Of course, the best way to have a family friendly dog is to ensure that the dog considers every human member of the family as its Pack Leader. That being said, here is Cesar'sWay take on some of the most popular breeds.
The great advantage of bulldogs? They’re sturdy, so they can take anything that rambunctious kids throw at them, while they’re not very energetic. End result? A dog that will put up with a lot. They’re also not picky about where they live, so both small apartments and large houses are fine.
If you don’t mind a bit of high maintenance when it comes to brushing and bathing, Charlie Brown’s best friend is an ideal dog for families with children. Energetic and friendly, beagles are also sturdy and mostly child-proof, and your kids will wear out before they do. They also make good nannies that can help you herd the young ones at bed time, and have endearingly humorous habits, like howling, which can be very amusing in small doses.
Related: How to choose the best dog for your kids
Spuds McKenzie, Buster Brown’s Pal, and the preferred canine baby sitter of yesteryear, bull terriers are intelligent, energetic and friendly dogs that can take a lot of roughhousing while remaining calm. Particularly suited to large families, they don’t complain too much when manhandled by children, and can actually help teach kids how to properly relate to dogs. Plus they’re just very cute and adorable. While they are energetic and require lots of play time, they will also help wear your kids out — the more the merrier — and will return the favor by being very protective of them.
One word: Lassie. In fact, Lassie was one of the two dogs, (the other was Rin Tin Tin) who inspired a very young Cesar Millan to become a Pack Leader in the first place. While its long coat is high maintenance, its tendency to herd your children may be useful, at least in their early years. Beyond that, collies love nothing more than to make their humans happy, and it’s really not a stretch to imagine that you could train yours to alert you to a fire in the barn, or to remind you that you’ve left your cell phone on the dining room table before rushing off to work with a well-timed bark and whine. Sadly, though, no one has yet been able to train this breed to cook.
Because of their natural love of children, the Newfoundland has been dubbed “Nature’s Nannies.” Large and sweet, it’s hard not to fall in love with them, and they will return the favor. While they can drool and shed a lot, and suit a family with large open spaces, they will also tend to wind up wherever the family is. Basically, they are gigantic, loveable furballs who desire nothing more than to keep watch on their pack members.
Originally a middle-European hunting dog, and little known outside of its native Hungary, the Vizsla is gentle, loyal, quiet and affectionate. It does require a lot of exercise — not a problem if you have energetic children. Still, it prefers to spend a lot of time indoors with its family, and is very eager to learn and show off. If you want to teach your children by teaching them to train dogs, then this breed is a good choice.
A better choice for families with yards because of their energy, Irish Setters are wonderful with children, because they are playful and energetic. One word of warning, though — their life spans are among the shorter ones for larger breeds, so you should only choose an Irish Setter if you want to teach those inevitable life lessons while your children are in middle school. Twelve years is considered old age for the breed, and few make it to fifteen.
Please note, only the standard poodle is a good family dog. Miniature poodles tend to be very high strung and not suitable for families with children. Standard poodles are smart and gentle, and are good for children with allergies, as they do not shed as much as other breeds. Otherwise, they are good-natured, and make excellent playmates for children.
One of the most popular breeds all around, we have documented Labradors elsewhere as the best dog to have if you’re looking for a date, the only breed accepted for training as arson dogs, and one of the more popular breeds for service dogs. For a family, there’s hardly a better choice. Labradors love to please their humans, being playful, protective, loving, and reliable. There’s nothing that a Lab loves more than to show off by learning a new trick, even if they manage to learn that new trick before you’ve taught it to them. They are canine Einsteins.
Goldens are almost everything a Labrador is, except with a much shorter life span then the Irish Setter — twelve years at the most, but ten more likely. Their main asset is extreme patience, useful around children, as well as their high energy. Frequently used as service dogs, they were originally bred as gun dogs and are avid swimmers.
Bonus choice: go to your local shelter, and consider rescuing a mixed breed dog. In fact, consider a mixed breed in any case. Look for a dog that matches the energy level of your family, keeping one thing in mind — mid size and larger dogs are great for families, while small breeds are not. If you have children, avoid Chihuahuas or Yorkies or anything you could pick up with one hand; look
at terriers, retrievers, or other bigger dogs. In general, if you’re not afraid of injuring it by stepping on it, then it’s probably durable enough for children.
Once again, remember: Whatever dog you bring in to the family, all of the people in the household need to be the Pack Leaders, whether adults or children. Follow this rule from day one, and no matter what dog you adopt, you’ll have an enjoyable experience.