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18 Best Dog Breeds for Kids

Looking for a child-friendly fur baby to bring home to your family? Kids and dogs have an almost-magical connection with each other—provided you've landed on the right breed. These dog breeds are a great place to start.

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Sleeping beagle on sofaSoloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

First things first

Dogs have personalities and quirks, no matter what breed they are. Children also differ in their needs, energy levels, and personalities. No matter which breed you hone in on, it is important to take a common sense approach, when choosing from the best dogs for kids and introducing a new pet to your household. “When searching for a pet dog for the family, parents often consult friends or relatives, or rely on their own personal experiences,” says Janelle Emmett, DVM, veterinary technology program director at Carrington College‘s Sacramento, California, campus who has practiced for 12 years in companion animal medicine. “Ideally, people should select a breed based upon the anticipated lifestyle of the dog, being mindful to match the personality and age of the child and the traits of the breed.” Additionally, parents must remember that nothing can replace careful monitoring of the child with the pet and good training, she notes. Before you bring a dog home, make sure you have all the items on this puppy checklist.

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sad pure-bred dog, puppy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, lie, close up muzzletankist276/Shutterstock

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

“The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a wonderful family pet; a gentle, calm dog, who is happy to be combed and brushed,” says Dr. Emmett on why this pup is one of the best dogs for kids and best dog breeds for families, period. “This breed is, however, less enthusiastic about games, such as tug of war, and rough-and-tumble play. King Charles spaniels are a good match for a more urban lifestyle and a sensitive child.” These are the mistakes every dog owner makes.

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Golden retriever, retriever portraitAneta Jungerova/Shutterstock

Golden retriever

“The golden retriever is one of the most well-known dogs because of their gentle, caring temperaments. They are able to lounge around the house for an afternoon or take a hike through the woods,” says Pete Lands, DVM, director of emergency and critical care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center. Goldens are very bright and easy to train. They’re also stoic when it comes to kids. “While they may not like it, golden retrievers tend to be apathetic to young kids pulling on their ears or tugging at their tails. This makes them one of the best family dogs you can find,” he adds. Not only are they one of the best dogs for kids, but they’re also one of the smartest dog breeds.

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Yellow labrador retriever on green grass lawnCapture Light/Shutterstock

Labrador retriever

They look large-and-in-charge, but Labs are famously child-friendly, making them one of the best family dogs. “The Labrador retriever is a reliable family pet,” says Dr. Emmett. “This breed has an insatiable appetite for games and play and is well suited for an active outdoor lifestyle and a child who likes to run, throw balls, and play Frisbee.” If you have a pet, get to know these cleaning tips ASAP.

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Rescue Dog portraitKim Hambright/Shutterstock

Rescue dogs

Don’t let worries about their past turn you off to shelter dogs. Many rescue dogs, who are waiting for their forever home, are gentle, loving, and grateful to be found by a wonderful family with kids, plus, some have even already been potty-trained. “Most shelters arrange ‘meet-and-greet’ times, where you and your child can interact with prospective pets so you can find the right fit for your family,” says Dr. Emmett. Many shelters also allow you to foster a dog for a day or two, providing an extra layer of comfort, so you don’t have to rely on the love-at-first-sight rush you may feel at a shelter. These before and after photos of adopted dogs will melt your heart.

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portrait of Beagle dog apisitmueanpoot/Shutterstock


Cute as a button, sweet, and gentle, these pack animals thrive on companionship. According to the American Kennel Club, these charmers are among the best dogs for kids and best dog breeds for families because they are loving by nature, love to play, and have goofy personalities. If you want a dog who wants to be with people, this is a great breed for your family. Pass beagles up, however, if your house is always empty during the day. Here are ways to make your dog comfortable while they’re home alone.

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Irish setter runs across the field.Selective focus on the dogJulian Popov/Shutterstock

Irish setter

Does your family love a good group jog or a game of beach Frisbee? If so, an Irish setter will be the perfect fit for you. Regal to look at and energetic beyond words, this breed grows to be large, around 50 to 70 pounds, and has a long lifespan, so they can grow up with your kids. Irish setters are one of the best family dogs, make great companions, are wonderful with children, and have lively dispositions. They also love to play with toys and balls. These ideas will show your dog some love.

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French bulldog lying down on the carpetPatryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

French bulldog

Frenchies, as they are affectionately known, are diminutive in size, but big in personality. Known for their affectionate natures and silly “bat” ears, French bulldogs were bred to be companion dogs. One of the best family dogs for apartment dwellers, Frenchies do well in small spaces and love being around kids. French bulldogs also love getting dressed up for Halloween. These dogs looked at home in the office.

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Boxer dog lying on a couch at homeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock


Make a boxer part of your family, and you will never feel unprotected again. Fiercely loyal and protective of those who love them, these energetic, medium-sized dogs have calm dispositions, but love to play, making them one of the best dogs for kids with high energy. They need lots of exercise, but beware of driving them too hard in hot weather. Like all squish-faced (Brachycephalic) dogs, they tend to overheat. Have you tried one of these eight genius ways to pick up your dog’s poop?

10 / 19
snow-white fluffy dog, Bichon FriseZanna Pesnina/Shutterstock

Bichon frise

These little bundles of low-shedding fur are some of the friendliest dogs on the planet and is one of the best dog breeds for families. Sweet, affectionate, and playful, the bichon frise is a fantastic playmate for energetic children. Their small size makes them a great city dog, provided you give them lots of walks. According to Animal Planet, they’re loyal to a fault and do best with consistent training and moderate amounts of activity. This is how much exercise your dog really needs.

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English Cocker Spaniel dogAnnyStudio/Shutterstock

Cocker spaniel

There’s a definite possibility that cocker spaniels think they are people. They’re gentle, loving, very smart, love being around children, and tend to always put themselves in the middle of the action. They also make great therapy dogs and may be a good fit for an anxious or special needs child. Their beautiful, floppy ears make them prone to ear infections, so keeping them clean and groomed is essential. Watch out for these secret signs that your dog is mad at you.

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Rough collieGrigorita Ko/Shutterstock


Rough collies are known for their majestic, flowing coats, while smooth collies have shorter coats. Rough or smooth, collies are of the best dogs for kids and big families. (However, rough collies require more grooming.) This breed is incredibly intelligent and likes nothing better than to engage in activity with the children who love them. They’re fast learners, loyal to their families, and protective. Just ask Lassie. These are our favorite TV pets.

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Portrait of a standard poodle laying in grass - Stock phototopdigipro/Shutterstock


Have an allergy-prone child? According to Health, poodles might just be the ticket for you since it’s one of the best dog breeds for families. While no dog is completely hypoallergenic, poodles seem to come close, because they appear to produce fewer allergens so they’re one of the best dogs for kids with allergies. They also come in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—and an abundance of colors. These adorable goofballs are super-smart, easy to train, adapt well to new situations, and love kids. Does your dog ever baffle you? Maybe you’d like to ask your dog one of these questions.

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Pet Labradoodle Laying in Autumn LeavesThe Dog Photographer/Shutterstock


An intentional mix of poodles and Labrador retrievers, Labradoodles are as adorable as their name. A medium-shedder, Labradoodles were originally bred to be even-keeled and empathetic, so they could be trained as guide dogs for visually-impaired people. This breed couldn’t be more affectionate, or more adorable. Note that they need lots of exercise and tend to get along great with other dogs.

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Adorable pug dog lying on floor at homeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock


This Instagram-darling brings with it major cuddle-factor. Their cutie-patooty smiling faces and cozying-up tendencies make pugs a popular favorite for children who prefer gentle play to roughhousing. These playful pups were bred to be lap dogs and adore being around people. They’re clever, quiet, and make great family pets.

Be like the Royal Family and pick one of their favorite dog breeds.

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The Chihuahua is the smallest breed of dog and is named after the state of Chihuahua in MexicoMilhail Mitrushin/Shutterstock


Long-haired or short, chihuahuas are the tiniest of all dog breeds. They tend to adore children and are very loyal to their families. Chihuahuas love the indoors and are not fond of very cold weather, perhaps because they’re thought to have originated in Mexico. They’re easy to train and love the lap of the person who loves them best.

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Small brown dog, poppy chihuahua plus pug. Chug. Puppy in the home with one ear standing up second lyingKateSun/Shutterstock


Chugs are a specific breed comprised of Pug and Chihuahua ancestry. Many have the best characteristics of both popular breeds, making them one of the best family dogs. According to Pet Guide, Chugs are a designer dog with characteristics that vary from liter to liter. Like their forebears, most will make good family dogs. They’re loyal, affectionate, intelligent, and love to play. Find out the most and least expensive dog breeds in the world.

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Bullterrier on green fieldtratong/Shutterstock

Bull terrier

Bull terriers and miniature bull terriers are one of the best dogs for kids that are older in age. They are sweet beyond belief, very protective, and very trainable. The American Kennel Club calls them mischievous, playful, and charming. Known for their silly, comical antics, and crowd-pleasing behavior, bull terriers need lots of exercise and lots of love.

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Cute White Havanese Dog Relaxing on a Human BedBoryana Manzurova/Shutterstock


This tiny charmer is the national dog of Cuba. They have exuberant personalities and adore people of all ages. Havanese dogs are very social and outgoing. A loving breed, they also enjoy playing games. They’re a toy breed, so not a great fit for rough-and-tumble play, but they’re one of the best dog breeds for families who are looking for a silly, outgoing friend for their child. This is why you should pick up dog poop before mowing the lawn.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Corey Whelan
Corey Whelan is a freelance writer with strong, core competency in health and wellness. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Whelan writes about mom-centric anything, pets, lifestyle and medical issues. She has written a wide range of fact sheets, articles and handbooks and creates and produces videos and webinars for non-profit organization, Path2Parenthood, where she serves as Program Director. She is a current contributor to CBS News, WebPsychology and An adept, thorough researcher, Whelan is well-trained in SEO optimization and key word use. She uses her craft to further her own love of learning and spends her very few hours of free time on cooking, pilates and DIY crafting. She shares her life with two, all-grown-up children and two astonishingly kooky rescue dogs.

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