GENERAL BREED INFO

Worst Dogs for Kids: Breeds That Shouldn’t Be Around A Family with Kids

Worst dogs for children
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Dogs are always one of the first animals to consider when there is the need for a pet and children are many times the reason for them. There is nothing to a child than to hear that he or she is getting a puppy. Little do we know however, that not all dogs fit a family’s lifestyle. While you should carefully consider the dog’s temperament and the kids that are in the household, it would be wise to also think of the breed of dog and its origins.

Some breeds are definitely not kid-friendly. In order to ensure that you get the best fit for your family, you can start ruling out the worst dogs for kids.

Characteristics to consider before adopting a puppy

Temperament

Dogs are born with an innate tendency or inclination and this makes them the type they are. Different dog breeds are known for their particular disposition or temperament which is a part of their genetic make-up. A nice, loving and cuddly puppy may not yet show the general temperament of the dog as this will tend to emerge as he gets older.

Big dog and kid

Therefore, a dog may be said to be loyal, protective, adventurous, and affectionate. Some types are by nature very aggressive and willful that require a trainer or owner who can manage and train them to be what they want.

Possessiveness

Possessiveness is one factor that you may need to consider when thinking about a pet. Some dogs have possessive tendencies and they show their ownership whether of people or things in various ways. Over-possessiveness can be an indication of a serious behavioral problem and this will need to be tamed from early in the dog’s life. The expression of the eyes of the dog is one means of expressing how possessive it is.  A dog’s eyes will indicate one of several messages: “I am not a threat”, “You are in charge”, and “This is mine, leave it alone”, (Pet4Home, 2015).

It is therefore important that you learn to read your dog’s eye which can determine its mood and general stance.  A dog that stares and maintains direct eye contact is a serious indication of a challenge that it will not back down from its stance and lets you understand the level of aggression and defensiveness that the dog comes with.

Possessive dog

A dog will use its mouth also to put up a challenge and you can indicate from there how aggressive or defensive it is. Dogs manifest their temperament often through barking and baring their teeth to protect their possession.

Possession can be indicated also by snapping at you, biting, or curling the upper lip which have often cause fear in the person. As indicated at Pets4home, it would be foolhardy to ignore even minor signs of oral display – growling, rumbling or barking as they are indications of possessiveness and aggression and will get to the stage where it is hard to control the animal.

Another aspect of a dog’s mood can be displayed through passive possessiveness. Some dogs like to grab things and run to stash them away. The thing is that these dogs are never relaxed because they are always on guard for anyone who may be coming to take their possession. It is important to try to break this trend from early so that it does not escalate into something more dangerous for the people and animals that live or come in its environment.

Aggressiveness

Dogs may display different types of aggression. It is not a one size fits all type of aggression. In the first place you can determine the type by determining why your dog is behaving the way he does. Carefully looking at things, you may realize that he is only demonstrating his fear of something. In such a situation he will turn on his attacker. Dogs do not like to be held back and will turn on its owner out of frustration. Therefore if a dog is going after something or someone and it is restrained, it may turn and bite the leash or the hand that holds the leash.

Dog bite infographic

A dog will also show its intention in its body language. Sometimes they will not give any indication of their aggression or defensiveness except in the tautness of their bodies, and then they suddenly spring or snap at you. A visitor may not feel threatened by the initial stance of the dog and continues to move toward it.

However, the animal is likely to take a nip at him, lung at him to push him away or to actually engage in biting.

Risk factors in getting a dog for kids

Despite all the carefulness that you approach the whole process with, there are certain risk factors that are present when deciding on dogs for kids. There is every reason to understand that there is a level of risk in living with a dog and that there is no guarantee that you will be able to change its behavior. So take these into consideration:

  • Animal size – Larger dogs will illicit more fear in children that smaller ones. Children also are better able to handle dogs that are closer to their size.
  • Age – Apart from the fact that younger dogs are friendlier in nature, they are easier to train and you are better able to curb bad behaviors that may rear their ugly heads at a later age.
  • History of bites – Dogs that have engaged in bites before will certainly retain this aggression in them. It should not be taken with the hope that it will not do it to your family, neither with the intention to make it behave. You may need to put too much controls on the animal which is not fair to it and yourself.
  • Predictability of aggression – Those dogs that will give an indication of aggressive behavior will warn persons or other of their intention and therefore avoid a confrontation and get into trouble. However, those dogs that demonstrate an unpredictable nature and have the tendency to suddenly pounce are a worse off choice for any family environment.
  • Ease of been triggered – Dogs that are easily triggered into aggression even when not close may not be good choices and may be considered dangerous. A dog for example that aggressively guards her food only when eating may be justified in its action and means that you should keep away from it. However, if you are not able to enter the kitchen because he is jealously guarding its bowl in the cupboard will definitely have to be re-considered.
  • Ease of motivation – If your dog is seen to have an aggression problem, he will need to be trained or re-trained depending on its origin. This will involve behavior modification which will be rewarded by treats as you work to get him changed. If however, rewards do not seem to motivate him into calmer manners, the possibility of making him better will be slim (ASPCA, 2015).
  • Dogs bred for certain behaviors – You will remember that some dogs were bred for certain purposes and the behavior is still carried in their genes. A German Shepherd, for example was bred to be a guard dog used by the military and police. But despite its behavior can be one of the best dogs for the family. Understand however that it may be overly protective of the family and kids may get in the way in their enthusiasm to display this.

Worst dogs for kids

There is no dog that is not able to become companions for your kids. They can serve a purpose even in protecting them. There are some dogs that are not suitable and are only going to act true to their nature which can be considered extreme especially when they behave badly with children. Here are ten dogs that are not considered suitable for kids.

Chihuahua – What makes the Chihuahua so snappy? This dog is only on average 2 – 6 pounds and 6 – 7 inches in height.  It is considered the smallest dog around, and its biggest charm is its huge and confident personality. You would be sure that it would be one of the best dogs for your kids to be around; but this is hardly so.

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are self-willed and if they find that their owner is not like them, they will take over and have their own way. They are quick to snap at anyone as they are very nervous, jealous and protective of their territory. Kids will be kids who sometimes handle dogs roughly. A Chihuahua may not be so obliging. The dog is such an eccentric animal it is hard to find a comparison in any other breed.

According to Welton, if a Chihuahua’s parents and grandparents were bad tempered, there is a great likelihood that he will be also. It is the same with the opposite temperament; the genetic temperament is passed down the line of a Chihuahua. A bad tempered dog would therefore be quite unsuitable for your children.

Rottweiler – The Rottweiler was originally bred to be herders, and pulling carts. Contemporary Rotts are used to guard, rescue and search and there is a reason for this. This type of dog does have a mean and dangerous streak which is its normal personality. You will find that they love children especially if they grow up with them.

Rottweiler and baby

However, the dog’s temperament is such that he will misinterpret play as an attack and a child may find himself or herself being mauled by the dog. Coming behind the Pit Bull, the Rottweiler is credited as the dog that caused the second most fatalities in the United States.

Pit Bulls – Pit Bulls are renowned for their very aggressive nature. There is no question as to whether to have this dog in your family as a pet for your kids to be around. In a study of dog fatalities in the last 20 years, the Pit Bull has been documented with the most fatal bites totaling 66 fatalities.

Pit Bulls with baby

The Akita – Akitas were traditionally used as guard dogs in Japan, guarding the children while the rest of the family was out. These families however, had not considered that children were social beings and that they would socialize with others from other families.

The Akita, while remaining faithful guards of children of your family, will see children from outside of the family as intruders and attack from that point of view. It is not to say that this dog cannot be trained to be friendlier to other children. However, children will need to learn of the traits of these kinds of dogs and learn how to approach and handle them.

Akita dogs

The Chow Chow – This is not a large dog breed and will suitably live in apartments with families. However, this dog has an independent nature and is seen as aloof. This personality will not be agreeable with kids that want their every attention. Furthermore, the dog is highly aggressive and suspicious of strangers.

The Chow Chow with girl

Siberian Husky – It goes without saying that the Siberian Husky is a beautiful dog breed. Its thick beautiful coat that comes in several mixes of colors, and multi-colored eyed will make you understand why this dog will immediately grab you as a pet for the family.

The Husky however, is a very energetic breed and if you are not up to it, or do not have time to give to the supervision of this dog, it is safe to say that it will not be a good choice for the family. It rings especially true if you have small kids around. While there is the opportunity for training, the dog is known to break free of rules and become disobedient.

Siberian Husky with kid

Australian Shepherd – Here is another dog breed that is known for its high energy and athletic temperament. The Australian Shepherd initially had been used for purposes of rescue, watchdogs, disaster dogs and also as guides. This is what they know and possibly want to do in their enthusiasm, to be always on the go.

For this cause, exercise is a big issue for this breed and if it does not get outdoors as much as he wants, can really get boisterous and behavioral problems can develop. An Australian Sheherd needs a lot of attention and supervision when around kids and you may not be able to provide this.

Australian Shepherd dogs

Alaskan Malamute – This is another wonderfully nice looking dog; but it is not considered a very safe dog especially for your small kids. In the first place the Malamute is a high energy animal that needs a lot of activities and space to occupy itself. It is at its best when engaged in hauling and pulling.

Alaskan Malamute with little girl

When he does not get that it can be a pain, howling, biting on its leash and seeking opportunities to get away.

The dog can be difficult to train as it has an independent mind. You may also consider that this dog has a heavy hairy coat and sheds easily all the time. An allergic child may not be able to tolerate this.

Weimaraner – A family with children under six years may not find this breed accommodating. This is a high energy dog that is always looking for something to do. It needs people who have the time to do lots of exercise. Its natural tendency is to hunt and this can come into play when they see small animals. Additionally, the Weimaraner loves to make gifts of dead frogs, lizards, birds and other small animals. Its large size also makes it more suitable for older children and adolescents who have the energy to go with it. It may easily knock over a toddler.

Weimaraner dog breed

Saint Bernard – Though looking like an adult dog, the Saint Bernard remains quite immature mentally for a long time. Therefore they are prone to jump and topple a person who is not strong in response to their playful nature.

Saint Bernard with kid

You would therefore understand that that this is not a breed for little kids to be a round. Saint Bernards however are loving and playful dogs, and despite their unsuitability for small children, they make wonderful pets.

In conclusion

If you are considering getting a dog for the family with children, this is a wonderful opportunity to sit down and work out the type of dog that you would best want. You however, can first determine which are the worst ones for your kids before considering others. You must understand that no dog is intentionally bad; they are just being dogs, responding to their innate temperaments. Most are easily trained and become wonderful pets for the family.

DuGruy (2014) advises however, that when looking a dog, to spend some time determining what type of dog is suitable for you. You need also to be honest about the amount of time you can spend supervising the animal and to remember that no child should be left alone with any dog whatsoever. Furthermore, while your dog may tolerate interaction with your children, it may not be welcoming to others from outside. Importantly, you should teach your child the safe way to interact with your dog and be respectful to it.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Suzanne Feld

    You need to rethink your breeds, because both Rottweilers and pit bulls, when raised properly, are some of the best dogs to have around children. And of course you didn’t mention many of the terrier and toy breeds which are inbred and aggressive. Really?!

    • While I do agree that Rottweilers and Pit Bulls can be great with children, they are also notorious for the cases of aggression and biting. This is the main reason why, especially Pit Bulls, are prohibited in some states and countries.

  • Charlotte Queens

    Big or small breed, I think what matters still is that parents are there to supervise kids and dogs. Although dogs can be sweethearts, remember that the right fit per family should always be considered. And yes, the Chihuahua can be such a snapper…:o)

    • Supervision is indeed the important thing to do, whether the breed is included in a precautionary list or not. Even the kindest and gentlest dog breeds can snap sometimes.

  • Andrew Miller

    Very frightening pictures. These dogs have bigger heads than children (well, except for the Chihuahua, of course:))
    I would hardly have agreed to have one of these breeds with a small child, infographics says it all.

    • Remember that most of these breeds are great to own, but they do require close supervision should a pet parent who happens to have young kids, wants any of the dog breeds mentioned.

  • Hannahoneybee

    Are these in any kind of order? Because you have Chihuahuas as the number one (mentioned) worst dogs for kids, and a St. Bernard on the list mentioned last. The only dog that is mentioned as having 66 fatalities is the pit bull. No fatalities were mentioned with the other breeds.
    You say to keep in mind what a dog was made for, and then don’t mention what pit bulls were made for (blood sport.)
    Are you downplaying?

  • John Walton

    Hi, Hanna,

    There is no particular order, and these dogs were not listed just because they can be involved in fatalities. When we say worst dogs for kids, we talk about their high tendency to snap by default. Chihuahuas, for example, are very impatient dogs, but they thrive well with older pet parents. This is a non-exhaustive list, but we raised the concern that some dogs can cause injury to young children, especially when they’re unsupervised.

  • Dukester

    I grew up with a St. Bernard since I was 4. That dog did nothing but protect me, lay with me, and play with me. Yes I may have gotten a snip or two, mainly because my hand was too close when pulling his toy in tug-of-war. You need to rethink the St. Bernard. Yes it may be bigger than most children but that breed has been known as the nanny of dogs. It is a very gentle and caregiving dog, great for families. I do agree that supervision is a necessity until the child learns how to behave around dogs and is maybe a bit bigger. Most of the time it is not the dogs that need to be trained, but its the children that need to learn boundaries.

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