How to choose the best dog for your kids
By Ashley Bennett
Choosing the best dog for your kids is a very personal decision that depends on your family’s lifestyle, temperament, and budget. A dog should be compatible with your family to facilitate a smooth transition and a happy life for all parties involved. Here are some things to consider to help you choose the right dog for your children.
All dogs love physical activity and enjoy the outdoors, but your family has to be to be able to provide a certain amount of activity for certain dogs. Although a lot of children say that they like physically active dogs like Dalmatians, they actually require at least an hour of exercise every day. Children who are engaged in sports and outdoor activities will enjoy active dogs, but if they tend to stay in the house then they should probably find a dog with a similar temperament.
The type of dog you select will greatly depend on the type of living situation that you and your family have. Larger breeds like Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and St. Bernards tend to be more suitable for people that own their own homes and have a significant amount of space for them to play and exercise. Ideally, larger dogs should live in pet friendly communities that offer a lot of parks and open spaces. People that live in apartments or urban areas should strongly consider smaller breeds like a Welsh corgi or beagle because they are more tolerant of being indoors. Another factor to consider is the type of climate you live in, because some dogs tend to be better suited for colder or warmer weather. Breeds like pugs and bulldogs tend to have respiratory problems when it comes to hot weather.
Another thing to consider before purchasing a dog is that some members of the family may have allergies. Any dog could trigger allergies, but there are few breeds like the Maltese, Portuguese water dog, or Shih Tzu that tend to be easier to manage for people who have allergies. Consult with your family doctor before selecting a dog if one of your children has allergies.
Grooming and Care
All dogs require proper care and grooming on a regular basis, but some breeds need more than others. Dogs that have long or curly coats may need to be groomed several times a week, which is generally not the level of care that most children can provide. It is better to stick with dogs that have shorter coats and require less maintenance if the children will be the ones taking care of the dog. Some of the older dogs or younger puppies may require some extra care and attention as well which may not be appropriate for children.
The cost of a dog is a lot more than the price you will pay for purchasing the dog. As a family, you will have to know how much money you can spend on the dog every month. Large breeds tend to be more expensive because they eat more food, their healthcare costs are more expensive, and they can be more difficult to accommodate as some apartments do not accept them. Smaller breeds also require certain expenditures, but generally not as much as the larger breeds. Purebred dogs not only cost more money up front, but they are usually the dogs that have genetic predispositions to certain types of health problems, while mixed breeds are not as susceptible. Either way, calculate the cost of the dog’s grooming, healthcare, and food to get an idea of what you will actually spend on the dog.
Purebred dogs will normally exhibit the same traits as other dogs in their breed while mixed breeds will usually have traits found in both breeds. The dog should have a similar temperament to your family in order to have the best match. Outgoing and gregarious children will do better with dogs that also tend to be more friendly and approachable, while more reserved children will do better with dogs of a similar cautious mindset. The entire family should meet the dog and see if they might be compatible before making the final decision.
Choosing a dog, especially one intended for your children, should be a decision you make with their input. Sit down with them and discuss what types of breeds will be suitable and let them know the level of care and commitment that you will expect from them. Think about what type of lifestyle you have as well as what your children are able to manage along with their schooling and extracurricular activities. Given that everyone’s situation is different, there will not be one type of dog that will be suitable for every family.