Begging for a dog is a time-honored childhood tradition up there with learning to ride a bike or losing the first tooth. Whether or not your family is ready for a dog is another question, and is highly personal. Kid’s ages and maturity levels, housing, schedules, and division of responsibilities should all be considered. But if your family is ready, a dog can provide kids with a lot more than just cuddles. Benefits for kids with pets include everything from better cognitive function to higher self-esteem. But it’s not as simple as just getting a dog: not all dogs will love a house with kids. If you’re in the market for a dog, you may want to consider looking at specific breeds or breed mixes. Characteristics that have been bred into certain dogs for generations that once made them work dogs may now make them great family pets. If you are committed to rescuing a dog, you can contact a breed-specific rescue in your area or use Petfinder. If you are looking at mixes and rescues, finding a dog that has been fostered can also be an excellent way to get more information on the individual dog says Nicole Ellis, a professional dog trainer with Rover. We also asked Ellis to share her top ten dog breeds for families and kids. From dogs that will be happy to cuddle to energetic pups that can spend hours running out their energy in the backyard, here are her picks:
1. Great Pyrenees
For families willing or interested in taking on a big dog, Great Pyrenees can be a perfect fit. Ellis says that the breed is known as the “gentle giant” and can be great for families. “They are a guardian breed that was meant to protect a flock so being with their family is important for them,” she continues. That means families should also be with families who are able to devote a lot of time to them: bonding and consistency are important to the breed. But, despite their size, they don’t need a ton of exercise. “They would enjoy a large yard to roam or one to two brisk walks a day,” says Ellis. Aside from lots of love, Ellis also recommends families interested in Great Pyrenees also be willing to invest in a good animal hair vacuum or some lint rollers.
Another deceptively gentle large breed, “Rots” are often the opposite of the stereotypes shown in movies. “As with any strong dog, training is key,” says Ellis. But, if well taken care of and trained, a family will find a Rottweiler to be devoted as well as “calm, patient, and reserved.” A herding breed, they can also be very protective over their families.
Labradors are “the quintessential American family dog” with good reason, says Ellis. They are good-natured and loyal, making them ideal family companions. Naturally social, they generally are happy around company as well. Plus, as a retrieving breed, your kids can enjoy another quintessential American famiy dog experience: games of fetch in the back yard.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance dog for your family, look no further. “They want nothing more than to lay on the couch with their families and be loved by kids,” says Ellis. While that makes them ideal for busy families, bulldogs do require regular exercise. “Make sure you’re still able to give your bulldog walks on a regular basis and regulate their food intake,” Ellis continues. Potential Bulldog owners should also be aware of common health problems to the breed that may develop down the line.
Another big dog with a big, gentle heart, “Newfies” are great with kids. They’re actually known as the “babysitter dog,” says Ellis. She describes them as “calm and eager to please,” and great with kids of all ages. The biggest drawback, besides how much you’ll have to spend on dog food, is mess: they’re a drooly bunch, and shed a lot on top of that.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Ellis describes this breed as “hopelessly devoted” to their families. They’re great companions for kids, both for playing in the backyard or cuddling on the couch. Kids will also love petting their long, soft hair. But because of the breed’s luxurious coat, they will require frequent brushing to keep it healthy and untangled.
7. Bichon Frise
While Bichon Frises might call to mind a prissy dog groomed into a Q-Tip for a dog show, they actually super playful and high-energy, perfect for kids with similar dispositions. And while their coats do require regular maintenance, you don’t have to keep them fluffed and groomed at all times, either. Because of their natural curiosity, anyone looking to adopt a Bichon Frise should also make sure they have a secure backyard. “These lovable little cotton balls can be quite the escape artists,” says Ellis. And while they can be great for active kids, families who are more laid-back might want to pass on this breed.
A tiny breed, these little dogs can weigh as little as three pounds. “Despite being diminutive, they have big personalities and a gentle, loving nature that jives well with family life,” says Ellis. They’re another breed that can also look very different from their show dog persona. While their coat will require grooming, it can be kept short for easier day-to-day maintenance. While their tiny size makes them a natural draw for kids, Ellis also notes that they will also be trained in how to safely hold a Maltese, especially when they are puppies.
A “friendly, curious breed,” Ellis says beagles are known for having a temper that works well with kids. While they are also known for their deep howls, they also won’t make great guard dogs: they’ll be too ready to great anyone who stops by, Ellis explains. But generally, they’re happiest when at home with the family, though they will need daily walks: they’re scent hounds and used to tracking smells over distances.
10. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Yes, corgi fans, you can use your kids as an excuse to get this beloved pup. “Affectionate, sweet, and wicked smart, these canines are programmed to please, so begin training them early on,” says Ellis. A herding dog, they’re happiest at home with their flock… er, I mean family. But because they are herding dogs, they can be bossy and may not work as well with toddlers and young kids under five.