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It is highly common for kids to ask their parents if they can have a pet, especially around Christmas or birthdays, and having a dog is one of the best ways to bring even more joy to your family setup. But, adopting a dog is a big responsibility and it is important that any potential new owners stop and consider which type of dog they can care for best before making the commitment to bring one home.

While any new owner should consider if they can walk their dog at least twice a day, can afford the proper vet care, and are able to provide healthy food appropriate to their dog’s age, size and dietary requirements, families have one more concern: which dogs are safe and trustworthy with children?

Which dog breed is the friendliest?

Young children don’t always understand when they are going too far, and might play too rough or poke a dog too hard and provoke a reaction. So, it is important for families to find a dog breed that is highly tolerant of children and naturally playful, so they respond to your children in a warm and gentle manner. Some of the most patient and child-friendly dogs include:

  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Irish Setter
  • Newfoundland
  • Beagle

Something to note is that friendliness is a sign of intelligence in dogs, as it indicates they are able to recognise your facial and body cues, as well as which family members your dog needs to be more careful around (i.e. young children). While this is a positive sign for families want a child-friendly pet, intelligent dogs also require much more care, because they need frequent mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Only commit to an intelligent dog if you can give him or her the attention they will need.

What is the best small family dog?

Another important factor to consider when getting a dog for your family is not just if they are friendly, but whether you have the space to spare. A house full of adults, children and toys is already one that is close to bursting, so bringing in a large dog like a Newfoundland or a Retriever might not be wise. Fortunately, there are numerous breeds that don’t require as much space, are still playful and safe around children.

  • Pug
  • Brussels Griffon
  • French Bulldog
  • Bichon Frise
  • Cocker Spaniel

What is the best guard dog for a family?

Some dogs aren’t just natural playmates for families and children, but are protective defenders, too. This should not be confused with being aggressive, but some dogs form such strong bonds of loyalty with their family that they become naturally wary of strangers. These dogs are perfect for families who want a dog that helps keep an eye on the kids and offers a warning bark to approaching strangers, without the risk of being needlessly aggressive.

  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Bullmastiff
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler

While these breeds tend to not be as playful with young children, although they still will play from time to time, they are highly resilient to rough play from children, too, and are unlikely to ever respond aggressively.

Dogs are the product of their training and a warm home environment. Provided you put in the time to train your dog and give them lots of love and attention, most breeds can be trained to behave safely and responsibly around children. However, the above breeds are certainly some of the best when it comes to harbouring a natural affection towards children and instinctive desire to protect your family.

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