Not every dog is cuddly and kid-friendly. If you make the big decision to get a dog, it's important to understand the different breeds and how they could relate to your children. There are lots of reasons to get a pet, including teaching responsibility and for your young ones to have something to care for, play with, and love. While much of the relationship your family has with your dog is based on how well behaved and trained the dog is, it's good to know the best dog breeds if you have kids.
Dogs are way more fun and interactive than fish, birds, or hamsters, and certain breeds are hard-wired to be good with kids. Frank D'Andrea, owner of D'Andrea Professional Dog Services in New York, suggests to Romper that the first step is figuring out what size dog you want. Some people prefer bigger dogs and others want a tiny dog to snuggle on their lap.
D'Andrea recommends looking for three things to look for when getting a dog: conformation (overall appearance and stature), temperament, and health. He strongly believes that although there are some breeds that may seem like they are better suited toward a life with kids, the most important thing is how they are raised. "Education and obedience are the two things you need to teach dogs," D'Andrea says. "Dogs can be manipulative, cunning and intelligent," he describes, "and if you give them an inch, they'll take a yard." More than dog training, he recommends that new pet owners take an ownership course where they can learn what to expect from a dog, and more importantly, what the dogs expect of their owners. It's easy to spoil your pet, even if you don't intend to.
D'Andrea suggests getting a puppy if you have young children in the house, but watching the interactions very carefully to make sure the kids don't accidentally injure the puppy, which can cause the puppies to lash out at the child and bite them. Older dogs tend to come with baggage, and it's better to be able to show your dog kindness and work to socialize him with children. That way interacting with the kids in the house just becomes second nature to the dog.
Here is a look at seven breeds that tend to be better with kids.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador retrievers are friendly dogs that play well with others, according to the American Kennel Club, which ranks it one of the most popular breeds. D'Andrea calls labs the "all-American dog" and says they are hard-wired to be companion dogs, so your kids will probably get along with them better than their own siblings. Be prepared for them to grow — female labs can get to be up to 70 pounds and males can be closer to 80 pounds. Labs come in three colors: black, yellow, and chocolate.
Cockapoos are a hybrid of a cocker spaniel and a poodle. D'Andrea says they have a very nice disposition and are a great dog to get if you are looking for a smaller dog. Dog Time shared that they can be found in a range of sizes, from under 6 pounds for the teacup, and over 19 for a standard breed.
3. Bichon Frise
This is the hot dog for 2018 with Bichon Frise Flynn's big win at the Westminster Dog Show. Melanie Pellegrino, Director of Rescue at the Bichon Frise Rescue of Northern New Jersey, tells Romper that these dogs are great family dogs who are wonderful with kids and just love their people.
Beagles' calm temperament and small but sturdy size make it an ideal family dog. They’re especially great with kids because they never seem to run out of energy, according to Cesars Way. “If your kids love the outdoors, this breed will fit right in, since there’s nothing they love more than exploring outside and taking to the trails,” explained Pet MD.
Lassie was the quintessential boy's best friend and collies are really steady dogs. There are several different types, including Standard collies (like Lassie) and Border collies (black and white). Incredibly smart and active, they are known for keeping busy, according to the AKC. That means, if you don't give them a job to do, they'll find something to do themselves (like literally herd the kids in the front yard). Pet MD described collies as "a gentle and predictable breed, rarely misbehaving and easily trainable — which is perfect for families that are unfamiliar with dogs."
Everything's cuter when it's "mini" and the mini-poodle is no exception. This is another of D'Andrea's small dog recommendations. And, if anyone in your household is prone to allergies, you can rest easy knowing that poodles are hypoallergenic, according to Your Purebred Puppy.
Who watches Disney's 101 Dalmatians and doesn't think a little black and white spotted dog would be the perfect addition to their family? Dog Time shared that Dalmatians are extremely affectionate creatures, with the energy to match your kid's. Warning, they don't stay tiny like a puppy, and are quite strong, so unless you're familiar and comfortable with the breed, you should consider bringing them into your home once your child is well out of the toddler phrase — think 6 and up. As dogs that are people-oriented who love to play, they might be exactly what you're looking for in a kiddie companion.
The most important thing when considering a dog for your home, is to be fully prepared to properly train them, and that goes for every breed. Also, while raising a dog as a puppy may be ideal so that they can grow up with your child and be comfortable around the family, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a perfectly sweet and affectionate pooch from the local pound.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated from its original version