What Are The Best Puppies For Kids?

Kids and puppies go together like chocolate and milk and are almost as sweet. There’s just something joyful and magical that happens when the two get together.

If you’re thinking about getting a puppy for your kid(s), I say go for it! Having a puppy (and then a dog) is one of the best experiences a child can have as they grow up.

I experienced a little of this magic between kids and puppies the other day when, at my local big-box pet store, I saw two small children gleefully playing with a puppy as their parents watched. It was heartwarming to see, and you could tell that the kids were over the moon.

That got me thinking about a question that every parent buying a puppy for their child needs to ask before bringing one home; what are the best puppies for kids?

The answer to this critical question is not easy to give, mostly because kids and puppies can be completely different from one to the next. To help, below, I’ve broken down the different dog breeds into small, medium, and large categories, and which of all three are the best for kids.

It’s not an easy choice; I can tell you that. It’s also not a choice I would leave up to my kids, only because they don’t know what goes into having a puppy, taking care of it, feeding it, etc. For example, they might pick a St. Bernard, which, frankly, is a whole lot of dog to care for.

So, again, below, I’ve broken down the best puppies for kids based on size. Read on if you’d like to know which puppies are the best for kids and make the best pets.

Best Small Breed Dogs for Kids 

A puppy’s temperament and trainability are two factors you must consider when adopting. The same can be said for your child, whom you should teach how to interact, treat and play with their new pup. The best small dog breeds for kids include the following:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. An even-tempered breed, these pups love to cuddle and play with everyone, especially children. However, they’re not so fond of rough play, so teaching your kids to be gentle is a must.
  • Pug. Children instantly recognize this breed of dog as they’re featured in many Hollywood movies. Relatively low energy, they only need to be walked once a day. Pugs also love to play and are among the silliest dog breeds, making them perfect for kids.
  • Cocker Spaniel. Always happy and easy to socialize, Cocker Spaniels are a bundle of energy. However, one thing to keep in mind is that they will need to be groomed professionally and often.
  • Shih Tzu. One of the smallest dog breeds I recommend for children is the Shih Tzu, which is also one of the cutest! They make incredibly charming pets and wonderful playmates. They’re tiny, though, and thus not recommended for very young children.

Best Medium-Sized Breed Dogs for Kids

For me, medium-sized dogs are the best for kids. They’re not so small as to risk mishandling and not so big that they can drag your child around the yard while leashed.  

By the way, veterinarians recommend waiting until your youngest child is at least five years old before adopting a puppy.  Older children usually have better impulse control and can better understand how to handle a pup. Some of the best medium-sized dog breeds for kids include:

  • English Springer Spaniel. Most kids have all sorts of energy, and an English Springer Spaniel is one dog that can keep up with them. Although they make excellent companions for children, English Springer Spaniels need to be brushed regularly and require professional grooming.
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier. This dog breed is well known to be very affectionate, especially with children. Indeed, they’re often called “nanny dogs” due to how sweet, loyal and calm they can be. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a very strong prey instinct and don’t do well with other pets.
  • Bulldog. One of the most patient breeds, the Bulldog, is very tolerant of active children. They also are surprisingly nimble and love to chase after pretty much anything. However, one small problem is that they can overheat quickly due to their brachiocephalic (pushed-in) face.
  • Whippet. An incredibly mellow breed, the Whippet is perfect for families. They are very tolerant and laid back but also incredibly intelligent. One caveat is that Whippets will chase practically anything, even inanimate objects. For that reason, they should always be supervised when outside. 

Best Large Breed Dogs for Kids

Many people adore large dog breeds because they’re so easy to cuddle and hug. Children love them also, but larger breeds can often be difficult to handle, especially for smaller children. In any case, some of the best large breed dogs for kids include:

  • Labrador Retriever. The most popular dog breed in the United States, Labrador Retrievers make wonderful family pets. They’re intelligent, gentle, and have an even temperament perfect for being around children.
  • Old English Sheepdog. One of the biggest dog breeds, Old English Sheepdogs, are very affectionate and watchful. That makes them an excellent breed for children, and the fact that they are highly intelligent. They also love attention and need it nearly as much as your child. (Which is to say, a lot.)
  • Golden Retriever. Another large dog breed that’s great with children and will thrive in an active home environment is the Golden Retriever. They’re highly sociable, intelligent, and fiercely loyal dogs, and Golden Retriever puppies are some of the cutest you’ve ever seen!
  • Great Dane. It takes a special family to adopt a Great Dane, but those that do will find that they are fantastic, loving guard dogs. They’re incredibly affectionate and gentle, making them perfect for families with kids.
  • Alaskan Malamute. Super friendly, Alaskan Malamutes thrive in an active household.  One thing to remember, though, is they treat everyone as their friend, so don’t expect them to be guard dogs for your kids.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of different dog breeds, and many are great with children. As to the question of what are the best puppies for kids, that depends on so many factors that it’s truly difficult to say. The dog breeds on today’s list are all great candidates, to be sure, but the right choice depends on many different factors. 

One thing I would like to add is that mixed breed dogs also, in many cases,  make fantastic pets for families with children. You can adopt a mixed breed puppy, in most cases, for a fraction of the cost of a full breed puppy.  Adopting a mixed breed puppy from a shelter will likely be much more economical, depending on your budget. (It might also save their life.)

I hope today’s blog gave you some useful information on the best small, medium, and large dog breeds that are excellent with kids. If you have more questions or would like more advice on how to be a fantastic pet parent, please see my other blogs. I do my best to pack them with useful, real-world information, tips, and advice. Until next time, best of luck choosing a puppy for your child! Whatever breed you choose, it will be a life-changing event for everyone in your family!