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If you're looking to buy a new dog, and you have a young family, you'll want to select a breed of dog that will be suitable for the hustle and bustle of family life. There are over 200 different pedigree dog breeds to choose from and it can be tempting to give into pester power from children often gravitating towards cute and fluffy breeds that may be totally unsuitable for the family environment. For example, the Chow Chow looks like a giant teddy bear, but it was originally bred to guard livestock and hunt wolves and leopards!
There are many breeds of dog that are good around children. However, do remember that any dog that feels threatened or anxious has the capability of snapping, so youngsters should be taught to respect the family dog and not provoke it or tease it. Remember, children should also be supervised at all times around dogs, especially babies.
Children should also be taught that dogs need privacy too, and shouldn't be disturbed at meal times or when they are sleeping. An enthusiastic and excitable child can easily startle an unexpected dog. Remember that your new dog will require good socialisation skills and ongoing training throughout its life to promote good social skills and behaviour.
All the different dog breeds fall into one of 6 breed categories which include:
Many of the dogs in each category share a lot of similarities in terms of temperament and behaviour, which is helpful when choosing the right breed for your family. For example, the pastoral group were originally bred to guard and herd livestock. The feisty Corgi is notorious for snapping at heels, and is simply displaying its instinct to snap at the feet of sheep and livestock at work in the field. Snapping and 'rounding up' of humans is a common trait in this hardy group of dogs, which often make them unsuitable for households with children. Dogs in the pastoral group also tend to be 'one person' dogs, and are often aloof and wary of strangers.
Dogs in the terrier group are often head-strong and stubborn. Breeds such as the Yorkshire Terrier and Jack Russell can be snappy if they feel provoked. Terriers also retain much of their strong prey/hunt drive. The working group as its name suggests consists of big, hardy working dogs such as the Newfoundland and St. Bernard. Although these two imposing breeds are renowned for their placid and gentle nature, the sheer size and weight of these dogs would make them unsuitable for families with smaller children.
Of our 10 family friendly dog breeds, 5 belong to the gundog group. This is due to gundogs having a 'soft mouth' which means they are able to carry things in their mouths without damaging them. The gundog group are highly intelligent, easy-to-train and enjoy human companionship. They do not have same tendency of roaming and wandering off as those breeds in the terrier or hound group.
Here is a selection that often make good family pets. Please remember that each dog despite its own breed traits has its own unique temperament and personality. Always meet the mother and the father of a litter when choosing a puppy.
The Labrador Retriever is a great family dog. It adores children and adults alike. The Labrador is dependable, placid and highly intelligent. However, the breed may be too large for some family homes, and it does also require plenty of physical exercise. Labrador love their food and are prone to obesity so portion sizes should be monitored carefully at meal times.
The trusty Golden Retriever is similar in stature to the ever-popular Labrador Retriever but has a longer coat. Again, it's a dog breed that is noted for its patience, kindness and placid nature around children. It's another highly physically active dog, that enjoys its food, so may not suit the less-active family.
The Golden Retriever does has a beautiful thick coat, but it can shed throughout the year, so not suitable for family members who suffer from allergy problems.
The Beagle is quickly establishing itself as a good family dog. It is alert, friendly and enjoys the company of humans. It is a great practical size for most family homes too, with the benefit of a short no-fuss coat that requires minimal grooming. It's a breed that enjoys plenty of exercise, and being a typical hound dog, has been known to roam off on the dog walk. Devoted owners of the breed state how gentle and sensitive the Beagle is.
The Labradoodle is one of the popular hybrid dogs that has been developed from crossing a Labrador Retriever and a poodle. The result is a dog with the same sweet and placid nature of the Labrador and the intelligence and bounce of the poodle. Another advantage with many hybrid dogs, is that they do not shed fur, so maybe suitable for allergy sufferers.
The English Cocker Spaniel is a medium-sized lively dog that tends to love the company of children. It has bags of energy, and will have no problem keeping up with active children. This dog is a practical size for virtually all family homes, but owners must expect to groom this breed regularly.
The Springer Spaniel is another dog with an abundance of energy. It loves keeping busy and has a reputation for being great with children. Be aware, this dog can quickly become hyperactive if it doesn't receive adequate amounts of exercise and stimulation. It's also another dog breed that requires regular grooming.
The quirky pug will keep your children amused with its comical antics. It's usually good with children and a lovely practical size around the home. The short coat requires minimal grooming, and it's not a dog that requires hours of walking each day. However, many owners claim their pugs snore, which may put off some pet owners off.
The family-friendly Dachshund is available in 2 different sizes, the standard size and the miniature. Both sizes have 3 different varieties of coat, which are the smooth, wire or longhaired. This energetic little dog is renowned for its good nature around children.
However, due to the Dachshund being long in the body, spinal injuries are a real threat, so children must be taught not to encourage jumping up and down and be aware of the problem of stairs in this breed.
Very similar in looks to the English Springer spaniel, this gregarious and friendly dog is usually excellent around children. It does require plenty of exercise, so best suited to an active, outdoor loving family.
The Boston Terrier has seen a big increase in popularity and proving itself to be a great little family dog. Grooming requirements are very low and exercise levels are not as demanding as many other breeds. Its small size makes it a good choice for families with not too much space around the home.