Find out which breeds are best for children.
Dogs can be a great addition to your family, teaching your kids responsibility and cooperation. It's important to do research to find the right match for your household — and you're in the right place.
5 of the Best Dogs for Kids
There are a lot of factors to consider when finding your family's perfect match, such as size, age, energy level, temperament and care requirements. Here are several dog breeds that make great additions to families of all sizes and types.
Golden retrievers3 make a great companion for children of any age. They're especially great for babies because of their patience and tolerance and make excellent cuddle buddies for tiny humans. These dogs were bred to work with humans and are eager to please their owners. Golden retrievers can swim, hike, jump and play fetch, providing lots of play and fun as your baby grows.
They are rarely timid or nervous and are relatively low maintenance, as long as they get exercise and regular grooming of their soft golden hair. They have an instinct to protect and will develop a bond with every member of the family. Golden retrievers will quickly become like another sibling to your child. These friendly dogs range from 20 to 24 inches in height and weigh up to 75 pounds. They live for 10 to 12 years.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles spaniels2 are friendly dogs that have never met a stranger, eager to please everybody they encounter. Typically calm and docile, these pups can be playful, too. They love to cuddle and will have no problem spending the day on the couch with you. Cavaliers were originally bred to flush out birds when hunting, and, given the opportunity, they will play chase. They don't tend to need much training, as they are caring and nurturing by nature.
Cavaliers grow to be 12 to 13 inches tall and weigh as much as 18 pounds. They live to be 15 years old and have wavy, silky coats that come in four different colors (rich chestnut and pearly white, tricolor, black and tan, and ruby). Their coats are easy to maintain and need a few brushes each week.
Kids love these dogs because they can chill on the couch and watch TV, or hop up and play a game of fetch or learn tricks. They are small dogs, however, so make sure your child knows to be careful when playing.
These dogs love to play and can make an ideal companion for your child. Beagles1 were bred to be in packs and will adapt to your family, quickly becoming attached to your children. These dogs love a good walk and will take in all of the sights and sounds nature offers. They enjoy games, but also love to relax.
Beagles are 13 to 15 inches in height and weigh up to 30 pounds. They live to be 15 years old and have smooth, rain-resistant coats that are easy to manage. This dog comes in many different colors with black, white and tan being the most popular.
Poodles6 7 are known for their elegant appearances and unique haircuts. However, these dogs are also some of the best pets for families with older children. Their personality and temperament match their regal haircuts: These dogs are highly intelligent and extremely trainable. They have a dignified presence and are very loyal. They will learn fast and develop a protective bark when they sense a stranger. Poodles are considered one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. They can learn commands up to five times faster than your average pup.
Poodles need regular exercise and they are exceptional leapers (make sure that fence in your backyard is high enough). Poodles are great for people with allergies, as their coats do not shed. Speaking of their coats, these dogs come in a variety of colors and their coats are often groomed into fun, interesting shapes. Their unique coat requires monthly grooming, however, and can be expensive. Poodles come in three different sizes: standard (more than 15 inches tall and up to 70 pounds), miniature (up to 15 inches tall and up to 20 pounds) and toy (less than 10 inches tall and up to 7 pounds). They can live to be 18.
One of the most popular breeds in the U.S., Labrador retrievers4 5 are well-suited for active families — especially those with boisterous older children. These very trainable, loving pups are outgoing and affectionate companions that will bond with the entire family and make quick friends with both neighbor dogs and humans.
Easygoing and friendly, Labrador retrievers are pack animals at heart and isolation makes for an unhappy Lab; these pups aren't outdoor dogs, but rather a loveable member of the household. Labrador retrievers are active, passionate athletes requiring exercise and mental stimulation each day to avoid becoming bored or even destructive. Plenty of walks or jogs, hikes, swimming and high-energy playtime will keep a Lab mentally and physically feeling their best.
Labrador retrievers have a short, double coat that’s black, chocolate or yellow in color and frequently sheds, so owners must stay diligent with brushing (once or twice a week should do) and grooming. They’re on the bigger side of domestic dogs, reaching 24 inches in height and weighing up to 80 pounds. They live to be as old as 12.
It's important to note that while breeds have certain dispositions, all dogs have individual personalities. Prospective dog owners should do their due diligence to research their potential pups, including meeting with adoption agencies and rescue shelters. Older dogs typically have a more laid-back temperament and may be a good fit for families with young children, while younger dogs tend to be a little more rambunctious and easier to train when you don’t have a baby in your arms. Dogs should always be supervised around babies and toddlers, too.
Explore our guide to choosing the best dog for your family for more factors to consider as you seek out your new best friend.
2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. (n.d.) Retrieved May 29, 2020, from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel/.
4 Labrador Retriever. (n.d.) Retriever February 14, 2022, from https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/labrador-retriever/.