45 answers

What Kind of Dog to Get for 5 Year Olds and 3 Year Old.

Hi Moms,

I am driving myself crazy trying to figure out what kind of pet to get for my children.

We asked the people at the pound what they suggested, and they said either a kitten that would learn that it is normal to be around loud, hyper little kids, or a full grown dog that has been raised around kids and wags their tail around them. No toy breeds.

I took my kids on a field trip of the pound and to PetCo to see what they seemed interested in. My one daughter loved the kittens, but my 3 year old couldn't seem to leave the cat alone. She never hit it or was mean, just so hyper with it! My other daugher (age 5) prefers dogs, but the large room filled with barking dogs intimidated her.

I think that they would emotionally benefit from having a really friendly dog that is not too big. We walk to and from school every day, so we go on lots of walks. We have a fenced in back yard, but part of the fence is only 4 feet tall. I am a stay at home mom, so I have time to spend training and paying attention to a dog.

I would love to have a surprise dog under the Christmas tree, but maybe that is a bad idea. I want my kids to have a dog that they can love on and run outside with as well. I also think emotionally they would benefit from having that unconditional love while their dad is deployed.

I think Maltese dogs are adorable. Any ideas?


We have close family members that are allergic to cats, so I don't want a cat. We tried a toy breed dog and it started biting my little one, so we rehomed her.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hey All Moms! We just adopted a german shepherd mix from a foster home out of an animal shelter here. She is so incredibly loving and gentle! I never would have thought of this breed and totally was leaning towards other kinds of dogs, but after reading more about the pet overpopulation and how horrible it is in the pounds, I will never buy from a breeder! I can't believe what a special dog we have now. She wants everyone to pet her all day long, and if you stop petting her, she rolls on her back and wants her belly rubbed. Thanks Moms!

Featured Answers

We have had a Basset/retriever mix and a Chesapeake Retriever mix. They were both medium-sized, calm, didn't bark much, happy to be loved, climbed on, brushed, kissed, etc. I have 6 kids, so it was important to me to have a calm temperament. I knew I could not deal with a jumpy, yippy dog that would snap at people. You can go online and research dog breeds by temperament. good luck!

We had a lhaso apso growing up, and she was just the best family dog there could be. I don't remember her ever biting or being vicious.

I have a chihuahua pomeranian mix now, and he's very nervous (not mean, just nervous) around the kids until they get to be around 5/6 years old then he likes them. Because by then they understand not to attack the dog, and they know how to pet him nice.

Sounds like you need a medium-sized dog (about 20-30lbs). Australian shephard or jack Russel? Both of those breeds require a lot of exercise. I agree about toy dogs. You'll need a more resilient size. I have two labs that are wonderful but i wouldn't trust them to stay enclosed within a 4-foot fence. BTW-getting a dog is like having another kid... you might benefit from an older, already trained one. Good luck.

More Answers

Labs are the best dogs for kids. We have a dog that is half beagle and half lab and she never has ever growled or even barked until she thought that someone was trying to hurt the kids. She is very gentle and we got her when my son was almost a year old. Now my son is five and they love to play ball in the front yard.

1 mom found this helpful

I volunteered for a puppy rescue for many years and here is what I have learned. Keep in mind there are always exceptions.

Medium to large dogs do better with kids. The smaller dogs get scared since the kids are larger than them and they will tend to snap. That is their defense when they are scared.

Herding dogs (heelers, border collies, Aussies, etc.) are good with kids, but keep in mind they are herding dogs. They will try to round up the kids and to do this they nip at the heels.

The best dogs I have found with kids are the retrievers, especially the Golden Retrievers. Labs are wonderful family dogs, but they do have a lot of energy as puppies and you just have to get through that phase.

The Doodles are a great choice also, Labradoodle and Goldendoodle.

Another breed that is wonderful with kids is the Boxer. I have a boxer and he was 3 when my first child was born. We were a little worried since he wasnt around many kids. He is fantasic with the kids. Lets them give him big hugs and lay on him. He will just look at us as if to say "Mom I am done with the loving"

I also agree with the others that say the best dog is a mixed mutt. They seem to take on the best quality of the dogs they are mixed with.

The best thing to do is go to a puppy rescue, pound, etc. and play with the dogs. You will find the right one that will bond with your family.

Good Luck.

1 mom found this helpful


You are right in asking opinions of others before getting a dog!! Thank you!! I loved having a Shetland Sheepdog growing up, but I'll tell you they are barkers... And need constant grooming. My husband got our daughter a Weimaraner puppy for her 6th birthday... BAD IDEA! Oh, we love her to pieces, but a puppy was a bad idea. She's incredibly intelligent and can get herself out of almost anything. And it is hard to keep her in the back yard, and she loves to run. The person you spoke with about the breed/type of dog to get was spot on. You really do want one that is already used to kids. May I suggest doing a google search for breed specific rescues in your area? There are lots of dogs that are looking for good homes, and you are doing a terrific thing looking for a dog and not a puppy.

And maltese are cute, but that is a small dog that doesn't tend to like children. THey are easier to pick up, and carry which if the dog doesn't want to, will make it known!!! Go with a lab or a golden, or a smaller big dog (sheltie my personal favorite!) Get a dog YOU want too. Because let's be honest, I have to, ahem, get to feed my daughter's dog. She's not hers, she's really mine to care for. So if you don't like the dog, it will be harder to deal with.

Good lucK!

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't do a Maltese. If your 3-year old is hyper, a Maltese will be too small to feel comfortable with that and may lash out. I'd go with something like a golden retriever, they are pretty unflappable. Also, you can look at the list of dogs they have at the colorado correctional institute site. Essentially, they have a program where inmates train dogs, and then the public can adopt them. It's a terrific program because it helps the inmates do something worthwhile, and the dogs are apparently very highly trained, and well assessed, so you'd know what you are getting, which you might not if you get a regular pound puppy. People who have used this program highly recommend it. Last time I looked they had a lot of goldendoodles and labradoodles on teh site, which are great because they don't shed, and they can be a little hyper as puppies, but the older, trained ones might be perfect!


Oops, also forgot to mention that if you want to research the temperments of different dogs, a good site is dogbreedinfo.com. For example, in the description of temperment for a Maltese it says:

Do not allow these dogs to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors, where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavior problems. If the dog believes he is boss, he can be snappish with children and even adults. Do not over-pamper or overprotect these little dogs, for they will become unstable, and some may become jealous of visitors. Maltese who are allowed to take over the house, being boss of the humans can also develop separation anxiety, guarding, and obsessive barking.

1 mom found this helpful


It is wonderful that you are considering adding a member to your family. I would highly recommend that you follow the advice that they gave you at the shelter. There are so many wonderful dogs that need new homes (Because of our economy right now it has increased tremendously.) An older dog that is already tolerant and loving toward children will bring you almost instant happiness once they have adjusted to their new home.

I agree with the previous poster that labs/lab mixes make awesome family dogs and are normally extremely tolerant and gentle. Some labs have higher energy than others and they are notorious for having a long adolescent period, so around age 3 they are usually a little more mellow.

Other absolutely awesome breeds are golden retrievers/golden mixes because they usually have the same awesome temperament and are usually just a little calmer than labs. Another great asset to have a retriever (any kind) is that they happily fetch things and kids love to throw balls and toys for them. (Don't get a retriever if you like to have shoes, socks and toys stay where they are put though, because they are also great at relocating things!)

If you want a dog that sheds less, than you should look for breeds that have "hair" instead of fur. These do include Maltese, poodles and Bichon Frise. There are many dogs available in shelters that have poodle in them and that can make there coat shed less.

These breeds are highly intelligent and easily trainable. I would highly recommend that you look at petfinder.com to search for possible matches for your family as you can search for dogs (or other pets) by putting in your preferred parameters. I think that you will find a best friend that will complete your family.

I see that you are located in Idaho, so remember to consider the comfort of your dog in the cold weather and don't get a dog with too little fur unless you are willing to outfit it for the snow!

I wish you the best of luck with finding a buddy for your family and safe deployment for your husband.

Blessings, L.

1 mom found this helpful

I echo a number of others - australian shepherds, border collies, labradors are all great dogs. We have a lab mix - at the time, we got her when the kids were just getting to be teens. We didn't give much thought to how she would behave around little ones, since we weren't expecting, and weren't expecting to be expecting. Well, along comes our little "surprise". Although our lab is a little more high maintenance than most, she's been AMAZING to the little one (now 4). As my daughter grew up, she did all those things that you have to train kids not to do. The poor dog has even been subjected to dressing up like a princess - crown and all. And she just will lay there until she's had enough, and get up and walk away. She's incredibly protective of all the kids - will check to make sure everyone's in bed before she goes to bed herself.

The other breed that can be amazing around kids is dobermans. I would never have believed it until I went to visit my husband's uncle - he has 2 dobermans that are the most amazingly lovable dogs. There were tons of very little kids around, and the two dogs were just big bags of love.

Having had a cat for 18 years, I wouldn't necessarily recommend cats for little kids - maybe when they are a little older. Cats tend to not be as appreciative of kids and chaos :-)

1 mom found this helpful

I wasn't able to read all the responses, so please excuse me if I repeat advice. I would definitely avoid the toy breeds, and even the smaller dogs. I would go for a breed that is known for being great with kids and very trainable - labs or golden retrievers (doesn't have to be purebred to be a good dog). And whatever you get - go to training classes with them. Kids and dogs get excited, and if you can control one with a voice command, that will definitely help the situation. Since you state that you aren't looking for cats, I won't say anything on that topic, but you want to really check out the personality of the dog. It needs to be a bit kick back, and willing to have the kids "hug" it alot. If it is skittish in any way, it will make it hard on all of them. Ground rules are also good for the kids - leave the dog alone while it is eating, or in a corner (it can't escape if it doesn't want to play right then) and if the dog walk away, let him/her go.
I have a 17 month old and an 11 year old lab mix. While she is sweet, she wasn't around kids when she was younger. She is getting old, and I worry about my son hugging her, and unintentionally hurting her and her reacting. With her, and any dog, I never leave him unsupervised. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

The best dog in the whole world to have with children is a golden retriever! I grew up with them, andmy husband grew up with them. Children can do ANYTHING to them and they will not recipicate. I have never seen a reteriver bite or growl at my children and we have had two of them. They are just well natured dogs. I cannot say enough good things about a pure bred goldren retriever! good luck in your search.

I have two boys, one 4 years old, one 8 months. I work part time.

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.