Deciding to add a dog to your young family is exciting, but it’s important to carefully consider which breed will fit your lifestyle. While all dogs have wonderful qualities, some adapt better to living with children. When choosing the right dog for your family, it’s essential to factor in energy levels, size, temperament and any special care or training requirements. To help you find your perfect pooch, here are the four best dog breeds for families with younger children.
1. Labrador Retriever
Topping nearly every list of family-friendly dogs, the eager-to-please Labrador Retriever has long been the UK’s most popular pedigree breed. Labs are medium-large, ranging from 55 to 80 pounds, but they think they’re lapdogs and love being around kids. Labs are friendly, gentle, intelligent and take quickly to training. They also need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to prevent destructive behavior or obesity. Choosing a Lab means committing to daily walks and playtime, but it rewards you with a wonderful companion.
A lab is a wonderful pet for foster children, too, but if you are fostering with an agency like Fostering People, bear in mind that some children have allergies and your home might not be suitable for them if you have a dog.
For a smaller dog loaded with personality, you can’t go wrong with a Beagle. Happy and affectionate indoor companions, Beagles get along splendidly with children while staying under 30 pounds. This breed is smart, amusing, energetic and always ready for adventure. However, their determination and curious noses require secure gardens. Beagles should never be left off lead in unfenced areas. Early socialisation and obedience training are musts for this breed to thrive in a household with kids. But if you put in the effort, Beagles make wonderful loyal family pets.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was historically bred as a lapdog for nobility, but don’t let their royal heritage fool you – this breed still loves roughhousing and playtime. Gentle, happy and eager to please, the Cavalier mixes low-shedding grooming requirements with a moderate activity level, making it a great choice when adding a dog to a young family. Cavaliers thrive on constant companionship, so they excel in households where someone is usually home. Just be aware that their sweet nature makes them shy away from discipline or scolding. But if positive reinforcement training methods are used, the Cavalier is an ideal breed for first-time dog owners with kids.
4. Golden Retriever
Consistently found among the top family dogs year after year, the friendly Golden Retriever lives up to its name by being eager to please and always up for playtime. Goldens are active, loving and patient with even the youngest kids. Easy to train and incredibly intelligent, this popular breed ranges from 55 to 75 pounds fully grown. Goldens require daily exercise – but then they’re always ready to lounge by your feet at home. Just be prepared for lots of hair with a moderate to heavy shedding coat. As an adaptable breed happy to go where the action is, Golden Retrievers make wonderful companions for active families.
Finding the right dog breed for your family is a big commitment, but also tremendously rewarding. While every dog’s temperament is unique, picking an established family-friendly breed can set you up for success. If you’re willing to meet their needs for exercise, training and affection, any one of these top breeds has the potential to become your kid’s beloved best friend for years to come.