Top 10 Best Dog Breeds for Kids and Families
Dogs can teach kids responsibility, compassion and patience — not to mention being the best playmates anyone could ask for. Before you adopt any pup, however, it’s always smart to research the most suitable dog breed for your home and lifestyle. Some dogs love to tussle with rambunctious older kids, while others have gentle, patient souls more suited for little ones who might get spooked by more energetic animals. If you have young children at home, consider adopting an older dog instead of a puppy. Older dogs are generally more patient and laid-back than younger ones, which is key for kids who might pull tails or ears. Temperaments can vary based on the individual animal, but the American Kennel Club recommends these 20 family-friendly breeds as a great place to start your pet adoption search.
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How you choose your new fur-ever friend can depend on your living arrangements, schedule, activity levels and budget. If you’re adopting from a shelter or rescue agency, the staff can help point you toward pets who will be a good fit. When you welcome a new pet into the family, plan to provide your pup with consistent, positivity-focused training as well. Bonus: Your child will also benefit from learning how to interact safely and respectfully with animals. Don’t forget to create a family schedule for walking, playing, feeding and grooming, so everyone can get in on the fun. With sweet, loving dog breeds like these, your crew won’t be able to imagine life without their canine pal.
Top 10 Best Family Dogs That Are Good With Kids
Alaskan Malamutes will do anything to please their pack, either human or canine. Built to work as sled dogs, these powerful pups need a leader to set a consistent training and exercise regimen. (Now’s your chance to pick up skijoring.) You’ll be rewarded with a loyal, friendly face and wagging feather duster of a tail.
Bernese Mountain Dog
For families that like to think big, consider a gentle giant like the Bernese Mountain Dog. They can top 100 pounds, but underneath all that fluff is a sweet, warm-hearted pet known for its gentle nature with children.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Combine the portable size of a toy breed with the verve of a sporting one and you get these adorable and lively companions. These sweet, silky-furred friends get along with just about everybody they come across, including kids and other dogs. The flowing locks and heart-melting expression are just a bonus.
Clocking in under 25 pounds, these people-oriented pups wear low-maintenance “tuxedo” coats. Just like the name suggests, Boston Terriers adapt to apartment living quite handily — although they’ll appreciate walks around the block and active games of fetch with the kids.
Another all-American favorite, Golden Retrievers live up to their status as the quintessential family dog. They’re quick learners that require lots of physical activity: they love running, swimming, fetching and playing. In return, they’ll give you joyful companionship with plenty of silliness thrown in for good measure.
They’ve remained the most popular dog breed for decades for a reason. Labs love kids, adults, other pets — just about everyone. Their sweet demeanor makes them instant BFFs with whomever they meet, but don’t underestimate their high energy levels. This exuberant breed needs serious exercise every day, and they can grow up to 80 pounds.
For those who enjoy more of a laid-back lifestyle, a loyal bulldog might prove a better fit. Besides regular walks, these dignified pups love a good snooze. While their wrinkled mugs might win you over, take care if you live in a warm climate: Their short snouts make them prone to overheating.
Just like humans, pugs love eating and sleeping. You have to keep them to a regular diet (no table scraps allowed!) and make sure they get plenty of exercise, but look no further if you want a couch companion to snuggle up and watch movies with. At just 15 pounds or so, this breed doesn’t need a huge backyard, but appreciates a play session with the kiddos.
Just imagine walking one of these beauties around the neighborhood. Irish Setters are total showstoppers, but as a member of the sporting group, gifted athletes in their own right. An active lifestyle (and an endless supply of tennis balls) is a must. This is a workout partner that’ll motivate everyone in the family to get moving.
One of the smallest dog breeds in the AKC, the Brussels Griffon can’t handle as much roughhousing as some sturdier breeds on this list. But if your kids are up for gentle play, they’ll be rewarded with a loyal, intelligent pet that packs a lot of personality for its size.
No backyard, no problem — city dwellers adore these quiet and low-maintenance pups. Their trademark “bat ears” and smaller stature physically distinguish them from their larger bulldog cousins. The prototypical Frenchie exhibits an alert, playful attitude combined with easygoing adaptability.
Cute? Check. Friendly? Check? Totally lovable? Check and check. Beagles absolutely thrive on companionship; long days alone won’t work for these pack animals. Those pleading expressions can hide another potential challenge: The pocket-sized hounds can become daring escape artists if they come across a captivating scent.
On the other end of the size spectrum, the Newfoundland can tip the scales at a jaw-dropping 100-150 pounds. These gentle giants excel at swimming, but they’ve also earned quite a rep as “nanny dogs” thanks to their patient and watchful nature. Their sweet temperament will definitely win you over, if you’ve got the space.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
If shedding’s really a concern, try one of these cute pups. While no dog generates zero allergens, these silky-haired terriers grow what’s referred to as a hypoallergenic coat so they may be a good fit for those who have mild fur allergies. More importantly, Wheatens are exuberant and devoted pets that love an active playtime — especially chasing anything that moves.
Collies rank among the smartest dog breeds, and if you ever watched Lassie, then you know why. A collie’s loyalty is unparalleled and they totally adore children. Worried about all of that fur? Collies come in both “rough” and “smooth” varieties for the more grooming-adverse.
Before you lump them in with other small white dog breeds, know that Bichons “operate under the assumption that there are no strangers, just friends they haven’t met yet,” according to the AKC. Their amiable attitude comes with another bonus: a low-shedding coat that makes this playful fluffball all the more perfect for a fun-loving household.
The smallest member of the sporting group, the Cocker Spaniel has some of the softest ears and sweetest expression around. Compact but active, Cockers thrive with regular walks and plenty of playtime, whether they’re romping with the kids or another dog.
If you love a sporting dog but want something a little more unique than the standard Lab or Golden Retriever, consider the Vizla. It’s a born-and-bred pointer that thrives on thorough exercise but has a sensitive, affectionate nature when not it’s not “working.” This is a dog that will form a close-knit bond; “alone time” is not a Vizla’s vocabulary.
Poodles are the ultimate custom dog. They come in three sizes (standard, miniature and toy) and three colors (black, white and apricot). While some wrongly think they’re uppity pooches, underneath that fluffy hypoallergenic coat is a bonafide brainiac bred for activity. The flamboyant show hairdo (derived from their original purpose as hunting dogs) isn’t a necessity either. Most owners opt for the simple “sporting clip” that requires far less maintenance.
Yes, mutts aren’t an official breed per se — but that doesn’t make them any less loving or adorable! Talk to your local animal rescue for help finding an adorable mixed-breed dog that would fit with your family and lifestyle. Adopting not only gives one pup a forever home, but also frees up a spot in a shelter for another one in need.