“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France
There is plenty of compelling evidence in favor of kids growing up with dogs. Helping to care for a pet can teach children responsibility, patience and compassion. If you’ve been thinking of adding a dog to your family there is a lot to consider - age, size, energy level, grooming needs - and over 300 breeds from which to choose. With kids in the mix that choice can seem even more daunting so we’ve scoured the internet for info on what are considered the most kid-friendly dog breeds. Starting with...
When a Boxer is happy he doesn’t wag his tail, he wags his whole body! Boxers are bright, lively dogs who thrive on human company. They’re energetic, playful and especially protective of children. They have a ton of energy and do best with daily exercise but need little grooming (unless you count wiping up drool from their comically long tongues!)
Made famous by television's Lassie, the Collie is gentle, predictable and easy to train which makes it a good choice not just for families with children but for first time dog owners as well. They can be protective of their families but are generally mild-mannered and need less daily exercise than most other breeds to keep them happy. Their long, double coat needs regular grooming (bows optional.)
With their wrinkly faces and prominent under bites, Bulldogs might appear grouchy but are actually funny and incredibly affectionate dogs who tend to get along with everyone. Their sturdy build and docile nature makes them a great choice for families with children. They need less exercise than most of the dogs on this list, often preferring snoozing on the couch to going for a run and their short coat is relatively low-maintenance.
The Newfoundland is as big in sweetness as he is in size. These gentle giants have an ingrained love for children - in fact they’ve been called “nature’s babysitter” - and are very devoted to their humans. They’re excellent swimmers and their thick coats are well-suited for it. Although they tend to shed and drool, they make it up for it with loyalty and love.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terriers are fun, funny dogs with a solid build and a tolerant nature which makes them great with children of all ages. They’re happy to clown around with the kids in the back yard then snuggle up on the couch for some quality TV time. Their short coat is easy to care for and their winning smiles are sure to brighten your every day.
Beagles are the smallest dogs on the list but they’re full of personality and very sturdy for their size. They’re scent hounds who love to explore and can put on quite a show when they get to howling! They have a friendly and easy going nature and are always ready to play, which makes them a great family dog. They have a short flat coat that doesn’t often require more than a bath and a brush.
Golden Retrievers are gentle, patient and devoted which might be why they’re so often used as therapy and service dogs. These qualities are also what makes them one of the most popular family dogs. While bred for the outdoors, their preferred place is wherever their humans are. They are incredibly social and bond quickly with their people. Goldens shed all year round and need regular grooming to keep their coat looking great.
Irish Setters may be best known for their glossy, red coats. While they have a somewhat regal appearance, they tend to have clown-like personalities! They are active, playful dogs who love being around children and form deep bonds with their families. If they have any downside it’s that they don’t usually live as long as other breeds of their size.
Labrador Retrievers tend to get along with everyone they meet, which might be why they’re the number one most popular breed in the U.S. according to the American Kennel Club. Their intelligence and eagerness to please makes them easy and fun to train. They love learning new tricks and showing off! They need plenty of exercise (swimming is a good choice, as they’re very at home in the water.) Whichever coat color you go with - yellow, black or chocolate - you’ll need to brush them weekly.
If you’ve never heard of the Vizsla you’re not alone but many owners of this breed will tell you “once you go Vizsla you never go back.” Although they could be considered high needs (they’re called “velcro dogs” because they want to be attached to their people all the time) they can be well worth the investment. They’re gentle, affectionate and very loyal. Their high energy makes them a good dog for active families with older children.
Remember no matter how tolerant a dog is, interactions between small children and dogs should always be supervised and all children should be taught the appropriate way to handle dogs.
Of course you'll want to thoroughly research any breed you're considering, as well as potential breeders. But don't discount adoption! A surprising number of shelter pets are purebred. You can see a current album of animals available at city shelter on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page (updated every Tuesday) and there are breed-specific rescues for almost any breed you can think of. A good place to start is Petfinder, which lets you search by breed and location.