Your friends and family probably think you’re nuts for wanting to get a dog when you already have your hands full with one or more small children. But you want your kids to reap the many proven benefits that dog ownership offers to pint-sized people, including teaching responsibility, compassion, and patience, encouraging a healthy, active lifestyle, helping to reduce childhood anxiety and boredom, and even strengthening your child’s immune system and helping to prevent allergies from developing later on.
But you have to get the right dog! Teeny weeny teacups probably aren’t ideal for little kids, who can easily injure them accidentally. On the other hand, humongous dogs generally aren’t the best choice either, as they can accidentally injure little kids.
Different dog breeds have different characteristics, and it’s essential to choose a breed that is gentle and patient with children and easy to train. Equally important is choosing a breed with exercise requirements that match the activity level of your family. Otherwise, you’ll likely rue the day you brought Fido home.
These are the top five dog breeds for families with little kids. Some have a high energy level, while others have a low energy level. Some make excellent watchdogs, while others will not only open the door for intruders but will also make them a nice cup of tea.
To ensure a happy, healthy relationship with your new dog, choose a breed that best meets your family’s lifestyle and personality.
Boxers are medium-sized, short-haired, high-energy dogs that weigh 60 to 70 pounds at maturity and have a typical lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
Playful, intelligent, alert, and fearless, boxers are extremely loyal and easy to train, and their patience and gentleness toward children are legendary. Boxers like to be near the family, so this isn’t a dog you’ll want to leave alone for the better part of the day. They also require a high level of daily exercise, which means you’ll have to walk him every day – running around the back yard won’t cut it for the boxer.
Be warned that boxers drool a lot, snore like your dear old grandpa and don’t mature until the age of three, which means you’ll have a puppy on your hands for three solid years.
Bulldogs are medium-sized, short-haired, low-energy dogs that weigh 40 to 50 pounds at maturity and have a typical lifespan of 8 to 12 years.
Bulldogs are very gentle and absolutely love children. They’re super thick, sturdy, and low to the ground, so if your twin boys are monsters when they’re all wound up, they will have a hard time doing any damage to a bulldog. Stubborn and lazy by nature, your bulldog may require some poking and prodding to get him motivated to go for a walk with you. And since he’ll overeat if given half a chance, he’s at a higher risk of becoming obese, making a regular walk very important.
Bulldogs can’t handle heat, humidity, or cold weather, making them indoor dogs. But you can set up a kiddie pool in the shade during the summer so that your bulldog can join the family in outdoor activities.
You might want to keep in mind that bulldogs are not only stubborn and lazy, but they also make all sorts of alarming noises that should give your kids an endless source of entertainment, from wheezing, snorting, and snoring to loud, lusty farting.
3. Standard Poodles
Standard poodles are medium-sized, medium-energy dogs that weigh between 45 and 70 pounds at maturity. They have a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Standard poodles don’t shed, which is good news for those who have allergies or hate to vacuum.
Standard poodles are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them very easy to train. And train your poodle you must, because otherwise he’ll find a way to create mischief and mayhem. Poodles are extremely friendly and loyal, and they’re patient with children. They need a little daily exercise and regular play to satisfy their curiosity and intelligence. Bored, untrained poodles can make your life a living hell, but a well-trained and properly exercised poodle has a calm disposition and makes a great companion for your kids.
Poodles need a lot of grooming, though. Daily brushing is essential for preventing matting, and their weepy eyes tend to stain their fur, so you might need to gently wipe your poodle’s eyes daily with a warm washcloth. A regular visit to a professional groomer every three to six weeks for a bath and haircut will keep your poodle clean and healthy.
2. Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are large, high-energy dogs that weigh 55 to 70 pounds at maturity. Their lifespan is typically 10 to 12 years.
Friendly, highly tolerant of the shenanigans of small children, and extremely loyal to his family, the golden retriever will remain sweet and calm as long as he gets at least an hour of hard exercise every day. Otherwise, he’ll get bored and restless, and there’s nothing worse for your furniture or your favorite pair of Manolo Blahniks than a bored, sedentary golden retriever. Giving your retriever a job will go a long way toward preventing boredom: he can fetch the paper, wake up the kids, or work on daily agility training.
Golden retrievers are notoriously gentle and trustworthy with little kids, although said kids may get accidentally knocked over a time or two during play. Retrievers love to play fetch (hence their name!) and can keep your kids active and entertained in the back yard while you enjoy some “me” time. But this isn’t a dog you can put out back all alone for an extended period. Retrievers need to be where the pack is.
You should know that golden retrievers are notorious shedders, especially during the spring and fall. You’ll need to invest in lint rollers and a good vacuum cleaner. Daily brushing will help keep shedding to a minimum, but a retriever’s minimum is still a goodly amount of fur by most standards. You should also know that golden retrievers are terrible watchdogs and will likely be happy to personally lead burglars straight to the loot.
Newfoundlands are large, strong working dogs that weigh between 100 and 150 pounds at maturity. They have a low to medium energy level, but need daily exercise and mental stimulation to ensure the highest level of health and happiness and the least amount of mischief.
Dubbed “nature’s nannies,” Newfoundlands are very sweet, gentle, and protective when it comes to children, and they have a history of making headlines for rescuing humans from various dangers.
Because they get so big, early training is essential for ensuring your Newfoundland maintains good manners as he grows. But due to his superior intelligence and willingness to work, training will be fairly easy.
Know, however, that there will be drool, and lots of it. There will also be moderate shedding, particularly in the spring and fall, but daily brushing can help keep it under control and well as remove all manner of dirt and debris that gets trapped in his thick, fluffy coat.