10 of the Worst Dogs For Children (And Should You Be Worried)
What Do We Mean by Worst Dogs For Children?
While it’s all well and good to talk about the worst dogs for children, what does that actually mean? There are any number of factors you could consider in making such an assessment. For example, playfulness, energy level, calmness, how affectionate they tend to be … the list goes on.
For the purposes of this article, our definition of the worst dogs for children are those with the greatest risk of causing them physical harm.
While the benefits of a owning a dog for children are substantial - they can teach responsibility, promote exercise and provide comfort in challenging times - there are substantial risks, too. The consequences of which are very real. Take this study on the ‘Analysis of Paediatric Facial Dog Bites’. It doesn’t make for happy reading. Which makes getting it right rather important.
What Are Some of the Key Considerations?
There’s no question that some dog breeds have an inherent disposition for reacting to, or being irritated by, many of the very things that make children, well, children.
By nature, children are curious, experiment with different kinds of behaviors, push boundaries, are noisy, and rambunctious too. It’s all part of growing up. But these tendencies can undoubtedly annoy certain breeds more than others. And let's face it, children are not particularly good at reading ‘social cues’. Even if a dog is giving off clear ‘leave me alone’ vibes, they won’t necessarily pick up on them.
Furthermore, while a dog’s personality is a key factor in considering the worst dogs for children, let’s not forget their physicality. Size is an obvious one. As well intentioned as your new house guest might be, they can inadvertently bowl children over when excited, for example. Understanding what the breed was bred for is another factor to consider, as this can exacerbate their physicality in other ways too.
There Are Some Caveats to Remember Too
Before getting into the list we should also highlight some important caveats. The first is that the risk to your child can (and often should) be mitigated through the use of supervision, appropriate dog training, education and other methods available to responsible dog owners. These make sense whether a dog is on the list or not. We all have our good and bad days. The same goes for dogs.
It also hopefully goes without saying that just because a dog is on this list doesn’t mean the breed is actually bad or a ‘no go’ for children. Remember, we're applying a risk-based lens here ... and the age of the child is also clearly a factor.
The idea is to give you the information you need to make a) an informed decision and b) understand what precautions you may wish to take should you decide one of these breeds is a good fit for the family as a whole. Remember, too, that depending on the age of your children (as well as your fur friend), they won’t always be small and ‘clueless’.
Finally, this is not an exhaustive list and provides a only a brief introduction to each breed based on our limited set of criteria for worst dogs for children – the likelihood of causing physical harm (whether accidental or intentional). While there will always be some subjectivity in any classification of this nature, if you want more information on these breeds, the American Kennel Club is the gold standard in providing a balanced perspective on what you can expect.
10 of the Worst Dogs for Children
With that said, let’s get started on the list. In no particular order, they are:
Yes, we know they’re small. Which is exactly why most people are surprised they’d feature in a worst dogs for children list. But chihuahuas do like their personal space and, given their lack of stature, are often more prone to use their mouth to protect it. A nip here or there to warn the unwary is not uncommon.
At the other end of the spectrum is a breed that few will be surprised made the list. As a born guardian, Rottweilers can have difficulty distinguishing raucous child’s play (in its vicinity) from a threat to its home. Their size is another consideration, weighing between 80 – 130 pounds.
Chow Chows may look cute and cuddly but they were also bred to be guardians. As with the Rottweiler, rambunctious kids play may trigger aggressiveness. And although not as big as the Rottweiler, they’re not small either. They can also be difficult to train, meaning unwanted behavior may be more likely.
Here’s another entry on the world’s worst dogs for children list that may be a surprise. Again, small in stature ... but not necessarily long on patience. Like the Chihuahua, they also have a tendency to use their mouth to express displeasure. As they can be possessive of their food, toys, and primary caregiver, this can make for potentially inflammatory situations around curious and playful children.
Greyhounds are known for their speed, but their overall energy level is actually relatively low, and they prefer calm. While Greyhounds are not naturally an aggressive dog, noisy and chaotic environments can lead to anxiety and stress. Which can in turn lead to uncharacteristic behavior that’s incompatible with kids.
Australian Cattle Dog
These dogs are herders by nature and, as such, can tend to ‘round children up’ and/or nip at their heels to get them ‘back in line’. For similar reasons they may also chase them down … in a less than delicate manner. As a confident and notoriously non-submissive breed they’re unlikely to be a natural fit with kids.
Unsurprisingly, the characteristic which gives these typically sweet-tempered pooches a place on the worst dogs for children list is their size (weighing between 100 – 130 pounds). When you mix an uncoordinated child with an excited Mastiff accidents are generally not far behind.
Simply put, Alaskan Malamute’s have an abundance of energy and a proclivity for rough play (they're not exactly small either). Again, this is rarely a good combination with an uncoordinated child or children who lack the understanding and awareness needed to avoid any accidents. Malamute’s are also known to be stubborn and difficult to train.
While these dogs may be exceptionally beautiful, they aren’t necessarily a perfect match for children. They were bred to hunt big game and, as with the Alaskan Malamute, have a lot of energy and tendency for rough play. Not the best recipe for interactions with raucous children. They're also known to be less patient than many breeds.
Despite their decidedly huggable appearance, Shar Pei’s have a reputation for being grumpy, and very particular. In fact, they’re quite antisocial, rather territorial and would be quite happy living on their own in a single person household (two person if you must!).
While we hope the above list proves useful in your deliberations on which dog is most appropriate for your household, there are some final thoughts we’d like to offer.
Firstly, there are clearly other factors that should be considered when making an assessment of the perfect four-legged friend for your family (albeit that the safety of your children is an extremely important one).
Secondly. remember that no matter how genteel the breed, you’ll still need to set appropriate rules for your children concerning proper behavior, treatment, and respect for your new pet. You can find some simple tips on how to teach children to respect dogs here.
Here’s to many years of joy with your four-legged friend.