Are you finally caving in to the never-ending pleas from your children that go something like this: “Can we get a dog? Please? Please? Can we get one?”
Deciding to bring a dog into the family is just the start of a very long, and sometimes confusing decision-making process. This is also a decision that cannot be made on the spur-of-the-moment while looking into the pet shop’s window.
The first thing to consider is temperament. Not all dogs are child-friendly, but some breeds with excellent child-friendly temperaments include: Golden and Labrador Retrievers, the Welsh Corgi, West Highland Terrier, Irish Setter, Schnauzer, Poodle, Airedale, Boxer, Collie, Boston Terrier, Newfoundland, Pug and Whippet.
The next thing to consider is size. This includes the children, as well as the size of the dog when it is full-grown. That cute and small Labrador Retriever puppy will eventually grow into a rambuncous 80 lb. adult dog. Will your toddler be able to handle being unintentionally knocked over by the wagging tail?
No matter the size of dog, it is important children are taught, right from the beginning, how to play with dogs. Children are often unaware of their own strength and can play rougher than they realise. Therefore, roughhousing that will over-excite an already excitable puppy must be discouraged. It is important to never leave a dog and child alone together and unsupervised. While dog attacks and bites are rare within the family home, any situation that may lead to these situations must be avoided.
Another issue to consider is activity level. Are you an active family with a lot of time to spend playing and exercising your dog? If this is the case, then Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are good choices. However, if your family is more low-key and not particularly active, then a Bassett Hound may be a more suitable breed.
Purebred or Mutt
Another question you need to ask yourself, and your family is: Should you get a puppy or an older dog? There is no denying the cuteness of puppies, however, they are an enormous amount of work. Puppies come to you completely blank – they need to be potty-trained, learn how to play appropriately with people – children in particular, and they need to be taught the basic obedience commands (sit, stay, come, down, heel). All of which take time and patience.
If tackling the trials of puppyhood is too much for your family, consider an older dog – six months and up. Older dogs will often already be socialised and know what is acceptable doggie behaviour and what is not. Best of all, they are almost always completely potty-trained.
The next question is breeding – purebred or mutt. When it comes to purebred temperaments, you generally know what you are getting. Although it is important to note that just as each and every person differs, so do dogs. So while a certain breed may be perfect for your family, it is possible you will end up with the a dog who’s temperament or activity level does not completely mesh with your family’s.
Mutts, on the other hand, are a complete guessing game. Knowing the breeds of mom and dad is helpful, but in all likelihood, they too came from mixed breeding. There is nothing wrong with mixed breeds, you just have to be extra diligent in teaching the children, and the dog, how to properly play together.
Breeds to Avoid
If you have younger children, under the age of five, stay away from the herding (for example Border Collies) and more protective breeds (Great Pyrenees).