Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Looking for the perfect dog for your family? Look no further! These five kid-friendly dog breeds have the perfect temperaments for life with a family.
The Top 5 Dogs That Are Good With Kids
- Golden Retriever
- Miniature Schnauzer
- West Highland Terrier
1. Golden Retriever
This breed of dog is actually known for its sweet disposition. Not all of them will be as sweet as they are famous for, of course, but if you find a reliable breeder and select a “kid” puppy, you can have a dog on your hand that is willing to please, at all costs!
This dog was originally bred to work in the water, and their calm personalities have come about as pleasant side effects. They are so nice, in fact, that they will not even work as guard dogs. They are rarely nervous or timid and will follow their kids anywhere.
Goldens are rated fourth in The Intelligence of Dogs. They are pretty easy to train since they really seem to want to please their owners, and they are usually good in agility competitions or working as rescue dogs and guide dogs. If you can handle a big dog but not a giant, this is an excellent choice for the family and the kids.
This giant of a dog has become famous because of his calm attitude and mellow nature. He is strong, like a lot of giant breed dogs, but he's good around the house and can put up with almost any kid.
(You have to be very careful with small kids, though, as this dog may knock them down without even realizing it.)
Newfies have a short life expectancy, like many other giant dogs, usually only about 8 to 10 years. They have some health problems, like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and heart disease. If you don't mind a dog that is going to go swimming with your kids and come into the house dripping and covered in mud, this breed is an excellent choice. Every kid should grow up with a dog like a Newfie. He might even save one of your kids someday!
This is not a good breed to select if there are little kids in the family as they can be rambunctious and knock a kid down out of joy. It wouldn’t be out of meanness, however. If you have older kids, especially the energetic types that don't want to sit around and watch old sitcoms and game shows, this is a great choice.
The Weimaraner is athletic and will keep your kids hopping. He is not a giant like a Newfie but is still a pretty big dog, in the 60–80 pound range. He has a short coat, so he does not require any special grooming; if your kids want to take him for winter activities, he needs to wear a coat, and don't forget the ear muffs and mittens.
During more mild days, he can compete in agility competitions, obedience trials, and any other activities you can think of. Just make sure that the entire family is willing to train him, and make sure the kids are going to keep him busy.
If you avoid some of the things that lead to bloat (like feeding him huge meals, feeding him only once a day, or feeding him from a raised bowl), this active breed of dog is a great pet and really likes kids.
4. Miniature Schnauzer
This dog has a lot going for him. He does not shed much, so as long as he is groomed regularly, he can even be kept in a household with a picky type who doesn’t like dog hair. The dogs can serve as watch dogs since they are always on the alert, but they are usually more interested in barking than biting. As with all dogs, you should have a good breeder evaluate the personality before you bring it home, but most of them will do well with kids in the household.
Older kids will enjoy life with a Miniature Schnauzer because they can compete in agility trials, tracking trials, and even flyball competitions. They like to sleep, of course, but have enough energy to keep your kids busy and active. In fact, if you are searching for an easy-to-care-for watch dog that will play with your kids, this breed of dog is a great choice.
5. West Highland Terrier
This is the only very small dog on the list. I realize that a lot of families that are looking for dogs need a small breed to live in their homes or apartments, but most of the small dogs are not really suited for small children. The Westie, in my experience, makes a great exception to the rule, but many others will only recommend this dog for children over ten years of age.
If you decide to find a dog from this breed, make sure you have a long discussion with the kids. All dog breeds can be hurt if the child gets too rambunctious, but this is a lot more likely to happen with a smaller breed like the Westie. Don't let it happen with your dog. She is a cute little animal and a great companion but will not put up with having her ears and tail pulled.
Your Westie might have some health problems, and some conditions can be aggravated by rough handling. If you handle her correctly, though, and make sure she has plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, this breed of dog can have a long life span and will love to spend all of that time with the kids.
More Articles to Help You Choose Your Next Dog
- 7 Best Small Dog Breeds for an Apartment
Are you thinking about getting a dog but need a breed that will fit into your apartment? These dogs are all great and can do well in a small area.
- Five Great Dog Breeds That Don't Shed (Much)
See photos, videos and important information about five dog breeds that don't shed very much. You might need to groom them and you might need to train them, but all of them are great pets.
- The Five Best Powerfully Active Breeds for Athletic Dog Owners
Pictures and videos of the Vizsla and four other active dogs that will keep you off the couch.
- Five Dog Breeds That Don't Bark, Much
About any dog will bark, but this is a list of dogs that bark less. If your dog is barking a lot, read articles to decrease barking, or discuss the problem with a good dog trainer.
Questions & Answers
Question: My 11-year-old grandson is severely autistic and nonverbal. I’m looking for a medium to large size puppy. He is a sweet child. He knows to throw his iPad if he gets upset. He also wears shoes with braces on his legs which help him to walk. We are looking for a companion dog for both him and his single mother, who is very lonely. Can you help me with suggestions?
Answer: A lot of dog breeds do well with autistic kids. Dogs do not require verbal communication and often can establish a bond when the rest of us cannot.
To determine what breed would be best, I think you need to look at other factors. Are they in an apartment or a house? Is barking a big issue?
I would not recommend anything small like a Maltese or Chihuahua because of your comment about throwing his iPad. A medium sized dog would be best, preferably something affectionate that will want to lie around with him.
A Brittany would be great if there is enough space. The Cavalier and the Bichon are also good choices.
Just look into other requirements. Many dogs will be happy to be his companion.
© 2012 Dr Mark
Jim young on May 16, 2019:
When I took my golden around a child that was autistic, my dog focused on the child and the child changed. I didn’t notice it but the mother of the child did, she said to me you’re going to have to leave your dog because my child has changed, then she pointed it out and I could see it. I told her she was going to have to buy her a golden.
bookpaw on March 30, 2018:
i love my boxers
Heidis mom on October 08, 2016:
You missed one with the Standard Poodle. Smart, playful, engaging, empathetic, sociable and even temperment. We have had ours since the grandchildren were small and she knew exactly what was too much around each age. Whisper kisses on babies faces and big licks on the grown ups. She loves kids, other dogs and anyone who will look into her eyes, scratch her ears and throw a ball. The breeder bred for temperment not show quality but boy, is she pretty!
lex on July 08, 2015:
We got our Westie right before I turned 12. I'm 24 now and he is still trucking. I could not have had a better dog growing up. Energetic enough that we could go on long walks and play for ours in the yard, but then turn around and spend a rainy day snuggled together watching movies. Super affectionate and friendly to everyone. A bit of a watchdog, he does like to bark. Also he is sure he is a big dog, his best friend is a lab and he does not realize he is smaller. I miss him everyday now that I no longer live at home and I recommend Westies to everyone.
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 08, 2013:
It reflects my snooty French ancestry.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 08, 2013:
A lot of people disagree on the Westie. Like you saw with the Newfie, however, almost everyone agrees with that dog.
Thanks for commenting. I got a good laugh when I noticed your handle!!!
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 08, 2013:
I agree with most of your dog comments. As a letter carrier I believe I have developed a fairly accurate "sixth sense" about dogs. I met my first Newfoundland just the other day and although they are huge dogs they do have a gentle personality. I have been told that Schnauzers are very protective animals. The only slight disagreement I would take with you is on the West Highland Terrier. They are a little bit too high strung for my taste. Good hub!
Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on May 04, 2013:
I was planning of buying a dog for my kids. Your hub has helped me a lot in it. I loved the Miniature Schnauzer. It’s very cute. Interesting hub.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 18, 2013:
I remember the bio you wrote. You are fortunate, a special little dog.
Mary Craig from New York on February 18, 2013:
Believe it or not I have a Min Pin that is great with everybody. My son is married and doesn't live at home but we fell in love with his dog anyway. My little Min Pin used to bully him.
Have a good week!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 17, 2013:
Hi Mary sorry to hear about your St. Bernard. They are great dogs but just don't live long enough. I hope you find another that is good with your grandson.
Thanks for coming by and voting.
Mary Craig from New York on February 17, 2013:
This was a very helpful hub. My son's St. Bernard just passed away and we miss him terribly. He was wonderful with my 3 yr. old grandson and any other little ones that happened around him. Gentle giants are often a surprise.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 11, 2012:
Hi Barb thanks for the great Newfie comments! A really great dog.
Barbara Anne Helberg from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA on October 11, 2012:
@DrMark1961...Thanks so much for sharing this information that includes the Newfie as a great dog for kids! It's true! People too many times think, small child, small dog, and the fact is, some smaller breeds just aren't suited to little children.
I had a Newfie, Ebony, who passed away in 2009, and I still miss her loads and loads. She loved to swim and was wonderful with small children and had almost a nursemaid attitute toward them. One of the best bonding breeds is a Newfie. And, yes, they will pull everyone out of the pool!
Animal Planet also lists the Newfie as a great dog for children.
Your photos are terrific!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 21, 2012:
Jaye that sounds really special. I am sure there are people out there who will disagree with the Min Schnauzer on this list, so your comment really makes a good point.
wetnosedogs, I dont think ANYONE is going to disagree about the Golden. I have heard of a few angry dogs but most of them are just like the dog that belonged to your son. My dog is like your crew, fine around kids--I´m sure she likes it when things quiet down and she can go back to her normal routine, though.
Thank you both for coming by and commenting!
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on September 21, 2012:
My mini Schnauzer loves my great-grandchildren, and gets very happy when they come to visit. One of my fondest memories is of my g-granddaughter, Gabriella, when she was about three years old. She was gently hand-feeding my dog tiny bits of treat by hand. She had no fear of her fingers being grazed by teeth in the transition, and it was a precious sight. Wish I'd gotten it on video....
Very good hub, with info that anyone with children (or grandchildren) should consider before getting a pet.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on September 20, 2012:
I voted golden retriever though kids are grown now. But my son got an eight year old golden retriever-the owner couldn't keep her no more. My son took her and loved that dog. When she died, he was crushed, although she only lived about 2 more years.
Although my dogs are not the breeds you hubbed about, they are ok with kids. When the family comes to visit and there's grandbabies yelling and crawling around, the dogs are fine. When they have had enough, they find their places for peace. They are well behaved for not always being around kids so much.