Best Dogs for Families with Kids

I’ve been a dog guardian my whole life. And I’ve raised my two wonderful daughters alongside our dogs, Kea and Roxy. My children have learned so much about responsibility, empathy, and unconditional love from our dogs. I truly believe they are better people for it.

So, I know how important it is to choose the perfect dog for your family. My first piece of advice is that families with kids have more to think about when choosing a dog. You want to ensure your pets and children get along. The best dogs for families are the ones who love children!

The best dogs for families are the ones who love children

Choosing the perfect dog is about more than just seeing a cute puppy and taking them home. Dog parents need to consider that dog’s personality. You want to make sure the dog you choose is a perfect fit for your lifestyle.

To help you find a great family dog, I’ll share things to look for in a new pet. We’ll also explore some dog breeds that families commonly choose. Getting a dog is a big decision, so take your time when finding the right furry friend for you.

Is Your Family Ready for a Pet?

Dogs are adorable, there’s no doubt about that. Yet, no matter how much you love dogs, you should only get one if you’re ready. Pets are a lot of responsibility, especially if you already have children to look after.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if your family is ready for a new puppy or a dog:

Can You Afford a Dog?

The adoption fee is only a small portion of the cost associated with a dog. The average dog costs about $4,512 per year.

Consider the costs of supplies, food, and vet visits. It’s also a good idea to have some money set aside for medical emergencies.

Do You Have Enough Time?

Dogs can’t be left alone for more than a few hours at a time (or less for young puppies). They also need to be walked, played with, and trained regularly.

Is Now a Good Time?

If you’re in the middle of a big life change, such as moving to a new home or having a new kid, you might consider waiting before adopting a family pet.

Does Your Living Situation Allow Pets?

If you rent, double check your rental property’s pet restrictions. Also, make sure you have enough space for a dog to comfortably run around and play. For example, large, high energy dogs may not be good for apartments.

Will it Be Good for Your Pets and Children?

Consider your children and other pets when deciding to get another dog. Your current pets should be dog-friendly and your children should be comfortable around animals.

Older children are often better around pets than younger ones, but all ages should be taught to be respectful of the dog’s space.

Are You Willing to Work on Training?

All dogs benefit from regular training, especially puppies. Are you willing to work on daily training and seek help from professional trainers if needed?

Have You Done Your Research?

Familiarize yourself with common dog behaviors like body language so you can confidently introduce your canine companion to people and pets. Also, if you have your eye on a specific breed, such as a Golden Retriever, research that breed thoroughly.

Do You Have the Basic Supplies Ready?

It’s a good idea to get some supplies, such as a leash, collar, bed, crate, treats and bowls, before you bring a dog home.

How to Choose the Best Dog for Family Life

So, do you think you’re ready for a new dog? If you are, that’s great! If not, I respect your decision to wait. The right dog will find you at the right time.

To find the best family dogs, I recommend focusing on the dog’s personality, energy levels, and care requirements. The following factors can help you determine if the dog you’re interested in will fit into your lifestyle.

Time Commitment

A playful pup will need regular attention

Dogs need lots of time with you. Many families are drawn to puppies, but puppies need significantly more time with their humans than adult dogs do. Young puppies can only hold their bladders for an hour or two, so they need a guardian to take them outside regularly.

Many families also fall in love with the appearance of high energy breeds like an Australian Shepherd or a Siberian Husky. Yet, energetic dogs often need multiple hours of daily exercise. So, they’re best suited for highly active families or working roles.

Even if you can’t commit to constant potty breaks or hours of exercise, there are plenty of dogs you can choose from. Adult dogs and low energy dogs are often easier for families with kids. They can also be better for new dog parents to handle.

Space

Space can be important for certain breeds. Large or high energy dogs thrive if they have room to exercise and play. Those dogs may also benefit from having a fenced-in yard or a nearby park.

For city dwellers in an apartment, a big dog with lots of energy might not be the best choice. Also, if your home shares walls with your neighbors, you won’t want a highly vocal dog.

There are plenty of dogs, such as small breeds and senior dogs, that can do well in apartments. But, as always, it depends on the individual dog’s personality and behaviors.

Children’s Ages

In my experience, most children love dogs. But young kids might not understand a dog’s boundaries. Many small children love to hug and pick up any dogs they see, which is why puppies and the smallest dog breeds usually aren’t recommended for toddlers. Shy, nervous dogs are also best around adults and older kids only. Toddlers may be overwhelming for them.

If you have young kids in your home, choose a dog that’s laidback and easygoing. However, managing your kids is just as important as the dog’s behaviors. As a dog trainer, I believe it’s important for everyone in the family to understand the dog’s body language and work on dog training. By involving your kids in dog training, they can better understand the dog’s boundaries.

Cost

Do you have a specific budget for a new dog? All pups are expensive to an extent, but some have larger long-term costs than others. For example, it’s much more expensive to feed and groom a large breed dog than a small breed one.

Also, think about the dog’s medical needs. Young puppies often require more vaccines and checkups than older puppies or adult dogs, so keep those costs in mind. If a pup has certain medical conditions, make sure you can afford to pay for that on top of their routine care.

Personality

Always be sure to exercise your playful pup.

A dog’s personality is the biggest factor that defines a good family dog. Have your whole family meet a variety of dogs so you can see how each dog interacts with your kids.

Choose a dog that seems comfortable around your whole family (including other pets you may have). In return, make sure your kids are gentle and respect the dog’s boundaries.

It’s easy to fall in love with a dog’s looks. Yet, bringing home a cute dog to surprise your family isn’t always a good idea.

Knowing the dog will get along with your kids before bringing them home is the best way to set your new pet up for success. It can also reduce your stress by knowing some information about the dog’s personality beforehand.

Best Dogs for Families

Some breeds are more popular family dogs than others. Through my decades as a dog trainer, I have seen the following popular breeds mesh well with families and children.

Just remember that every dog has a unique personality and requires regular training. So, the breed shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when getting a family dog.

Golden Retriever

These are the quintessential family dog. Other dogs can be great family pets too, but golden retrievers live for children.

Golden Retrievers are known as a classic family dog because they’re generally friendly, affectionate, and intelligent. They’re usually great at adapting to new environments and learning new skills. There’s a reason the phrase “Golden Retriever energy” is used to describe individuals who are happy and loving.

As lovable as a Golden Retriever can be, they aren’t the best fit for every family. They’re big, they shed heavily, and they’re suited for an active family. Whoever adopts a Golden Retriever needs to have time in their schedule for long walks and regular grooming.

Size: Medium to Large (55-75 pounds, 21.5-24 inches tall)
Temperament: Friendly, Intelligent, Devoted
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are so good with children, they have even been called nanny dogs. Be prepared for heavy shedding with this dog.

Similar to the Golden Retriever in personality, this family breed has been the most popular in America for over a decade.

A Labrador Retriever has a thin coat rather than a dense double coat, so they may require less grooming. This breed still sheds heavily, though, so keep that in mind!

Size: Medium to Large (55-80 pounds, 21.5-24.5 inches tall)
Temperament: Friendly, Active, Outgoing
Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a wonderful pet for families with children because of their gentle and affectionate nature. These dogs are known for being friendly, patient, and eager to please. They make great playmates for kids.

Plus, their small size and sweet temperament make them easy to handle and a joy to have around the house.

Size: Small (13-18 pounds, 12-13 inches tall)
Temperament: Affectionate, Gentle, Graceful
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a great pet for families with children because they are playful and loving.

These fluffy dogs enjoy being with people and having fun. Their gentle and friendly nature makes them wonderful friends for kids.

Size: Small (12-18 pounds, 9.5-11.5 inches tall)
Temperament: Playful, Curious, Peppy
Life Expectancy: 14-15 years

Airedale Terrier

Because this dog sheds minimally, their grooming is more low maintenance. But no dog can go long periods without grooming.

An Airedale Terrier is often considered a “hypoallergenic dog” because they shed minimally (although all dogs shed to some extent). They often bond quickly with their family members, making them great companions for families with kids.

These dogs are highly intelligent, but they can sometimes be very independent. So, pet parents need to be patient when it comes to training. Like other dogs, Airedale Terriers benefit from several 1 minute training sessions throughout the day.

Size: Medium to Large (50-70 pounds, 21-23 inches tall)
Temperament: Friendly, Clever, Courageous
Life Expectancy: 11-14 years

Beagle

Because beagles are so vocal, they can make good guard dogs. It is important to spend time with your beagle.

Large dog breeds aren’t for everyone. Beagles are a small to medium sized dog breed that typically adore families with kids. They love just about everyone they meet, so it typically doesn’t take them long to warm up to new people.

Plus, they have moderate energy levels, so their exercise requirements are reasonable for the average family.

The main downside is that Beagles can be vocal velcro dogs, meaning they want to be by your side as much as possible. They may howl when they’re alone, so they’re best in houses rather than apartments.

Size: Small to Medium (20-30 pounds, 13-15 inches tall)
Temperament: Friendly, Curious, Merry
Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Mixed Breed

A playful pup can come in any shape or size. Just be mindful of common health issues like breathing difficulties in french bulldog puppies and other short-nosed breeds.

Sometimes, the best dog breeds for families aren’t purebreds at all. There are tons of mixed breeds up for adoption at rescues and shelters, many of which are easygoing and great with kids. If you don’t have a specific breed in mind, consider meeting a variety of rescue dogs to see which one your kids get along with best.

Regardless of the dog breed you choose, I recommend being patient and working on basic training to make the transition easier for your dog. Focus on positive reinforcement when training your dog, using treats and praise to reward them. I also recommend the TTouch, which is a method of praise that involves creating conscious circular movements on your dog’s body to help calm them.

Family Dogs Require Patience and Training

In all my years as a dog trainer, I’ve met countless dogs. I’ve seen that the best family dogs differ for every family. If you’re looking to adopt a dog, consider your schedule, financial situation, and home environment to decide which dog is best for you. Most importantly, make sure the dog you choose gets along well with your children.

As soon as you bring a dog home, start basic training. I recommend that all family members participate in training—even the kids! To help children understand dog training better, I’ve created a Fun, Fast, & Easy Dog Training Guide for Kids. It uses colorful illustrations and simple steps to discuss dog training in a way the whole family can understand.

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