While Lassie and Lady and the Tramp are fun to watch, they’re probably not the best way to choose the family dog. Let petMD help you discover the best dogs for kids.
You can choose good family dogs based on three major factors:
Temperament – This is the dog’s personality. You should be looking for an agreeable temperament. For instance, a calmer dog has the ability to form strong bonds and be a great companion for your kids.
Size – Size should be looked at in relation to both temperament and energy level. Some larger dogs tend to be docile, while some smaller dogs can be excitable.
Energy level – This is a matter of preference for your family. Be realistic about the lifestyle you can provide to a dog that needs more exercise than average. If you can’t meet a dog’s needs, his excess energy can lead to behavior problems down the road.
Always meet the dog and ask the breeder or shelter worker a few questions before making such an important decision.
Here are five sample questions to ask, according to Holly Putnam, DVM, board member for the Association of Shelter Veterinarians:
Is the dog safe for all members of the family? Some dogs are perfectly happy to socialize with everyone in the family, while some prefer only adults or one gender.
What type of energy level is the dog? You may want a dog that will accompany you and the family on long walks, or one that can be carried in your arms the majority of the time.
What ongoing care will the dog require? Is it a longhaired dog who will need regular grooming, or a senior who may need more frequent veterinary visits?
What age of dog are you looking for? Would you prefer a puppy who may require lots of training but will likely socialize well with the entire family, or would you prefer an adult dog who is potty trained, but may be more shy when friends come visit?
Will this dog get along with other pets? If you have other pets at home, you will want to choose a dog that likes other animals, and be sure that your animals like the new dog.