Choosing a Family Pet

Bringing a pet into a family home is not a decision that should be made without careful consideration. Pets require responsibility, both physically and financially; some pets may also be unsafe for children. Realizing what is involved in pet ownership and finding out the facts about the specific pet you wish to get can save both you and the animal trouble in the long run.



Dogs are probably the most common pets in America. Many families choose to get a dog; most feel their lives are improved by owning it. However, there are some considerations to be made when choosing a dog for a pet.

Potential pet owners should understand basic facts about particular breeds. Some breeds are large and may be dangerous around small children. It may not be a good idea to have dogs that weigh more than 50-plus lbs. around small children because of the risk of injury. Injuries to children by large dogs may be accidental or intentional. Dogs breeds, such as Dobermans or Great Danes, may be poor choices for those with small children. Beagles or miniature or standard poodles may make more sense; both breeds also have good temperaments.
It is unwise to choose any dog with a history of aggressive behavior or a breed that is regularly associated with fighting or aggression, such as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.


Cats are almost as popular for family pets as dogs. Cats have been domestic pets for thousands of years and are usually good family pets. Cats can vary in temperament individually. Your main concern is finding a cat that will not scratch or otherwise harm your family members. Allergies are another concern. American shorthair cats or Maine coons tend to be gentle, easygoing felines that get along well with everyone.


Having fish might seem like an easy alternative to a family pet. Some fish, however, make better beginner fish than others. Some fish need specific water temperature, food and colony requirements. In fact, keeping some species of fish can seem like a full-time job.
Several different types of fish would be suitable for a family pet. Bettas are beautiful freshwater fish that are low maintenance for beginning fish owners. Aside from keeping them fed and their water clean, the only trick is not to let two male betas be in a tank together. They will attack and kill one another. Other fish that make nice additions to an aquarium are colorful tetras and bottom-feeding loaches.

Exotic Pets

The availability of a pet in a store does not necessarily make it a good idea for a family pet. Pet stores often sell reptiles, rodents, baby ducks and exotic animals, such as monkeys. These are not good family pets, although some individuals may be able to have success with them.
The presence of children in a family should eliminate the consideration of pet snakes, because pythons, for example, could potentially strangle small children. Rodents and some reptiles transmit bacteria, such as salmonella, through their feces which can be spread to the family. Other exotic or wild animals, such as monkeys or ferrets, are unpredictable and could injure your family. Speaking with a veterinarian about acquiring these animals is the best bet.

By Lee Morgan


About the Author
Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.