Dogs bring so much joy to families, but they also teach kids essential life skills, like responsibility and how to care for others. While welcoming a perfect family dog into your home can be an exciting time, it’s vital to make sure that your four-legged friend is a good fit for your lifestyle and family personality.
Choosing a perfect family dog is not a decision to take lightly. Here are some things to consider when choosing your new best friend.
For Infants and Young Children: A Calm Demeanor
If you have young children or an infant, look for dogs with calm demeanors. An excitable, high-energy dog may be too much for young children. Calm dogs will also be more tolerant of behaviors other dogs may not put up with, such as ear-pulling, tail-pulling, sitting near food bowls, or hugging.
While it’s important to teach children appropriate behavior around dogs, it can be difficult for young children to understand and comprehend these rules. A calm, tolerant dog will put up with these behaviors, reducing the risk of an aggressive response.
Popular calm dog breeds include:
- King Charles Spaniel
- Great Dane
- English Bulldog
- Scottish Deerhound
- Shih Tzu
- Labrador Retriever
- Bernese Mountain Dog
For Older Kids: A More Energetic Breed
If your kids are a little older – at least eight years of age – you may want to go with a more energetic breed. A high-energy breed will keep the kids busy, and vice versa. They can play in the yard together and tire each other out.
Some breeds are more high energy than others, and it’s essential to choose a level that will suit your lifestyle and environment. If you have acres of land where your perfect family dog can run freely, you can select any high-energy breed you wish. But if you have a smaller fenced-in yard, you may need a dog with a medium-high energy level.
Some breeds, like the Australian Shepherd, never seem to tire and require a vigorous amount of exercise. If you can’t satisfy the dog’s energy needs, he’ll find other ways – usually destructive ways – to release that pent-up energy.
Popular high-energy dog breeds include:
- Australian Shepherd
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Border Collie
- Siberian Husky
- Airedale Terrier
- Russel Terrier
- Boston Terrier
Consider Local Laws, Insurance and Registration Requirements
When choosing a new dog for your family, be sure to consider any potential laws, insurance, or registration requirements.
If you choose a breed that’s considered dangerous in Texas and many other states, you may have to register your dog with Animal Control. Consult local laws or call a local animal shelter to find out about registration requirements for dangerous breeds.
Registration requirements vary between municipalities. Some cities, like Houston, require registration regardless of the dog’s breed. Dallas has a mandatory microchipping law. Check your local laws to make sure that you comply.
Dangerous breeds may also have additional insurance requirements. You’ll need to check with your homeowner’s insurance company to find out if there are additional fees or policies for dangerous dog breeds.
Another critical thing to consider is the local driving laws. Currently, there are no laws in the state of Texas that require dogs to be harnessed or in a crate when traveling in a vehicle. However, unrestrained dogs are distracting and can cause accidents. Having a dog on your lap, no matter how small, can make even the simplest maneuvers more difficult.
If you plan on taking your new family dog for rides in the car and on road trips, a crate is the best option. Make sure that your vehicle can accommodate an appropriate-sized crate for your dog. If you have a small sedan, you may want to consider a smaller breed that’s easy to transport in just about any vehicle.
Choosing the perfect family dog is no easy task. Along with selecting potential breeds, it’s vital to meet the dog in person to make sure that its demeanor and personality are a good fit for your family. Bring the kids along for the meeting to see how the dog behaves with your little ones. Even if you’re buying a puppy from a breeder, it’s still important to meet the dog and its parents. The parents’ demeanor will give you a good idea of the puppy’s future personality.