If you've decided to take the plunge and get that dog the kids have been clamoring for, it's wise to do your homework first. Preferences can drive some of your decision-making process, but a dog that plays well with children is a must.
The outgoing, loyal and playful pug can't wait to play with children. He won't be a good playmate in especially hot weather outside, though, as he finds it tough to breathe given his snub nose. A French bulldog knows how to play and keep up with the kids without being overly boisterous. If you don't mind a bit of grooming, the Shih Tzu, Maltese or Cavalier King Charles can hold its own with active children.
The long-popular beagle's easygoing nature ensures he gets along with just about everyone. If you want smarts and affection, an Airedale terrier makes a playful family pet. Bull terriers draw laughs with their clowning, engaging antics. These guys can be stubborn, but training and good socialization can reward your family with a fun companion. Other medium-sized breeds to consider include the bulldog and boxer.
Don't be nervous if your dog outweighs your child. The gentle personalities and playful dispositions of certain big dogs make them solid companions, particularly for a family with some space. Patient outdoor playmates include golden retrievers, Labradors, bearded collies and standard poodles. The Bernese mountain dog, a gentle giant, tolerates kids well and may even play along by pulling the little ones around in carts.
Making the Right Choice
Though you may be tempted to choose a pup based on a dog you've met in passing or seen on TV, remember: Each dog has his own personality. An individual from a purportedly "kid-friendly" breed may not be as patient as expected. A good rule of thumb is to stick to highly trainable breeds because they're eager to please. Your choice should be influenced by your lifestyle and how the dog's size, disposition, energy level and temperament fit in. And don't forget: Mixed breed dogs often turn out to be the best family pets.
By Betty Lewis
PetMD: Top 10 Dogs for Kids
Dogtime.com: Kid-Friendly Dogs Who Are Playful
Dogchannel.com: Great Children-Friendly Dog Breeds
Animal Planet: Top 10 Kid-Friendly Small Dogs
WebMD: The Best Dog Breed for Families and Children
PetMD: Top 10 Large Dog Breeds
ASPCA: ASPCA Guide to Kids and Pets
About the Author
Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master's degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.