20 Good Family Dog Breeds For Kids

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

  1. Australian Shepherd (boisterous)
  2. Beagle
  3. Bernese Mountain Dog
  4. Boston Terrier
  5. Boxer (boisterous)
  6. Brittany
  7. Bulldog
  8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (& crosses)
  9. Finnish Lapphund
  10. French Bulldog
  11. German Short-haired Pointer (boisterous)
  12. Golden Retriever
  13. Hungarian Vizsla (boisterous)
  14. Labrador Retriever (boisterous)
  15. Pug (& crosses)
  16. Shetland Sheepdog
  17. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  18. Swedish Vallhund
  19. Tenterfield Terrier
  20. Whippet

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?

pug eye injury
Young pug with conjunctival graft due to corneal ulceration

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 Breeds

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.

Other Species?

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?

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

2 Replies to “20 Good Family Dog Breeds For Kids”

  1. Totally agree with having a FULL understanding of the breed standard including its inmate disposition.

    For me, as you are aware I have owned, fully understand and manage a rare breed in Australia for nearly 25yrs now. You have grown to understand this breed also and the younger 2 love to visit their Dr. Spanner

    Nonetheless, what I am seeing at the moment, with absolute shock horror, is others with no or very limited background or full understanding of this breed now wanting one.

    This does come at a great financial price and the lack of these ignorant owners who have not researched fully the history or nature of the breed.

    As a result I have observed their lack of not knowing how the manage the breeds natural intelligence and ability to dominate due to their wolf like tendencies.

    Yes they can be a fantastic dog with children, however, both the dog and child must be supervised at all times especially during the dogs meals as they can and will bite due to food aggression tendencies – my 3 are feed separately at all times and I am constantly watching their body language signals to ensure I manage with love my dominance over them.

  2. It is really important for families to know what are the best dog breeds for kids. And with sharing this article, thank you.

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