I often receive questions about breeds that will do well living in homes with children. These questions are difficult to answer because there is not one single breed where I can say each and every dog will be child friendly. However there are many breeds that generally *are* great with children! Here is a list of 10 breeds of all shapes and sizes that do well in growing families.
Newfoundland: “Is that a bear or a dog?!” Be prepared for that question if the Newfoundland is a dog that grabs your attention! Newfy’s are a giant breed of working dog who are usually all black. They are known for their placid nature and their natural ability to swim. In fact, they are so “made” for the water that the breed has webbed feet! This breed is very laid back – a true gentle giant. They are known to be easy to train (though some are a bit lazy at times), however they have a tendency to drool due to their large jowls.
Photo by deltm
Pug: The Pug is the only member of the toy group on our top 10 list. These stocky little wrinkled dogs have been described by breed experts using the Latin term “multum in parvo” (“much in little”). This breed is incredibly sociable, preferring the company of humans over other dogs or pets (though they usually do get along with them). They seem to have a special bond with children and love to play. In all my years working with dogs I have yet to meet a human aggressive pug! (This isn’t to say they don’t exist, but it does say something about the breed and their personality)
Photo by efleming
Staffordshire Bull Terrier: The Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a breed that has been known historically for their reputation as a family dog, especially their trustworthiness with children. They are incredibly affectionate with their families and while they may alert (by barking) to danger – the breed is not one that is prone to human aggression. However it must be said that Staffy bulls are not dogs for those who want their dogs to socialize with other pooches. These are not “dogpark” dogs. Due to their dominant nature they have a tendency towards dog aggression and will not back down when challenged. They make ideal companions for single dog households with experienced dog owners.
Photo by Marta Stefan
Labrador Retriever: The Labrador Retriever is probably the most popular dog in the world currently (as far as registered ownership numbers show). They have a reputation as wonderful family dogs and while that is mostly true, this doesn’t come as automatically as some people assume! Labs aren’t bred to be placid. They are working dogs and need to be trained. An untrained, under exercised Labrador is going to be hyperactive and boisterous (and could knock down a toddler by accident!). However, a properly trained, well walked lab is going to be a great family companion. Labs mature slowly and often retain puppy-like behaviors until they are about 3 years of age.
Photo by eraki
Keeshond: The Keeshond is a medium sized fluffy breed that often looks like it is smiling – it actually earned the nickname “Smiling Dutchman”. Keeshonden (the plural) are stocky dogs who have an affinity for learning tricks. They even tend to pick up things that you don’t mean to teach them, so be careful! They are great companions for children, as they love to explore and will happily partake in any games that kids will play with them. Keeshonden will alert to visitors with a loud bark, but will then happily allow them into the house!
Photo by jpdoyle
Golden Retriever: The Golden Retriever is right up there with the Lab as far as the stereotypical family dog goes. These hunting dogs are overly friendly (meaning they are *not* watch dogs!) and will retrieve almost any item for as long as you will throw it. They are often boisterous as puppies and need to be supervised with small children to keep them from knocking them over by accident. Goldens are an extremely intelligent breed and are commonly used as service dogs. They are highly trainable and pickup commands quickly.
Photo by acornchief
Collie: The first thing most people think about when we picture children and Collies is “Lassie” saving Timmy when he fell in that well! Collies are gentle family dogs and although they may not have the psychic knowledge that “Lassie” did about danger, they are well suited to life with children. The breed is active and gentle and any aggressive tendencies would be a huge personality fault. The long coat needs brushing to prevent matting.
Photo by Airplane Lane
Standard Poodle: Poodles are such multifaceted dogs, you’ll see me recommending them in so many situations! Though they have a frilly exterior poodle comes from the German word “Pudel”, which is short for “Pudelhund”, that translates into “splashing dog”. This breed can work with the best of them – hunting, swimming and retrieving! They are also extremely intelligent and do well in all dog sports. Their affectionate and patient nature makes them a great choice for families.
Photo by Grizzly & Jiggs
Bernese Mountain Dog: The Bernese Mountain Dog is another “gentle giant” – they usually range from 80-120 lbs and have a kind and gentle look about them that gives great insight into their personalities. The breed is generally very stable and trainable but requires a patient hand and lots of positive encouragement. They make excellent companions for children and other pets. Bernese Mountain Dogs were used to pull carts in Switzerland and the The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America holds trials for this activity!
Photo by foulkefamily
Bulldog: The Bulldog is one of the characters of the dog world! They snort, they snore – they’re stubborn! They’re also very docile and loyal pets who are known to do well with children and other animals. This breed needs a minimal amount of exercise, but they should not be allowed to become obese. Bulldogs are prone to many health issues (including skin issues, cherry eye and hip dysplasia) so it is very important to seek out a reputable breeder if you are interested in one of these dogs.
Photo by jess911baby
For more information on teaching your children to be dog savvy, check out my piece “Is Your Child Safe For Dogs”