What childhood is complete without at least one cherished canine companion? Most Americans grow up with at least one pet, and dogs tend to be well-loved (and, later, well-remembered) members of a child’s family. But, unfortunately, not all dogs are cut out for life with kids. There are exceptions within every breed, but here are the five types of dog that you’ll tend to want to avoid adopting if you have you have kids.
1. Collies: They Nip!
The collie is not one breed, but is instead a name given to any of dozens of herding dogs, most notably including the rough collie and the border collie. “Lassie” aside, collies are not ideal family pets. A collie’s tendency to “herd” children by following and nipping them can be very difficult to manage and can often get out of hand, leading to increasingly difficult behavior as the dogs try to control their unruly “sheep.” Although it’s possible to handle collies herding children, it’s a challenge that most kids and most parents aren’t equipped to handle.
2. Pit Bulls: A Bad Rap?
Like collies, pit bulls are not one breed, but any of several breeds with similar ancestry. And, like collies, pit bulls can be good around kids but require a lot of preparation and attention. Pit bulls certainly aren’t the bloodthirsty beasts that people fear– and the ASPCA even notes their history as “nursemaid’s dogs” or nanny dogs– but they remain among the most common dogs who attack children. This is for several reasons. One is that pit bulls are very likely to be abused, and a rescued pit bull may have an uncertain history and a tendency toward aggression. Another is that these dogs were bred to be incredibly strong and stubborn. Once a pit bull commits to biting a child or another dog, it’s not likely to stop until severe damage is done. Pit bulls and kids can peacefully coexist, but the dogs need extensive training and socialization to keep them safe around kids and other pets.
3. Dalmatians: Jumpy and Nervous
Despite the charm of those polka-dotted coats and their fame from movies like “101 Dalmatians,” Dalmatians are among the worst dogs to have around children because they’re prone to neurotic behavior and tend to be nervous and nippy. Since many Dalmatians suffer from hearing problems and poor vision, it can make a difficult temperament even more dangerous. And, despite their portrayal as cosmopolitan dogs, Dalmatians have very high energy levels and need to be walked constantly and given massive areas of space for running. A well-socialized Dalmatian whose owners have several acres of land might do just fine with kids, but a Dalmatian in an apartment with active children is a ticking time bomb.
4. Toy Breeds: Still Not Toys
“Toy” breeds like the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, and toy poodles might seem like ideal pets for families with young children, but they’re often not. These small, delicate dogs live in a world of giants, and even toddlers can look dangerous and intimidating to them. Toy breeds are also notorious for biting frequently when startled or upset, and, while a bite from a Chihuahua might not be as serious as a bite from a hundred-pound Rottweiler, it can still be painful and can pose a risk of infection. Tiny dogs are cute and may seem harmless, but they can be very sensitive and are likely to lash out when scared or hurt by a child.
5. Any Unneutered Male Dog
There is one type of dog that, by far, is responsible for almost all attacks on humans, including children. Unneutered males of all breeds are incredibly dangerous, accounting for over 92% of fatal attacks on humans. An unneutered male of a docile breed is still much more dangerous to children than a neutered male of an “aggressive” breed such as the pit bull terrier. No matter what breed or type of dog you get, make sure the dog has been neutered before allowing it around children. Unneutered male dogs belong exclusively in the hands of responsible breeders without kids– not in family homes.