The 10 Best Dogs for Children
10 Great Dogs for Kids
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
The Bulldog is a medium-sized breed of dog known for its muscular appearance, and wrinkly face. Standing at 12 to 16 inches tall, and weighing nearly 50 pounds (fully mature), the Bulldog possesses a chest that is “broad and deep” along with front legs that are “set wide apart” (Palika, 178). The Bulldog also comes in a variety of colors, including white, red, and brown (usually a mixture of these color tones).
Bulldogs and Kids
Despite their tough appearance, the Bulldog is one of the most popular pets in the world and is well-known for its even-temper, loyalty, calmness, and kindness (akc.org). For these reasons, the Bulldog makes for an excellent pet (particularly for families with children), as the dog is known to form close bonds with kids.
According to experts, “living with Bulldogs can be a challenge,” as they require extensive exercise to prevent obesity (a major problem with this breed). The dog is also known to snore, grumble, and drool more than most canines, and are prone to breathing and reproductive problems as they age (Palika, 178). Nevertheless, these dogs are quite “affectionate with children,” showing great patience towards the smallest of kids (Palika, 178).
The Pug is a relatively small breed of dog known for their distinct heads, dark eyes, and rambunctiousness. Believed to have originated in China nearly 2,000 years ago, the Pug is one of the “largest of the toy breeds,” reaching nearly 11 inches tall, and approximately 14 to 18 pounds when grown. The Pug also comes in a variety of colors, including silver, apricot-fawn, and black (Palika, 332).
Similar to the Bulldog, the Pug is considered a “brachycephalic breed,” referring to its incredibly small muzzle. Combined with its wrinkled skin and face, the Pug is often prone to breathing difficulties, particularly in old age, during hot/humid weather, or after hard exercise. For this reason, owners are warned to closely monitor their Pug for signs of distress or over-exertion to prevent long-term injuries.
Pugs and Kids
As with all of the dogs on this list, the Pug is well-suited for children as they are considered “friendly, playful extroverts” by many dog experts (Palika, 333). Pugs also love games and are capable of learning a wide array of tricks. Because of their sweet and gentle nature, Pugs get along with most pets, including cats. Due to their small size, however, parents and caregivers should closely monitor smaller children as rough handling can cause serious injuries for the dog (perhaps permanent).
The Beagle is a relatively small breed of dog known for their droopy ears, tremendous sense of smell, and lovable nature. Beagles reach heights of nearly 15 inches and weigh between 15 to 30 pounds. They come in a variety of colors, including red, tan, or black (often a mixture of the three), and possess a short coat that sheds on occasion. Bred in England (long before the Roman era), the Beagle’s original purpose was to aid hunting parties as they scouted out potential food. Today, the Beagle continues to be a popular choice for hunters due to their remarkable ability to track down various scents.
Beagles and Kids
Aside from their tracking abilities, the Beagle is also great for children due to its sturdiness, and sweet nature. As a dog well-suited for walking miles at a time (particularly during hunting expeditions), the Beagle is capable of keeping pace with the most active of children. Despite their independent nature (and stubbornness), the Beagle also makes for a great companion and enjoys both attention and affection from its owner. Although they are known to live upwards of 15 years, it should be noted that Beagles are prone to a variety of illnesses, including seizures, hypothyroidism, reproductive issues, and hip dysplasia (Palika, 143).
The Collie is a relatively large breed of dog that originated in Scotland during the early 1800s. Originally bred for herding sheep and cattle, the Collie is now considered a popular pet option due to their intelligence, companionship, loyalty, and fondness of children. The Collie is known to reach heights of 22 to 26 inches and can weigh upwards of 75 pounds (with females weighing far less than their male counterparts). The dog also possesses a long, dense coat that comes in a variety of colors, including white, sable, blue merle, and white (Palika, 208).
Collies and Kids
Collies are excellent dogs for families and make great companions for children of all ages due to their gentleness and abundance of energy. Kids will also appreciate the Collie’s natural love for games, as the dog enjoys endless rounds of fetch or catch. As a highly observant and alert breed, the Collie is also extremely protective of its family, barking to alert their owners to the slightest disturbance. It should be noted, however, that Collies are well-known for their herding instincts. As a result, obedience training is crucial at an early age to prevent the dog from trying to herd your children (an amusing trait that can also become problematic over the long-term).
The Newfoundland is a large breed of dog believed to have originated in Canada. Reaching heights of 26 to 28 inches tall, and weighing upwards of 150 pounds, the Newfoundland is a massive dog breed and is well-known for its intelligence, industrious spirit, gentleness, and love of the water. This beautiful dog comes in a variety of colors, including black, brown, gray, black, and white. As a relatively long-haired breed, the Newfoundland requires weekly brushing to prevent excessive shedding and tangles.
Newfoundlands and Kids
Due to its gentle and sweet nature, the Newfoundland is also a great choice for households with children, as the dog loves the extra attention and affection offered by kids. In fact, the Newfoundland is often referred to as “Nature’s Babysitter,” due to its sweet disposition and protective instincts with children (petmd.com). As a result, these dogs make for great companions and are known to form close bonds with individuals of all ages.
Despite their large size (and relative laziness), the Newfoundland is also highly trainable due to its remarkable intelligence and responds positively to games and commands. While the Newfoundland requires “large open spaces,” due to its large size, it should be noted that these dogs are best-suited for the indoors, as they desire one-on-one attention rather than independence (petmd.com).
The Vizsla is a medium-sized dog believed to have originated in Central Europe nearly 1,000 years ago, and are well-known for their intelligence, sensitivity, friendliness, and superb hunting qualities. The Vizsla reaches a height of approximately 21 to 24 inches and can weigh upwards of 65 pounds upon reaching full maturity. They are also well-known for their short, but dense coat that can be best described as “golden rust” (Palika, 379).
Vizslas and Kids
Vizslas are highly-energetic dogs that require vigorous exercise on a daily basis. Combined with their playfulness and sweet nature, the Vizsla is an excellent dog breed for children as it loves both attention and affection from its owners. Despite their energetic and “lively disposition,” the Vizsla is also quite gentle and sensitive (petmd.com). For this reason, the dog is suitable for children of all ages and is known to form strong bonds with their family. As a highly intelligent breed, the Vizsla is also very trainable and is capable of learning new tricks with ease (making it a perfect dog for games of fetch).
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”— Josh Billings
4. Irish Setter
Irish Setter Characteristics
The Irish Setter is a beautiful dog breed believed to have originated in Ireland during the early 1800s, and is well-known for their tracking abilities, playfulness, intelligence, and silliness (Palika, 266). The dog is a relatively large breed, reaching nearly 27 inches in height, and approximately 70 pounds in weight during adulthood. They possess a gorgeous coat (medium-length) that can be described as either red or copper in color; a feature that makes regular grooming a must for this particular breed.
Irish Setters and Kids
Similar to the Vizsla, the Irish Setter requires vigorous exercise on a daily basis due to their abundance of energy. The dog is also remarkably bright and needs regular mental stimulation to keep its mind active and busy. Failure to do so often results in destructive behaviors (such as chewing), as the Irish Setter attempts to provide entertainment for itself. For these reasons, the dog makes for an excellent addition to homes with children, as the Setter loves playtime, affection, and various games of fetch or catch.
Similar to many of the dogs on this list, the Irish Setter hates to be alone and enjoys being “surrounded by their loved ones” (petmd.com). As a result, individuals considering an Irish Setter for their home should make every attempt to provide both a loving and attentive environment to this particular breed.
The Poodle is a medium-sized dog breed that is believed to have originated in Central Europe and is well-known for its intelligence (currently ranked as the second smartest dog in the world), obedience, and friendliness. The Poodle comes in three varieties, including the standard, toy, and miniature. Standard Poodles are the largest of the group and reach approximately 27 inches tall, and nearly 75 pounds at adulthood. Perhaps one of the most unique characteristics of the dog is its fluffy, curly coat that comes in a variety of colors. While beautiful, the dog requires regular brushing (every other day) to prevent matting.
Poodles and Kids
Poodles are remarkably calm-natured and friendly, making them popular breeds for children and families, alike. Similar to the Irish Setter and Vizsla, Poodles also require vigorous exercise on a daily basis, as well as mental stimulation to keep them out of trouble. Failure to provide these basic needs often results in destructive behaviors, such as excessive chewing. For this reason, Poodles are great for children who enjoy playtime and the outdoors, as kids are often capable of matching the Poodle's energy levels and physical needs.
2. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever Characteristics
The Labrador Retriever, also known affectionately as the “Lab,” is a relatively large breed of dog known for their intelligence, affection, gentleness (particularly with kids), and companionship qualities. Although little is known about the Lab’s origins, it is believed that modern-day retrievers were first bred during the 1880s in England. The dog is known to reach nearly 24 inches tall and weighs approximately 80 pounds at adulthood. Labs also come in a variety of colors, including yellow, black, or red. Due to their remarkable intelligence and capacity for learning, the Labrador Retriever is easily trainable, and has long been a favorite of police and rescue crews around the world due to their adaptability.
Labrador Retrievers and Kids
As a gentle, even-tempered, and affectionate dog, the Lab is considered one of the best dogs available for households with kids. Labs quickly bond with children of all ages, as they love the extra attention (and affection) given by smaller kids. They are also highly trainable, and love endless games of fetch or catch with their loved ones. Owners should take note, however, that the Lab is remarkably energetic (particularly during its early years of life). Without adequate exercise or attention, Labs often engage in destructive behaviors to entertain themselves.
1. Golden Retriever
Golden Retriever Characteristics
The Golden Retriever is a medium-sized dog that was first developed in Great Britain during the mid-1800s and is known for its loyalty, affection, gentleness, and intelligence (Palika, 252). For this reason, Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world (particularly in the United States), as they are excellent companions to both children and adults, alike. The dog is known to reach heights of approximately 24 inches and can weigh upwards of 80 pounds as it reaches adulthood. As their name implies, Golden Retrievers are primarily gold in color with some dogs being darker (or lighter) than others depending on age.
Golden Retrievers and Kids
The Golden Retriever is largely considered the best family dog in the world due to its playfulness and gentle demeanor. As a highly energetic breed that requires daily exercise, the Golden Retriever is also known for its love of games and toys (in particular, frisbees and balls). The dog is also highly obedient and affectionate and does well with kids of all ages. Due to its long (and relatively thick) coat, owners should take note that regular brushings (at least twice a week) are needed to prevent matting. Due to their love of human contact and attention, Golden Retrievers are also best-suited for the indoors.
Do you agree that the Golden Retriever is a great dog for children?
Suggestions for Further Reading
- Morgan, Diane. Complete Guide to Dog Breeds: Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Right Dog for You. Neptune City, New Jersey: TFH Publications, 2014.
- The American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. 20th Edition. New York, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006.
- Coile, Caroline. The Dog Breed Bible: Descriptions and Photos of Every Breed Recognized by the AKC. Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series, 2007.
- Mehus-Roe, Kristin. Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog. Irvine, California: Bowtie Press, 2005.
- Palika, Liz. The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, 2007.
- PetMD. “Best Dogs for Families.” PetMD, October 19, 2018.
© 2019 Larry Slawson