All kids nag their parents for a puppy at some stage or another. If you’re considering giving in, first keep in mind that some dogs are more suited to family life than others. Some can be simply too boisterous for littlies, less trainable or too much maintenance for family life.
To keep your kids safe, Dr Chris Brown recommends his top 5 family dogs:
Number one family breed: King Charles spaniel
Soft, floppy eared and playful, Chris rates the Cavalier King Charles spaniel as his top dog to have around young children. “They’re fantastic – small, cute, won’t make much noise and don’t worry too much about their place in the pecking order,” he says. Do check that any dog you buy is free of a genetic disease called Syringomyelia – a disorder of the brain and spinal cord, which can cause severe head and neck pain for the dog.
Number two family breed: Cavoodle
A cross between a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a poodle, cavoodles are perfect for families, as they take the intelligence of the poodle and mix it with the easy-going nature of the spaniel. “There are a whole lot of these crosses about, but this dog is the pick of them. They’re smart, relaxed and don’t shed hair.”
Number three family breed: Labrador
While some families might not want a small dog because they can be considered yappy or not masculine enough for some guys, Dr Brown says Labradors are a great big dog to introduce into your family home. “They’re big, but easy-going and are generally pretty easy to train.” He adds that chocolate-coloured Labs can get a bit more distracted – so choose a golden Labrador if training is top of your list.
Number four family breed: Schnauzer
If you’re after a dog that will stand firmly by your child’s side, go for a schnauzer. “You can’t go wrong with a schnauzer – they may bark a bit more than you’d like but they’re very loyal, dependable and will bond strongly with your family. With the moustache, they’ve got a ready-made personality,” says Dr Brown.
Number five family breed: Pug
While Dr Brown rates boxers as great family pets, he recommends going for a smaller version if you have small children, as boxers often bowl over toddlers. “The pug is like a boxer in a smaller body,” he advises. “Pugs can be a bit mad at times, because they have a big personality, but they don’t need much maintenance. They’re lapdogs and like being in the house.”
How to keep your kids safe around dogs
To ensure your dog and children become lifelong friends, make sure you set a few simple house rules when the pet first enters your home:
- Make it clear to your dog that the kids come first – if you’re holding a baby, they should always come second fiddle.
- Don’t let dogs into your bedrooms: these areas should be off limits.
- Take the food bowl away from your new dog – nothing is sacred and they should get used to this from a young age.
- Put your fingers into a puppy’s mouth: kids have a habit of putting fingers in dogs’ ears and pulling tails, so if it happens from a young age, the dog should be fine with it.