Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Best Dogs for Families with Children

By Anna Lee

If you have children, especially small children, you need a dog that can tolerate kids. Not all dog breeds are good for families with children. Many people assume that small dogs are gentle and kid friendly, which is not always true. Some small breeds are gentle with kids. However, large dogs in the working class, herding dogs and retrievers are more placid by nature and often have the patience of a saint when around young children. If you are thinking of adding a dog to your family, here are some great child-friendly breeds to consider.

Boston Terrier – If you prefer a small dog, this little one is gentle, intelligent and well mannered. They do not bark a lot, compared to other small dogs. They are extremely good with children and older people as well. They are playful and want to be part of the family.

Jack Russell Terrier – This is another small dog with a lot of adjectives to describe it, including perky, merry and devoted. Jack Russell Terriers are also kind to children. Be sure to set rules for this breed though; if not they will take over. A few years ago we rented a cottage on a creek in North Carolina. The neighbors let their dogs (an old yellow lab like ours and a Jack Russell Terrier puppy) run free all day, and the Jack Russell (Andy) drove our poor Abby crazy. He chased her and nipped at her, barked non-stop, and we could not make him stay home in his own yard. His owners were not very wise to let a puppy run free all day while they were at work. We found out that he was afraid of the creek that ran across the property. Abby soon realized that if she went in the creek and stood in the water for a bit, Andy would get bored and go home!

Bearded Collie – This dog is full of energy, and requires firm and consistent training. They are fun dogs and are excellent for families with children. The Bearded Collie is a real tail wager, and very adorable. They are the ancestors of the Old English Sheep Dog, and look a little like them.

Beagle – This dog is gentle, lively and curious, and loves everyone. They are excellent with children as well as with other dogs. They do not generally get along well with cats unless they were raised together. Beagles are very determined, as our neighbor’s dog illustrates for us regularly. The dog is a rather chubby older beagle, and on numerous occasions we hear her barking while she chases the rabbits on our property. We have seen her heading back home with her tongue and belly dragging the ground. She will never catch a rabbit, but she will never stop trying.

Boxer – This breed is an easy learner and quite intelligent. Boxers do well in competitive obedience training. They are loyal and affectionate, and they get along very well with children. It is in the Boxer’s nature to want to protect the family and the home.

Golden Retriever – This a beautiful, graceful dog that’s easy to train and is always patient and gentle with children. Golden Retrievers are friendly with everyone; therefore they have little value as a guard dog! They do make wonderful pets for families, though.

Labrador Retriever - I saved this breed for last since I didn’t want to play favorites. This is the breed I know best from experience. A Labrador Retriever is a loving, affectionate and patient dog that is highly intelligent, loyal, willing, and high-spirited. They love to play, especially in water, as they love to swim. Labs have an excellent, reliable, temperament and are extremely friendly, superb with children and get along with other dogs. They crave human leadership and need to feel as though they are part of the family. Labs are easily trained. Abby was easy to train as a pup and even at 11 she learns new things daily. She loves people and age does not matter to her at all!

No matter which breed you choose, you need to remember that puppies chew. If your kids leave toys in reach, those toys will be the object of the pup’s attention! Teach your children to be gentle with the puppy and remind them that puppies need a lot of sleep. Parents may need to put time limits on play early on. Teach the kids that the puppy needs time to be alone, as well as time with the family.

Get your kids involved early on in the care of the new puppy by helping out at feeding time. Let them pour the CANIDAE kibble into the feeding dish. Let the kids know that if they are gentle and loving to the dog, they will have a loyal friend for life.

Read more articles by Anna Lee


  1. I love all these breeds, but would have to go with a smaller dog because we have only a narrow run along the side of the house if it needed to play outside. I'm wondering if it would be difficult to introduce a dog into our home after adopting two kittens last month. Would they kill each other? I know some people have both dogs and cats, but they DO have a reputation for not getting along!

  2. Rachel, the kittens are still young and earger to explore which means they would be very curious if you introduced a dog into your lovely family. If you get a puppy remnember to let the cats have some space in the house when they can escape from the puppy. When my husband and I introduced Abby to his cat (who was 10 at the time) he wacked her on the head several times, said a few words to her and they were best buddies after that! It will take just a little more work but well worth it! Go for it!

  3. It sounds like puppies and kittens DO mix! We'll need to decide on which breed would do best in our home and then "go for it" with confidence. Thank you for the sound advice and your personal experience.


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