Sometimes the difference between a home and a house are the rising crayon-drawn lines on the wall marking your kid’s age. As the lines move up, the next natural move is to get a dog. Dog’s are great for the whole family! Your kids can learn some responsibility, there will be an extra incentive to get out of the house, and studies have even suggested a dog can boost a child’s immune system. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and demeanor. Doing some research on the best dog breeds for kids can help your family find the perfect match.
We want to preface this article by saying that overgeneralizing any one breed can make problems. Some breeds like Pitbulls get a bad reputation from the media. The truth is, any dog that is trained with love will return the love. The same can be said of popular breeds. Just because a dog is a Labrador, or any of the dog breeds that make this list, doesn’t make that dog breed inherently good for your kids. It’s all situational. Every breed can be well-trained and a loving dog for your kids.
If you can avoid stereotypes and take a sincere look into the temperament of some dogs you can take a lot of guess work out of the equation. Finding the best dog breed for kids begins with researching the breed. Then visiting. Once the whole family’s on board it’s time to take home your doggo.
Some Characteristics to Consider
There a few questions to ask before getting a dog. How old are your kids? Is your family active and outdoorsy? Or, are you guys more mellow? Do you have a big backyard? Do you live in an apartment? All these questions will affect the best dog breed for your kids and lifestyle.
With your kids, you will most likely want a dog with a medium-sized build. Sturdiness is a good for young kids who can be clumsy and are still figuring out ‘how to play gently.’ Rowdy kids and toy breeds aren’t always a good mix.
A perfect kid-friendly dog breed should match the energy level of your kids. If your kids love running around outside and your family goes on hiking trips on the weekends, go ahead and get a high-energy dog. Some dog breeds are more prone to lounging than hiking and you don’t want your dog to get over-exerted or irritated.
All dogs need training to learn their manners. This is for your kid’s safety and the dog’s too. Smarter dogs have less difficulty with training and can learn what ‘down’ means quicker. (They can also master tricks too!)
Friendliness is a complicated thing to gauge. Most dogs are friendly but some breeds are known to be nervous or impatient. Adopted dogs with a bad past can also be problematic for kids. A few visits with your prospective dog should clear the air on friendliness.
The Best Dog Breeds for Kids
1. American Staffordshire Terrier
The Staffies are part of the terrier breeds and were originally used to control vermin like rabbits and rats. Unlike the Rat Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier has a more muscular build. This dog’s personality is confident, good-natured, and smart. The Staffie used to be the most popular dog in America in the early 1900s. They were the poster dog for WWI and more recently you’ve seen this dog play “Pete” from the “Little Rascals.”
A Staffies’ medium build pairs with the dog’s medium energy level. He’s going to need a good walk every day and can keep up with your kids but don’t feel like you’ll have to ‘wear him out.’ After a good walk, and run in the yard with the kids, Staffies are content to curl up and cuddle. These dogs are true sweethearts.
2. American Water Spaniel
The Water Spaniel is a truly happy dog. True to their name, yes, they do love the water. These guys are very active, eager, and charming. Some have said that Water Spaniel’s have a stubborn streak but this only adds to the aloofness of their personality. Many are eager to please which makes them fun to train. Introducing this dog breed to your kid as a puppy should not be a problem—the breed is great with kids!
The dog’s water-resistant double coat will need regular grooming maintenance so be aware of this. If you’re the ‘camping’ type, this dog is a great choice. They’ll be a loyal companion on hiking trips and with their medium build (30-40lbs.) makes them an agile rafting buddy.
3. Labrador Retriever
Everyone has a soft spot for Labs. These dogs are friendly, outgoing, and good-natured. The dogs come in three colors—yellow, black, and chocolate—and deriving from origins of hunting dogs these guys are super easy to train. Many Labradors become guide dogs for the blind or even use their sniffers for police work. We all first fell in love with these guys after seeing the loveable antics of Marley, from “Marley & Me” in the early 2000’s.
A male Labrador can reach 70 lbs so you’ll want a big yard and enough room in the house for him to roam. Small apartments in big cities might get a little cramped. As America’s favorite dog your kids will have a blast playing fetch, tug-of-war, and maybe tackling agility courses.
“Spike,” the Bulldog from “Tom and Jerry” always was the one breaking up the fights. Or at least settling the fights. The English and French Bulldogs are very different dogs but both are great with kids. Frenchies and Bullies are both pretty low-energy. A brisk walk will keep them in shape but the rest of the time they’ll be lounging. These dogs are playful, intelligent, and calm.
A Bulldog can reach 50 lbs—short and stocky. While the Frenchie will at best make it to 28 lbs. Both types will need weekly grooming and can be trained easily. If you want a pupperoni to grace the couch cushions, these guys make one of the best dog breeds for kids.
5. Australian Shepherd
Australian Shepherds are the more kid-friendly version of their German cousins (although I had a very sweet German Shepherd as a child). Aussies are mild in gentleness but spirited in activity. As a former herding dog, they’ll need to run around daily. They have beautiful eyes and beautiful coats with black, blue merle, and red merle markings.
Aussies’ pretty coat fits their demeanor—smart, exuberant, and loving. They are the kind of dog you’ll wake up to with their nose inches from your face. Males can reach 70 lbs while females max out at 55 lbs. Despite a lush coat these dogs only need occasional grooming and respond well to training.
A Boxer is great for kids because they are goofy, fun-loving, and loyal. They will be protective. I have met both bright Boxers and some, that, well let’s just say I wouldn’t use ‘bright’ to describe them. Still, a very loveable dog! Boxers are muscular athletes and will need some good physical challenges but will be content with daily walks.
A male Boxer can reach 80lbs while females will be at most 65 lbs and a few inches shorter. Part of the endearing quality of these dogs is that they do have a tendency to snore from the wrinkles in their snout. They also shed seasonally but this won’t be a problem with good brushing habits and grooming.
Anyone who remembers “My Dog Skip” will remember the adorable little Beagle who won our hearts over alongside Frankie Muniz. These dogs are on the smaller side at under 20 lbs but what they don’t have in weight they make up for in playfulness. Beagles are comical, friendly, and inquisitive. They were bred to hunt in packs and pack bonding hasn’t left. They love to be around the family!
Because these dogs are energetic they’ll need long walks and plenty of exercise. They are known to be vocal and will need some loving training to stop excessive barking. As former hunting dogs, they are easily trained and loyal—perfect for family outings to the dog park.
8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This prestigious little bundle of tail-wagging joy first got its name from King Charles II who loved the dogs most likely because they shared the same hair style—long and curly. It’s easy to see why this breed is so popular. Cavies are affectionate, graceful, and delicate. Their frame never exceeds 18 lbs, making them the perfect ‘lap dog.’ They’re amazing with kids and will soon replace the stuffed animals.
If your kids are game for lots of affection this is the dog for your family. Training a Cavy is part of his eager to please disposition. Grooming is important with these guys so teaching your kids to gently brush the dog is a fun life-lesson, as they do shed seasonally.
9. Shetland Sheepdog
On a personal level, I love Shelties! These guys are stoic, intelligent, and energetic. As another from the herding group, they will need good runs, especially as a puppy. Like all dogs, they’ll become more and more of a couch potato as they age. Shelties are loyal and will probably follow your children around the house, protecting them.
A Sheltie I’ve met once could out perform most circus animals when it came to obedience training and cool tricks. Shelties shed seasonally and need weekly grooming. Some have a tendency to bark—staying true to their herding heritage—but the ones I’ve met were very calm.
10. The Mixed breeds!
A list of the best dog breeds for kids would not be complete without some advocacy for the mutts! Some of the most amazing dogs I’ve owned and had the pleasure of meeting have been mixed-breeds. Genetic diversity is a good thing and mutts actually have a slight advantage in health over the purebred counterparts.
The best part of choosing a mixed breed is you get the chance to adopt. There are over 70 million animals entering shelters every year. These loving animals need a home! Often, adopted dogs make the best companions. Of course, you’ll want to bring your kids in to meet the dogs as you search. We at Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique encourage you to look at your local shelters for a dog that will change you and your kid’s lives!
Owning a dog on top of kids can be a little tricky at first. For some extra help with care, it’s always a good idea to visit your local Splash and Dash. The signature service membership can save your family time and money so that you can get back to enjoying the more fun parts of owning a dog.
Play Dirty. Live Clean!
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