Dog bites are far from rare: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States — and children ages 5 to 9 are often most at risk.
From celebrities like Kyle Richards to Kim Zolciak, both of whom had children hospitalized after a dog attack, many families have experienced firsthand the danger such bites can cause. But what can families do to select a dog for their own home that will be a safe, valuable addition to their family?
First, realize breed isn’t everything,” Andrea Arden, Animal Planet’s Pet Expert and author of books including “Dog-Friendly Dog Training,” told Fox News. “People should look at breeds for what they are, which is a generalization in regards to type, size, coat color, and temperament,” Arden said. Within each breed, you will still find a range of temperaments, she added.
Amy Robinson, a dog training expert and founder of the Drool School, agreed, telling Fox News that each puppy in a litter will have a distinct personality.
However, both experts said certain dog breeds usually tend to be great fits for families. While you should always consider each dog individually, here are their top recommendations for the most kid-friendly breeds:
1. French bulldog
Most of the time, Arden explained, “small dogs are not advised for homes with small children, for the simple fact that they’re more fragile.” However, if your family is looking for a smaller dog, she recommended the French bulldog, a family-friendly dog that is still physically durable.
2. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Spaniels tend to have nice, solid temperaments, Arden said. Robinson in particular recommended the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which she noted were bred to be companions and are often called the comforter spaniel.
Weimaraners are durable and have a high enough energy to keep up with kids, Arden said.
4. St. Bernard
Similarly, the St. Bernard is a large, dog-friendly breed, Arden said. St. Bernards are unlikely to be too rambunctious with children, and instead are fairly sedentary, she explained.
Herding dogs can make great family companions, Robinson said. Collies in particular have a reputation for being kind and calm — but be careful that the dogs’ herding instincts don’t lead to them nipping at the shirttails of children, she said.
Despite being commonly known as guard dogs, rottweilers actually tend to be great with kids and are extremely trainable, Robinson said.
7. Labradors and golden retrievers — sometimes
Both experts noted that Labradors and golden retrievers can make great family pets — however, Arden noted that, in general, they actually tend to be mouthier than most people think, which families should consider.
8. Breed rescues
“If you want a certain breed, you don’t necessarily have to buy it,” Robinson said. You could find a breed rescue through the American Kennel Club — they can help you find a dog that would be the best match for your family, including older dogs that have already moved past the nipping, high-energy puppy phase.