When it comes to choosing the dog that’s the right fit for a family with kids, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The perfect pooch depends on a number of factors, not least of which are your child’s age and activity level and the size of your family home. Knowing which dog is right for your family also means taking into consideration grooming, exercise and supervision needs unique to each breed.
Here are this contributor’s top 10 best overall dogs for kids:
10. Shelter Mutt: The advantages of adopting a shelter dog include feeling great about saving a life– and saving money. Your child’s new best friend will be forever grateful for the second change you’ve given it, and you’ll also be helping support your local shelter’s life-saving work. While adopting from a shelter is a noble act, there are potential downsides, including potential health and behavioral problems due to past trauma, abuse and neglect.
9. Irish Setter: These high energy sporting dogs love to run, so be sure to give them plenty of space and daily exercise. They’re a lively, and quite vocal, breed, and oh-so friendly. They can be prone to eye, stomach, hip and leg problems, especially later in life. Regular brushing and grooming is a must.
8. French Bulldog: These adorable dogs seem to be everywhere lately, and for good reason. They’re friendly, have great personalities and are pretty easy to maintain. On the flip side, they’re an expensive breed, they tend toward the stubborn side (they are bulldogs, after all) and are prone to allergies.
7. Boxer: Here’s another high-energy breed with great personality and die-hard loyalty. Boxers are confident, loving, protective and great for kids. They do require lots of exercise, and they shed more than their short coats would indicate. They are prone to heart and hip problems, especially in their later years.
6. Pug: These popular pooches are mellow, clean and adapt well to a variety of situations. They may be a little too sedentary for some kids, but they’re natural-born clowns and get along well with other animals. The downside to pugs is that they can be difficult to housebreak, they can’t tolerate really high temperatures, they shed a lot and they snore like buzz saws.
5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: These loyal lapdogs are obedient, agile and intelligent. They love playing with kids. But you’ll have to brush daily to avoid matting and tangling, and clean those ears regularly or they could become infected. Eye, heart and hip problems are fairly common.
4. Labrador Retriever: They’re large and they need lots of space to live and play. They’re also very intelligent and highly social. Loyalty and love abound from these quintessential family dogs. A Labrador Retriever will be your kid’s– and maybe your– best friend. They can be prone to hip dysplasia.
3. Golden Retriever: This perennial family favorite was bred for bird hunting, so be prepared to provide plenty of outdoor exercise. Their sunny, patient disposition and fierce loyalty make them great companions for kids. They do shed copiously and must be brushed and groomed often. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Goldens, which live around 11-12 years, on average.
2. Beagle: The iconic Beagle was popular long before Snoopy became the most famous dog in America. And for good reason– they’re wonderfully affectionate family pets that love cuddling and following you around your home. But they can be quite stubborn, they howl like monkeys and they’re known to bolt. Still, the regal Beagle ranks at or near the top of most “best breeds for kids” lists.
1. Havanese: These delightful dogs were virtually unknown until about a decade ago, but they’ve quickly become a favorite of city-dwelling families with children. That’s because the Havanese positively brims with personality, cheer and intelligence. They’re also hypoallergenic and shed-free. The downside is that eye, leg and liver problems are not uncommon.