Best Dog Breeds for Families with Small Children

Categories: Safety Tips

best breeds for families

Your family has reached a point where you are ready for an addition. Instead of another child coming into the house, you want a dog. Choosing a family dog is a big decision. It is not only about your preference, but your budget, accommodations, and the time investment you are willing to make.

Whether you plan to adopt a puppy or find a dog from a shelter, you want one that is a good breed for small children. One note, however, is that even a “good” breed can result in a dog bite – depending on how a prior owner raised the dog. Therefore, exercise caution if you are adopting from a shelter. Test the dog’s temperament around your children, and make sure they are a good fit.

Questions Philadelphia Families Should Ask Themselves before Getting a Dog

Before you look at breeds, you have a few questions to answer about your lifestyle and needs first.

How Old Are Your Children?

You might think if you have a toddler, a smaller dog would be better. However, most veterinarians agree that a larger dog would suit smaller children. You want a dog that can handle the bumps of a rambunctious toddler and not nip out of defense. Bigger dogs are built for rough-housing, while smaller dogs could get hurt if a child accidentally falls on them.

Your Housing Situation

Housing plays a significant role in deciding what breed of dog you can pick for your family. If you have a big backyard, you could go with an active, large breed dog. If you live downtown with a minimal yard (if any), you want a smaller dog that does not require the same activity.

Also, consider your ability to take your dog for a walk. If you do not have a backyard that is large enough for them to roam and play to get out their energy, will you have time to take them to a local park or for long walks?

How Much Time Will You Have?

Some dogs are needier when it comes to physical attention and mental exercise. Take a Jack Russell for example. They have plenty of energy and are great around children. But they also require a family who can keep them entertained or they may become destructive.

Also, consider the upkeep. Some dogs require extensive grooming, while others can get away with a bath or two every other week.

What Age of a Dog Do You Want?

While you might want a puppy, are you ready to take on that task? Puppies need to be housebroken, trained, and if you do not have the time investment for that, you may want to find a dog already past the puppy stage.

Have You Interviewed the Breeder or Met the Dog?

Regardless of the breed you pick, you must meet the breeder and the dog to decide. Meeting the breeder or shelter worker caring for the dog is essential. They can tell you about the dog’s living conditions, what the dog is accustomed to as far as food and lifestyle, and any special care needs the dog may have. Also, spend some time with the dog. Is he or she good with your child? Do they bark and nip?

The Best Breeds for Households with Children

Now that you know the questions to ask yourself to narrow them down, here are the breeds that are recommended for families with children of all ages. Consider this list, then use the questions above to help you narrow it down to a few breeds that work for your situation.

Golden Retrievers

Golden retrievers are energetic, friendly, and ranked as one of the most popular breeds in the United States – for a good reason. These dogs are highly intelligent, live to please their owners, and are easier to train than some other breeds.

Goldens are also kid-friendly and hardy when it comes to rougher play. A child can bump into a Golden without negative feedback, and they are still there to snuggle up with their friends at night. Golden Retrievers, especially pure breeds, can be very large dogs and they do have plenty of hair to share with your couch and clothes.

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers have shorter hair than Goldens, and they are sturdy, sweet, and trainable. They do not require as much brushing as Goldens but are slightly more energetic than Goldens too. Both breeds will need a big enough backyard to help them get out their energy.


Poodles can be the same size as Retrievers, but they carry the advantage of having no fur that sheds all over your house – therefore, they are allergy friendly. However, Poodles are high energy dogs that require more physical and mental exercise than Retrievers.

Certain Mixed Breeds

Do not assume you need a pure-bred dog to have a good dog. Some “mutt” breeds are just as good to have around the family. If you are going with a mix, stick to ones good for children like the Schnoodle. This is a Poodle and Schnauzer cross-breed. You can also investigate Labradoodles or Goldendoodles, which are Retrievers bred with Poodles. The advantage of these breeds are in the fact that you get the look of a Retriever, but the fur of a Poodle (which means no shedding).

If you are getting the mix from a shelter, ask if the caretakers do a temperament test first. This will tell you which temperament the dog inherited and how they will be at home.


If you are looking for something smaller, a Beagle might be the answer. Beagles are small hounds that look like the Foxhound breed. Originally bred for hunting, Beagles have a good deal of energy, obey well, and are still friendly with children. They are smaller. Therefore, your children will need to be gentler when playing.

Did a Dog injure your Child?

If your child was bitten or attacked by some else’s dog, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical costs and losses. Speak with an attorney today by calling me, Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. I understand how traumatic it can be for a dog, even one you know, to attack you or your child.

Owners have a responsibility to make sure their pets are safe and do not harm. I will ensure your family receives the compensation you need for medical costs, lost wages, and the emotional and physical suffering from that vicious attack.

Schedule a consultation with me today at 800-465-8795 (office), 215-771-0430 (cell), or contact me online to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.