From romping in the yard and cuddles in bed to tail tugging and ear pulling, dogs are loyal to their kids through thick and thin. If you’re looking to add a dog to the family, you may wonder which dog breeds are best with children. In fact, you may have heard some breeds referred to as “nanny dogs,” which can sound pretty appealing to a parent. So, what exactly makes a dog a good nanny?
Just like Nana the dog from Peter Pan, the term “nanny dog” refers to any breed of dog that’s known to be good with children. Ideally, a nanny dog would protect the children just like a human nanny, while showing them lots of affection, being patient, and entertaining them without toppling them over while playing. But Lori Teller, DVM, DABVP, clinical associate professor at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, explains to Romper in an interview that while nanny dogs may be a nice term for breeds that tolerate children well, it shouldn’t be taken literally.
“I think there's nothing more wonderful than the bond that can develop between a child and a dog as they grow up together. However, the term ‘nanny dog’ can be misleading and potentially encourage parents to drop their guard," says Teller. "The number one victim of dog bites are children less than 5 years old, and they are most likely to be bitten by a dog they know. Young children and dogs should never be left alone together unsupervised. Both children and dogs need training and guidance to learn how to appropriately interact."
Teller suggests that families with children who want to add a furry family member start by researching breeds with traits that mesh well with kids.
“A good place to start is by looking for breeds with certain characteristics, such as loyal, patient, energetic, friendly, and easily trained. That being said, the individual dog’s personality is the most important thing,” says Teller. “Breed characteristics are a good place to start when looking for a family dog, but individual personality should be the overall determinant.”
While no dog is truly a nanny dog, there are certain breeds that are more even-keeled and patient around children than others. A pup from one of these eight breeds may be the one to consider adding to your family.
“These breeds are sturdy, even-keeled, and outgoing. They love attention and positive interactions with others,” says Teller.