A close up picture of a dog with piercing eyes

Best dog breeds for families with young children

So you’ve decided to enlarge your family with a four-legged friend, but you have small children. Undoubtedly, security will be the priority, but you won’t want to limit your considerations to this aspect when choosing the newest member of your family. You’ll want a dog that will be a great playmate and above all a “best friend” for your children.

While dogs of any breed can be good with children, there are some traits that you may want to look for when selecting your new pet. Children, especially small ones, aren’t always tender, so you will want a dog that is steadfast and above all patient with your children, and a dog that isn’t easily annoyed with crying or loud and noisy running around. At the same time, you’ll want a pet with a reasonably high energy level. You won’t want a breed that can’t keep up with your kids. The perfect dog will match your family’s energy and lifestyle.

Man’s best friend is notoriously intelligent, but nonetheless, he or she should be trained. It is important that your dog understands simple commands, like “No” right from the start to ensure your children’s safety. All dogs have teeth and may bite when stressed. Young children should never be left alone with dogs without supervision. Children should be taught as well, how to behave with the family’s newest member.

Size should be taken into account when considering breeds. Some smaller dogs may tend to easily excite while a formidable looking large dog may actually be quite docile. If you have a spacious home with a good-sized outdoor space, and if your children enjoy roughhousing and outdoor play, you may want to opt for a larger breed. If your home is smaller and your children are “cuddlers”, a medium-to-small breed may be better suited to your lifestyle.

Whatever the breed, the most important characteristic that you will want to look for is friendliness. Although difficult to quantify, and with much depending on the individual animal, you will want to welcome a loving, affectionate dog into your family. If you decide on a purebred dog, you will want to do your homework. Research breeder reputations, talk to other dog owners and especially talk to your vet. Once you’ve chosen your breed, enquire at length about your new dog’s temperament and socialization with other dogs and other humans. Ask if the dog has had any interaction with children yet.

Here are a few dog breeds (of many!) that enjoy a good reputation of interacting with small children.

Larger Breeds

Labrador Retriever

A gentle giant, these intelligent dogs can easily reach 40 kgs., and have strength and stamina. They are known to be gentle and affectionate with a well-balanced temperament and they form strong bonds with their family members. Athletic, the Labrador loves water. They do need exercise, so if you have that outdoor space or the possibility of a daily run, this may be a good candidate for you.

Golden Retriever

This dog is well known as a service dog and it is innately patient. Slightly smaller than the Labrador, it is energetic and does enjoy play. This dog presents a happy disposition and is loyal and affectionate. As a pack breed, the Golden bonds with members of its family, making it a great dog for children.


The sociable Boxer is well known for its delightful and energetic personality. It is a muscular, people-oriented dog that needs space and exercise. Sometimes forgetting its size, it likes to jump. For this reason, training would be in order. Boxers are known to love children and be protective toward family members.

German Shepherd

This very popular dog is recognised for its intelligence and hard work. Known primarily as a police dog seen at airports or on patrol, they are born learners and are easily trained. This breed is very protective of home and family so security is an added plus. It does have a more playful side but should be trained.


Noted as a swimmer and a lifesaver, the Newfoundland is a natural babysitter. Considered one of the most intelligent dogs in the world, they are gentle, patient and love children. They have an acutely protective nature and are trained easily. More adapted to large outdoor spaces, they still prefer to stay close to the family whether indoors or outdoors. They shed and they drool, but these are relatively small inconveniences in comparison to everything they bring to the family and to children in particular.

Medium to Small Breeds


Remember Snoopy? Originally bred for hunting, this popular dog is a medium-to-small breed that is known to be particularly friendly. It is perfectly adaptable to family life, being a pack breed. Beagles are inquisitive, energetic and mischievous. And when intent on following their powerful noses, they can have a bit of a stubborn streak. Loquacious to a fault, beagles in your life are a recipe for fun and lots of it.


The sensitive but outgoing Bichon is on the smaller side, and this dog absolutely loves people. With an easygoing temperament, they do love to play. This dog, unlike other breeds, is a non-shedder and is hypoallergenic, so if your child has allergies, there’s no need to avoid a pet in the family.

Cavalier King Chares Spaniel

This is a smaller breed that doesn’t require as much exercise as some of the larger breeds. The Cavalier Kings enjoy pleasing their owner and have relaxed temperaments that make them ideal for children. They also usually do well in multi-pet households. This dog is a lover of cuddles and belly rubs.


Surprisingly enough, the poodle enters the best breeds for small children with full honours. Often misunderstood for its fashionable appearance and distinctive grooming, the poodle is an extremely intelligent dog. In the toy or miniature sizes, they require a good amount of exercise and are perfect for active children. Their fluffy appearance contributes to making them a favourite with the little ones as well. They are loyal, caring and responsive.

These are only a very few of the many dog breeds that can bring joy to your family and in particular to your children. However, when considering which four-legged friend to adopt, don’t forget to consider:


Mixed breed dogs are not to be underestimated. Depending on the mix, they have multiple breed characteristics and are often well balanced. When selecting a mutt, you embark on an act of goodwill and impart a lesson about social responsibility when caring for dogs. A medium-sized to a larger dog is preferable as they will be less sensitive to ear and tail pulls. You might just find the perfect furry match for your family at your local adoption centre.