Why You Should Never Buy One Of These Popular Family-Friendly Dog Breeds, According To Pet Expert

You might be surprised to learn that pet experts and animal advocates like Rocky Kanaka are against buying certain breeds of dog. Why would someone who loves all animals tell pet owners to avoid specific types? 

best dog breeds for families

The answer is simple: over-breeding and animal shelter overpopulation. There are some dog breeds that you should always adopt but never buy! 

Shelter dogs of all shapes and sizes are available for adoption, but you’d be amazed at how over-represented certain breeds are in animal shelters. Many dog breeds most commonly surrendered to shelters are purebreds and are considered some of the best dog breeds for families. But, due to poor preparation and under-education on the needs of certain breeds, these dogs unfortunately find themselves going from breeder, to owner, to shelter. 

If you’ve been considering buying—or adopting—a dog to join your family, educating yourself is the best way to set yourself up for success. Settling on a dog and bringing it into your home only to need to surrender it later can be emotionally traumatizing not only for the dog but also for you and your kids. Choosing the right breed for your family’s needs instead of choosing the most popular family dog breed will help you guarantee a long, happy relationship with your new dog. 

best dog breeds for families

Making the right choice about where to get your family dog is also super important. If you decide that the right breed for you is also one that is overwhelmingly available in shelters, you should certainly adopt. 

4 Dog Breeds You Should Avoid If You Have Young Kids

Having a dog as a kid can be an incredible experience and asset for personal, social, and emotional growth. As a parent, owning a dog can be a big responsibility. Owning some dog breeds in particular can be an even bigger responsibility. Some breeds simply need more attention than most parents of young kids can manage, and others don’t do well with children who can’t respect their boundaries. 

These four types of dogs are the most commonly returned dog breeds to shelters by families with young children. Life with these breeds can be amazing, but it can also be chaotic when they aren’t in the right environment with the right stimulation. 

Unfortunately, these dog breeds are also commonly purchased from breeders and then surrendered later to animal shelters. Because of this, we recommend never purchasing one of these dogs from a breeder—there are plenty of wonderful examples of each of these breeds waiting for forever homes in the shelter system. 

1. German Shepherds

best dog breeds for families: German shepherd Should be Avoided If You Have Young Kids

German Shepherds are working dogs through and through, and their combined intensity, high intelligence, and incredible stamina make them a tough breed to tire out. GSDs like to be useful and thrive in households where they can participate in regular training, canine sports, tracking, and other physically and mentally stimulating activities. 

A big breed with incredible strength, a frustrated or bored GSD can be a menace while you are trying to settle an upset baby, toddler, or little kid. 

2. Siberian Huskies

best dog breeds for families: huskyShould be Avoided If You Have Young Kids

Huskies are sometimes described as cats combined with fire alarms. Sometimes aloof, stubborn, and independent, Huskies are quick to voice their dissatisfaction or boredom. An annoyed Husky will howl, bark, and vocalize until their needs are attended to, and can take quite some effort to tire out and end the tantrum. 

High-energy, not particularly physically affectionate, and loud when feeling in a mood, Siberian Huskies can be an overwhelming addition to a family with kids. 

3. Herding Breeds

best dog breeds for families: herding dogShould be Avoided If You Have Young Kids

Herding breeds like the Australian Cattle Dog are often returned or surrendered to shelters by families with small children because, well, herding dogs like to herd! Australian Cattle Dogs, Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and similar breeds were bred to keep animals in line. When a herding breed lives as a family pet instead of a working dog, their instincts need to be fulfilled differently. If you aren’t giving them the right amount of exercise and mental stimulation—and they often need hours a day—they might take their frustration out on your kiddos. 

In addition to herding—blocking, physically pushing, and using physical space to direct movement—your kids, some herding dogs will also nip at or bite young children to keep them in line. 

4. Extra-Small Toy Breeds

best dog breeds for families: toy dogsShould be Avoided If You Have Young Kids

Toy breeds like the Chihuahua might have big personalities, but they can still feel physically vulnerable! Little kids aren’t developmentally able to respect the boundaries of such small dogs, and may inadvertently hurt a toy breed. Other toy breeds find the sometimes chaotic life of parenthood to be stressful, which can reinforce unwanted behaviors like being territorial and resource-guarding. 

7 Best Dog Breeds for Families

best dog breeds for families

While the Siberian Husky or the Australian Cattle Dog might not be the best dog breed for families, there are still hundreds of breeds to choose from. We’ve narrowed it down to seven breeds that typically love children, are gentle and non-reactive, and can withstand a little roughhousing from young kiddos. 

Like those breeds we don’t recommend for a calm, relaxing family life, the breeds we do recommend can easily be found at shelters. While it might be tempting to buy a puppy from a breeder, puppies aren’t always the right choice for families with young kids. Like the breeds we mentioned above, puppies are a lot of work. Having a puppy can kind of be like having another baby!

For the sake of peace in your home and to help address the shelter overpopulation problem, try to avoid buying one of these dog breeds and adopt one instead. Here are our recommended dog breeds for families with kids. 

Family Dog BreedHeight & WeightPersonalityExercise Needs
American Staffordshire Terrier17-19 inches40-70 poundsFriendlySocialSmart45-60 minutes/day
Basset Hound15 inches or less40-65 poundsRelaxedSweetReliable60 minutes/day
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel12-13 inches13-18 poundsGentleAffectionateShy45-60 minutes/day
French Bulldog11-13 inches28 pounds or lessGoofySocialLoving20-60 minutes/day
Golden Retriever21.5-24 inches55-75 poundsFriendlySmartAffectionate40-90 minutes/day
Labrador Retriever21.5-24.5 inches55-80 poundsFriendlySmartAffectionate60-90 minutes/day
Pug10-13 inches14-18 poundsGoofyFriendlyAffectionate30-60 minutes/day

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