Bark All About It!
Last week, we talked with our expert Ann King about five dog breeds that can make great family pets. But she had more info for us than we could fit into one blog post! So today we're concluding our discussion with her by talking about five more dog breeds that are great for kids (and adults too).
There was a space of time where bull terriers developed an unwarranted reputation as being aggressive dogs. Thankfully, BT’s PR has gotten much better in recent years, and they are making a big comeback as family pets. Bull terriers were bred in the 19th century as companion animals and for light hunting and pest control, which has had two major impacts on the breed’s personality: they are energetic and loyal animals who are sturdy enough to do well in families with small children, but they have a strong prey instinct that can make them dangerous to small animals if not properly trained.
Ann: “Bull terriers can be an absolute joy, as they’re goofy and very entertaining. But they have a thick skull, both literally and figuratively, and their protective, defensive nature can result in undesirable behaviors towards strangers, other dogs, and cats. Don’t get a bull terrier unless you’re prepared to put a lot of time into proper socialization and training. But if you’re willing to work at it, you’ll end up with a fantastic and loving pet.”
When you hear the name “collie,” chances are that you immediately think of Lassie, the loyal and intelligent dog who was constantly having to rescue Timmy from the well. Much like the world’s most famous collie, the breed tends to be very gentle and protective, and easily trainable due to their intelligence. Collies love children and are eager to please, but have a bad habit of trying to herd their human charges. Due to their original breeding for the purpose of herding animals—hence their herding instinct—it is very rare for collies to bite someone, which makes them great for families with small or fragile children.
Ann: “These dogs are incredibly sweet, and also serious smarty pants. They are fantastic family dogs, but their herding instinct will get out of control if you don’t channel it productively into outlets like agility and herding competitions. Also, while their coats are gorgeous, your collie will be getting its hair done more often than you, so be prepared to be on a first-name basis with your local groomer.”
Vizslas are relatively little-known dogs with a funny name, but are rapidly gaining popularity. Originally bred as Hungarian hunting and sporting dogs more than a thousand years ago, vizslas are known for being energetic dogs that are ideal for active families that spend more time outdoors than in. Contrary to their lively disposition, vizslas are very gentle, loyal, and obedient, and are smart dogs who will rapidly learn just about any trick you teach them. They’re also noted as not being particularly odorous or doggy-smelling, making them favorites for people with sensitive noses.
Ann’s thoughts: “They are a hunting breed, so you had better be prepared to get them outdoors and doing things every day. And while their gentleness can be a blessing, without proper socialization as puppies, you’ll end up with a fearful, phobic dog. In addition, their hunting instincts can make them a bit of a liability when you let them off-leash, so good training is a must. But vizslas are another of those breeds where you get out of them what you put into them. If you work at it, you’ll end up with a great family dog.”
The poodle breed is particularly popular amongst dog aficionados who are allergic to most dog breeds, and those who have a penchant for giving their dogs over-the-top haircuts. Poodles are good-natured dogs that are noteworthy for not becoming easily bored or annoyed, despite their great intelligence. Their demeanor makes them a good fit for families with small children, and their hypoallergenic coats allow owners with allergies or respiratory problems to have the pleasure of owning a dog.
Ann: “Poodles are very, very smart. Their intelligence is a big part of the reason why they’re so popular in dog shows. However, as with any smart dog, they can be a bit of a handful without solid training. Additionally, due to their physical and emotional softness, their training needs to be positive feedback oriented. Lastly, don’t forget that because they don’t shed, they require frequent grooming.”
No discussion about good family dogs would be complete without mentioning golden retrievers. More diminutive than their Labrador counterparts, retrievers are one of the most popular and common dog breeds for a number of good reasons. Goldens are smart, confident, loyal dogs with a middle of the road personality that is neither aggressive nor timid. Golden retrievers can have an almost saintly level of patience, which is why nearly everyone has a fond childhood memory of a golden retriever. But they do have a lot of energy, which means that they need a lot of exercise—easily achieved in a household full of children.
Ann: “Who doesn’t love golden retrievers? They’re amazing family dogs, but due to their energy level and intelligence, you really want to invest some time into training and socialization, and give them plenty of exercise. But with a little work, you’ll end up with a dog who’ll be the most popular pet on the block.”
“Mutts seriously deserve some love. Although still a debated topic amongst geneticists, most mutts are less likely to suffer from the health difficulties and psychological issues that plague some overbred breeds. They’re the most affordable dog out there, and there are hundreds of them waiting to be adopted from your local rescue organizations and animal shelters. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, but not quite sure what you want, take your kids down to the shelter—you might find a dog that just clicks with you, and becomes an indispensable member of your family.”