Bringing home a dog to a family with kids is a huge decision. And picking the right dog breed can literally make or break the experience for the family.
So by using real-life dog temperament tests, along with other important factors, we’ve found the 10 best dog breeds for families with kids. Here’s a quick rundown of how we ranked the most kid-friendly dog breeds.
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Ranking Kid-Friendly Dog Breeds
The first consideration is of course, the dog breeds’ temperament. Dog temperament refers to a dog’s overall behavior, including their disposition, attitude, and how they typically react to various situations and people.
A non-profit called the American Temperament Test Society has tested over 34,000 dogs within a span of nearly 50 years.
Without boring you with too much detail, dogs were put in an enclosure and presented with a variety of stimuli, such as sudden loud noises or an approaching stranger.
If the dog showed any signs of unprovoked aggression, aloofness or panic, they failed the test. After all, kids are unpredictable, so knowing a dog can remain calm is crucial.
Next, we considered the durability and size of the dog breed. Just because a large dog is sweet doesn’t mean he won’t accidentally hurt a child. On the contrary, some dogs may be too small and fragile to handle the rough play of kids.
And finally, we looked into reports of dog bites from the last few decades found at dogsbite.org. This is fairly self explanatory. Sure, most of these breeds can still be great for families, but we rather not take any risks with kids.
10. The Cane Corso
Don’t be intimidated by the Cane Corso, that is, unless you’re a stranger that’s up to no good. You may be surprised to see such a fierce and scary-looking guard dog on this list. However, the Cane Corso was actually bred to have a calm and reserve temperament.
When they’re playing with rowdy kids, their patience really shines through. However, it’s really their loyalty and affection that makes them an amazing protector for the children.
Now all of this is true, but only if they’re properly socialized and trained. But due to the sheer size of these massive dogs, supervision is still needed during play time.
9. The Beagle
While the Beagle’s temperament passing rate isn’t as high as other dog breeds on this list, we had to make an exception because they check all the other boxes. Like the Boston Terrier, the Beagle is a mild and even-tempered dog.
This makes them highly suitable for children of all ages. In fact, Beagles are pretty much everything you’d want in a family companion. They have a friendly and loving temperament, but they’re also active and playful around children.
Patience is something they’re famously known for, and their adaptability means they can adjust to any family environment.
Being a medium-sized dog, they’re also less likely to be injured when playing with children. Just make sure you teach your kids not to tug on their low-hanging ears, no matter how tempting it may seem.
8. The Irish Setter
The best part about the Irish Setter is their tendency to form strong bonds with family members, including the kids. A healthy dog-to-child relationship is key to fostering a loving environment for both the dog and children.
And that’s exactly what the Irish Setter will provide. Irish Setters are friendly and outgoing, known for being playful and cheerful all the time. They’re true optimists, as many owners would say.
However, they’re intelligent enough to know when it’s time to play and when it’s time to settle down. If needed, they’ll be patient and gentle, making them probably the most underrated family dogs on this list.
But it’s worth noting that they’re highly active dogs and need an active family to thrive.
7. The Golden Retriever
No list is complete without the Golden Retriever. There’s a reason why they’re consistently one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. As many owners would agree, Golden Retrievers may just be the friendliest dog breed on this list.
If properly trained and socialized, you won’t find a single aggressive bone in this breed. In fact, they’re the type of the dog you can almost fully trust with your children with little to no parental supervision. But make sure to properly train them first.
And as many already know, Goldens are known for their kindness and approachability, which makes it that much easier for kids to form strong relationships with these dogs. I mean – it’s a Golden Retriever. You can’t really go wrong with one.
6. The Pug
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Pug made the cut. They possess all the traits every parent has on their checklist of traits. Pugs are affectionate, playful, friendly, charming, and loyal dogs.
They’re also highly sociable with an easygoing nature, making them ideal for all types of kids. Let’s face it – children require a lot of attention. But the best thing about the Pug is that they thrive on human interaction.
They’ll be by your children’s side any chance they get, and they’ll spoil them with all the attention in the world. Pugs and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly.
5. The Curly-Coated Retriever
Although these retrievers are famous for their curly coats, they’re also underrated companions for kids. They’re an exceptional choice for families, thanks to their remarkable combination of intelligence, independence, and affection.
The Curly will do it all, as long as your kids are involved. They’ll sit by their side and protect them, they’ll run through the fields with your energetic kids, and they’ll even patiently go through obedience training with your children in charge.
And the curly coats won’t just be for show. Kids love to pat and cuddle with these dogs and their uniquely textured coats. The only issue is that they’re very active dogs, so they’ll do much better with older active kids.
4. The Flat-Coated Retriever
The Flat Coats are like the lesser known cousins of the Golden Retriever. In fact, aside from the color, they’re pretty much the same. Flat Coated Retrievers are fun-loving, sociable and loyal dogs that make the perfect addition to any family.
They have a strong eagerness to please, ensuring that they’ll behave around the children if that’s what you want. These dogs bring a happy-go-lucky and cheerful vibe that’s incredibly contagious, which just makes the home that much more fun for the children.
However, you’ll want to keep in mind that these dogs are active and energetic. They were bred to be high energy retrievers, after all. As long as their exercise needs are met on a daily basis, they’ll be standout choices for your family.
3. The Labrador
Being the most popular dog breed in America for 31 consecutive years makes the Labrador the top choice for literally thousands of families. And, it’s not hard to see why. Labs are easygoing, fun-loving, sociable and friendly dogs.
They can literally make friends with just about anyone. And while they check all the boxes for parents, the one thing that makes the Labrador stand out from the rest is their tolerant and forgiving nature.
Now we’re not saying you shouldn’t teach your kids how to respectfully play with a Lab, but if things do get out of hand, Labs are quick to forget and don’t hold grudges. If trained well, it’s going to be insanely difficult to get an aggressive reaction from your Lab.
2. The English Cocker Spaniel
I can’t say I’m surprised at how well the Cocker Spaniel scored on the temperament test. Few dogs are as inherently kind, sweet, friendly and gentle as this spaniel.
The two greatest traits Cocker Spaniels have going for them is their patience and eagerness to please. In fact, both are probably the most ideal traits in dogs for children.
They respond extremely well to positive reinforcement, making them superb companions for families looking to involve children in dog training.
Plus, English Cockers are also famously known for being extremely tolerant of the unpredictabilities that come with young children. And as for size, they have the perfect build. These medium dogs aren’t too big, yet not so fragile.
1. The French Bulldog
As of 2022, Frenchies have officially dethroned the Labrador as the most popular dog breed in America. It’s no coincidence they top this list. The world has just started to realize how exceptional these dogs are for families with children.
We can go on and on about all the wonderful qualities of the Frenchie. But it really boils down to this. French Bulldogs are exceptionally loving and accepting dogs that are known for forming a deep bond with kids.
Plus, they’re just the perfect size. And unlike other small dogs, Frenchies are built to be durable and sturdy. They can handle rough play…well, to a certain extent. You can’t really go wrong with a Frenchie, as thousands of children call these dogs their companions each year.
Which dog breed do you own in a home with kids? Let us know in the comments section below – what has been your experience with them?