Making the decision to get a dog if you have children is a bit more complicated than just choosing a dog for yourself. There are very few dogs that simply cannot be raised to be excellent companions for children, however there are some dogs that have more difficult in accepting and interacting with children due to their traits, temperament and even their size. Contrary to what may people think the large and giant breeds are often some of the most compatible dogs with children, typically having a very high level of both patience and tolerance in interacting with kids.
One of the biggest considerations when choosing a large or giant breed of dog is the space that the dog requires to be comfortable. Larger dogs need more space to lie down, spread out and just relax, however they don't always need more exercise than the smaller breeds. A huge Mastiff is very happy with one or two moderately long walks a day while a smaller Toy Fox Terrier or Jack Russell needs far more exercise to stay happy. However the Mastiff needs a considerably larger general living space.
Below is a brief description of some of the more common large and giant breeds that are considered to be excellent dogs for those families with kids. Many of these dogs are terrific with children of all ages and seem to bond very quickly with kids, much to the delight of the children.
Both the American Bulldog and the Olde English Bulldog are larger sized dogs that are considered to be a good match with children of all ages. These dogs tend to be very easy keepers requiring minimal grooming, little special exercise and they are relatively healthy breeds. The Bulldogs do very well with younger children and don't mind just sitting and watching the child. They may not be suited for a household that wants a very active dog as they tend to be very laid back and not highly active with children that want to run around and romp with the dog.
These huge dogs can mature at 150 to 200 pounds and really need a large fenced yard to have routine exercise. They are great with children and are very protective of the family but they are also gently playful and willing to move about a lot with younger and older children. The Mastiffs have a tendency to be a bit stubborn and strong willed and due to their large size they need to be firmly and consistently trained and socialized throughout their life. Despite their large size the Mastiff is a gentle dog and is typically inactive when indoors, which they prefer to be if that is where the family is.
Bernese Mountain Dog
A longer haired tri-colored herding breed, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a natural with children. They are protective, gentle yet very playful with kids of all ages. They are a very happy go lucky dog that is usually easy to train and very easy to socialize. Some have a tendency to want to herd the children and keep them all in a group, which in itself is an endearing characteristic. They do need routine grooming and they are prone to heavier shedding in the spring and fall seasons. While originally an outside working dog they prefer to be with the family rather than left outdoors or in a kennel.
Setters and Retrievers
As a group the setters and retrievers including the Irish and English Setters, Labrador, Golden and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and others are all excellent large size dogs with kids. They are moderately to highly active dogs, patient and kind with children with a gentle and very loyal temperament. Some may be rather boisterous as puppies and will need to learn not to jump up on kids or become overly excited in games and activities. Since they tend to stay very active well into their senior years they are a great lifetime match for children.
Despite its huge size the Great Dane is actually a very playful dog with children and seems to understand its huge size compared to the smaller children. They are extremely patient with kids and will sit with children by the hour if they are reading, watching television or just relaxing. The Great Dane does need to be around the family and will be a good natural watchdog and guard dog, however they are often particularly protective of children. The Great Dane is easy to care for with the short coat however they are moderate shedders year round.
A tall, leggy and massive dog the Irish Wolfhound is really a gentle giant. They tend to be very dignified in their carriage but also can be very playful with children. Highly intelligent they often watch and learn what children are doing and tend to respond very well to children's commands. Despite its size the Irish Wolfhound is not known as either a watchdog or a guard dog and they tend to welcome everyone with the same calm attitude. They require two years to reach full maturity and unfortunately are not long lived dogs with a lifespan of only 6-8 years on average.
The Newfoundland is very similar in shape and appearance to the St. Bernard, however it is usually all black, black and white, a bronze color or a more rare white with black markings known as a Landseer pattern. They are a very calm dog but an ideal child's companion as they simply adore being around children. The Newfie prefers to be inside, as close to the family as he or she can get. They are highly intelligent, easy to train and very attuned to the family. Most Newfoundland dogs will bond very quickly to their family and may be impossible to rehome once they have bonded. Some Newfoundlands are prone to drooling and they love to go swimming whenever they get the chance.
A beautiful and refined dog, the Scotch Collie does require a lot of grooming to stay in top condition. They are best suited to households with large fenced yards they can explore and their gentle personality means they are not prone to barking or any types of aggressive behavior. They are very interactive with kids and are always up for a walk, run or a romp. The Scotch Collie does require regular longer walks plus room to run and they are not suitable for very small spaces or apartments.
The Standard Poodle breed is experiencing a resurgence in its popularity as a family dog. They are highly intelligent and easy to train breed that is gentle and kind towards children. Their low shedding, hypoallergenic coat also makes them an excellent choice for a variety of families. The Standard Poodle is a sturdy and athletic dog that enjoys being both inside and outside, where ever the family may be. They are a good watch dog but typically too friendly to be a guard dog, plus they are usually very non-aggressive with other dogs, making them a good match for children and their friends.
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