Terrier
Westies are usually great with older children and can do well with younger children if socialized very early. They love the whole family but do not do well if left alone for long periods of time. They can be barkers and diggers and may not be highly dependable off leash.
They have average grooming needs but professional grooming is recommended. Their big drawback is their independent streak which makes training a little more challenging.
Best Dogs for Kids that are Older
Many of the best dogs for kids articles on the web don’t differentiate ages of children. This is a big mistake that people make when choosing a dog breed that will be good for their family.
When busy parents are trying to meet the needs of their children, they don’t need the extra work involved in training, grooming, and caring for a needy puppy. Sometimes it is just better to wait until the children are a little older to start looking for a dog.
On the other hand, many people have dogs long before they bring children into the world. Socializing both dog and child is most important at this point.
If you do wait until the child enters preschool or beyond, there are some great breeds that are possibilities. The next set of best dogs for kids assumes that the children are a little older and be taught to respect and care for the safety needs of a smaller dog.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These little guys are trusting, friendly and very gentle. They need a lot of attention, though so expect to spend plenty of time with them. They are good with children and friendly with everyone. This is a good breed for first time dog owners as they are OK to train and do fine around owners who are also gentle and positive.
Some might say that these are the best dogs for kids. Affectionate, playful, and willing to please, they love everyone including strangers. They do great with kids and other pets.
They shed little and are easy to train. A good choice if you live in an apartment because they are active, but can meet much of their energy demands indoors running around the house.
Fun loving family dog.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a family-loving dog, very patient with children and loves playing with them. Better suited to older kids as the Ridgeback is a larger breed, weighing up to 100lbs (45 kilos), and can be quite boisterous.
Tied with the Havanese as the best dog for kids, the Shih Tzu is outgoing, sweet and can adapt to just about any living situation. They are great around children and other pets and do not require much exercise.
Again, the Tzu can accommodate most of his energy needs by following you around the house or with a quick burst of energy during play. Grooming demands are great and training, especially housebreaking, can be a challenge.
The Whippet is a calm and amiable medium-size dog from the Sight Hound group. Bred to chase small prey and for racing, they can reach 35mph.
Once they have their daily run, they love nothing more than to curl up into a ball on the sofa and snooze for hours. They are very good with older children, but may be spooked by a toddler’s antics.