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Watching children at play with a much-loved dog is wonderful to see, and contact with a pet helps kids grow into loving, caring young people. But not all dogs have a reliable temperament, especially around youngsters, and when considering getting a new dog you should choose with care.
The perfect dog must be even-tempered whether he’s being dressed up as a fairy or having his tail pulled. He should be robust enough to cope with family life, and ideally not need much grooming. From a Havanese who would flourish in an apartment to an energetic Labrador, here are five family-friendly breeds for you to consider.
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This little chap has a lot in common with a teddy bear. He is adorable in looks and as even-tempered as a cuddly toy. The breed has a reputation for being laid back and few things phase a well-reared Havanese. Growing up to 12lbs in weight, they are small but sturdy, and what they lack in size they make up for in character.
Havanese are sociable dogs who love children and company. However, this can be a disadvantage in that they dislike being left alone for long periods of time. Another drawback to this otherwise perfect fellow is his long coat. Havanese have a long double coat that requires regular grooming to prevent it from knotting.
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
What’s not to love about these engaging spaniels? Their large, child-like eyes, appealing nature and gentle character make them adorable in all respects. They are immensely tolerant and will soak up whatever attention comes their way with a tolerant wag of the tail.
Cavaliers would undoubtedly head this list of ideal family dogs if it wasn’t for their health problems. Sadly, intensive breeding has led to a predisposition for a number of potentially serious conditions. These include heart disease, syringomyelia (a condition where the brain is too large to fit in the skull cavity), and disc disease. Obviously, not all Cavaliers have these problems but the risk of a beloved pet becoming ill is higher than for other breeds.
3. Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terriers originated as herding dogs in Tibet and although they rarely grow above 16 inches tall, they are lively, energetic dogs that can keep pace with larger breeds. Folklore has it that to Tibetan Terriers bring good luck to the owner and it’s easy to understand why because these delightful dogs are amiable, affectionate and gentle.
Their ancestry as working dogs means they are sometimes reserved with strangers, but this rarely shows itself as aggression. Again, if the Tibetan has a drawback it is long coat which requires regular grooming or can be clipped short.
2. Springer Spaniel
This medium-sized dog is another breed with a reputation for tolerance and sweet-temper. They are highly intelligent and bizarrely like playing in water; a Springer is never happier than when sitting in a stream or bucket of water! This is a good choice for older children because a Springer loves to be active and will tire most children out.
It could be said that the Spring Spaniel is a dog without disadvantages since they have sweetness, loyalty and endurance in spadesful. The most obvious disadvantage is their need for exercise means they are not suitable for apartment life.
1. Labrador Retrievers
No post about family-friendly dogs would be complete with mentioning the Labrador. They adore human company and love to be told what to do. The biggest risk they pose is licking you too much and their short coat need little care. Labradors are very loyal and readily accept new family additions as part of the pack and protect them.
The disadvantage of Labradors is that they can be over-enthusiastic and accidentally knock small children over. Another potential issue is that they are greedy and like to eat things they shouldn’t such as toys, and so children need to be careful about what they leave lying around.
There are exceptions to every rule but these five breeds start ahead of the pack with their reputations for patience, affection and reliable temper. However, no matter what breed you chose, remember a dog is not a toy and needs time, attention and training to become the perfect family companion.