“The dog was created specially for children. He is the god of frolic.”
– Henry Ward Beecher
Picking the best family dog for children takes on even more importance when we have toddlers. To narrow down the field of potential dogs, we should consider a breed’s temperament, size, strength and tolerance to children. Ideally, we want a dog with an even temperament, medium-to-large in size, moderate strength and a good tolerance to children. This rules out most small breeds under about 20 pounds for families with small kids.
Let’s take a look at some breeds that fit these characteristics.
Golden and Labrador Retrievers
Golden and Labrador Retrievers are one of the best family dogs for children. These large, popular dogs are very even-tempered, loyal, people-oriented and have boundless energy. With a medium coat length, they do need regular brushing.
Standard Poodles are athletic and very intelligent family dogs. Their intelligence should help them get the idea of house-training quite quickly. Puppy wee wee pads can simplify the process and make cleanup much easier. They have the added benefit of shedding very little. Many people who cannot tolerate dander are able to live with poodles comfortably; however, if you have allergies, be sure to spend some time with any dog you before you take him home.
English Bulldogs are rugged, strong and docile. Although not extremely active, the English Bulldog is a fun, loyal family companion. They have very short fur, which requires little more than regular bathing. My niece has an English Bulldog, and two toddlers – one is 2 years old and the other is 4. They love “Boomer,” and he loves them!
Beagles are curious, loyal and full of energy. A beagle’s coat is short, which makes grooming a snap. They love to eat, and are quite persistent and able to get into cupboards that hold food they should not have. One friend of mine had a beagle open a kitchen cupboard and eat an entire bag of licorice! As you can imagine, this made him very sick. Beagles are sure to love the dental dog treats and other doggie snacks.
Collies are even-tempered, gentle and easily trainable. They are loyal and protective of their families and great with children. Their long fur needs regular brushing to keep it free of mats. I rescued a border collie once. We named him Shadow – he was always following one of the kids!
Newfoundlands are avid swimmers with long black fur and a gentle personality. These larger dogs are fantastic family dogs and great with children. They are best for families with space for the dogs to run around, although Newfoundlands should not be left outside alone. They prefer to be inside with their people. Some people affectionately call this breed “nature’s babysitter” because they are extremely watchful and loyal. Nana, the dog in Peter Pan was a Newfoundland.
Bull Terriers are muscular, mid-size dogs who get along well with children. They become very attached to their families and need either a companion or doggie daycare if you work all day; they don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Bull Terriers are not aggressive. Their short coats require little care.