While breed, genetics, age and temperament can be a guide to the behavior and relationship you can expect from your new dog, these factors are no guarantee of a good dog, or a bad one, for a family with children.
For every “bad dogs for families” list that exists, there’s a family who will testify to these dogs’ wonderful nature with toddlers and older kids.
On the other hand, nearly every list will place golden retrievers and collies at the top of best breeds for families with children. Tell that to the countless goldens and collies in shelters because busy parents and kids didn’t have time to deal with the exuberance of a big dog with too little exercise, or the constant vacuuming required by a long-haired pet during shedding season.
The following list can serve as a guide for those types of dogs that generally don’t do well with small children. However, the most important part of choosing a pet for your family is to research the breed of dog you are considering (or the dominant breed, if it is a mixed breed) to ensure that your family is prepared for the time commitment and financial obligations the pet will require day after day for years to come.
When considering a dog for children, one of the first factors to consider is the dog’s size. While many large dogs are among the best breeds for older kids, some of these tend to get easily excited. Without training and socializing, they may jump on small children or be too much for a young child to handle on a leash. Some of these dogs require strong leadership skills in their human guardians, and may quickly overwhelm a child. While none of these breeds are “bad” dogs, they may not be among the best breeds for small children. These include the Akita, chow chow, Doberman, German shepherd, rottweiler, Dalmatian and many of the bully breeds.
Children and small dogs are the perfect fit, right? Wrong. According to Petfinder, which has helped to facilitate more than 13 million pet adoptions in less than 15 years, children younger than 7 are not usually suited for puppies younger than 5 months old, or for toy-size dogs. Puppies have sharp teeth and claws, and often unintentionally scratch, causing young children to become afraid of their new pets. Toy dogs are sensitive and delicate. They can easily be injured by rough handling, even if it’s accidental, and they are often more likely to bite than larger dogs. Among breeds that fall into this category are the Pekingese, Yorkshire terrier, shih tzu and toy poodle.
Some breeds tend to like to be top dog, even with their human guardians. These personalities make them extremely popular with those who understand the breeds. However, these dogs may not do well in families with children because young children are often incapable of showing the leadership these dogs need. These breeds tend to include the affenpinscher, Chihuahua, cocker spaniel, dachshund and Lhasa apso.