There’s nothing quite like kids and their dogs — a special interspecies friendship that’s second only to the bond with a PlayStation 4. Let’s be real, though. Kids can be loud, annoying, defiant, rough around the edges, and they even vomit. Or am I talking about dogs? Come to think of it, what a perfect match! Compatibility, however, is key.
As they say, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Small dogs are sometimes the worst choice for kids, especially young ones, while large dogs can be the best companions in almost any scenario. It’s all about matching personalities.
Yes! The sweetest adolescent can become a troublesome teenager, and the same goes for dog breeds. And sometimes it’s not just your own kids to worry about. Birthday parties, sleepovers, playdates… Parents generally don’t like it when your dog injures their kids (although lawyers love it). Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, but for the sake of consistency, there are specific breeds that tend to be best with kids and your family’s lifestyle.
Related: Search our Database of Breeds for the Best Dogs for Kids and Search by Size and Other Characteristics
Some of the best dogs are shelter dogs! As we say here at Rescue Pop, adopt and don’t shop. Many of these dogs have spent time with fosters or are older, so general behaviors are already established.
Among the most popular breeds in the US, Golden Retrievers are the universal teddy bears of the canine world. They are large and energetic for those who like hiking, days at the beach and good old-fashioned romping around. They can also totally chill and be happy just laying around the house otherwise. The breed is also very smart, trainable, and easy to care for.
Not only are they super friendly, but they’re also amazingly tolerant and understand that kids are kids. Screams and jumping and even tugs on the ears are accepted, and they’ll keep coming back for more. These semi-large athletes are arguably the perfect family dog for home (and yard) owners or renters with active lifestyles.
Related: Golden Retriever dog breed info & characteristics
This retriever breed goes with the Golden Retriever like Coke and Pepsi. Always happy, always tolerant, and ready to play. They take the energy level up a notch but shower all with love in the process. They also come in three distinct colors – yellow, black and chocolate – so you can even match your carpet.
Among the most popular breeds, they’re not only great with kids, but also amazing assistants for the disabled. Their work as guide dogs for the blind and therapy companions is legendary, and Labs are about as smart and versatile as they come. Even Disney’s Old Yeller was a Lab (mix), but don’t worry about the ending, it was just a movie (that’s what I keep telling myself).
Related: Labrador Retriever dog breed info & characteristics
The Newfoundland dog (from Newfoundland, Canada) is among the largest breeds and most commonly seen in black, brown or a combination of the two. A black and white variety is also called Landseer. Tipping the scales at over 175 pounds, this expert swimmer and accomplished water rescuer is nicknamed the “gentle giant.”
Similar in size and general appearance to Mastiffs and St. Bernards, they’re known to be happy around babies and toddlers, and will even act as guardians and babysitters. Calm, friendly, and big enough to handle the rigors of pesky kids, the Newfoundland is among the best supersized breeds for families and can even double as a horse for the young ones.
Related: Newfoundland dog breed info & characteristics
This breed started off with a more aggressive reputation, used in the cruel and deplorable “sport” of bull baiting, which was officially banned in 1835 in England. Since then, the English Bulldog has evolved into a wider, stockier canine that’s less capable as a sporting breed and much better at just hanging out. They’re very accepting and patient with kids, and love both playing and lounging. They can overheat with their unusual snouts, so keep that in mind in hot weather.
If you think you’ve seen them around, the breed is among the most popular mascots and symbols in the world, used by the US Marine Corps, University of Georgia, Georgetown, The Citadel, Mack Trucks… even Yale University. This lovable, kind of funny looking breed is happiest just hanging with the family.
Related: English Bulldog dog breed info & characteristics
This oddity is even funnier looking than the Bulldog with a less than conventional head (to put it mildly). Many describe it as egg-shaped, but I lean towards prehistoric as it would look right at home in the Jurassic period (it even has triangular eyes). These stocky, very muscular dogs also come with an unwarranted stigma of being aggressive, but studies have shown their temperament to be comparable to Golden Retrievers.
The Bull Terrier has an interesting history, going from fighting dog in the 19th century (a la Bulldogs) to somewhat of a fashion accessory. The breed is excellent with kids and families, and even adapts well to apartment living. They’re very energetic, however, and need plenty of playtime and exercise.
Related: Bull Terrier dog breed info & characteristics
Just barely making the “medium” list (they can hit around 25 pounds), this breed is among the easiest to include in your family. Sporting a Bulldog-ish head in a slimmer, tuxedo-wrapped body, the Boston Terrier is just an adorable, super fun companion. This American breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1893, making it the first US dog to be recognized (yes, from Boston). Colors can include brindle and dark brown, but the classic black and white combo is most common.
Bostons are easily trained, eager to please, and very gentle with kids. They’re perfectly suited for apartment living, require little grooming, and a couple of walks around the block will satisfy their exercise needs. Although “Boston Terrier” denotes this as a terrier breed, it’s actually in the non-sporting group (feel free to name one Michael Jordan).
Related: Boston Terrier dog breed info & characteristics
One of the most famous canines in the world is a Beagle – Snoopy from Peanuts. Developed in the 1830s in England, there were initially rough and smooth-coated varieties, but the rough all but disappeared in the early 20th century. Originally bred for hunting rabbits, they’ve become popular companions in North America, even more so than in their native England.
Friendly and confident, the breed is excellent with kids and will quickly warm to strangers. They can be a bit stubborn and hard to train but are also eager to please. Beagles have a lot of stamina and can exercise for hours without tiring, but don’t require a ton of exercise to remain healthy and happy. They need attention and are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.
Related: Beagle dog breed info & characteristics
If you’re a fan of Star Wars and Ewoks in particular, you can have one of your own with a Brussels Griffon. This toy breed has a distinctive beard and tends to bond with one person, but is also among the nicest of breeds and generally loves everyone. They’re not great with rough handling, so a larger breed is probably best for rowdy kids. They are, however, active and playful, and will reward amiable kids with endless affection.
Originating in Belgium from a single dog used to catch rodents (called Smousje), an added combination of Pug and King Charles Spaniel led to the modern breed. It’s less common than household names like Chihuahuas and Pomeranians, but toy breeds are popular in the US, and the movie As Good as It Gets helped familiarize the dog to the masses.
Related: Brussels Griffon dog breed info & characteristics
If you remove a Boston Terrier’s tux and throw on a t-shirt, you have a Pug. Its snout is a bit more smashed and wrinkled, but the Bulldog-ish face remains. They’re great with kids and have strong, stocky builds that can withstand the rigors of adolescent play. The breed is fun and playful but also enjoys plenty of nap time and are perfect for apartments.
Originating in China, Pugs became popular in Western Europe in the 16th century and were favorites among royal families for generations. I always thought the cartoon canine Droopy looked like a Pug as a kid – well, he’s a Basset Hound.
Related: Pug dog breed info & characteristics
A toy breed from the United Kingdom (King Charles, after all) has become very popular in the US in the last couple of decades. They’re perfect with kids and most animals, but rely on human interaction, so take care not to neglect them. Also, don’t confuse this breed with the King Charles Spaniel, an older, smaller variant with a Pug-ish face.
Generally happy as lapdogs, the breed is very affectionate, playful and just wants to be a part of the action. They’re also incredibly adaptable, unafraid of large dogs, and unfazed by the size of your living accommodations. As long as they get plenty of attention, they’re among the sweetest breeds in an easy to carry package.
Related: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dog breed info & characteristics
If you’re looking for something different, such as a breed that’s hypoallergenic, great with other animals or suitable for apartments, check out our Dog Breed Search page. If you already know what you’re looking for, head to our Adopt a Dog page and allow a dog to adopt you. With almost 200 recognized breeds (and countless shelter dogs), a perfect canine is just a quick search away.
Our Dog Breeds page has allows you to search for a more extensive list of the best dogs for kids, but here are a few more for you to consider:
German ShepherdSiberian HuskyPembroke Welsh CorgiAustralian ShepherdHavaneseBrittanyBorder CollieBasset HoundIrish SetterRat Terrier
Note: Rescue Pop is committed to providing accurate information to pet parents. That being said, while the breed characteristics and traits mentioned here may be commonly associated with the breed, each animal is unique and may exhibit very different tendencies. Dogs and cats are individuals whose personalities vary. Please talk to the foster parent or adoption organization for details on a specific pet before bringing your new family member home.
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