What Are the Most Child-Friendly Dog Breeds?
Considering adding a four-legged family member to your brood? Once you answer the question of, “Should we get a dog?”, the runner-up tends to be, “What kind?” You’ll roll through a mental list of the ones that made impressions on you: the cute ones, the sweet ones, the frisbee whizzes. Then you’ll realize there’s more to be considered, and you’ll ask perhaps the most important question of all: What breed is the most child-friendly? But then again, what does “child-friendly” mean to you? Does that mean you want a cuddly canine? Does that mean you want a calm breed? Does that mean you want your pup to have as much energy as your kids so they’ll both tire each other out? Surely, you want your family to feel safe. But you might also want a dog with a specific demeanor, one that’s low-maintenance, or the best doggo for beginners.
Spoiler alert: just as there is no one best dog, there is no one most child-friendly dog. That’s because there are so many factors to consider. Understanding that dog personalities are as unique as the humans whose homes they’ll inhabit is the key to finding a proper match. Yes, there are breeds that are known for being friendlier, but with many families opting for rescue dogs, what you’re more likely to encounter is a multi-breed dog (a.k.a. a mutt) with traits that are either all over the map or unpredictable. Considerations around your new family member should factor everything from personality type, energy level, child-friendliness, shedding tendencies, allergies, and trainability to size, barking levels, life expectancy, and exercise requirements.
Because every single dog is unique, there are some basic tenets to adhere to, regardless of breed. First, you’ll want to make sure each family member meets the specific dog that will be coming home with you before she actually crosses your threshold. Second, and perhaps even more crucial, is making sure that each person in your family—children especially—is familiar and comfortable with the commands being used to train your dog. Something that often gets overlooked to a new pet parent is the need to train everyone how to train her! Consistency in training will save the day and so will learning how to interpret her needs. Knowing when your pup needs space, TLC, or a walk can make adjusting to a dog a lot smoother, no matter the breed.
If you get a dog from a shelter, an added bonus is that the shelter staff will have plenty of information to share with you about what makes him thrive. They'll let you know who among their dogs is good with children, who’s a yapper, who’s quiet, and who’s mysterious. They’ll probably even be able to tell you who among your picks excels at foraging for dropped dinner (hint: most). For these reasons, a good old-fashioned mixed-breed can be your safest bet.
If, however, your heart is set on a pure breed or you’re uncomfortable with the idea of potential grey areas, there are plenty of polls out there ranking fan favorites. Surprisingly, the mutt comes in first place in some polls, but a close second finds golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, and bulldogs as contenders. It becomes a bit murkier around third and fourth places, where other factors come into play, though it’s there you’ll find beagles, dachshunds, poodles, French bulldogs, and a variety of terriers. If you’re not seeing the breed you love on this list, fret not. Just like true love, there is no one hard-and-fast rule around who will be your ultimate. Just ask devoted parents of pitties (the affectionate term for Pit Bulls)!
If you like to exercise and want a running buddy, you probably won't want to get a bulldog. If you want a frisbee champion, you might not end up with a papillon (if your family wants a small snuggler, though, you very well could!). Need your rowdy kids rounded up? You’ll all benefit from a herding dog like a collie or an Australian shepherd. If allergies are prevalent, you’ll want a dog with hair in lieu of fur, like most poodle or “doodle” mixes.
Ultimately, any breed can theoretically be easy, calm, safe, and low maintenance with the right training. And training can be used to teach the dog everything from how to behave, to stop barking, and where to go and not go. The Wagz Freedom Smart Dog Collar is the only GPS and training collar that uses 100% humane no-shock corrections for your dog so that you can make sure your pup is treated well while she’s learning to be good. (Note that the Wagz Freedom Collar is for dogs 15 pounds and larger.) Breeds have inherent behavior traits, but training is the key to making sure whichever dog you bring home works with your family.
At the end of the day, it’s the behavior of the pet parent that will best determine long-term compatibility, but learning about breed traits can certainly help. If you’re a go-with-your-gut kind of gang, start there. And for the researchers out there, sticking with the stats is the tried-and-true path to your pawmate.