What is the best dog breed for families with young children?


We have been trying to decide which dog breed would suit our family but we can’t seem to make up our minds - please help!

We have a very large, fenced yard and would like an indoor-outdoor dog who can join in walks/jogs, keep up with our rambunctious, energetic kids, yet be gentle/non-aggressive with them. A dog who gives a warning bark would be useful but we cannot stand “yappy” dogs. “Snappy” dogs are also out…as much as we will be supervising play between our three young children and the dog, there will inevitably be a tail pulled or a paw accidently trod on and we just can’t have a dog that will retaliate with a snap.

We are pretty much open as to small/medium/large and shorthair/long hair etc.

Any suggestions?


We had a Corgi. They look like german sheps on short legs. The queen of England has Corgis. Our “Ricky” was a real sweetheart and great when the kids were small.



We got along very well with German sheps - but I would avice this race only if somebody in the family is able to train a dog well, because speaking from my personal experience, if something turns out bad in the training, sheps don’t take so easily to these mistakes as other breeds may do. Imho, this is the reason why (in GERMANY, imagine!) many people think them rather dangerous.
I’ve seen also a family who owned several grat danes and labradors, they where fantastic with the small children (three years and below). But great danes are just that - HUGE.

But you could do well with any “herding”-type of dog because they are mostly friendly, easy to train, not snappy or yappy :wink:

We didn’t have such good experiences with terrier-bredds - sometimes snappy and often yappy (you taught me some words there :smiley: )


I vote a Golden Retriever

I adopted one when he was 3 years old.

He is so sweet and gentle.

We have 5 children and lots of babies and other kids in the family who love Bear. He is not a barker,or a digger or a chewer. We even trained him to potty in one spot on the side of the garage. He lays on his bed in the garage at night. He walks with us. I think his breed is perfect for families.


Glad to be of service!:tiphat:


English Springer Spaniels! I have one and they are perfect for what you want. They are overall: great with kids, are not “yappy”, rambunctious, energetic, love to play (my dog constantly wants to play), but are intelligent and extremely loving. Look into one. They are known to be great for families.


Labrador retrievers are great family pets. I grew up around them and currently have a black one. They generally LOVE kids and are gentle. But they also are great for giving out that scary “warning” bark. :thumbsup:


We have 2 labradors who have been fantastic as our children have grown up.Never a growl or a snap out of them, and they follow the children around when they are playing outside- very protective.


I agree. Labs are one of the best with children. They are so even tempered with children. My brother had a lab for a few years before my nephew was born. Baron (its name) was very gentle with my nephew.

The only thing is they tend to be chewers when they are pups so keep a lot of chew toys around or your furniture will pay.


I got lucky with that one. My current lab, Jax, was never a chewer. We got him when he was 12 weeks old and he never went potty in the house and never chewed anything up but his toys. But of course, this was God’s gift to me after dealing with Mason, our German Shepherd, who was a handful and a half and we had to give him to a training academy because he bit somebody. :frowning:

Jax is obviously the exception to the rule. But labs do tend to be very easy to train. It doesn’t take much expertise or time to train them to be well-behaved dogs.



They are an amazing breed of dog that are really gentle. The most important thing to look into when selecting a dog breed is the history of the breed. Was it breed for fighting? Guarding? Attacking? Or was it breed to be gentle? Labs were bred for to be gentle with their mouths, because they were trained to go and retrieve ducks and other game that a hunter shot down, and not play with it or bruise or puncture it by biting it too hard. Other breeds were meant to be attack or guard dogs, and they can get aggressive. Also, get a book on dog communication; How to Speak Dog is a good one. One of the reason, I think, small children get bitten by dogs more often than bigger people is that kids are down on their level, and they can stare the dog right in the face. To a dog, that’s a threatening pose, and if it’s a breed that is meant for attacking and defending, it might do just that, and attack. Of course, I know that not ALL dogs of particular breeds would attack, and not ALL labs are completely gentle, but the vast majority of the time, Lab are very docile, and other breeds get aggressive.

On a personal note, my family has an 8yo yellow Lab named Toby. He is the sweetest, most gentle dog I have ever met! When we play with him, with his toys, and our hand accidentally ends up in his mouth, as soon as he notices, he lets go. He has never bitten anyone, not once. Even when us kids did something he didn’t like, like hold onto one of his paws, he would just kind of nibble at our hand, and make distressed noises. I <3 Toby! :smiley:


Poodles are gentle, laid back, and don’t have an overadbundance of energy, esp. if you’re not the kind of person who likes taking two walks a day. The two poodles I’ve had were poodle mixes, and they were very gentle. The Humane Society (so I’ve heard) trains dogs that have been there for a while, and you might be able to find a good dog. Definitely try them out if they have a “meeting room”. That will give you a good idea of the dog’s energy. Once my family tried a golden retriever puppy, and he just ran around and around and around the room. Needless to say, we discounted that dog immediately :slight_smile:


Oh poodles! Neerly forgot about them :slight_smile: They are indeed very friendly, sensible, easy to train and no shedding at all… and you don’t have to go with that poodle-look if you don’t like it, the hair can be left naturally if desired (just more elbow grease while brushing them).


When my wife and I decided to have a race to see who could find a dog of their 2nd favorite breed first. We both wanted a German Sheppard but agreed we didn’t want to clean hair shedding in clumps. My #2 was a rot she wanted a boxer. The very next week my sister says, oh my friends breed boxers and just had a litter. I have never been happier to lose a race. I am such a boxer fan now. My cousin had their German put down because he was getting very territorial. I might stay away from alpha dogs though, they tend to be “one owner dogs” I’ve heard they generally choose a kid of the house over an adult.

My dog is 6 and my oldest of three boys is 5. He’s been great with them but, I swear, every time we bring another kid home from the hospital he gives us a look like “another one?” I think he liked being an only child more that the family pet. Now he is sick and it’s most likely cancer and we will miss him terribly.

Well that’s my story, but I think the winner of the family dog argument is head and shoulders above the rest. It has to be a YELLOW Lab. (Old Yeller, ya’ know) They are very good at loving the entire family. I’ve heard of Black and esp. chocolates with attitude probs.

My advice for someone getting the dog for their family, only if your ready for the commitment. In alot of ways an animal takes more work that a human. Also, be prepared to do it all yourself but don’t do it all yourself. Finally, socialize your dog, have doggy dates or whatever. I always say dogs are social animals, why do humans have them?

I’ll stop talking now.

God Bless All,


Labs are great, but so are German shepherds, really, especially females!

I know of one whose one-year-old ‘owner’ played with her by putting a chair on her back and trying to ride her, which she bore patiently. The parents took the chair away and reprimanded the child. The dog just calmly went to get the chair back and placed it in front of the child.


When we get married, my fiancee and I are getting a German Shepherd (male). We’ve already put down a deposit on the little guy so we’ll get him when he’s born some time in early december. They are great dogs, and very friendly. I know they are working dogs and so they have a reputation for being aggressive, but I’ve honestly never had any problems with them and I’ve known them without exception to be as friendly as any other dog.

My 12 year old brother on the other hand, was savaged by a Golden Retriever! Tore his lip in three! Fortunately the plastic surgeon did a good job and it’s barely noticable now. The dog was destroyed… good riddance.

All he did was try to pet the dog while the dog was near his face. The thing freaked out.


Ok, this hits in my field, veterinarian, so I’ll give some quick advice.

Don’t start with the question of, “What breed”? but rather the question of, “What kind”?

  1. Do you want a very active, smart into it dog or more of a buddy; a quiet dog?

1a. How much? ($$) Shelters have very nice mixed breed dogs for very little.

  1. Big dog or little dog?

  2. A yard dog or house dog or both?

  3. Maintenance free or don’t mind (or actually likes) maintaining the dog? (I convinced my wife to give up her romantic image of the sheepdog as the coat takes constant maintenance).

I copied this URL with only a little searching. Animal Planet has a “dog selector” to help you enter characteristics and see what breed you get.

Dog Selector


We grew up with a Siberian Husky / Samoyed mix. It was the greatest dog ever and met all your criteria. However, I have been watching for this mix wiht no luck. It was chance we got Sugar to begin with.

First of all, whatever dog you get, try to get one at about 6 weeks old. That way if you introduce it to your children at that age it will grow up thinking that it is just one of hte pack. You can train it to tolerate getting its tail pulled and the whole works while simultaneously training your kids to respect the dog without either of them getting really hurt.

You could get a Husky if you truly think it will get exercised enough. These dogs need to get walked or exercised every day or they litterally go nuts. They are extremely intelligent. They hunt like Cat’s do so they will take care of any mice that are around and so forth. They don’t seem to get bad breath or real stinky like many other breeds do. They do well indoors or out and because they are so smart you can train them. You only bathe them once per year and no haircuts are required. Brushing required in both spring and fall because they shed twice per year. Just exercize.

You could get a Samoyed. BEAUTIFUL dogs with long white hair. SUPER loving and affectionate. If you get a female she will probably mother your children. I don’t think they are as smart as the husky but they are excellent with children. These are super loving dogs.

Read more about these breeds on the web. Both of these dogs get big enough to be able to handle rough-housing with children without breaking bones or getting overwhelmed. But they are not huge so they are managable.

Good Luck!

Of course you can read more about these breeds on the web. You mentioned active children and I got excited.


I should add that I picked both these breeds because we had them but also because they breed these animals to work in packs. That is why they are so great with kids they will see the kids as a team.

Both will bark at intruders however a Husky would be more likely to get aggressive than a Samoyed. Samoyeds are known for barking but then greeting the mailman and the pizza guys with lots of kisses and affection. They are crazy lovers.

Hope that helps.


One word: BOXERS!!!

We have had two in the last 14 years, our first was a male and our current is a female.

They are the funniest dogs on earth. Very friendly, energetic and great with kids.

They are clean and do not shed very much.

They are wonderful athletes. My female dog and I take 3 to 4 mile walks/jogs every morning. She is a wonderful personal trainer for me!

I have four children and our Boxers have been there from the beginning. I’ve never had a dog bite, growl or any anti-social behavior from them. My 5 yr old routinely lies on top of our Boxer.

Good luck!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.