By Alexandra Allred
The most common mistake parents make when buying a family dog is choosing a dog that is cute or the right size rather than considering breed and temperament. When picking a breed or mix, it is important to consider the children who will be with the dog. Dogs should be solidly built -- able to take roughhousing by children, patient and gentle in nature. While many breeds are good with children, the dogs listed are those most often recommended by veterinarians, dog trainers and animal behaviorists -- professionals who handle dogs everyday.
1. Labrador Retriever
Members of the Retriever family are the most sought-after dogs in the world for companionship. Their good reputation with small children and other animals is known around the world. This recommendation includes the Golden Retriever, Curly- and Flat-Coated Retrievers and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
2. Standard Schnauzer
Standards are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, energetic and strong willed. They are also not tolerant of teasing and will let people know when they have had enough! Standards make good family dogs and companions and do fine with children if they are raised with them. Older kids tend work with this breed better than many younger children who might find a Schnauzer intimidating.
Many breeds in the Hound family are very good with children. They are good-natured and have very positive outlooks on life, but can be quite stubborn. It is their stubbornness that makes them frustrating for children who want to teach their dogs to fetch or come. Getting a beagle to do something it doesn't want to do is a test of patience and persistence.
4. Collie Family
This group includes the Border Collie, Briard and Collie. These dogs are very docile with children and full of energy. They are very patient, but will take charge of a situation that gets out of hand - key qualities in working with livestock and playing with a room full of children.
5. German Shepherd
Like the Collie family, the Shepherd is very patient and tolerant of the rough play of children. These dogs are great protectors and loving family members.
6. Jack Russell Terrier
Jack Russell can be a terrific family pet. He has a gentle and kindly nature. This dog thrives on action and adventure. He is very playful and intelligent and gets along well with children and strangers.
7. Springer Spaniel
Members of the Spaniel family are an extremely playful and friendly bunch. The popularity of the Cocker Spaniel in the late 1970's and early 1980's caused a great inbreeding from backyard breeders (non-professionals) and biting became a problem. But the Springer Spaniel never reached the popularity of the Cocker, steering clear of the over-breeding problems. Despite all this, Spaniels have traditionally been a wonderful family dog. (Note: ears can be sensitive to pulling).
8. Mountain Dogs
In this category are the Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard's, Great Swiss Mountain Dog and Akbash. These dogs are ferocious fighters in defending their flock but are extremely patient, loving animals within the family. Even today, many of these dogs are "put to work" in the wintertime by pulling children on sleds for hours on end.
9. Weimaraner (and other gundogs)
Like many hunting dogs, the Weimaraner can be willful and stubborn but is a wonderful companion dog, always ready to play or to cuddle for a good nap.
It's always the surprise breed! Although Teacup and Toy Poodles are not recommended for children, the poodle is a wonderful breed for children, particularly, the Standard Poodle. The Standard is the surprise watchdog of the canine world - powerfully built, fearless, faithful, and always ready for a romp.
This article is excerpted from Alex's upcoming book, Dogs Most Wanted -- Top 10 Lists on anything and everything you ever wanted to know about your favorite pets. While there are lists on how to break your pet into showbiz, myths about your dog or dogs/cats in history, there are also tidbits on health and family issues related to pet ownership. It will be coming out later this summer.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, an animal trainer and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family.
Copyright © Alexandra Allred. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org LLC. Image: Beth Twist