A wise man once said that a dog makes a house a home. And, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you probably agree with that notion.

But bringing a dog into a home with kids is a unique situation, one that demands a little more thought and a little more care during the selection process. In fact, it’s best to start with this question: What are the best dog breeds for kids?

We’ve got you covered. Here’s a look at the 5 best dog breeds for kids, as well as what you’ll love about them — and what might give you pause.

A word to the wise: Make sure you’re ready for a dog before you fall in love with one. As you already know, having kids is a full-time job in and of itself. Remember that adding a pet to the family as another mouth to feed, more hair to cut, additional health care bills, etc. Also, whenever you hire a babysitter, your sitter needs to be willing to handle the dog, too. And, when you go on vacation, you need to board your dog or hire a dog-sitter. These aren’t deal breakers — just be sure to count the cost and commitment before taking the plunge.


1. Beagle

Many parents want a smaller dog that feels manageable — one that can be picked up and carried when needed. And Beagles certainly fit that description. They are smart and generally happy, and they love to play games and go exploring, which your kids do, too, no doubt.

Known by their floppy ears, Beagles are best if you’re looking to get just one pet for the home. (Which is probably most parents.) Beagles were bred to be hunters, so they may not take kindly to a hamster or rabbit or a smaller animal sharing their space.

The best part about Beagles is that they love kids, and they are known to be incredibly gentle and calm around them. Perhaps the only drawbacks to Beagles are that they love food, they need lots of exercise and they will shed — so be prepared for bathing and brushing.

That said, if you can avoid passing along scraps from the table (which can quickly lead to obesity in Beagles), and if you can find time for regular family walks, the Beagle might be your perfect solution.

Is this breed right for you?

Choose a Beagle if …

… you’re in the market for a smaller dog that is gentle, friendly and loves kids.

Pass on a Beagle if …

… you don’t want to deal with dog hair and you don’t have time to go on walks.


2. Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers provide a combination that’s hard to beat in a family dog: They can be calm when indoors, but they also love getting outside and going crazy. That means a Golden Retriever can help occupy your children and keep them active without greatly disrupting your home.

This breed does deal with a range of health issues, including cell tumors, seizures and eye problems. Also, a Golden Retriever’s average lifespan is between 10 and 13 years, meaning they won’t be around as long as some other options on this list.

But Golden Retrievers are friendly, obedient and smart. If you’re looking for a dog that can sit contently at your feet on a rainy day and frolic in the grass when the sun comes out, the Golden Retriever might be for you.

Is this breed right for you?

Choose the Golden Retriever if …

… you want a dog that can be calm while inside and playful while outdoors.

Pass on the Golden Retriever if …

… you prefer a dog with a better track record in the health department.


3. Irish Setter

You can spot an Irish Setter by its red coat, long ears and the curious-but-loving expression on its face. As part of a family, an Irish Setter will bring lots of energy and loyalty. You and your kids will enjoy a great companion when choosing an Irish Setter.

An Irish Setter is best in a home where someone can spend time training the dog as a puppy, as well as in a home where there’s plenty of physical activity. If you have a yard and kids that have entered elementary or middle school (and that have plenty of time to run around and play), an Irish Setter might be your perfect fit.

Irish Setters can grow to be about 60 or 70 pounds, so are you choosing a much larger animal than if you opt for a Beagle or a smaller breed. But it’s hard to find a better friend than what you’ll get with an Irish Setter.

Is this breed right for you?

Choose an Irish Setter if …

… you and your family have energy to burn in making friends with a loyal dog.

Pass on an Irish Setter if …

… you don’t have a yard or it’s otherwise difficult to get outside and play.


4. Labrador Retriever

There’s a reason why dog parks, walking trails and homes with kids are filled with Labrador Retrievers. This is one of the smartest, sweetest breeds you’ll ever come across. There’s an issue with shedding, but the Labrador Retriever is nearly perfect outside of that.

Yes, Labrador Retrievers often come with a lot of energy and with a love of chaos, they take easily to children and also to any other pets you might have in your home. Labrador Retrievers also tend to be healthy, though you’ll want to provide plenty of exercise in order to keep their weight down.

Perhaps the best thing about Labrador Retrievers is that they simply love humans, adults and children alike. They are always out to please the people they live with, and you’ll find that the Labrador Retriever is among your best bets when looking for a dog the whole family will love.

Is this breed right for you?

Choose the Labrador Retriever if …

… you want a loving dog that will take quickly to any environment you throw him or her into.

Pass on the Labrador Retriever if …

… you can’t take the shedding or if you’d prefer a smaller dog for your family.


5. Rescue Mutt

Rescuing a dog is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Find a rescue mutt, and you may just secure a friend for life.

Make sure to talk to the workers at whatever shelter you visit to find a rescue dog. A mutt is a bit of a mystery. You won’t know for certain about shedding, typical behavior, allergies and other issues, because there’s no breed history to reference. The workers at shelters love their guests, though, and they can no doubt give you a rundown on your preferred rescue mutt when you identify him or her.

It’s a good idea to look for a mid-sized dog when browsing at the shelter. A small dog might get injured by overly playful children, and larger dogs can be hard to squeeze into your growing household.

Conventional wisdom holds that a dog breeder can give you a great dog. But dogs are just as unique as children. That is, you never truly know what you’re going to get. So visit your shelter, meet some available dogs, and take a risk by giving a rescue mutt a home.

Is this breed right for you?

Choose a rescue mutt if …

… the idea of giving a home to a dog in need makes you all warm and fuzzy.

Pass on a rescue mutt if …

… you prefer the relative certainty of knowing a dog’s breed and the tendencies that come with it.


What to Look for in a Dog Breed

Not interested in any of the dogs mentioned above? That’s just fine. There’s no shortage of breeds to consider when you’re looking for a dog for your kids. Here are 4 essential characteristics to look for, no matter what kind of dog you’re interested in:

  • Size: You may first think that a smaller dog will be easier to manage. But it’s best to look for mid-size or even larger breeds, as these dogs will be able to hold their own with kids who don’t know better than to poke and prod their pets.
  • Energy: One of the great things about getting a dog for your kids is that a pet can help them burn energy. You want to find a breed and a dog that is up for running and playing — in general, one that can keep up with your kids.
  • Intelligence: A dog should always be trained when kids are in the house, and some dogs are easier to train than others. Look for a breed and for a dog that’s going to be eager to please its owner and willing to listen to commands.
  • Temperament: Most important of all, look for a breed and for a dog that is incredibly friendly. You want a dog that’s not only friendly with your kids, but one that’s also friendly with your visitors. A friendly dog makes life so much easier.

In addition to these characteristics, come up with your own. You may want a dog that doesn’t shed or a breed that’s known for remarkable health. Use the characteristics above and your own personal wants and needs as a checklist when considering dog options.


Final Thoughts on the Best Dog Breeds for Kids

Here’s one last thought before you make your selection: You want a dog that’s going to love you and your kids, but you need to be prepared to give your dog a lot of love, too. Kids take up a lot of time and energy. Make sure you have some leftover to give your dog before you take him or her home with you.

Do you have a completely different dog breed that you would totally recommend for families? If so, let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message via our contact page.


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