Updated November 29, 2020
When I wrote an article about reducing the risk of dogs biting children I avoided discussing the elephant in the room. It’s time to face facts.
The truth is that all dog breeds are not the same around kids. You know it, I know it, but it’s hard to talk about without offending dog owners. However, if I don’t create a list of good dogs with kids, where will responsible parents in Adelaide find that information?
This is not a criticism of some dog breeds
Just because a breed isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean they can’t be great with kids. 90% of dog breeds aren’t on the list and that includes my two dogs. I dearly love my dogs, I also have children, but both of my dogs could bite if pushed. That’s normal and it’s not their fault.
My aim is to avoid dogs being put in situations where they may hurt a child and their life be at risk.
I’ve made this list of suitable breeds by a long process of thinking about which dog breeds go better with children. I’ve been asking dog owners about their dogs and thinking about my own experiences. I’ve looked at the literature on dog bites in children.
This is not a no-bite guarantee
In the end, I’ve come up with a short list of dog breeds that seem more able to put up with what kids dish out without reacting. Every dog has the potential to bite and hurt a child. Read a whole page here on ways to reduce the risk of kids being bitten by dogs.
Kids can also get hurt by dogs without being bitten. I’ve included some very boisterous and fast breeds for the parents that don’t mind their kids being knocked over like skittles. Visit this page for the adult sizes of different dog breeds.
If the kids have allergies, read all about the best pets and breeds for allergies here.
Good Dog Breeds For Families
- Australian Shepherd (boisterous)
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Boston Terrier
- Boxer (boisterous)
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (& crosses)
- Finnish Lapphund
- French Bulldog
- German Short-haired Pointer (boisterous)
- Golden Retriever
- Hungarian Vizsla (boisterous)
- Labrador Retriever (boisterous)
- Pug (& crosses)
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
- Swedish Vallhund
- Tenterfield Terrier
Read more about each breed here. For all these dogs, choosing a good, well-bred dog is essential. Make sure you meet and spend time with both parents of a puppy if possible, and choose breeders who show a commitment to good breeding practises. You can learn more about choosing your ideal dog and finding the right breeder at our Ultimate new puppy guide.
Which Dog Breeds Are Healthiest?
These are all great dogs, but which ones are less likely to get sick? You can get an idea of the health of each breed by viewing the health insurance costs of different dog breeds or just ask us!
Of particular note are the flat-faced breeds: Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Pug and French Bulldog. Owners of these breeds can expect a higher rate of breathing problems and serious eye injuries.
Other options include rescued Greyhounds via the Greyhound Adoption Program. These are usually very placid and should have been assessed. Medium-sized crossbreeds are also usually good if properly assessed at a reputable dog shelter like the Animal Welfare League- read about the myth of the Staffy cross here.
Whichever breed you choose, remember that desexing males reduces aggression towards children.
What about the option of getting something easy like a rabbit instead? Here’s why you should think carefully before choosing a pet rabbit.
Of course, you will read that families with kids under six years old should not consider getting a new dog. That’s great in theory, but dog lovers aren’t likely to wait that long (I certainly didn’t) and even teenagers still do silly things. I hope this list can help parents of young children seeking a dog.
Related: Is A Pet Dog Good For Autism?
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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!