Choosing the best dog for your kids

It’s common to find the request for a dog on a birthday List, Christmas wish list, or good report card incentive list. Most parents want to hear the words “You’re the best mom/dad ever,” so getting a dog is definitely in the plans, but what is the best dog for your kids?

While having a pet teaches kids responsibility and provides companionship, please understand that any family pet is YOUR pet. No matter how sincerely your children promise to take complete care of a dog, it is a rare child who can remind consistent over many months and years. A pet is not a fad purchase that will go neglected or sent to the local shelter when the child becomes interested in some other “thing.”

So, if you’ve decided that YES, now is the time to bring home a new FAMILY dog, here are some thoughts on choosing the kind of dog that fits your children’s personalities. For example, if your kids like to play rough or run around outside, get a dog that has a sturdy build or is accustomed to being outside. (We strongly advocate that family dogs are NOT “yard dogs” but should be allowed inside your home as family members, especially whenever you are home) If your kids are in the house more, get a dog that doesn’t require much exercise and is comfortable with lounging around.

We recommend that you investigate local pet shelters for a dog that is right for your family. Mixed-breed mutts make awesome family pets. That said, here are a few breed characteristics that you might find in a mixed-breed dog or re-homed purebred dog.

  • BULLDOGS are known for their sturdy build and are therefore good for kids who like to play rough. Bulldogs get along well with children, other dogs, and other pets. They’re gentle and bond well with kids. Bulldogs do not need a lot of exercise and are suitable for living in an apartment without a lot of yard space. However, Bulldogs are not very energetic. They are very sensitive to heat and should get plenty of shade and water.
  • BEAGLES are very energetic and don’t tire easily so they’re great for kids who like to play outdoors. Beagles get along well with kids and other dogs because of their even temper and gentleness. Beagles are hard to train for new dog owners, and often follow their noses into mischief if not given daily activity. They also shed and need frequent bathing and brushing.
  • LABRADOR RETRIEVERS are the most popular dog breed in America. They tend to be athletic, playful, and good swimmers (although all dogs must be taught how to swim). Labradors get along great with children because they are kind and even-tempered. Labradors do have large appetites, so give them scheduled meals with measured portions, rather than allow them to free feed. They shed seasonally.
  • GOLDEN RETRIEVERS are loyal and gentle. They make great dogs for energetic kids because they require a lot of exercise. Goldens also very patient and intelligent and make a great dog for the blind and deaf. Since Golden Retrievers are eager to please, they are relatively easy to train. Like Labradors, Goldens get fat easily, so don’t free feed them. They also shed seasonally.
  • NEWFOUNDLANDS are “gentle giants,” averaging over 130 pounds. “Newfies” are great for kids because they are sweet, patient and calm. They know to be protective and are great swimmers. Even though they’re mellow, Newfoundlands need regular exercise. However, due to their size and strength, Newfoundlands are not recommended for small children because they can accidentally knock them over.

We wish you luck on choosing your family’s new companion. Remember not to rush into purchasing a pet for your kids, as owning a new dog will become a new responsibility for YOU!

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