When choosing an animal for a child, some parents assume that a small child needs a small animal. Ironically, the exact opposite is often true. Some of the most intractable equine breeds are the smallest, like the Shetland Pony, for example. The same is somewhat true for dogs. For instance, the smallest breed, the Chihuahua, is not a good choice for small children.
Many smaller dog breeds are high strung and short tempered. Because of their delicate bodies, they don't do well with the rough-housing that kids are famous for. The dog can easily be injured accidentally by overly zealous play. Since these small canines sometimes feel threatened by children's boistrous antics, they will often lash out with a growl or a snap. There are, however, a few small breeds that get along great with kids.
One such dog is the Beagle. This is a happy little dog that loves children, with a sturdy build and an easy-to-care-for coat. They're playful, inquisitive, brave, and intelligent. Because of their willingness to please, they're easy to train. Weighing between twenty and twenty-five pounds, Beagles do fine in apartments as long as they have a daily romp outside with the kids. Since they are hunters, they'll sometimes follow their nose and take off on their own, so it's best to keep them in a fence or on a leash when outside. A healthy Beagle will give its master 12-15 years of wonderful companionship.
Another small breed that does well with children is the Pug, with its thick, compact body and short coat. Often called "a big dog in a little dog's body," the Pug is rambunctious, loyal, and affectionate, and serves as an excellent watch dog. Pugs love kids and aren't snappy or yappy like some small dogs. They're highly intelligent and easy to train, but are sometimes stubborn. Because of their "pug" noses, the breed is prone to breathing problems and should not be allowed to become too cold or too hot. Pugs are happy in apartments and are pretty inactive inside. A daily walk will satisfy their need for exercise. Pugs weigh between thirteen and twenty pounds and live up to fifteen years.
The Boston Terrier, in his smart black and white "tuxedo," is all dressed up and ready to play. They're compact and muscular with strong legs and a gentle, well mannered demeanor. The dogs love to learn, and they catch on quickly. It's even said that Bostons have a great sense of humor. Affectionate and sensitive, they don't handle harsh correction well. A gentle voice and hand work best in training these dogs. The dogs are reliable with children and do fine living inside, as long as they get a long daily walk. They weigh between ten and twenty-five pounds and often live more than fifteen years with good care.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is highly recommended as a good breed for kids. Its sturdy body is just built for rigorous play. The dogs are very loyal, loving, and devoted, and are often good watch dogs. They're so intelligent and easy to train that the breed excels in obedience trials. The dogs are happy with apartment living as long as they get a long walk every day, and their coats are easy to care for. Weighing from twenty-five to thirty pounds, the Corgi's life span is from twelve to fifteen years.
A favorite with families all over the globe is the Mutt, also known as the Heinz 57, the Sooner, or the mixed breed. Often acquired at a shelter or from a neighbor whose dog had a litter of unplanned puppies, the Mutt can be a wonderful all-around pet for the whole family.
Mutts are often less prone to health problems than purebreds are, and are readily available locally and are often free. If you plan to get a Mutt from a shelter, take your children with you and allow them to interact with several animals before you choose one, since you're unlikely to know anything about the parent dogs' temperaments. A dog's body language can sometimes tell you about its character. A dog that readily approaches you with head and tail held high have a bolder, more aggressive personality, while one that comes to you with head and tail held down are displaying submission to you. Don't choose an overly agressive pooch, but you don't want one that huddles afraid in the corner, either.
Before deciding to bring a dog into your family, make sure you're ready to commit to pet ownership. Sadly, some sources state that forty percent of families who acquire a dog give it up within one year. Dogs are not disposable. No matter which breed you choose, teach your children to treat the dog with respect. A good dog can be a wonderful addition to your fammily and can become your child's best friend.