Layne is an animal lover and grew up in a household full of rescued critters. She is a registered veterinary technician.
Worst Dog Breeds Around Children and Babies
When it comes to picking the right dog breed for your family, I always go for the argument of nurture over nature. I've seen just about every breed of dog act both wonderfully and poorly depending on how it was raised or socialized. If you have a family of small children—kids, toddlers, and babies alike—you might be wondering which dogs are safe to be around them and which ones might be dangerous.
Breed Size Matters
From determining energy level, care, activity requirements, size, aggression, herding instincts, and risk of bite injuries or attack, find out which breeds are riskier than others. While all dogs can be wonderful, including mixed-breed dogs, some breeds simply have the potential to do more damage than others even when provoked accidentally by a child. Sometimes this is simply due to size or instinct. Find out which breeds are potentially the most dangerous.
Train Your Kids
Part of your responsibility as a parent is to train your kids how to interact with dogs. Any dog breed can bite. Too often, children try to take toys away from dogs, tease dogs, or agitate them in other ways that provoke a bite. Respect animals and train your kids early.
1. Border Collie
Border Collies are brilliant dogs and they can actually be wonderful family companions if raised correctly and raised around children, but they also make one of the worst breeds to be around kids if they are not acclimated, exposed, trained, and supervised correctly.
Border Collies are bred to herd, and their herding instinct absolutely drives them, which is why they are such good workers and so diligent. Now, while that might sound like a good thing because you imagine them herding the baby away from the pool or keeping your kids in sight, this can come with the instinct to bite. I've seen far too many times that a Border Collie was "surrendered" to a shelter because it bit a kid that tried to take its dog toy or bit a baby's leg while running by in mid-air, etc. I love this breed but it is only recommended for experienced dog families.
Border Collie Herding Kids
2. Siberian Husky
Siberian Huskies are another incredible breed that I personally love and I have seen these dogs be fantastic in households with older children, but caution should be taken when having an adult Siberian Husky around babies and small children.
The reason this breed is not naturally good around kids is because it is very intelligent, and, therefore, quite skeptical. Huskies can be neophobic—skeptical of new things, weird movements, unpredictable noises, and most events that take place in a household with small kids. Huskies can totally be wonderful if they are raised around kids, but if you are looking to rescue an adult, you might find them to be incompatible with a busy household. Also, the larger the breed, the larger the bite, and bites can be unprovoked.
Akitas are wonderful protectors and have a long history of being a breed known for its noble, loyal qualities. They make great guard dogs and are fantastic to look at. That said, they are big and have a powerful jaw and a powerful grasp. They are also fairly stoic and don't often give warning to their motives.
Akitas have an incredible jaw capacity. They were bred as hunting and fighting dogs and do police and guard work. For that reason, they are quick to act in the ways they were bred for, and sometimes this can be misdirected at a small child or something that startles them. Due to their powerful nature, the damage, even when accidental (like a bit or nip) can be irreversible.
Again, the larger the breed, the more damaging the bite. In addition, Akitas demonstrate prey drive and may not do well around smaller animals. So, if you'd like to have a cat or hamster in your household some day, you are best passing on this breed.
4. Australian Cattle Dog
The Australian Cattle Dog (like the Border Collie) or Blue Heeler is known for its incredible work ethic, herding instinct, and high-energy. This breed is also known for being very "stiff," that is, it is confident and not often submissive. For that reason, it is often considered a bad breed to be around kids and babies due to its tendency to be possessive and nip.
Australian Cattle Dogs do not like to be handled. While I've met some sweet, cuddly, submissive Australian Cattle Dogs (rare!), they do not do well around children unless they were raised in the household as a pup and the kids were taught how to behave around them. This breed might be okay around older children (teens), but it really needs an experienced dog family.
In addition, these dogs are high-energy. They bark a lot, demand attention, and can destroy furniture and children's toys (they eat anything and everything when bored). Know that that makes for an expensive vet bill. They have an innate tendency to herd and nip and will do this to a crawling baby.
5. Chow Chow
Chow Chows are big, impressive dogs. They have incredible jaw strength and were bred to take down predators. Known as the "puffy lion dog," this is an elite breed from China that is all power and size. They are generally antisocial, aloof, and do not care for strangers, making them unpredictable.
Because the Chow Chow is a great protector, that means it is also skeptical of strangers and change. Households with children (small children, toddlers, and babies) often have a lot going on. If you can't watch your kids every minute playing on the floor with toys or crawling over to the doggy's bed, this breed is not for you.
It's often not the dog's fault when provoked, but a simple wrong move around this breed can cause an irreversible attack/bite, and if that were to happen to a small child, the wrong move could be fatal.
6. Alaskan Malamute
The Alaskan Malamute is a beautiful large breed dog with great strength and incredible endurance. It is known for being loyal, brave, and often playful and can approach nearly 100 pounds in weight.
Alaskan Malamutes are heavy-duty dogs, meaning they are bred for sledding, hunting, and can challenge a polar bear and other top predators. While in many cultures, children and Alaskan Malamutes are raised side by side and get along wonderfully for a lifetime, inexperienced dog owners will find trouble.
While this breed is friendly and majestic, one wrong move around a Malamute (with its sheer size), and you might be looking at a deadly bite. This dog is not recommended for first-time pet owners who are looking to leave the dog unsupervised around babies, toddlers, and small children.
Dalmations are the iconic hero breed of the firehouse and the fire engine, and they are a breed worth celebrating for its beautiful looks and noble qualities. These dogs can be sweet, incredible dogs and were re-popularized with the Disney movie 101 Dalmations.
Dalmations are harder and harder to find these days, and they have many noteworthy noble qualities. True to within their breed family, they have high prey drive, making them unsuitable around small animals (dogs and cats) and, therefore, small children in most cases. They do have a tendency to bite when provoked.
In addition, Dalmations are prone to inherited deafness. Deaf dogs have a difficult time sensing their surroundings and might accidentally bite by mistake due to limited sensory input from their environment.
Rottweilers are another breed that makes this list of worst dogs around children. Although they do make incredible family dogs and are loyal protectors, they can attack and bite with very little warning.
It's well known in the veterinary field that Rottweilers do not give warning right before biting. This breed will act absolutely composed and mellow right before they turn. It's important that if you are a Rottweiler fan that you know how to raise and train this breed. It's an incredible breed and makes for a good family dog, but doesn't do well around strangers and small animals.
If a breed does not do well around small animals, it is unlikely to do well around small children as well. This breed does not like strangers or unpredictability which can provoke its instinct, so consider another dog type unless you choose to raise a Rottweiler from a puppy.
9. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Chesapeake Bay Retrievers certainly have a wonderful look and a strong following of "Chessie" fans. Chessies are beautiful chocolate-brown dogs of the retriever family that are made to enjoy the outdoors—they make great adventure buddies.
Despite their similar look to other popular retrievers, this breed can have a much different temperament. They are known not to do well with unfamiliar dogs and may not be great around small animals (including cats). In addition, they can demonstrate aggression towards strangers and may snap unprovoked. They are also guardy of their toys and possessions, which puts a kid at risk if they accidentally walked up and took something away from the Chessie. This dog breed does well with experienced dog owners, older kids, and good training.
It might be surprising to see Chihuahuas on this list, but they actually make up a large percentage of unreported bites to humans on record. The reason they don't get reported (like the bites from larger breeds) is because of their smaller size. Chihuahuas are on this list of worst dogs for kids for two reasons: temperament and fragility.
This is a small breed dog making them unsuitable for rough play. If a child were to handle this breed inappropriately, the dog would get injured and even bite to protect itself. In addition, although Chihuahuas do make great family dogs and can often be trusted around babies and small children, they tend to get possessive and can be especially possessive around their owners. That means snuggling up on a couch can create tension and a reaction. Nonetheless, this is a very popular breed for families with small kids.
Other Breeds to Be Wary of That Might Be Dangerous
Again, the conversation goes back to nature vs. nature. Any breed can be great around children and any breed can be bad around children. The same goes for mixed-breed dogs. A few other breeds to be knowledgeable about include:
- Pit bull breeds: Pit bull breeds always make the list of most dangerous breeds, but they are mistakingly listed as one breed. Pit bulls make up a group of breeds, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier; these dogs are very sweet and get ruined by people. Unfortunately, too, when provoked, their sheer strength and size make their bite damaging and even deadly.
- German Shepherds and shepherds: Shepherds are incredibly smart but can be considered dangerous if they've been mistreated or untrained and are around children that do not understand dog behavior. Their sheer size can make them dangerous even though these are incredible family dogs and extremely smart.
- Fragile or small breeds: Fragile breeds like Italian Greyhounds and toy breeds need to be supervised around kids because they are at risk of being injured by rough play. It is not a dog's fault for protecting themselves or reacting when they experience pain, so if your kids are not trained to handle dogs kindly, they will hurt the dog. That means teaching your kids NOT to climb on dogs, which can be injurious to the dog. Dachshunds also make this list, as their backs are easily injured and they are often mishandled by even experienced owners.
- Rescues: Rescues make beautiful family dogs! As with any shelter dog, a responsible rescue will have temperament tested the dog, tried to collect a history on the dog, tried to identify its breed characteristics, and will have scheduled a meet and greet with you and your kids. If they haven't taken these steps, you might want to look elsewhere.
A reminder, never choose a dog by its looks. Choose a dog by how it will fit in with your family and lifestyle. Also consider reading about the 10 best dog breeds for families with kids. Good luck!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Layne Holmes
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 31, 2020:
Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree about the doxy. I lived with two sweet ones and also lived with one intact female that absolutely hated me and was very aggressive. I will always default to the argument that all breeds all dogs can be the worst but the larger breeds tend to do the most damage, unfortunately. Parents do need to educate their kids on how to act around dogs. Thanks for the read!
Dr Mark from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 31, 2020:
I saw the photo of a Doxy on there but the breed did not make the list. They are one type that bites kids a lot but does not get reported.
Interesting list, well done.
Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 30, 2020:
Hi Liz, thanks for reading. It is very sad. I've seen all breed types act angrily or aggressively, and oftentimes, it's because the children do not know how to be around dogs and the dogs were never trained how to be around children. Some of the sweetest breeds have attacked children as well. Pit bull breeds make the news a lot and some less common breeds not mentioned on this list, but the responsibility really falls on the owner and the parents.
Liz Westwood from UK on August 30, 2020:
This is a must read article for any parent who is thinking about dog ownership or even visiting somewhere that has these dog breeds. I still recall several serious injuries and deaths of children in the UK, caused by dogs, that have sadly featured in the news