Top 10 Dogs Good With Children Part I

Over the years I’ve had many people ask me the question: “Are there specific breeds of dogs that are good with children?” I have often heard that regardless of breed most dogs raised with children along with proper training can learn to be a wonderful childhood companion. However, depending on your specific child(ren) some dog breeds may be betters suited then others.

Dog Scoring System

How did I compile my Top 10 Dogs Good With Children list. A good majority comes from the internet, but I wanted my list to be at least slightly different from everyone else’s top 10 list so I’m going to grade each dog in 5 kid-friendly categories:

  1. Energy Level (excitability) – You don’t want a dog that is too excitable and knocks down your child.
  2. Size - Small dogs may be too fragile while a large breed of dog may not know it’s own strength/size and injure a child.
  3. Temperament - You don’t want your dog to be the dominant member of the family.
  4. Intelligence (trainability) - Highly trainable is ideal.
  5. Intangibles - Any special trait that either helps or hurts the dogs desirability.

Each dog will receive a subjective score between 1 and 10 in each category. The best overall score a dog can receive is a 50 and the lowest score is a 5.

Choosing The Breeds

You may be wondering how I chose this wonderful list of 10 dog breeds who are good with children. Well my first step was to research the many sites on the internet that already have lists of dogs who are good with children. Of course depending on which site you visit there is a lot of variation. I took all the breeds and narrowed it down to 50 by eliminating several hybrid breeds like Labradoodle and Goldendoodle. Next, I took out any dog that wasn’t in the AKC’s top 100 list (just a way to narrow the list so I wouldn’t have as many dogs to evaluate – also it’s more difficult to find information on the more rare breeds). That left me with 38 candidates and with those 38 remaining breeds I made my own subjective scores using the following information.

Dog Rating Categories
CATEGORY 1-3pts. 4-6pt. 7-10pts.
Energy Level High Medium-High Low-Medium
Size <10lbs or >100lbs 10-25lbs or 50-100lbs 25-50lbs
Temperament Dominant Balanced Submissive
Intelligence Low (<50) Medium (25-50) High (top 25)
Intangibles Negative traits Even Positive traits

***The Disclaimer – This is my personal opinion. Please do your own due diligence when searching for a breed of dog. The personality of a dog is often influenced by several factors including line, breeder, and owner more so than the actual breed of the dog. This list does not imply that all other dog breeds are unsuitable for children. Individual dogs may not show all or any of the traits associated with the breed. Puppy training, socialization with children, education, line, breeder, and living conditions with the family will all heavily influence your dogs personality.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…the list or Top 10 Dogs Good With Children:

Top 10 Dogs Good With Children 6-10

Lets get this party started with the…

Number 10 – Bulldog

Bulldogs

The Bulldog is the first dog on our list coming in at number 10. The positives I saw in the Bulldog were it’s lower energy and sturdy size. Sturdy size is nice with kids who can often be a little rough when learning to interact with a dog. Some of the negatives with this dog were their trainability and common health issues with the breed. From Wikipedia:

The temperament of the Bulldog is generally docile, friendly and gregarious but are known to be fiercely loyal.

I’ve never personally known any Bulldogs

I have heard they are great dogs and tend not to leave the yard without their owners. The most exposure I’ve actually had to a Bulldog is on the MTV show Rob and Big and their dog Meaty.

UPDATE – one of my co-workers brought his Bulldog puppy to the office for the past couple years.  He was docile and robust, but he did get skin irritation between the folds around his face.  My co-worker often mentioned he frequently had to clean these areas to keep moisture out.

Energy Level: 9
Size: 9
Temperament: 8
Intelligence: 3
Intangibles: 5.1
TOTAL: 34.1

Number 9 – German Shepherd

German Shepherds

The German Shepherd comes in at number 9. This is a very versatile dog and has been used as police, search and rescue, guide, and therapy dogs. From Wikipedia:

Direct, fearless, eager, alert, bold, cheerful, obedient, eager to learn, loyal, courageous, calmly confident, serious, protective

Of course I have a special place in my heart for the German Shepherd. I fostered GSD puppies and the GSD breed makes up 15% of the dogs bred at Guide Dogs of America.

UPDATE – I love German Shepherds, but after being around them for the past 5+ years I have noticed their fierce loyalty to their owners and often times suspicion towards strangers.  Make sure you work hard on your training and socialization if you decide a GSD is for you.

Energy Level: 3
Size: 5
Temperament: 7
Intelligence: 10
Intangibles: 10
TOTAL: 35

Number 8 – Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniels

At number 8 we have the Brittany Spaniel. The Brittany is a nice sized dog at 30-40lbs big enough to rough house with the kids, but still not too large to be overbearing. This dog is also said to be very good with strangers and other animals. From Wikipedia:

The breed is noted for being easy to train, sensitive, and sweet-natured

Another breed I’ve had recent contact with at puppy class.  Red was a Brittany Spaniel in our dog obedience training and he was a wonderful dog. One thing I did notice was how alert the Brittany was to the birds flying overhead.

Energy Level: 2
Size: 10
Temperament: 9
Intelligence: 8
Intangibles: 6.1
TOTAL: 35.1

Number 7 – Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzers

At number 7 is the Miniature Schnauzer. This dog is said to recognize the need to be gentle with children, but does require a lot of attention. From Wikipedia:

Very perky, bright-eyed, loving, intelligent, energetic, affectionate, obedient, playful, happy, alert, feisty (Temperament can be quite variable)

A good friend of mine was taking care of a Miniature Schnauzer. The dog seemed very confident and easy going. He did like being dominant over my Aussie mix Linus. From what I could see the Miniature Schnauzer seemed like a great dog, but might be a little small and fragile for some children.

Energy Level: 8
Size: 4
Temperament: 7
Intelligence: 9
Intangibles: 7.2
TOTAL: 35.2

Number 6 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel…what a regal name…comes in at number 6. The two drawbacks I saw from online research is the small size and only average intelligence. From Wikipedia:

The breed is highly affectionate, and some have called them”the ultimate lap dog” Most dogs of the breed are playful, extremely patient and eager to please. As such, dogs of the breed are usually good with children and other dogs.

Another dog I’ve been in close contact with recently. Another friend did extensive research looking for a good family dog and came up with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Their dog is very docile and easy going. The only time I saw him truly excited was when he got a chance to get on your lap. One funny thing I saw this dog do was try to catch the embers from a fire we were having in the backyard…probably not the best thing for the dogs mouth.

UPDATE – sad news on our friends Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  He passed away, but lived a wonderful life with his family and was well loved.  I wish the life expectancy of dogs was longer, but unfortunately the average for this breed is about just over 10 years.

Energy Level: 10
Size: 4
Temperament: 9
Intelligence: 4
Intangibles: 8.3
TOTAL: 35.3

Here’s a link to the second part of this series on Top 10 Dogs Good With Children.

What do you think about the first five dogs on our list?

Comments

    • Wolfie says

      Smaller dogs have been shown to be less tolerant with small children, as the dogs are more fragile. Most breed guides suggest that smaller dogs go to families with older children.

  1. Rose says

    PITBULLS ARE THE BEST FAMILY DOGS! I dont care what anyone says. They are amazingly loving, funny and loyal….and very protective of their family. I have 3 young kids and our Pit is their best friend! They have a bad rep because of ignorant and selfish people and its a shame!

    • Wolfie says

      The problem is that pitbulls were, and still are sometimes, used as fighting dogs. Your pitbull might be super friendly, but not all are. Most of the “dangerous breeds” are breeds that are not meant for inexperienced or first time dog owners. Unfortunately, most places don’t test owners to see if they can handle the dog. Personally, I don’t really have a lot of experience in owning/handling a dog. I would not feel comfortable with a dog breed that has been known to become aggressive without an experienced/alpha owner. So, when I got a dog, I went with a rescue that fosters the dogs, no shelter. That way, I could get a dog that I could handle.

  2. CLAUDIA says

    PEOPLE STOP SAYING THAT SHEPEREDS R BAD FOR KIDS MY AUNT HAS A SHEPERED AND ITS GRATE WITH ME AND I AM A KID SO HAHA I WIN

    • Wolfie says

      Not a good idea. If somebody wants to give you a puppy for free, they are probably not an experienced breeder or something is wrong with the dog. Better to go with a rescue that fosters dogs in homes or with an experienced breeder. The dog won’t be cheap, but you can be assured that you are getting a decent dog. And many rescues and breeders will take the dog back if you can’t handle it.

  3. Natasha says

    As a vet, I found this a very interesting post and have a few comments to make.
    First I wanted to touch on the topic of the German shepherds tendency towards aggression. In my 9 years of practise, this is the only large breed of dog that I have been bitten by (on several occasions). I’m not trying to give this breed any negative connotations nor steer people away from them, just make them aware of where their personality truly lies. The german shepherd is very intelligent dog with a very active mind. This often leads people to think that the training will also come easy. Wrong. Although intelligent, this breed is also dominant and if not socialized and trained properly, can turn into a very rangy, destructive and aggressive dog. The breed may understand and catch on to simple commands such as “sit” rather quickly, but may prove to be more of a challenge on commands such as recall or others that require them thinking of YOU as the one in charge. I find it a pity that this dog is often turned to as a basic household companion when it is really much more then that. It requires a sturdy hand, a mental challenge and lots of physical activity to keep it at ease. I have seen so many cases of rehoming/ potential euthanasia’s due to owners not getting what they expect out of this dog. Bottom line, there are two major stereotypes with the German shepherd. A) Its an aggressive menace or B) Its a wonderful and smart family dog, which is why organizations like the police use it! The truth is actually somewhere in the middle. The German shepherd is used in police forces as it is both a powerful and intelligent breed, that, with the PROPER and intensive training, is a loyal and reliable guardian. However, when taken into the homes of those who don’t plan on having to do much training/and activity with the dog because the dog is “supposed to be smart,” they tend turn destructive and aggressive out of frustration. ( alas, I also want to say, that there are always abnormalities, like those who will say “I have owned many GSD and all were simply calm and amazing!” or ” We had a GSD once and no matter what we tried, he was out to get us!” and this is just like saying ” jack has smoked his whole life and lived to be 105 and never got cancer!” or ” Ashley started smoking and got cancer a month later!” I’m just trying to make a fair and general statement so that this, and many other breeds like it, wind up in the right homes. Thus, happy owner, happy pet.)

    In saying that, this is also true for many other “intelligent/dominant” type dogs such as northern breeds( siberian husky, malamute), Doberman pinschers, akita Inu’s, Heelers, jack russel ect.

    As far as the bulldog, cavalier and miniature schnauzer go, they are all predisposed to some very significant health issues and I really push potential owners knowledge of this and suggest purchasing pet insurance along with your new furry friend.

    In my opinion, some of the best dogs for homes with children (based on a generally balanced disposition ( aka low bite probability) and fair trainability) would be; The Newfoundland Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Brittany Spaniel, Samoyed, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, labrador retriever.

    I believe the key thing to remember is, that as long as your willing to put the effort in, and have knowledge of the breeds general disposition and needs, everything will go smooth. If your are not active and don’t want to put much training in, choose a dog appropriate. Remember this is their life too, and they look up to you as their guardians. A dog is not a toy.

  4. Natasha says

    I also forgot to add the Nova Scotia Duck tolling retriever as, in my opinion, a good dog for families with children.

  5. says

    So just cause a dog bits doesn’t mean its from owner. It can bed from cross breeding are bad blood line some where down the road. People think doberman is not a good family dog. I have a 120 lb male. He is 7 years old and great family pet. Him and my 7 yr old girl are great friends. I also have a 3 lb chihuahua and 5 lb yorkie he is very gental with. But as puppy and young dog he was put around lots of ppl by doing walks with him and riding in back of truck he loves doing.

  6. says

    I don’t think you can really say any one breed is better with children than another, it all depends on the individual dog. It pretty much depends genetics and how the dogs are raised. I have seen the most gentle pit bulls and the most viscious Labs and Goldens. I have seen very gentle tolerant Pomeranians and German Shepards as well as viscious types of the same breed. I have been working with rescue dogs for close to 30 years now and I have been attacked and bitten only 4 times in all those years. Three times were by a labs all three different and once by a Pomeranian. I have worked with every breed imaginable including Beauceron, Mexican Hairless, and a few other of the rarer breeds in the US. I have seen good and bad in every breed. No child should ever be left unattended with any breed no matter how much you trust them. I think articles like this give people a false sense of trust in these breeds. All dogs should be temperment tested for children regardless of breed! Like I said the outcome of a dogs personality depends on genetics and the way a dog is raised and trained no one breed is better with children than another.

  7. says

    I forgot to add that children need as much training on learning how to treat dogs if not more than the dog. Mixing a misbehaved child with any breed is a recipe for disaster on both ends. Most times dog bites are prevoked by misbehaved, untrained children.

  8. olivia says

    I have a Labrador Husky mix, and she has never bitten anyone. She is the sweetest dog. Shes about 10 and still really healthy. Just saying a good dog choice.

  9. says

    I wrote this before but decided to post it again,

    I don’t think you can really say any one breed is better with children than another, it all depends on the individual dog. It pretty much depends genetics and how the dogs are raised. I have seen the most gentle pit bulls and the most viscious Labs and Goldens. I have seen very gentle tolerant Pomeranians and German Shepards as well as viscious types of the same breed. I have been working with rescue dogs for close to 30 years now and I have been attacked and bitten only 4 times in all those years. Three times were by a labs all three different and once by a Pomeranian. I have worked with every breed imaginable including Beauceron, Mexican Hairless, and a few other of the rarer breeds in the US. I have seen good and bad in every breed. No child should ever be left unattended with any breed no matter how much you trust them. I think articles like this give people a false sense of trust in these breeds. All dogs should be temperment tested for children regardless of breed! Like I said the outcome of a dogs personality depends on genetics and the way a dog is raised and trained no one breed is better with children than another.
    I forgot to add that children need as much if not more training when it comes to dogs. Mixing a misbehaved child with any breed is a recipe for disaster on both ends. Most times dog bites are prevoked by misbehaved, untrained children.

  10. Mike says

    You list a german shepherd in the submissive category for temperment? Also your results get totally subjective when you throw in intangibles!

  11. Carrie says

    This article is terrible. The author admits to having little to no personal experience with the breeds! Good Cavie breeders won’t sell a puppy to a family with small children, because they are so fragile that small children often injure them inadvertently, Bulldogs are notoriously stubborn, temperamental, and territorial, NOT a good combination for children. Miniature Schnauzers have very little patience for or interest in children. I seriously hope no one believes this to be a reliable resource.

  12. Shirley says

    Just to say that all the people I know that have been bitten by dogs have all just been walking down the street minding their own business.
    The other day a women was holding on tightly to her dog that was barking and baring its’ teeth at my child who was innocently passing by on her scooter (only slowly). When I looked at the owner she claimed matter of factly “it doesn’t like scooters” – as if that makes it ok. What if she hadn’t spotted my child coming on her scooter and hadn’t managed to get her dog back in time?

    I just feel that people with dogs need to be more responsible. Dog owners seem to think that I have to tolerate their dog jumping up at me and trying to lick me (and my children). When I ask them to call their dogs away they are like “what’s your problem”? THE PROBLEM IS DOG OWNERS SHOULD RESPECT OTHER PEOPLES RIGHT NOT TO BE BOTHERED BY THEIR DOGS.

    I know it sounds like I don’t like dogs – but I do – I just wish dog owners would keep their pets to themselves and realise not everyone loves their dog or wants it near them. Oh and please clean up after them too!

  13. says

    I’ve found most of the Bully Breeds are good with children…esp the English.

    I’m still always blown away that Shepards are good with kids…the top breed to be K9 is also on top of the list with children.

    I’m partical to the Bullies

  14. says

    I grew up with a Rough Collie at a time when they were considered very bad dogs to have with children. He was superb and I have Roughs myself now. But is it the breed or how they are treated/brought up?

    • says

      Hi Michelle,

      There is definitely a lot more that goes into determining what dogs are good with kids then just their breed. When I originally wrote this post I was making a list as a starting point and also to spur discussion to find out what dog breeds others found in their experience were good with children. Over time the post has been very successful and I’m glad so many people including yourself have provided input about their own experiences with different dog breeds.

      I’m not sure if I mentioned it in this post, but I ended up adopting a mixed breed from the animal shelter. We think Linus is Australian Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and maybe some Chow or Husky.

      Thank for commenting!
      Colby

  15. bob says

    i have a brittany spainel and its bites my kids and runs away all the time and my kids and i have to go chase it. i recomend not getting a brittany spainel there too much work.

  16. Haley Lowery says

    I love german shepherd’s they are awesome and i have a little girl at home she so playful.

  17. says

    Very helpful info! I do own an Old English Bulldog and I have a 7-year-old son. We got this dog about four years ago and so far he has been pretty good with our son although he has a lot more energy than I ever thought a bulldog is supposed to. He does get a bit rough at times…if he gets too excited he tries to jump up on you, which kind of hurts since he is so solidly built and also he almost knocks you over. This hasn’t happened for quite awhile now since we’ve been trying to get him out of this bad habit.
    He does take quite a bit of pestering from my son’s friends, but I always step in and put a stop to it. I don’t know how much he will tolerate before he may get tired of it and bite someone. I think any dog has its limits to how much it will put up with no matter what breed.
    BTW…nice site!

    • says

      Thanks for telling us about your Old English Bulldog. He sounds like a great dog and I’m glad he does well with your son and his friends.

      I’m glad you like the site!

  18. says

    I guess we just got lucky with our dog, he is a mutt for sure but is said to be part boarder collie and part chow. I know chows can be aggressive, but none of that shows through on him. I think it helps if you get a dog after your kids are born, some older dogs may feel jealous if they were used to being “top dog” before your children came along.

  19. says

    I have a dog and he is easy to take care of. He is a minicher pincher. He is so adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love dogs a lot. Dogs are my favorite animals. They are nice, adorable, sweet, and rowdy.

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  1. […] that I would consider good dogs for kids.  In fact, a couple years ago I was so interested in dogs good with children I wrote a two part article about the top 10 dogs good with children based on information gathered […]

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