A dog can be a wonderful addition to your family, especially when you have children. Dogs teach responsibility while offering limitless, judgement-free love in return, and can also help children learn some of the skills that will help them turn into great young adults. And while all dogs are individuals with their own unique personalities, some dogs are known for being more independent and better with adults than kids—in turn making them not so ideal for families with small children.
When it comes to finding a furry friend to add to your family, we always recommend heading to the shelter and seeing who you connect with instead of searching solely by breed. Likewise, choosing a breed that isn’t known for being better off with older caregivers doesn’t mean that you can skip the task of teaching your kids how to responsibly care for and interact with a dog. But bringing a dog into your home who is known to prefer more mature companions might not end up working out for either you or your pup. Keeping this breed list in mind can help you avoid that mistake, even if we can acknowledge that breed isn’t the sole determining factor of a dog’s behavior and preferences.
So what breeds prefer to live among adults and older kids than small children? Here are a few of them.
Remember: all dogs can be great dogs, but you have to give them the right tools to be at their best. This includes not bringing dogs into situations that aren’t right for them, and likewise, not putting your kids in a situation where playing with their pup—or just existing around them—is going to potentially cause problems. There’s a perfect dog out their for your home and your kids, and by being smart you can be sure to find them.
- 01 of 07
The Weimaraner is a bright-eyed and beautiful breed, but they’re not particularly great with children. They’ve been bred to hunt large game—a class of prey that, size-wise, can look pretty similar to a child under the age of 13. And while this trait doesn’t mean that a Weimaraner will constantly be on the hunt when they’re at home, it does mean that they’re known to play rough with their humans, particularly if they’re not getting enough exercise and attention otherwise. To be on their best behavior, the breed requires a set routine and lots of time to run, walk, and play. That can be difficult to maintain if you’re a parent on the go, and may mean that you’re better off with a different breed of dog.
- 02 of 07
Because of their small size many people assume that Chihuahuas are a great fit for families with small kids, but in fact, it’s the opposite that tends to be true. These little guys rely on their mouths to protect them where their stature can’t, reacting in barks—and sometimes bites—when they feel the need to defend themselves. Many Chihuahuas like their personal space when it comes to anyone outside their primary caregiver and will give off plenty of social cues to make this known. The problem? Kids aren’t great at reading these cues. This could result in a Chi making their preferences known a bit more aggressively than is safe for anyone, which is obviously not something you want to risk in your home.
- 03 of 07
Akitas can be incredibly sweet and loyal, but they’ve also been bred for years to be guard dogs. The natural instincts born from this type of breeding can be difficult to wean out, and may pose a problem when it comes to playdates and other occasions where unfamiliar kids will be visiting your home. Akitas want to protect their families, which includes your children. That means that if other kids come over and there is roughhousing or loud noise levels, those natural guard-driven instincts could perk up. Likewise, an Akita adopted into the home as an adolescent or adult might not be tolerant of the behaviors of children in general, and could react in ways that pose an issue for everyone’s safety.
- 04 of 07
Like Chihuahuas, Pekingese are a small breed dog that needs to rely on other methods to appear big and scary when they feel threatened—including biting and yipping. And it might not take much to bring out these behaviors. Pekingese do not respond well to any sort of unwanted physical behaviors like prodding, poking, and tail pulling, and they have a tendency to be quite possessive over their food and toys, as well as their primary caregivers. That can mean a competition for your attention that the Pekingese is not happy to lose, and a situation where your kid can get hurt just by doing the things that kids tend to do with dogs. That’s a lot of stress on all of you, and perhaps a good enough reason to seek out a different breed.
- 05 of 07
Siberian Huskies are highly active dogs with an affinity for rough play, and even those who mean well could inadvertently harm a child. This breed is also a tough one to train since they’re independent with a bit of a stubborn streak, and can be triggered by children acting like “prey” (for example, crying loudly or darting around). They’ve also maintained some wolf-like qualities in more than just appearance, with a natural protectiveness and a sharpness in reacting to perceived threats. You’re better off waiting until your kids are older and have more control over their own behavior before bringing a Husky home.
- 06 of 07
This breed looks very similar to Siberian Huskies, and behaves quite similarly as well. Like many of the other dogs on this list, Alaskan Malamutes are known for enjoying rough play—and for getting even rougher if their exercise needs aren’t being properly met. And like Huskies, they can be incredibly stubborn and difficult to train. Another things that makes them less than ideal for families with small kids is that they’re not usually great leash dogs, and may pull, jump, and strain on walks. This means that it certainly wouldn’t be safe for your child to be holding the leash, and there’s even a danger if they’re just walking beside them.
- 07 of 07
Many reputable breeders of Shih Tzus refuse to sell their puppies to families with small kids. That’s because the breed loves to zip around and get under your feet, tripping up adults as well as children if they’re not paying close enough attention. This can harm both human and dog, and means that when you’re playing with a Shih Tzu puppy you have to be extremely careful (experts often recommend that children especially only play with the breed while sitting on the floor). That being said, older Shih Tzus could possibly be a good fit, since they tend to chill out after puppyhood.
It’s your responsibility as the adult to provide a situation that will be safe and ideal for both your children and for the dog who you adopt. This means doing your due diligence to ensure that you don’t get a dog who is inherently untrusting of kids, or who might be prone to quick and aggressive reactions. Always let any shelter or breeder who you are working with know that you have small children at home, and bring the children in to meet and interact with the dog before making your decision—provided the shelter or breeder has deemed this interaction to be safe.