My first word as a child wasn’t “Mom” or “Dad.” (Sorry, guys!) It was “Bo.” As in the name of our family’s Old English Sheepdog who carried me around the house on his back, snuggled with me as we watched cartoons and was truly my first friend.
For so many families, my own included, dogs can be so much more than pets. They can teach us lessons about love, responsibility and, often, grief.
If you’re looking to add a fur-baby to your family, the American Kennel Club has some recommendations for dogs that tend to do especially well with families.
What follows are the nine best dogs for kids, according to the AKC. They aren’t ranked in any particular order.
NOTE: As with any broad recommendations, there are bound to be exceptions. Deciding to adopt a dog should include an evaluation of his or her individual personality, and not be based solely on the reputation of his or her breed.
We’d also like to recommend checking with your local animal shelter or humane society, where animal professionals have a pulse on the individual temperaments of dogs. They can teach your family (children included) important training techniques before you bring a new family member home.
Bulldogs are the No. 4 most popular dog breed in the U.S. You can watch a hilarious video of John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s bulldogs getting married as Legend croons “All of Me” to the pups.
Kid-friendly traits: Calm and friendly, and also kind of funny.
You might love them for their big, floppy ears. But these scent-hunting dogs have a hardcore history. Historians believe beagles hunted rabbits alongside the ancient Romans.
Kid-friendly traits: Loveable, happy and easygoing
With thick, heavy coats, these dogs were well-suited for their island of origin, according to the AKC. They may be big in size, but they are playful pups.
Kid-friendly traits: Sweet, patient and devoted
4. Golden Retriever
Presidents Reagan and Ford both had Golden Retrievers while they were in office. They are fabulous swimmers and love playing fetch in the water. Here’s more fun facts about Golden Retrievers.
Kid-friendly traits: Intelligent, friendly and loyal
5. Labrador Retriever
These dogs are consistently the No. 1 most popular dog breed. For 26 years, Labs have ranked first among dog owner’s favorite breeds.
Kid-friendly traits: Friendly and eager to please
6. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
These Irish-native dogs were known for helping out on farms. They helped herd livestock among other tasks. They are also water lovers!
Kid-friendly traits: Happy, friendly and devoted, but a bit stubborn like most terriers.
This breed is fairly young and wasn’t even recognized by the AKC until 1943. Today, it’s the 34th most popular dog breed. Weimaraners require a lot of activity. So they may be a great match if you have kids who are also high-energy.
Kid-friendly traits: Friendly, alert and obedient
8. Bull Terrier
You might recognize the Bull Terrier as the mascot of Target! They are low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming, which makes their care easier for a family.
Kid-friendly traits: Playful, charming and super-loyal
Kid-friendly traits: Fun-loving, active and loyal
They might look serious when they strike a pose for photos, but these dogs have some funny quirks. Namely, hopping around like bunnies and snoring with their eyes wide open, according to Boxer Rescue.