In the span of a few heartbeats, lives can change dramatically. From the perspective of the mother, the family dog, bosom companion of a young toddler in Australia snapped and viciously attacked the young girl.
Despite her fear for her baby, the mother knew in her heart it would never hurt his beloved friend. Sure enough, there was something strange about the attack that day. Something that would threaten two lives.
A Strange Morning
Catherine Svilicic enjoyed watching her rescue Doberman play with her little girl. They were already fast friends, even though he was newly adopted. He played so very gently with the baby, despite her childish rambunctiousness. In fact, there was definitely a very tender quality to the new dog towards “his” little girl.
Catherine never had an inkling of doubt about how the pup would treat her babe. Still, she rarely let the two play unsupervised. So when she saw the dog go completely berserk, she was taken completely by surprise. She was terrified for her daughter and completely dumbfounded as to why such a thing would happen out of the blue.
When Catherine decided to adopt a young rescue dog to join the family, it never crossed her mind that he would be dangerous. She was only ever slightly concerned because she didn’t know the dog’s past. Naturally, when a dog comes from a rescue there are always questions.
Sometimes rescue dogs have had a traumatic past, and they can act irrationally or aggressively. Occasionally, they have other negative behaviors that can affect their lives at their new home. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of re-housebreaking a pup, or it’s simply a matter of a teething puppy getting the right toys to chew. Other times things like submissive peeing can be an issue. In any case, usually, good rescues test out the personality and behaviors of a dog in their care and try to match a dog to the right family, and that’s what Catherine was probably counting on.
There are some breeds of dog referred to as “Bully Breeds” which are often unfairly labeled as dangerous or overly aggressive. But these “Bully” dogs, which include Boxers, Boston terriers, American pit bull terrier, as well as Dobermans, can be every bit as loyal and loving as any other breed. These dogs are all descended from the ancient Greek Molosser dog breed. They have been crossbred with mastiff and bulldog breeds to create the dogs we know today. These more modern Molossers were often used for bull baiting in the 19th century England, hence the term “Bully”.
It is true that poor breeding and poor treatment of these dogs can adversely affect their behavior, but that is true of any breed of dog. That is why getting dogs only from reputable breeders who breed for good temperament and health is a critical foundation to help ensure a friendly dog.
Soon after Catherine had her little girl, Charlotte, the Svilcics decided to make another addition to their family. They decided to get a young dog to grow up with their daughter, a common decision in families.
Often a family likes the idea of a canine companion for their child. There are many benefits to this. Having a dog to pet and cuddle can relieve some of the stress of growing up. It can encourage a more active, healthy lifestyle in children who run around with their pet. There is even evidence that children who grow up around pets have stronger immune systems!
The Time Had Come
The Svilcics decided to try to help an unwanted dog, so they turned to a local dog shelter to see if they could find a dog that would be a good match for their family. After looking over the various dogs they settled on the largest Doberman Pinscher they saw. Catherine decided to name him Khan.
Before they took him home, the Svilicics were informed by the shelter that Khan had a troubled past where he had been abused by his previous owners. But, he had passed the temperament test (otherwise the Doberman would not have been put up for adoption), so Catherine felt secure about adopting him and giving Khan a new “leash” on life.
Khan’s New Home
Despite the knowledge of Khan’s past, the Svilicics were excited about bringing home the young dog to meet their 17-month-old. They were especially happy to know that they had saved Khan from euthanasia; he had been scheduled to be put down if no one adopted him in a week. This was due to space considerations in the shelter, and not because of any fault of Khan’s.
It can always be a risk to adopt an animal from the shelter because the animal has a history of being abused, unknown medical problems, behavioral problems, or even worse, an unknown reason for surrender. It can sometimes be especially risky if the animal had a history of being used in dog fights or was taught to attack people. Sadly, this can happen more often with Bully breeds, like the Doberman. Usually, animals that are too broken by their pasts are caught by the shelter’s screening process and are not put up for adoption, but sometimes things slip through.
It Was A Normal Day
Catherine hoped everything would go smoothly for Khan and Charlotte when she brought him home, and for the first three days, they did. Charlotte loved her new furry friend and Khan, as far as anyone could tell, adored little Charlotte. The pair were inseparable. They spent hours playing together in the house and outside in the Svilicic’s little garden.
The fourth day dawned. Naturally, despite Khan’s good behavior, Catherine kept an eye on the two of them Charlotte was only 17 months old, after all, and Khan had only been with them for a short time. It’s a good thing she did because, on that fateful day, things got ugly…
There was no doubt in Catherine’s mind that adopting Khan was the right decision for both of them. She enjoyed watching her little girl playing with him, Mainly, they just ran around, not making all that much noise, just being exuberant young things together. Their pure enjoyment of one another only cemented Catherine’s feelings of doing the right thing.
All of a sudden, in the garden, madness seemed to come over Khan. He picked up and tossed Charlotte so violently, she landed hard a yard away. Afterward, Khan continued to bark angrily, hackles raised. There was a moment of stunned silence before Catherine jumped into action.
Wrath of Khan
Intellectually, Catherine knew it was possible for Khan to snap and be violent; oddly, she felt it was more likely that an angry sibling or young human friend would push her daughter away like that. Worryingly, Khan still looked angry and pugnacious after throwing Charlotte.
Now that Khan had attacked, Catherine was very concerned about what could have triggered this behavior in him; she knew Charlotte wouldn’t have done anything to provoke him. She also wondered what was going to happen next.
Catherine saw the entire thing unfold from the kitchen window. From what she could see, Khan’s disposition towards Charlotte suddenly changed. One moment the two were playfully scampering around the garden, the next every line on Khan’s body was rigid and there was murder in his eyes.
Khan began to determinedly push Charlotte around the yard, becoming more belligerent with each push. Catherine initially hoped that Khan would settle back down into play, but it quickly became clear that she would need to intervene. But by the time she fully realized that her daughter was in danger, the hair-raising events had already unfolded.
Khan did not seem satisfied with simply pushing the toddler around. Charlotte didn’t even seem to notice the change in Khan’s disposition and kept innocently wandering towards doom. What happened next was probably absolutely terrifying for both Catherine and Charlotte.
In addition to trying to herd and push Charlotte, Khan began to growl and bark. Still, Charlotte paid her furry friend no mind. Suddenly, Khan snapped. He grabbed little Charlotte by her diaper and tossed her as easily as he would a rag doll. Khan continued to bark and snarl. Catherine was horrified at what had just unfolded in front of her.
Oddly, Charlotte didn’t cry after being thrown, but she was certainly bewildered and upset that her new friend had done something like that. Catherine rushed over to her poor daughter, afraid of what she would discover. Later, Catherine said about the incident, “If I had not seen it with my very own eyes, I’d never have believed it.”
Once Catherine was by her daughter’s side, she frantically began to look over her daughter for injuries, while trying to make sure that Khan didn’t continue to attack her baby. It was then that Khan, still posturing ferociously, let out a series of rapid-fire barks and then suddenly sank limply to the ground. Catherine was completely mystified as to what just happened.
Something Went Wrong
Once Catherine had rushed to her baby girl’s side and looked her over, she was utterly amazed to discover that Charlotte was completely unharmed; no scratches, bruises, or bites! Then, when Khan fell to the ground, apparently lifeless, Catherine began to question the events that she had just seen.
Catherine began to wonder if perhaps Khan had actually been trying to protect her precious daughter all along. She looked back over to Khan. He seemed like he was unconscious. Things began to click and Catherine realized that Khan had done something heroic to protect his new best friend. It was also just as clear that Khan was running out of time. He needed help immediately!
A Great Sacrifice
Khan was indeed mortally wounded. He had been envenomed by something deadly, even to an animal of his size; little Charlotte would not have stood a chance. If Khan didn’t receive medical care quickly, he would die.
Khan had only been with the Svilicic’s for four days, but his devotion and love for his family, especially little Charlotte was already deep. Deep enough that he braved death to save his friend. Catherine was moved. She knew that the situation was desperate and that even if Khan received emergency medical care, he may have made the ultimate sacrifice for her family.
Now assured that her daughter was not only okay but that Khan had actually been as gentle as he could be in trying to save her daughter’s life, Catherine went and looked over Khan. She saw that he had been wounded. Whatever had wounded him was clearly very dangerous. Khan seemed to be unable to move and that paralysis was spreading rapidly. Khan was losing the ability to breathe!
Catherine wasn’t entirely sure what had happened, or what had bitten her brave dog, but she knew that time was running out to help him. Saving Khan was exactly what Catherine was determined to do.
Time to Take Action
Catherine knew that whatever had bitten her heroic dog was probably still nearby.So Catherine picked up Charlotte and brought her swiftly into the house. Catherine then made sure that the household knew the danger that waited outside. She then turned her attention to poor Khan.
Khan’s condition was heart-wrenching. His breathing was shallow, his tongue lolled limply out of his mouth, and he lay as still as death. She knew she couldn’t let her daughter’s hero and playmate die. Catherine was not going to give up on Khan. He meant too much. She had faith that all would be well.
A Race Against Time
Pumped full of adrenaline and fear for Khan, she picked up his almost lifeless form and carried him to her car. She wrangled his limp form into the back seat of her car. Then she hopped into the driver’s seat, turned the car on and started to speed to the veterinarian's office.
Catherine knew that when she had put him into the car, Khan was still clinging to life, but she had no idea how things would go. By now, she figured one of the many species of venomous snakes that inhabit Australia had bitten Khan, but she had no idea which one. Catherine only knew that the venom was working quickly, ravaging poor, brave, Khan’s body.
On the Road
Catherine sped through the streets, desperate to make sure that Khan would get to the vet as quickly as possible. She kept glancing back to see if Khan was still alive. How she managed to drive through her tears without incident, Catherine wasn’t sure. Later she said, “I never knew I was able to drive this well. I guess adrenaline does its thing.”
Catherine was just overwhelmed by Khan’s bravery. She was awed that a dog, still new to the family, would use himself as a shield from danger for his young friend. She had to make sure that she did everything she could for him.
Finally, the emergency veterinary clinic was in sight. Catherine floored it, screeched into the parking lot, slammed on the brakes, and threw the car into park in front of the clinic entrance. She scrambled out of the car, threw open the door to the back seat, and hugged Khan close in her arms. Trying not to trip over herself or drop the dog, Catherine ran as fast as she could into the clinic, screaming for help.
Fortunately, the staff heard her desperate cries and ran from all directions. One had brought a gurney and helped Catherine lay Khan upon it. She was relieved that Khan had made it to the practiced hands of the emergency veterinary staff, but Khan was not out of the woods yet.
Later, Catherine would say, “If you asked me to carry [him] right now, I don’t think I’d be able to do it.” Somehow the adrenaline from the event and Catherine’s determination to save her daring dog had enabled her to do what was normally impossible.
But Khan had been a hero that day. Khan had seen that mulga brown snake in the grass, heading towards his best friend. His protective instinct kicked in; he saved Charlotte, the girl he loved. Sadly, Khan ended up paying a terrible price for his bold bravery.
She Owed Him
At that moment Catherine felt deeply indebted to Khan, who had so selflessly saved her daughter from the deadly snake. At that moment, Khan became as much a part of her family as her own daughter. And as much as she was relieved to know that her daughter was home safe and sound, Catherine knew that she would be unable to rest easy until she knew that Khan would be okay, too.
At the emergency vet’s office, a sense of helplessness fell over Catherine as they took Khan away. She knew he was in good hands, but she could do nothing more than wait to see if he would pull through.
So How Was Khan?
Anxiously, Catherine paced the waiting room, breaking out into a cold sweat of fear. She knew her whole family would be devastated if Khan should die. She knew that snake bites were a serious matter, and Khan could very well not make it. Catherine couldn’t stop thinking and worrying about Khan.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only about 30 minutes later, the doctor appeared. Catherine rushed over to him, desperate to hear good news.
The Doctor’s Answer
Unfortunately, the veterinarian didn’t have any answers for Catherine, “We don’t know yet, Ma’am. We’ve done what we can do for now. The antivenom he’s been will certainly help, but we don’t know to what extent. It’s best that you go home now and return in the morning.”
Certainly, these were not the words that Catherine wanted to hear. But she knew that the doctor was right; it wouldn’t do anyone any good for her to stick around and pace like a caged animal. She would go home to be with her family and return the next day. But, Khan was alive, and that gave Catherine hope.
A Sleepless Night
While it was no use staying at the veterinarian's office, Catherine soon discovered that being home did nothing to quell her racing mind. Instead of pacing in the waiting room she paced in her living room, her kitchen, her bedroom. There was nowhere she could go to escape the thoughts and feelings that were rushing through her mind on overdrive.
Try as she might to hold onto hope for her hero pup, Catherine couldn’t help drifting over and over again to visions of the worst case scenario. The idea of Khan not making it through was so heart-rending that Catherine didn’t get a wink of sleep that night.
Stepping Into Tomorrow
When the first rays of sunlight finally shone through the window onto what had been one of the longest nights of Catherine’s life, a tiny twinkle of hope came with it. At the very least, the morning would bring with it answers. Catherine arose at 7.30 AM and, with very little sleep to fuel her, attended to the normal morning routines that needed to be done for her family.
Finally, the time came to go see Khan and, for better or worse, discover what fate held in store for him. She took the same route as she had taken with him less than 24 hours earlier, though this time at a far safer speed. Catherine had timed her departure to get her there precisely when the clinic opened.
The Moment Of Truth
Catherine’s was indeed the first car to pull into the parking lot that day. As she sat alone in the waiting room, she clenched her jaw and mentally prepared herself to hear the worst. Thinking of her baby daughter playing safely at home, she knew the sacrifice Khan had made was right. But that made the idea of losing him even more tragic.
Questions whirred through her head at lightning speed. Would she ever see her hero dog and baby girl playing happily together again? Was Khan still holding on or had he already been snatched from this life? Worry filling her every thought, Catherine inquired again at the desk, hoping that someone could just give her some answers and at least put an end to all the torturous unknowns.
So, What Almost Killed the Baby?
Unfortunately, Catherine had more of a wait ahead of her before finding out the fate of her brave puppy. In the meantime though, she finally discovered what it was that Khan had been protecting baby Charlotte from. A hidden danger had been lurking in their yard for God knows how long and, had Khan not been there that day, who knows what may’ve happened.
Without Khan, the vet told Catherine, it was highly likely she would’ve been in the emergency room of a hospital at that very moment, fretting over the fate of her baby daughter. In fact, the creature was so dangerous that Catherine too could’ve been paralyzed had she gone to her baby’s rescue.
What Do We Have Here?
As it turns out, the venom responsible for placing Khan’s life in jeopardy belonged to a Mulga, one of Australia’s deadliest snakes. With this revelation, any scrap of doubts Catherine may have had lingering about Khan’s initial behavior faded. He had never intended to hurt Charlotte.
The throw and the aggressive pushes were all born of love. Khan somehow knew what was at stake and that he couldn’t be gentle if he was going to get the baby out of harm’s way and keep her there. Khan had seen one of his new family members in danger and instantly clicked into survival mode.
A Predator is Loose
Australia is famous the world over for its diversity in poisonous things that can kill you. From the ocean that surrounds it to the coastal areas, rainforests and deserts, Australia is a treasure trove of deadly creatures.
The Mulga is just one of many deadly snakes getting about in the Australian landscape. While they tend to keep to themselves and only strike when they feel threatened, there’s no way to reason with them and explain that you don’t intend to harm them! If bitten, even a fully-grown adult can die within minutes. Baby Charlotte wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Khan, The Protector
Embodying the role of a fearless hero willing to lay down his life for his family, Khan shielded Charlotte from the disturbed Mulga’s attack before picking her up the only way he could and throwing her out of harm’s way. He was then vigilant in staying between the baby and the snake and preventing her from being harmed by it.
As a result, Khan himself was struck by the serpent’s fangs, receiving a dose of poison that could easily kill a grown man. While he was a big dog, he wasn’t that big and the adrenaline surging through him as he continued to guard the baby from the snake would have driven the venom faster towards his heart.
Will Khan Survive?
Learning all this, Catherine’s hopes for Khan’s survival dwindled even more. The brave Doberman would always and forever be the family’s hero. The question that remained was, would he survive to receive the love and adoration they wanted to shower him with?
Catherine still couldn’t believe that this dog had risked his life to save a baby he’d only met days earlier. Visions of the pup picking up little 17-month-old Charlotte by the diaper and tossing her across the yard flashed through Catherine’s mind, along with guilt for the fact that she had, at first, thought this beautiful, innocent and heroic dog was the danger in the situation.
As Catherine continued to wait for the verdict on Khan’s condition, she felt beyond helpless. At home, she knew her family were just as stressed as she was. They had no idea whether they should be preparing for the pup’s homecoming or for his funeral.
All Catherine wanted was the chance to repay Khan for saving her baby. She wanted to shower this pup, who had once needed rescuing himself, with all the love and kindness he deserved. With a tiny morsel of hope still burning deep within her heart, Catherine resolved that, if he pulled through, he would forever be “Khan the Wonder Dog.”
Not knowing what to do with herself and full to bursting with anxious energy, Catherine returned to pacing. The movement didn’t do much but it did take the edge of the painfully slow drag of time while she waited for news of Khan.
Fighting the negative thoughts and fears for the worse, she tried to imagine how it would feel to take Khan home to her family again. All the while, she knew the professionals were back there, doing everything within their powers to keep Khan alive and help him pull through for good.
Catherine couldn’t help feeling guilty for everything poor Khan had been through in his short doggy life. The Svillicics had rescued him from an animal shelter but had unintentionally brought him into an all-new dangerous situation.
The poor sweet Doberman had only been a part of their loving family for a handful of days before his life was once again on the line, this time in the name of saving baby Charlotte’s life. Catherine thought back to the day they had first found Khan. It wasn’t that long ago but, with all that had happened in the last 24 hours, it felt like a different lifetime.
Put Him Down?
Before being rescued by the Svillcic family, Khan had been at risk of being put to sleep. He had come to the shelter in such a miserable state that the workers there questioned whether there was any hope in trying to help him pull through.
The poor pup had been starved and there was evidence of terrible physical abuse. Along with broken ribs, Khan exhibited the behaviour of a dog who’s been treated cruelly. He had been in such a bad way that the shelter manager had been close to just putting the poor pup out of his misery.
He Only Wanted Love
Thankfully, the decision was made to see if they could help the dog pull through. As a result, Khan was able to meet the Svillicic family and find a home in which he would receive nothing but love. Thinking of this, and how much Khan lapped up every bit of kindness ever shown to him, Catherine realised why he did what he did for a family he barely knew.
As she explained to Australian newspaper, The Courier Mail, “he was starving for attention and wanted to be loved because he came from an abused home, so I’m not surprised about what he has done at his new home.”
The Time Has Come…
Catherine was finally able to speak to the vet and find out how Khan was doing. While she would’ve loved to have taken the pup home to her waiting family then and there, that sadly just wasn’t meant to be. All Catherine wanted to do was give Khan a life filled with love and companionship.
However, as Catherine soon discovered, Khan had been deathly ill all night. The pup had been struggling for his life and was hanging on by the barest of threads. Continuing with his explanation, the vet finally came to Khan’s chances for survival. Catherine waited, not daring to breathe for fear of missing what he said.
As the vet spoke, a strange expression flushed over Catherine’s face. Khan was not well at all…. But he was getting better. His progress was slow but it was also steady. Tears and a smile fought for primacy on Catherine’s face.
The vet continued, explaining that Khan was now at the point in his recovery where there was no longer a risk of total paralysis. The anti-venom was doing its job. “So he’s going to make a full recovery?” Catherine asked, hope dripping from every word. The vet was far more cautious in his analysis.
A Full Recovery?
While Khan wasn’t out of the woods yet, the vet expressed that, having survived through the worst of it, he would likely be okay. This is an astonishing outcome considering the Mulga could kill a human twice Khan’s weight.
An Adelaide snake expert weighed in on the situation, explaining it is highly likely that the only reason Khan survived is because the snake didn’t get a clean bite and so the full load of its venom didn’t make it into Khan’s bloodstream. Had it done so, Khan’s story certainly would not have had a happy ending. So, now for the big question: what ended up happening to Khan and baby Charlotte?
The Results Were In
While her hope had been restored, Catherine knew she wouldn’t be able to stop worrying until she had Khan in the car with her again, on the way back to his forever home with the rest of the Svillicic family. Finally, she was called back to the vet’s office.
The veterinarian explained that Khan had indeed recovered and would continue to regain his stamina and strength over the coming days. The vet was astonished at the remarkable speed with which Khan had pulled through. For her part, Catherine was too ecstatic to think about such details and just wanted to know when she could be reunited with the family hero.
Finally, the moment everyone in the Svillicic family had been waiting for so long! Reunited with their beloved hero pup again, the Svillicics were even happier than when they’d first adopted him. Life for them would now be about loving and protecting each other and doing the same for their hero dog, Khan.
While they felt there was never going to be a way that they could fully repay the debt they owed Khan for saving Charlotte’s life, there was an odd sense of beauty in the fact that he had rescued them as much as they had rescued him.
As we’ve just learned from Catherine and Khan’s harrowing tale, choosing the right dog breed to match your family is not a task that should be taken on lightly, especially if you have a child (or children) at home. Picking a dog to match your family’s style is a task that requires careful consideration and bucketloads of forethought.
Make the right choice and you build one of the most joyous foundations for childhood memories that a person could hope for. And, when they’re all grown up, your kids will look back with fondness on the beautiful experiences you made possible for them with their best four-legged bud. To help you with this momentous decision, we’ve turned to dog breeding and training experts to help us bring together a comprehensive list of all the best dog breeds for families with kids. Click “next” to find your new best friend.
Labs are easily the most popular breed in the United States ( and many other countries, too!) and it’s easy to see why. They are easy-going, friendly people pleasers. They are also the top choice for search and rescue work, guide dogs, assisted living dogs, and even work with law enforcement as contraband detector dogs.
Labs are a medium sized dog that gets between 55-80 lbs and lives between 10-12 years. It’s important to remember that Labs are high energy dogs. They want to play all day, every day. They’re not good protective watchdogs, because they love everyone. They are highly cold tolerant but only do okay in hot weather. Labs are seasonal shedders and have water-resistant double coats. Plan to brush at least once a week. Generally, Labs are robust, healthy breeds, but make sure your breeder checks for elbow and hip dysplasia, the diseases most common in the breed.
Beagles are one of America’s top dogs. These dogs are very vocal and howl or bay when things get their attention. Beagles are scent hounds, and their low-hanging ears help their nose catch scent with it’s over 200 million scent receptors. They are a small breed of dog that gets to about 20-30 lbs and lives about 10-15 years. They are medium energy dogs. Beagles love everyone and are very affectionate playful, and downright happy dogs. They will adore playing with your kids.
Beagles need a well-fenced yard. While they are food-motivated easy trainers, they cannot be trained out of following a scent. Once these dogs have caught a scent, they will not be swayed. Beagles have a short, dense coat that can be brushed weekly. They may need to be bathed often, as they like to roll in strong-smelling things. Their ears do need to be cleaned regularly. Beagles are one of the healthiest breeds out there, but they do like to eat and can become obese. They tolerate both hot and cold weather fairly well.
Shih Tzus are small medium-energy companion dogs that get from 9-16 lbs and live 10-16 years. These dogs were bred to warm the feet of Chinese emperors, but they are happy to snuggle with anyone they meet. Shih Tzus are very friendly, very affectionate, and are not very protective. Shih Tzus can make excellent in agility and obedience once trained, but be prepared to be very patient; these dogs are slow learners, and this includes struggles with house training.
Shih Tzus don’t shed much but need regular trips to the groomer and daily brushing if they’re kept with long hair. These little dogs don’t tolerate weather extremes well. Shih Tzus are fairly healthy little dogs, but responsible breeders will try to steer away from the developmental kidney disorders and hip dysplasia that these little guys can be prone to. Because their eyes bug out a little, they can be prone to eye injuries.
Maltese are good for allergy sufferers, as they have hypoallergenic hair. They are also good family pets because they are affectionate, loving, and playful dogs. They do need supervision around younger children, but only because little kids can get too rough with these small dogs. Interestingly, this is probably the oldest breed of lapdog, talked about by Classical Greek philosophers! They are a small sized, medium energy breed and reach 6-8 lbs and live 12-15 years. Maltese can be shy around strangers, and therefore make okay watchdogs. However, they are also prone to separation anxiety. They tolerate cold well, but not heat.
Maltese don’t shed much, but they do need to see a groomer often, be brushed every other day, and bathing every other week. But when well cared for, a Maltese’s can be gorgeous. These dogs are sturdy but should be trained early to have their teeth brushed, as they can develop tooth issues with a lack of care. They are moderately easy to train and enjoy being pampered.
Americans love Pugs! These little guys are outgoing, loving, playful, even-tempered, and charming enough to make you forgive their mischievous nature. These dogs love kids, but again, because they’re small they need supervision with the younger kids. Pugs can be shy with strangers and make decent watchdogs. They tolerate cold well, but because of their short snouts and inherent breathing problems, they can’t tolerate heat at all! Please keep your Pug cool!
Speaking of health issues, this breed is prone to several; encephalitis, orthopedic issues, breathing issues, and their eyes can actually pop out if too much pressure is placed on their necks. No choke collars here, please! In fact, there are special harnesses for these sorts of dogs so that no pressure is placed on their necks at all. Pugs do like to please, and with a light touch and positive reinforcement, they’ll be happy to do what you want. They don’t need a lot of grooming, just a weekly brush, and regular baths to keep those wrinkles clean!
These brave little firecrackers were bred to hunt vermin but fiercely love their families and kids. Miniature Schnauzers are small, medium energy dogs that get 13-15 lbs and live 12-14 years. They may be small, but they are rugged! Miniature Schnauzers can play with even the youngest kids, and they’ll love it, too. Also, they may be friendly, but they make intelligent and vocal watchdogs. Yes, Miniature Schnauzers love to talk, maybe a little too much. On the plus side, their intelligence means they learn quickly with rewards and games. This intelligence does mean that Miniature Schnauzers do get bored if not kept busy, they can get into things you don’t want them to. They tolerate warm and cold climates well.
Miniature Schnauzers are lovable little snugglers, and their wiry double coat is designed to slough off dirt. Still, they need daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles in their long hair. Miniature Schnauzers should see the groomer every other month and don’t shed frequently. Even though they are fairly robust dogs, responsible breeders try to steer clear of eye, heart, and skin problems that this breed is prone to.
Curious and courageous, this little dog tops out at 7 lbs and lives 11-15 years. Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, are the world’s second favorite breed after Labs. With medium energy, Yorkies are boisterous and impish. As a breed, they’re fairly healthy, especially if they come from a responsible breeder, but they are somewhat delicate because they are so small. Yorkies really do better with older kids who won’t hurt or scare them, as they will nip when scared or hurt. They also like to be the only dog in your life, though they might tolerate your cat. Yorkies don’t like the cold but do okay in a warmer climate.
Yorkies like to be kept active and like to engage in activities like agility and rally. They are easily trainable if you are patient and consistent, but as with other small dogs, they can have difficulty with housebreaking. Yorkies are infrequent shedders, but they need daily grooming and frequent trips to the groomers for clipping.
Also known as Shelties, this medium-sized, medium to high energy dog is one of the smartest dog breeds in the world. They get to between 15-25 lbs and live 12-14 years. Shelties love family and having a job to do, and they adore children of all ages, though they may try to herd the younger kids. They are shy of strangers and make intelligent, vocal watchdogs. Shelties love to learn new things, especially if it comes with praise, treats, or games; they learn very quickly. Shelties do well in warm and cold climates.
Shelties have a fluffy double coat and are heavy seasonal shedders. They need to be brushed three or four times a week, preferably while their fur is damp so that it doesn’t break. Shelties are typically a healthy breed, but orthopedic issues can be a concern, as well as eye ailments, inflammatory diseases, and blood-flow disorders. Selecting a dog from a good breeder will help mitigate the possibility of having any issues.
Another American favorite! This friendly and lively small breed gets to between 10-15 lbs and lives 10-18 years. Their hair is fairly hypoallergenic as well, making them a favorite for allergy sufferers. These intelligent dogs will often form an extra special bond with one person in the family, but if well socialized will want to be friends with everyone. Miniature Poodles like to be with their family all the time and have a job to do. That, their friendliness and their trainability make them excellent candidates for social therapy, seeing eye and service work. They also do well in any climate.
Poodles don’t shed much, but they do need to see a groomer as often as every month and need to be brushed frequently to prevent mats and tangles. As a breed, Miniature Poodles are generally healthy, but watch out for orthopedic problems, epilepsy, skin issues, blood clotting disorders, and thyroid or adrenal gland issues.
Standard Poodles are a lot like their smaller cousins. However, they get to between 40-70 lbs and live 10-18 years. Poodles were bred to be water bird retrievers and therefore like to work and tend to have a soft mouth. These dogs can be extremely gentle, but don’t tolerate rough play or negative reinforcement. However, with positive reinforcement, they also make ideal candidates for all kinds of service work, especially for those with allergies. Interestingly, these bigger Poodles love their families, they are more reserved with others and will make good protective watchdogs.
Standard Poodles also require frequent brushing and time at the groomers at least every other month. They are subject to the same health issues as the Miniature Poodle, but they are particularly prone to bloat, which needs immediate medical attention from your vet. You should be familiar with the symptoms of gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) which causes the bloat if you choose a Standard Poodle as a companion.
The Basset hound has been voted one of the 12 most talkative (and loud!) breeds. These medium-sized, low energy dogs get to between 40-60 lbs and live about 12-15 years. Basset Hounds are devoted to their people. They are calm and easygoing and can be indifferent to strangers. These dogs are stubborn and lazy, so they have to be encouraged to take their daily walk around the block, though they are easy to train with food and a good training structure.
Basset Hound’s coats are short and low maintenance, and they are moderate seasonal shedders. When giving them the occasional bath, make sure to clean and dry those wrinkles! Basset Hounds are a fairly healthy breed, with orthopedic issues like elbow dysplasia being the most common. However, they can easily become overweight with their tendency to eat a lot and not move around much, so it is best to watch their diets and make sure they do exercise regularly.
English Setters are a sweet, calm, friendly, medium-high energy dog. They are considered large and get from 45-80 lbs and live 10-12 years. English Setters tolerate both heat and cold fairly well. They can be shy around younger children but are loving family dogs. English Setters crave human companionship and don’t do well when left alone for extended periods of time. They can be challenging to train, but love to please their people. English Setters respond well to gentle, patient, and consistent training. Be sure to socialize these dogs while they are young, too. When well socialized, English Setters are excellent canine citizens around other dogs.
English Setters have a feathered single coat that requires brushing every other day. They should be bathed monthly and are seasonal shedders. English Setters are a healthy breed but look for breeders who are mindful of elbow dysplasia in the breed. Some Setters are susceptible to deafness, too.
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are the quintessential working dog. These medium-sized, high-energy dogs need to have a job and lots of exercise to be happy. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs grow to between 40-65 lbs and live between 11-13 years. These dogs bond tightly with their family and were bred to do anything and everything around the farm from herding cattle to pulling carts. Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are very physical, dominant dogs. It would be easy for one of these dogs to be a challenge for unassertive owners to control. However, assertiveness and positive training yield quick and successful results. Obedience training should start early and be consistent, and whatever you do, don’t put these dogs in a harness unless you want them to pull. Some Swiss Mountain Dogs can pull over a ton!
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs require minimal grooming, except for seasonal shedding when a good stripping comb will be useful. A healthy breed, as long as breeders screen for orthopedic issues and Entlebucher urinary syndrome, where a ureter gets misplaced.
A cross between a Pug and a Beagle, Puggles are a small medium to high energy dog that is known to be sweet-tempered and playful. They get to between 18-30 lbs and live 10-15 years. Puggles are loving dogs that love people of all ages, from children to seniors. They often get so attached to their families that they suffer from separation anxiety.
A relatively new breed, Puggles short coats only require minimal grooming weekly, though keeping wrinkles and ears clean and dry is important. The hybridization has lead to some health improvements, as long as the breeder is responsible. However, Puggles can be susceptible to almost all of the health problems of both Pugs and Beagles.
“Berger Picard” sounds so adorably distinguished you’d be tempted to just name your pup after its breed! These small-to-medium sized dogs are every bit as awesome as their name suggests. Intelligent and lively, yet also patient and resilient, they are fantastic for families with kids. Berger Picards have what it takes to keep up with active young ones and will take to training like little pros.
One thing to look out for is that they can be quite stubborn. However, this can be harnessed to your advantage as it goes hand-in-hand with their loyalty. They also tend to come with an instinct to herd (which can be hilarious at children’s parties). If you have any smaller pets, like rats, hamsters or kittens, keep an eye on them too. The Picard’s hunting instincts can sometimes kick in around pint-sized creatures.
American Water Spaniel
If you’re a fan of rare breeds with quirky style, then an American Water Spaniel may be the pup for you. These mid-sized dogs have personalities to match their fluffy, cuddly exteriors, making them great companions for kids. Historically, they’ve been used as working dogs, loved by hunters and farmers alike. This means intense activity is in their genes, so they are always full of life and will bring unadulterated enthusiasm to any games you initiate with them.
Children will never want for entertainment with an American Water Spaniel around. However, this beautiful trait comes with a flip side. These pups need a lot of mental stimulation and their boundless energy needs to go somewhere, so be sure you’ve got what it takes to give them the exercise they need.
These gorgeous, medium pups have a beautifully colored mane and teddy-bear like quality to their appearance. While Appenzeller Sennenhund will be a struggle for your kids to pronounce, a doggo of this breed will be the greatest companion they could ask for.
Like the American Water Spaniel, Appenzeller Sennenhunds have an inbuilt instinct to herd, so they tend to be better with older, more resilient kids. Older kids will likely form a strong bond with one of these loyal dogs, one that will develop into an unbreakable lifelong friendship.
If your kids are constantly on the go and (though you hate to admit it) kinda wearing you out with their endless energy, a Pyrenean Shepherd will be your knight in fluffy armour. These pups love nothing more than playing and running around. They’re ready for action at a moment’s notice and have the energy and patience to keep kids occupied for hours.
This enthusiasm, coupled with intelligence and a high level of attentiveness to their humans, makes them fantastic competition dogs. It also gives them the remarkable ability to keep up with (and sometimes wear out) even the most hyperactive of kids. The only thing you really need to look out for is that they are such loyal little pups they can sometimes be a bit over-protective.
No list of family-friendly dog breeds could ever be complete without the Golden Retriever making an appearance. While they may be slightly smaller than their Labrador Retriever counterparts, Golden Retrievers still pack into their souls the same immense levels of kindness, confidence, loyalty, happiness and intelligence. If you’re after a pup on the smaller side of medium, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more loyal and loving companion than a Golden Retriever.
While some dog breeds are known to pick a favorite human, Golden Retrievers tend to love everyone equally, making them great for big families. They don’t have an aggressive bone in their bodies, though they will arc up if they feel one of their loved ones is being threatened. Their patience and friendly confidence makes them great around small children as they can handle the rough pats without getting cranky.
While they have a small stature, Bulldogs have the thick, brawny builds and patient personalities to tolerate even the most aggressively affectionate children. While they have a gruff looking exterior, Bulldogs are super chill and loving. However, hyperactive children may become frustrated with the depth to which their chill-ness runs. Bulldogs aren’t all that active. They’re not quite as lazy and sleep-obsessed as French Bulldogs, but they come a close second!
That’s not to say they won’t run around and play, they’re just a lot more sleepy and placid than other breeds. However, if you have kids who love to climb on and hang off the dog, then rest assured a Bulldog can handle whatever your little ones have to throw at it. All with style, class and poise.
One of the only dog breeds in the world to have its very own TV show, no list of kid-friendly doggos could be complete without an appearance from Lassie. The TV show wasn’t exaggerating either (well, not much), Collies are incredibly kind and intelligent dogs. They are filled with the kind of love and patience that allows them to happily tolerate whatever your kids subject them to.
While their long, fluffy manes do require maintenance and brushing, the looks you get when walking down the street with your pup, and the loving relationship your Collie will have with your kids are both well worth the effort. Collies have unquestioning, unconditional loyalty to their humans. They are loyal to a fault and, while they look pretty, won’t be shy in protecting your house and your family.
As you might’ve guessed from the name, Vizslas are middle-European in origin. Once used as hunting dogs, these small-to-medium pups have shifted gears in the modern era. They’re now known as one of the best breeds for families with kids. Vizslas are remarkably gentle and eternally loyal to their humans.
WIth generations of hunting pedigree written into their genetic code, these dogs are remarkably intelligent and observant. They know how to keep quiet when the time calls for it so won’t drive you (or your neighbors) mad with incessant barking. Though they are energetic, their soft, affectionate natures also make them fantastic around even the smallest of children.
With their glorious manes of curly reddish-brown hair, you can clearly see the Irish in these pups. Irish Setters have beautiful personalities to match their beautiful coats, making them a wonderful addition to any family. Playful and energetic, these small-to-medium sized doggos are brilliant with kids.
Irish Setters are intelligent and curious, which translates into a deep love for humans. If you want a dog that’ll be keen to keep you and your kids company, this may be the breed for you. They do, however, require a lot of exercise. So they’re better suited to families who are into living an active lifestyle.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis
These pint-sized pups pack a whole lot of awesome into their stumpy little bodies. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are sturdy enough to be able to frolic with even the roughest of kids. A breed that has spent much of its history hunting, they are bold and strong but also friendly, loyal and patient. Don’t let their tiny legs fool you, Corgis need a whole lot of exercise, so they’re definitely more suited to families with active kids.
One thing you will have to get used to if you welcome a Corgi into your family is being stopped by strangers who want to squeal with delight and coo over your pup. Pembroke Welsh Corgis are, after all, the breed of choice for Britain’s royal family.
One look at the Newfoundland and you’ll probably recognize the sweet fluffy pups as being famous rescue dogs. Long years of dedication to helping humans, across many generations, has developed a deep sense of kinship to our kind within these doggos. Apart from the fact that they look like big, fluffy teddy bears, these canines are kind and patient, making them perfect companions for kids.
In fact, their gentle and loving but firm and intelligent personalities have won them the nickname “nature’s babysitters.” Though, of course, we don’t suggest you get rid of your human babysitter! If you welcome one of these gentle giants into your home, they will be super protective of you and your family. It’s nice to know you can rely on your dog to keep your kids safe, no matter what.
These pups are a bit of an acquired taste appearance-wise. But don’t let their rough-tough looks deceive you. The bad name this breed has acquired is undeserved as their behavior all comes down to the way they’re raised. If they grow up in a loving home, these muscly little dogs can be great companions for kids due to their intense loyalty and strong sense of camaraderie.
Bull Terriers have an openly loving nature, meaning they rarely play favorites and will love all members of the family equally; adults as much as kids. With their gruff looks and instinct to protect their loved ones, they also make great guard dogs and will always have their humans’ safety as their top priority.
Look how insanely cute these little guys are! If you’re after a small dog that packs a whole lot of personality into a tiny package, then the Bichon Frise should definitely be a contender. The cuddly little fluff balls are always a hit with kids whose hearts melt simply at the sight of them. Getting past their adorable looks, these pups are a bundle of fun. They love to play and have a happy-go-lucky attitude that allows them to roll with whatever antics the kids are up to.
Your Bichon Frise will have an endless supply of love to share and they are not stingy in sharing it out. Your kids will be kept happy and occupied with play and you will always have a cuddle companion when you hit the couch to relax. Just one look should tell you it’s impossible not to fall in love with a Bichon Frise.
If your kids are active and athletic, the American Boxer will certainly be able to keep up with them. In fact, if we’re willing to bet the kids will be the ones to tire out first! These pups are some of the best guardians you could ask for. Apart from enjoying your company, their number one objective for life will be the protection of you, your kids and your home.
While they are related to the Standard Boxer, American Boxers are a breed of their own and they are known for their loyalty and the deep love they develop for their humans. Before you make the commitment though, be sure you and your family have what it takes to give the dog the exercise it needs. They are super active pups so you need to be up for all the fun they bring with them!
One look at the Pharaoh Hound and you can see where this dog gets its name. The majestic and exotic looking beasts are the spitting image of Anubis, the Egyptian god that takes a canine form. While they may have a godlike visage, the Pharaoh Hound is known to be a remarkably gentle and deeply affectionate breed.
Keep in mind, though, no two Pharaoh Hounds are alike in personality. Some are more aloof while others are downright clowns. What they do share is a core sense of family connection. While they’re not the type to pick a favourite, they do tend to get along particularly well with small children. These mid-sized pups are the perfect choice for those who want a head-turner of a dog who will also be a loyal and loving companion to their little ones.
American Pit Bull Terrier
Here’s another America-specific dog breed. Another one that has a bit of an unfair bad reputation too. Ask any owner of an American Pit Bull Terrier and they’ll tell you they’re blessed with the most loyal and loving dogs a person could ask for. The bad rep comes from the fact that a select few people have bred these big doggos to be fighters. Any viciousness that results from this is due entirely to the way they were treated and trained.
When raised in a loving family and given love, affection and training that doesn’t involve violence, you will see this breed blossom into the biggest softie; a gentle giant that loves your kid and knows how to protect your family. Keep in mind though, they do have a lot of energy so need to get plenty of daily exercise.
These adorable doggos are the product of two breeds known for their intelligent and affectionate natures. They have a relaxed, happy-go-lucky nature which allows them to get along fantastically with children. Part Labrador, part Poodle, the Labradoodle really couldn’t be anything other than awesome. You’d have to have a heart of steel to not fall in love with their fluffy grandpa look.
Known for their superior intelligence, loyalty, and love of pleasing their humans, Labradoodles are easy to train and great for those who love teaching their dog tricks. They need a lot of stimulation, so if all the teaching and training isn’t something you think your family would be into, or if you’re a first-dog-buyer, you may want to consider a different breed.
Small and stocky, loving and patient, the Boston Terrier is one of the best breeds of dog for families with small children. With their uniquely charming look, these little puppers have earned themselves the classiest nickname: American Gentleman. Pop a little scarf around your Boston Terrier’s neck and it will certainly live up to this moniker!
The pint-sized pups are known to be one of the easiest breeds to house-train. They each come complete with a gentle, loving nature that will ensure your Boston falls in love with your kids as quickly as the kids will fall in love with it.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
While the Corgis may be the pup of choice for the British royal family, there’s no denying the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has royalty in its blood. These gentle little sweethearts are the chameleons of the dog world, fitting in happily with whatever sized family they’re brought into. So long as they get to spend time with kind, loving humans, they’re happy.
The Cavalier King Charles is an affectionate breed that comes packed full of energy. They are best suited to families who love cuddles and kids (or adults, let’s not discriminate here) who love running around. They are smart dogs who pay close attention to you, meaning they pick up on commands and expectations quickly. In this sense, they are quite low-maintenance.
Havanese were bred in Cuba to be companion dogs. These dogs are popular in New York but can be difficult to find elsewhere in the US. Havanese enjoy being the class clown and have been used in clown shows because they seem to like making people laugh. They are a small breed that gets between 7-13 lbs and live between 12-14 years. These dogs are medium-energy and can be very playful, very affectionate, and very friendly. They play well with older children but should be supervised around younger ones. They are not very protective but will alert when people come by.
Havanese require grooming every other day and look beautiful when pampered with their soft, silky, and wavy hair. On the plus side, they don’t shed very often. They are easy to train with a gentle hand, as they can be sensitive to harsh correction. Havanese do not tolerate the cold very well and do only okay in high temperatures.
Small Munsterlander Pointer
Last on the list, but certainly not least, we have the heart-melting Small Munsterlander Pointer. They were originally bred as hunting dogs, and this history has instilled in the breed both patience and a strong sense of confidence. They have a calm temperament, allowing them to weather the maelstrom that is a house full of children. In fact, Small Munsterlander Pointers tend to adore the company and attention of little ones.
While they love kids, they’re equally fond of the fully-grown variety of human too. They truly are a dog for the whole family. As you’ve probably gathered from the paw-size of this adorable, blue-eyed pup, the word “small” in their name is a bit of a misnomer. They grow to about a medium height and weight. Not too long ago, you would’ve struggled to find one of these gorgeous pups outside of Europe. However, their popularity has led to greater numbers becoming available in the U.S.