Many large dog breeds make excellent companions for kids. Large dogs bred specifically for companionship and mild temperaments are ideal. Guard dog breeds can certainly be loving companions, but their protective nature may cause them to act aggressively toward the kids' playmates if they perceive that any threat to their safety (for example, during a harmless game of tag). The best traits for kid friendly breeds include a mellow disposition, desire to please and owner loyalty. Ultimately, raising the animal in a loving home encourages and fosters any dog's positive traits. Here are just a few popular big dog breeds known for being perfect family pets.
According to the AKC, "Sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the Newfoundland."
If properly socialized, this gentle giant is pretty much guaranteed to be good-natured with just about everyone, especially kids. In fact, he could probably teach children a thing or two about good behavior! Newfoundlands are also known for their sociability and need for company. It's not a good idea to get a Newfoundland if your schedule requires for him to be left alone for hours at a time.
The golden retriever is a popular family dog, according to the American Kennel Club. The breed is known for loving attention and is mild mannered. Bred for retrieving birds, the dogs have a naturally soft mouth and little in the way of defensive instincts. The soft mouth means they will not clamp the jaws while playing. Golden retrievers mixed with other retriever breeds or poodles also make good large breed pets.
The Labrador retriever is one of the most common family dogs. They are known for being affectionate and loyal. They are moderately protective but not aggressive. Labradors share many of the same traits as a golden retriever but they have a shorter coat that requires less maintenance. Some of the traits they share are a soft mouth, mellow temperament and owner loyalty. The strong desire to retrieve makes them great for playing fetch with children. Labs are good in a variety of climates and they enjoy the playful attention of children.
The Great Dane is a large breed developed for hunting and guarding property. Despite the aggressive nature of their background, the breed is very mellow and works well for kids. They are large but surefooted, aware and not likely to knock over or hurt kids accidentally, but adults should provide supervision around young children. Some individual Great Danes are noted as couch-potatoes and slightly lazy, loving dogs. Great Danes do require room to play and move. A large yard space provides a good area for them to play with children. Confinement in small apartments is not a good choice for Great Danes. Small spaces make them more likely to knock over children accidentally.
Bloodhounds are passive unless a scent is present. Hounds move slowly around the home and are not likely to knock kids over like other large breeds, but Breeders.com advises adults to supervise interactions with small children to prevent the bulky breed from accidentally knocking them down. The hounds are not overly affectionate but they do not respond aggressively to playful kids. Hounds are so mild mannered that you must instruct the kids to prevent incidental abuse. Raising a bloodhound does require leash training and an enclosed yard. The dogs will instinctively chase scents until they are lost.
Other Big Family-Friendly Dogs
Here are a few more large dogs who make terrific pets in a household with kids: Bernese Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Mastiffs, Standard Poodles, and Collies.
By Zach Lazzari
About the Author
Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writer with experience in web and print media. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and has developed several fly fishing and outdoor web properties. Lazzari also works as a fly fishing guide in Montana and Patagonia Chile.