Owning a dog can provide you and your children with a lifetime’s worth of great memories and experiences. For a truly happy union though, it’s vital you choose a dog based on temperament rather than looks. This is doubly important when you have small children in the home who haven’t learned how to respect a dog’s boundaries.
To aid in your search for the perfect furry family member, we’ve compiled a list of the top six large breed dogs with a saintly amount of patience. While you’ll still need to teach your children how to behave around your four-legged companion, these breeds are known to easily tolerate everything from tail and ear pulling to rib poking and even playing horsey.
1. English Bulldogs
Most people don’t immediately think of a bulldog as a great family pet, but they’d be surprised just how gentle and loving they are, especially English bulldogs. Exceptionally understanding of just about every type of poking and prodding you can think of, it’s hard to get on the wrong side of these tanks, and they won’t mind if your kids get a little too rough from time to time.
While an English bulldog will be happy to go to the park or on walks with you and your kids, they are even more content as couch potatoes. So if you are looking for a kid-friendly dog breed that won’t be bothering you to go out and play or destroying the house out of frustration from being cooped up, these dogs might just fit the bill. They are equally happy in a small apartment or large house and get along great with other pets.
If you’re an active family that loves outdoor adventures, the Labrador is quite possibly the perfect choice. Sweet, loving and gentle, it’s hard to find a better breed for kids. They’ll happily play for hours on end with your children or go on long jogs (this high energy level does means they need a lot of exercise).
Labradors do need to be taught how to play gently with children, as they can be a bit clumsy due to their large bodies and slow development. For most, this shouldn’t be a problem, as they are easily trained.
3. Australian Shepherds
Australian Shepherds’ natural tendency to herd means they will keep kids from straying too far, even when you are distracted. They can be cautious of strangers, so they do a great job of protecting the house too.
These dogs are exceedingly smart and easy to train, but their heritage as working dogs means they need a lot of exercise to be well behaved in the house. Obedience training and daily exercise is a must otherwise they might become destructive out of frustration, or begin nipping at the heels to try and herd.
While Australian Shepherds are great with kids, their high energy level and off the charts intelligence means they need to be matched with the right kind of family.
4. Great Danes
In a strange twist of fate for such a large dog, Great Danes seem to have extraordinary affinity for their small two-legged partners. Belying their large size, they actually do quite well in apartments, as they are generally content to lounge around the house, preferably sitting on the couch watching TV with you and your kiddos. Danes require a lot of socialization during adolescence, but are very trainable and will get along well with other pets.
Great Danes are considered gentle giants, but they may on occasion, accidentally knock a small child down with a sweeping wag of their tail. While most danes naturally adjust to your child’s level of play, you still need to teach kids not to play horsey as it’s important to protect these dogs’ sensitive hips from damage. Also, for those considering bringing a great dane into their home, keep in mind, they have a short life span of The main drawback with owning a Great Dane and kids is their short life span of just six to eight years.
Despite the name, Boxers are lovers, not fighters. But this generalization does come with a caveat. A Boxer’s sturdy build makes them tolerant of rough housing and poking from kids, which can sometimes lead to a child getting knocked over by accident. Also, while they aren’t aggressive, their bullish features make them effective as guard dogs, and they will bark nosily to alert you if there is a problem.
This breed is also very energetic, requiring a lot of exercise, but if you have kids around, it shouldn’t be a problem. Boxers are very affectionate and rarely mind small children climbing all over them. They also do well in multi-pet households.
Obedience training is a must, as they can be a bit strong-willed and stubborn.
6. Standard Poodles
On top of being excellent with kids, standard poodles are hypoallergenic and often won’t irritate even those with the most sensitive of allergies. Their high level of intelligence, easy-going nature and trainability makes them great for first-time dog owners.
Despite their regal look, they love to play with children and will happily get down and dirty in the mud when the time calls for it. Another bonus? Standard poodles also make great guard dogs as they are protective of the home and take some time to warm up to strangers.
This post is strictly our opinion. This should not be used in replace of advice from a professional or when seeking a dog to bring into your home.
(In no way are these tips a substitute for professional advice you’d receive from a trainer or veterinarian. If your dog is having issues, please consult a professional)
Related: Our Top 5 Small Breed Dogs for Kids