When you envision your ideal family dog, you probably imagine an animal that interacts equally well with both children and adults. You certainly can't risk adopting a dog breed known for aggressive tendencies, for instance. Fortunately, there are many kid-friendly dog breeds worth considering. Let's look at the basic traits of a kid-friendly dog and some representative breeds.
What Makes a Dog "Kid-Friendly?"
Humans have traditionally bred dogs to hunt, work, protect the home, and serve as adorable companions. While companion dog breeds frequently make great choices for kids, dogs in other categories can also display a patient, gentle, loving disposition around children -- and that's the main quality to look for.
Many dogs are wonderful with children but not always predictable in their behavior around other breeds. We've steered away from those dog breeds for the purposes of this list simply because you don't want your dog to make trouble for your child during a walk through the local dog park. Giant breeds like Great Danes love kids but can accidentally knock them over, so let's exclude them as well for safety's sake.
The lovable English Bulldog may look tough due to its bulky muscular build and exposed lower teeth, but in reality it's a kind, sedate dog that would rather play or sleep than fight. Regular walks can help the English Bulldog stay trim and healthy, but it doesn't need lots of exercise. Your kids can groom this breed relatively easily, although Bulldogs do need some extra cleaning to keep their wrinkled skin from harboring infections.
The French Bulldog is basically a smaller, leaner version of its English Bulldog cousin. This pint-sized dog sports wrinkly facial features, bat-like upright ears, and a flat nose which can interfere with its ability to stay cool. (Make sure your kids know not to let their Frenchie overexert itself in hot weather.) French Bulldogs tend to be smart, trainable, and relatively quiet. They can and do shed, so you may get quite a bit of hair off them during grooming sessions.
Any Snoopy fan will associate beagles with children, and rightly so. This energetic dog can be rather vocal, a trait that may help it keep the bad guys away from your home. With its family members and friends, however, it's a cheerful, happy breed that does well in training. The Beagle's quest for constant exploration and need for regular exercise makes it a good match for equally-active kids in need of an indefatigable playmate.
The Golden Retriever enjoys a sterling reputation as a family dog that loves kids and adults alike. This breed exhibits infinite patience and a stable, good-natured temperament. Its high intelligence and natural tendency toward obedience make it easy to train and manage. But Golden Retrievers also love to play and have fun -- a good thing, since this breed requires plenty of exercise. Your family will need to brush and groom your golden retriever periodically to keep that glossy golden coat looking its best.
King Charles Cavalier Spaniel
The King Charles Cavalier Spaniel can prove to be an ideal family pet. Its kind-hearted disposition spurs it to make friends with humans of all ages as well as other pets.This smart, eager-to-please animal readily responds to training, while its compact size makes it easy to carry along with you on family adventures. If you have very small or easily-started children, you'll also appreciate the fact that the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel doesn't bark much.
The fully little white ball of cuteness better known as the Bichon Frise offers all the qualities you want in a kid-friendly dog in addition to its sheer cuteness. This small breed feels equally at home in a large family home or a small apartment, meaning that it will happily scale up with you as your family grows. Better yet, the Bichon Frise counts as a relatively hypoallergenic dog, so if your little ones (or you) suffer from pet hair and dander allergies, this pet will literally seem like a breath of fresh air. Just brush its coat daily, referring it to a professional groomer if mats develop.
Although the Cocker Spaniel's non-aggressive personality may discount it as a family watchdog, that same quality also makes it a wonderful companion for children. This small, intelligent dog radiates happiness, gentleness, and patience. This breed does require regular exercise, but its ability to stay endlessly entertained by the same activities means that it's always up for a run, walk, or flying-disc practice session. Cocker Spaniels also show great sensitivity to their humans' emotional states. Just be prepared to provide regular brushing and grooming.
Choose Your Family Dog With Care
While the breeds listed above generally do well in households with children, remember that you're selecting an individual dog with its own unique personality. Try to spend some time with a prospective pet so you can sense how it will interact with your family members. Don't hesitate to adopt a loving, even-tempered "mutt" or mixed breed if that dog is clearly a match made in heaven for you and your kids. Whichever dog you end up choosing, you should have good luck as long as you give it the proper training and socialization, tend to its health and wellness needs, and provide it with a loving home.
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