Adding a new human or canine family member to the home is a momentous decision, sure to change your life significantly. Selecting the right dog for your family is urgent to both the safety and happiness of your future dog and children.

What kind of lifestyle do you have? Do you live in an apartment or home; a rural, urban, or suburban environment? Are you energetic, are you a "couch potato?? Why do you want a dog - as an exercise partner, an agility athlete, future therapy dog, or a laid back, low-energy dog? Are you allergic to dogs? (What if your future child is?) How much grooming are you willing to do? Are you a neat freak, concerned about slobber and shed hair on your clothes, walls, and furniture?

These questions should be answered carefully and honestly when deciding to add a canine member to the family.

What Are The Most Popular Dog Breeds For Children?

The breeds most frequently recommended for homes with small children are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles and Collies. These are the quintessential "American family dogs."

But choosing the "best breeds for children" can be as difficult as recommending the "best hair color for a good babysitter." Why? Because dogs, like baby sitters, are individuals. Breed is no more a universal predictor of a suitable match for your family than hair color is in the selection of your babysitter.

Research breeds that interest you. Why was this breed developed? Do you have the time to dedicate to a German Shepherd that was bred to work long days closely with their handler? Can you give your potential Border Collie a herd of sheep to work, or a job like agility to keep her happy? What if your new Australian Cattle Dog nips at your children's heels to herd them - he is, after all, a "heeler," and that's what they do!

Somewhere out there is a mega-social Chow who loves everyone she meets, and a "couch potato" Jack Russell, but these are the exceptions, rather than the rule. Talk to breeders and breed rescuers of your preferred breed(s) to find out how well or poorly this breed might respond to your lifestyle. Bring your answers to the questions above along to help the breed experts provide you with a more accurate assessment of suitability.

It is preferable to think of the "best dog traits for children" as opposed to thinking of the "best dog breeds for children." Looking at traits, rather than breeds, also allows a family to consider one of the millions of mutts that would make great family dogs.

Dogs And Their Reliability With Children

The most important predictor of a dog's reliability with children is socialization history. Puppies that are well socialized with kids grow into dogs that are more reliable around children.

Raising a puppy and a baby at the same is usually more work than a new family bargains for and can leave even the most energetic of families overwhelmed quickly.

Adopting an adult dog is a great solution for many families. The socialization...