There are hundreds of breeds to choose from with different characteristics. How does one choose the perfect pet for a family with kids?
Have a large yard or land? A big fluffy guardian like a Newfoundland will run around and look after your kids but will settle down for a comfy nap with a pile of youngsters on him. Yes, they do shed quite a bit and are prone to drool, but this gentle giant loves kids. In fact, the Newfie has also been called "nature's babysitter."
Photo by Jenniferschwalm
What about living in an apartment or small space? Is the dream of a furry friend for you? Consider a Pug or a Miniature Schnauzer. These are both durable and patient dogs that are engaging and easy to train.
Take care with temperature extremes with the Pug. His pushed-in nose is adorable but can cause breathing problems in higher temps. The Miniature Schnauzer sheds very little and might be a better choice for families with allergies.
Photo by Phil Scoville
But they also know when to be mellow too!
My personal favorite for homes with a lot of activity are Beagles. Charlie Brown had his Snoopy, and my family always had a Beagle or two on hand. Considering that I had three brothers, this was a good test for their durability. Beagles can get into trouble if left alone for a long time; however, so families with a lot going on might be a perfect match.
Me with my brothers and Beagle puppies, 1984. Jeremy (cofounder of BaxterBoo) is next to me.
Just because you have a family member that suffers from allergies doesn't mean you can't have a dog. Here are some good kid-friendly options. Remember, every person is different. Always spend a good amount of time with a prospective pet to be sure you won't react. Shed free means you will have to invest in grooming or learn to do it yourself.
The Havanese is a sturdy dog in a smaller package. They are bright and capable of learning lots of tricks. Bred as companion dogs in Cuba, this dog is intuitive to the needs of its family. The non-shedding single coat does require grooming, but many allergy sufferers find they do well with this type of dog.
Havanese photo by Hemlit.
It goes without saying that Labrador and Golden Retrievers are always popular choices for families. Lately, they have been crossbred with the Standard Poodle to try to bring more of a hypoallergenic element to these family favorites. Standard Poodles are a great family dog but some feel they look too fussy.
The moppy look of the Labradoodle or Goldendoodle is appealing but these cross breeds may or may not have the non-shedding characteristics and dander that can cause reactions. Spend time with the puppy to see how you react, but remember that the fur can change as the puppy matures.
Photo by Juhan Sonin.
A shelter dog is always a good choice. Shelter workers are getting quite good at helping families make a good match with a dog with behavioral tests and classes. A mixed-breed dog may be a bit of a mystery but an adult dog is a great choice because you can see what you're getting. Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue is an important lesson for kids that the whole family can feel good about.
What is your favorite choice of dogs for families with kids?