Deciding to get a dog is a big decision, particularly if you’re a family with kids. You want to choose a dog breed that will have a good overall temperament, especially if your kids are very young. You want to make sure that you choose the right dog that won’t be aggressive to anyone in your family or people outside your household.
You also have to think about the size of a dog versus how much space you have available and the typical energy level.
The following are some of the big things to consider as you’re deciding on the best dog for your family.
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Good Breeds for Families
Considering dog breed alone isn’t the only indicator you should consider when choosing a dog for your family. Every dog is unique, no matter the reputation of its breed.
With that being said, considering breeds you might be interested in is a good starting point to at least narrow things down a bit.
When you’re researching breeds, you’ll want to consider the grooming and exercise requirements, the general temperament, and how trainable they are.
Then, once you have an idea of breeds you’re interested in, you can also do deeper research into those particular ones, or if possible, talk to experts such as a breeder.
A breed with a reputation for being very trainable tends to be best for families with kids. Trainable dogs are eager to please, and they’re often more family-oriented, whereas some breeds will attach to only one person.
Good family breeds include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and collies, all of which are considered trainable.
Specific things that will make a good dog for a family along with trainability include:
- Temperament: We’ve used the word temperament above already, and it just refers to a dog’s personality. You want a dog with a calm, agreeable temperament. Calmer dogs tend to be better able to form bonds, and they’re suitable for kids.
- Size: Sometimes, you might think a smaller dog is better for kids, but that’s often not the case. Larger dogs tend to be more docile and have a lower energy level than smaller dogs which can get more excited and also in some cases, more aggressive. With that being said, a big dog can knock your children down if they’re small, even without meaning to. If you can find a big dog with a calm temperament, that tends to work well for families with children.
- Energy: We keep mentioning calm dogs, and it’s an important consideration. If you choose a dog with an incredibly high energy level, are you going to be able to keep up with his exercise needs? If you have a fenced-in yard, it may be fine, but otherwise, your dog could become destructive if he has a lot of pent-up energy he can’t release. Of course, there are situations where you want an energetic dog. For example, if you’re a runner and you want a dog that you can take with you, a low-energy breed won’t be able to keep up.
Grooming and Maintenance
All dogs are going to require some general grooming, such as the occasional bath. Some breeds are going to need more than that, based on their hair type. If you choose a dog with hair that continues to grow, you should be prepared to groom regularly.
A dog with short, smooth hair may be more manageable in terms of grooming, but they tend to shed a lot.
If you choose a breed like a Basset hound with long ears, they’re more prone to ear infections.
Some breeds are susceptible to excessive drooling like Mastiffs.
When you’re getting a dog for your family, you might think a puppy is best. Puppies are adorable, but you’re going to have to spend a lot of time over the first six months training the puppy and housebreaking him. A puppy is likely to destroy things around your house in the process.
If you adopt a puppy, he might grow up and look different than what you expected.
When you choose an adult dog, he’s likely to be calmer, and while you may still have to train him, many adult dogs are already trained. Adult dogs are also more likely to be socialized.
While we’ve talked a lot about specific breeds, you may worry that if you adopt a dog, you won’t be able to choose. In many cases, even when you adopt, you might be able to find the breed you’re looking for. You can adopt from a shelter but also a rescue group. Many rescue groups focus on one particular breed.
A breed-specific rescue group will allow you to get all the things you decided you wanted in a dog, but you also know you’re saving that dog’s life.
If you’re going to adopt a dog, you should meet him first, to see how he does with your children.
What About a Breeder?
If you do have your heart set on a specific breed and you can’t find one any other way, you might go to a breeder. Be careful with breeders, however. You should choose a responsible breeder with a good reputation. You’ll also need all the papers for your puppy to ensure you’re getting the bloodline you think you are.
Do not get a dog from a flea market or a pet store. These are puppy mills, and the dog you bring home is likely to have significant health issues.
Finally, when you’re deciding on a dog, a few other things to ask or consider include whether or not the dog will get along with other pets and if he will be safe for everyone in your family. For example, some dogs only prefer to bond with adults, or they might only like people of one gender. A breeder or someone who works at the place where you’ll be adopting from should be able to give you more information.