In an article by Sandy Eckstein on WebMD, she states that any breed can be around children if the dog is trained properly. There are some breeds that stand out as more kid friendly, of course. Any of the breeds well known for being easily trainable, such as German Shepherds, retrievers, collies and beagles.
When trying to make the decision about which breed might be best for your family, consider the activity level and activities your family already participates in. Sites like the AKC official website offer details on how much exercise a dog needs, how big the dogs gets, temperament and even potential health issues. Researching the dog breeds you are considering can help you gather facts on a potential dog for your family.
Best Dog Breeds for Kids
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Irish Setter (high activity)
- Yellow Lab
- Chocolate Lab
- Black Lab
- Border Collie
- Australian Shepherd
As mentioned before, any breed, if trained properly, can be good with children. Also, any breed, if untrained or exposed to a child that has not been trained to handle dogs properly can be dangerous to children. This list is meant only as a starting point.
Teach Children How to Treat Dogs
Even more important than the breed of dog you choose is training your child how to treat animals. Here are some rules of thumb that can make a dog bite less likely.
- Teach children to approach dogs slowly, especially new dogs.
- Hold out a fisted hand in front of the dog’s nose and let the dog sniff the hand before petting.
- No sudden movements, screeching or roughhousing.
- The child should never pull on the dog’s tail or ears. Not only might the dog bite, but the child could hurt the animal.
- Do not ride on a dog’s back for the same reasons listed above.
Teach your child that animals can hurt the same way we do and to treat the animal the way the child would want to be treated. Very small children should be supervised at all times, as they easily forget these rules.
*Note: Some breeds may require special care. For example, the dachshund shown in the picture to above right has a long back. When picking up this dog, the child should be careful to support the entire length of the dog’s body to prevent injury to the back.
Is Your Child Ready for a Dog?
If your child has been begging nonstop for a puppy, you might be tempted to rush out and get him one or adopt one that needs a home. However, it might be a good idea to ask the following questions to be certain your child is ready for a dog.
- Is the child gentle with other animals?
- How responsible is the child? Does he do his current chores in a timely manner?
- How obedient is the child? If you tell him to stop doing something, will he?
- Are you prepared to take over the dog care responsibilities if the child does not take care of the dog?
- Are you prepared to give the dog a forever home? It’s very hard on animals to be parted from a family they have bonded with.
Alternatives to Buying a Dog
If you have thought it over and decided your child is not yet ready for a dog, consider an alternative, such as a stuffed animal dog. If you want to see if your child is responsible enough to help care for a canine, start small and purchase a fish or hamster. You’ll still need to supervise to ensure the animal is properly cared for, but the child can begin to build responsibility and prove to you that he is ready for a dog.
Knowing When a Dog Might Bite
Kids Health advises that there are some tell-tale (pun intended) signs that a dog might be getting ready to bite. Knowing these signs can help you remove your child from a dangerous situation before the unthinkable happens.
- Growling – If a dog growls, it is warning that it feels threatened. Have your child slowly back away.
- Fur raised on back – Dogs will often lift the fur on their backs just before biting. This may be more difficult to detect on a long-haired breed.
- Lowering head – A lowered head can be a sign that a dog is aggressive.
- Tucking tail – When a dog tucks his tail between his legs, he might be getting ready to bite.
There are other signs, and they can vary by dog, but these are some of the more common.
Which Dog Breed Is Right for Your Family?
Ultimately, the breed that is right for your family is the one that will fit into your family’s lifestyle. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, a high energy hunting breed may not be the best choice.
If you have a houseful of very small children, a little dog might feel threatened and become mean. Take all of the factors of your family life into consideration, consult with your veterinarian and make the choice that’s best for you and for the dog.