Choosing a Dog: The Best Breeds for Families
An ancient Portuguese proverb suggests, “A house without either a cat or a dog is the house of a scoundrel.” Harsh criticism perhaps, but if this adage holds true, the United States is decidedly devoid of scoundrels.

Best in Show
Six films featuring dogs to watch with your kids.

1. Old Yeller
2. Lady and the Tramp
3. 101 Dalmations
4. My Dog Skip
5. The Incredible Journey
6. The Adventures of Milo and Otis

Americans have a longstanding love affair with canines—more than 21 million households own at least one dog, according to the latest research from A.C. Nielsen. An estimated $8 billion a year is spent on pampering pooches, which includes everything from routine veterinary visits to grooming to chew toys. A dog’s life, without question, has become one of luxury.

The Kids-and-Canines Bond
For many children, the family dog is a best friend—a loyal companion who offers unconditional love while teaching them invaluable lessons about responsibility, friendship and trust. Recent canine-centered films, such as “My Dog Skip,” remind us that the simple wag of a dog’s tail can brighten our spirits and bring much-needed order to our often chaotic lives. They are special animals, indeed.

No wonder the phrase, “Mom, Dad, can we get a dog…please!” is so popular among American households, especially during the spring months when puppy season is in full bloom. But before you add a furry friend to the fold, do your homework (you can’t cop out by claiming the dog ate it…at least not yet!) and determine what breeds are most compatible with your family’s personality.

“It’s important that families do not rush into getting a dog without asking themselves some important questions first,” says David Frei, a spokesperson for the American Kennel Club (AKC). “First and foremost, they need ask, ‘What kind of dog would best match our lifestyle?’ For instance, do they have the time and space to accommodate for a larger, more active dog that requires a lot of attention and needs to be walked several times a day? Or maybe they’re looking for a more independent dog who is equally happy playing with kids or spending time alone.”

“There is no right or wrong answer,” Frei continues. “If you do your research and evaluate dogs based on disposition and personality instead of looks, you’ll find the perfect match for your family.”

The Top Family-Friendly Dogs
If properly trained and embraced as a beloved member of the family, any breed can make a great pet. With that said, some dogs are seen as more “kid-friendly” than others and, as a result, have become extremely popular among families. According to the AKC, the five most popular breeds in the
United States are:

  • Labrador Retrievers are by far America’s most popular dog—more than 140,000 Lab puppies were registered last year with the AKC—and have a reputation for being playful, hardworking and affectionate toward children. The Lab is easily trained and is highly respected for his prowess at many jobs: as a guide dog for the disabled, a search-and-rescue dog, and for narcotics detection.

  • Golden Retrievers are sporty, easy to train and strong, but their most outstanding trait is character. They are outgoing and devoted companions to people of all ages, happy and trusting. They make great hunting companions, too.

  • German Shepherd are noble in appearence and character. This breed's courage, steadfast heart, and keen senses have endeared him to families for generations. Active and outdoorsy, German Shepherds are very fond of children and make wonderful companions.

  • Beagles love being around people and other animals. They are gentle, happy companions who thrive on affection and attention. They are also clever, quick, and, most of all curious. They need plenty of active exercise.

  • Dachshund has a lively, upbeat personality—spunky, curious and friendly. Originally bred to hunt badgers, Dachshund’s love to dig, romp and run. They are affectionate, especially with children, and enjoy going for walks and other forms of exercise.

To learn more about different dog breeds, visit the American Kennel Club Web site.
Further Reading

How to prevent dog bites