Owners of some of the most popular, best family dogs still have one major complaint: They simply can't keep up with all the dog hair they shed. Add active kids to the mix, and the hair gets stirred up constantly and spreads all over the house. Unfortunately, some dogs that don't shed much are also not great with kids and a house full of commotion. There are some breeds and mixes, however, that make spectacular kid-friendly, active, fun, low-shedding members of the family.
Understand what nonshedding and kid-friendly mean
Dogs that don't shed at all exist only in the imagination, but there are dogs that shed very little, which are often called nonshedding. They still have hair, however, sometimes quite a lot of silky or curly hair, which must be brushed regularly (at least weekly, sometimes daily) to keep it soft and unmatted by catching the hair that has already been shed but not fallen out yet. You'll see lots of hair in the brush, but that keeps it from getting all over the house and furniture. Nonshedding also does not mean hypoallergenic, as it's actually the dander from the dog's skin that people are allergic to, and all dogs have dander, although some have less dander than others.
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Dogs that are considered kid-friendly are active and like to run and play, but they also have even temperaments and won't become startled or nervous by the unexpected moves children can make. The flip side to active, friendly dogs is that they like to be around people and socialize with them. They aren't happy being left alone all day, and their high activity levels won't be satisfied if the kids are on their computers and phones instead of playing with or at least walking them. How much exercise they need depends on the breed, but between 30 minutes and two hours is good to plan on.
Change your perception of poodles
If you think of poodles as the elegant, precisely coiffed show dogs you've seen, you'd think there is no way they could be a good family dog, and a nonshedding one at that. Poodles are very smart and can be trained to act like show dogs, but they can also be fun, frolicking, kid-friendly dogs that don't shed, too. While toy poodles are likely too small to handle a rough-and-tumble household, standard and miniature poodles can fit in well. Poodles are very athletic and can keep up with even the most active household. Most poodle owners who aren't raising show dogs give their poodles the "sporting clip" that conforms to the athletic lines of their bodies rather than the ornate "continental clip" that mustn't get mussed.
Consider popular poodle mixes
Poodles are often bred with other kid-friendly dogs to achieve active, family pets that are some of the best nonshedding dogs for kids. Crossbred dogs also seem to inherit the best traits of both parents and often have fewer health problems than either parent breed may be prone to have. Popular poodle crossbreeds include:
- Cockapoo: Cocker spaniel and poodle cross
- Labradoodle: Labrador retrievers and poodle cross
- Maltipoo: Maltese and poodle cross
- Schnoodle: Schnauzer and poodle cross
- Goldendoodle: Golden retriever and poodle cross
Get outside with the Portuguese water dog
Often suggested when people are looking for a low shedding, larger dog, Portuguese water dogs are great for active families, especially those with children who are old enough to really run, chase, play and swim with them. Spirited and undauntable, these dogs were used to help fishermen herd fish into nets, retrieve lost items and take messages from ships to shore. Their herding nature makes them ideal for kids who can go all day without tiring, just as the dogs do. They have either curly or wavy hair that repels water.
Choose between several terriers
Most terriers are low-shedding dogs, but some are particularly good with children. Boston terriers wear a close-cropped tuxedo coat and are adaptable to smaller spaces like apartments, but still like to go for a walk or play with kids. Wheaten terriers are devoted pets but love to play actively, making them ideal for a family with kids. West Highland white terriers, commonly called Westies, are loyal and playful with a medium energy level so they don't need to play all the time. Terriers do have an independent streak and don't always take to training as quickly as some dogs, but they will love romping with kids any day.
- American Kennel Club: Poodle
- Cockapoo Club of America: About the Cockapoo
- American Kennel Club: Small Dogs That Don't Shed
- Canine Weekly: 13 Big Dogs That Don't Shed
- Cuteness: The Best Poodle Mix for Kids
- AKC: Portuguese Water Dog
- Good Housekeeping: The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Kids and Families
- Cuteness: How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?