Finding a dog that’s great with kids has little to do with breed and a great deal to do with temperament. Big dogs can be wonderful family dogs if they have gentle and tolerant dispositions. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:
Medium-sized dogs are preferable. Large dogs can unintentionally knock children over. Small dogs are more easily overwhelmed by noise and activity, and are more easily injured.
Avoid herding and guard dog breeds. Not a hard-and-fast rule. But herding breeds nip at the heels of creatures that run, and kids tend to run a lot. And guard dog breeds require advanced training and handling skills on their owners’ part to be safe dogs; they feature prominently in the statistics of serious bite incidents involving children.
Puppies are not ideal. We like to imagine puppies and kids frolicking together. In reality, it’s not an ideal match. Puppies chew on everything, including kids’ fingers and clothes, and can get far too boisterous when play gets wild. And children don’t yet have the patience, attention span, and consistency of behavior puppies need to grow up into well-behaved adult dogs.
Look For A Dog That:
What to avoid? Dogs with any type of anxiety, for the sake of both your children and the dog.
Before You Jump
Before getting a family dog, ask yourself whether your child is ready. You can read every breed book in the library, get a terrific family dog, and train and socialize him thoroughly, but if your child doesn’t have sufficient impulse control yet to interact appropriately with a dog then it’s better to wait.
A dog biting a child is a tragedy for everyone involved—don’t let it happen to your family.
A Last Word
Whichever dog you choose, remember that there’s no such thing as a completely child-safe dog. Always supervise dogs and children, however mellow the dog and however dog-savvy the child.