10 Worst Dog Breeds for Kids

When it comes to selecting the perfect family dog, temperament, size, and energy level all play pivotal roles. While dogs are known for their loyalty and affection, not all breeds are ideal for homes with young children.

Before you bring a furry friend into your home, it’s crucial to consider whether a breed’s characteristics align with your family’s lifestyle. Here are the top 10 worst dog breeds that might not be the best fit for families with kids.

1. Akita: Noble Guardians, Not Child’s Play

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Akitas, originating from Japan, are known for their noble and sometimes intimidating presence. They are fiercely loyal to their families but may show aloofness or even aggression towards strangers. This breed’s strong protective instincts can be a double-edged sword in households with young, unpredictable children.

Additionally, Akitas require experienced handling. Their dominant personalities need an owner who can provide firm, consistent training and socialization. Without this, their natural guarding tendencies might become problematic around children who aren’t part of their immediate family circle.

2. Chow Chow: Adorable but Aloof

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Chow Chows are not just adorable with their lion-like appearance; they are also known for their independent nature. This can translate into a less affectionate and more detached demeanor, not ideal when lively young children desire a playful companion. Their aloofness often makes them indifferent to pleas for play or cuddles.

These dogs also have a reputation for being quite stubborn. Training a Chow Chow can be challenging due to their strong will, which might not be the best fit for a household with kids who need clear boundaries and predictable behavior from their pets.

3. Afghan Hound: Elegance Over Enthusiasm

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With their elegant appearance, Afghan Hounds carry an air of dignity and aloofness. This breed is known for its independent streak, often appearing indifferent to commands or training. Their sensitivity and reserved nature can clash with loud and energetic children.

Afghan Hounds also require extensive grooming. Their long, luxurious coat needs regular, meticulous care to prevent matting, which might be too much upkeep for a busy family. Additionally, their high exercise needs can make it difficult for them to adapt to a sedentary home environment.

4. Siberian Husky: Born to Run, Hard to Keep

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Siberian Huskies are the escape artists of the dog world. Known for their incredible endurance and desire to run, these dogs can easily become frustrated and destructive if not given adequate space and exercise. This can be a challenge for families without the time or environment to accommodate such needs.

Their pack-oriented nature also demands a strong leader. Without proper training and leadership, Huskies can become willful and stubborn, traits that might pose management challenges for families with small children who are also asserting their independence.

5. Alaskan Malamute: Strength & Stamina for the Experienced

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Similar to their Husky cousins, Alaskan Malamutes are powerful and energetic. They were bred for hauling heavy freight as sled dogs and have a deep need for regular, vigorous exercise. In a household with small kids, their size and strength can unintentionally lead to injuries.

Malamutes also possess a strong prey drive. This can lead to issues in homes with other small pets and even with smaller children who might trigger their chasing instinct during play.

6. Weimaraner: The Energetic Shadow

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Weimaraners, affectionately known as the ‘grey ghost’ due to their distinctive coat, are intensely loyal but their boundless energy and size can be overwhelming for young children. These dogs thrive on interaction and can become distressed when left alone, leading to potential separation anxiety.

Their strong hunting instincts also require careful management. Without sufficient training, a Weimaraner’s exuberance can turn into boisterousness that might be too much for young children to handle safely.

7. Dalmatian: Endless Energy, Not for Everyone

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Historically bred to run under or alongside horse-drawn carriages, Dalmatians have endless stamina and a love for exercise. (ref) This makes them less suitable for homes where playtime and walks are limited. Their energy can manifest as hyperactivity if not properly channeled.

Additionally, Dalmatians can be wary of strangers and protective of their families. While this trait is beneficial for watchdog purposes, it can make interactions with unfamiliar children problematic unless the dog has been thoroughly socialized from a young age.

8. Shar Pei: Wrinkled Guardian with a Heart for One

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The Shar Pei, famous for its deep wrinkles, is also known for its strong territorial instincts. This breed can be fiercely protective and often suspicious of strangers, traits that require careful handling in a family environment.

They also tend to bond with one person in the household. While this loyalty is endearing, it can be challenging in a dynamic family setting where the dog might show indifference or jealousy towards other family members, particularly children.

9. Bullmastiff: Gentle Giants Needing Firm Hands

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Bullmastiffs are powerful breeds, originally bred to guard estates. Their sheer size and strength can be daunting for children. Although generally gentle with family, their protective nature can kick in unexpectedly, making it essential to supervise interactions with kids.

They also have a relatively low energy level but high strength, which means they require a handler who can manage their bulk without extensive daily exercise. In homes with smaller children, their size alone can be a risk factor during playful interactions.

10. Saint Bernard: Loving but Clumsy

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Known for their role in alpine rescues, Saint Bernards are gentle giants. However, their massive size can be a liability around small children. Accidental knocks and bumps can happen, especially when this breed forgets its own strength and bulk.

Moreover, Saint Bernards drool a lot and require regular grooming. Their need for maintenance and potential health issues, such as hip dysplasia, can also be challenging for families not prepared for such commitments. (ref)

Child-Pet Interaction Guidelines

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Introducing a new pet into a family with young children requires careful consideration and planning. It’s crucial for parents to teach their children how to interact with a dog safely and respectfully to foster a positive relationship from the start. Here are some essential guidelines for child-pet interactions that can help ensure safety and harmony in your household:

  • Teach Respect for Boundaries: Explain to children that dogs have personal space needs just like humans. Teach them to observe the dog’s body language and to back off if the dog shows signs of discomfort such as turning away, growling, or retreating. It’s important for children to learn that not all dogs may enjoy being hugged or kissed.
  • Supervise Interactions: Always supervise interactions between young children and dogs, especially in the initial stages of their relationship. Young children often do not understand how to gently pet a dog and may pull on a dog’s ears or tail, which can lead to negative reactions.
  • Encourage Gentle Handling: Show children how to touch and handle the dog gently. Demonstrate where dogs generally like to be petted, such as on their back or chest, and areas to avoid like the face and paws. Also, instruct children on the proper ways to approach a dog, always allowing the dog to sniff them first as a way of introduction.
  • Involve Kids in Care Routines: Involving children in the daily care routines, such as feeding and grooming, can help strengthen the bond between the child and the dog. It also teaches responsibility and helps the dog associate children with positive experiences.
  • Educate on the Importance of Quiet Time: Dogs, like people, need their rest and quiet time. Teach children that when a dog is in its bed or crate, it’s having “me time,” and they should not disturb it. This helps the dog feel secure and understand that it has a safe space in the home.
  • Promote Positive Play: Teach children the types of games that are safe to play with dogs, such as fetch or tug-of-war with a proper toy, under adult supervision. It’s crucial to avoid roughhousing or teasing games that could provoke an undesirable response from the dog.
  • Handle Conflicts Carefully: If a conflict arises, such as the dog taking a toy or food falling on the floor, teach children to call an adult for help rather than trying to resolve the issue themselves. This can prevent situations where a dog might feel the need to guard its resources or react defensively.

By teaching children these important guidelines, parents can help create a safe environment where both kids and pets can thrive together. Understanding and respecting a dog’s cues goes a long way in preventing accidents and building a lifelong friendship between your child and their new furry family member.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.