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It’s pretty easy to find lists of dog breeds online that have bad reputations. As someone who owns Boxers, I’ve heard more than my fair share about dogs that aren’t great around kids, other dogs, strangers, and more. It’s a bit of a controversial topic, because while it’s nearly always true that dogs are a product of their training, there is some evidence to the idea that certain breeds have a tendency towards aggression.
Still, one thing we don’t often hear about is which dogs are the safest. Why talk about them, if they don’t ever present any problems? However, if you are someone who is searching for a dog, you may be interested to know about dogs that are known for being the best for having around kids or other pets. I’ve done a lot of research into breeding habits, and how centuries of breeding have given certain dogs more docile behaviors than others. The 11 dogs on this list are overall the safest dog breeds for people who don’t want to take a chance on a dog that may not be able to resist his breeding.
Please always remember, though, that dogs are more than just their breeding. What a dog has been through, and how it has been trained, plus its own unique personality, will affect how safe any dog really is.
What Makes a Dog Safe?
First, before I list off these great breeds, I wanted to discuss what it is that humans consider “safe” about dogs.
Most dog owners start by describing the type of dog personality that they want.You’ll frequently see dog lovers say that they want a dog that is good with kids or other dogs, that is fun and affectionate, and is playful, silly, goofy, or entertaining in some way. Most also want a dog that is smart and easy to train. Some will say they do want a dog that is more laid-back and independent, as well. These are some common personality traits that make a dog “safe” in the eyes of humans.
One very important thing for canine reputation is adaptability. Can a dog roll with the punches of life? Can they move houses, accept a new baby into the family, deal with changes in your work schedule, and so on? If so, they are likely to have a much better reputation as a safe breed to have around growing families.
You’ll also notice that many of these dogs fall somewhere between medium and large. Smaller dogs tend to gain reputations as snappish and mean, although that’s not always the case! There are smaller dogs with great reputations out there, but they tend to be less popular. Medium-sized dogs are often valued because they work in all kinds of home situations.
One more thing I considered was how these breeds rate on the AKC popularity charts. This measures how popular a breed is as a pet, and I think it’s a good rubric for learning which dogs are repeatedly being chosen over other breeds. Only dogs that inspire lifelong loyalty with their great temperaments, health, and train ability, will continue to rank very high on these charts, so that can show us which dogs really earn that good reputation as being safe and family friendly.
These happy, funny little dogs are universally loved online and off. As the Queen’s choice of dog for years, and as a pet that works very well for energetic nuclear families, this dog has a great reputation as being sweet and fun. They are very adaptable so long as you give them exercise, and they are known for being really lighthearted and silly.
2. The Poodle
If you were to list off all the great traits of a poodle, you end up with a very impressive list. They are fun, playful, affectionate, intelligent, and loyal – all things that dog lovers look for when they want a dog. The only thing that may make an owner hesitate is the need for attention to grooming – but a good pet comb that fluffs the coat can go a long way to making this chore easier.
Known for being very easy to train, as well as affectionate and energetic, these are great family pets that often have very striking coloring. They are very smart dogs that frequently compete in canine sports and shows, and also make great therapy and support dogs. Both the standard size and the miniature size are considered great dogs, with the miniature size being a good choice for a family that can’t have a large dog in their rental. These dogs are on the larger end of “miniature”, so you skip some of the annoying yappy behaviors that small dogs tend to have.
4. Golden or Labrador Retriever
These closely related breeds are two of the most popular family dogs in the country, being nearly synonymous with the idea of a good canine reputation. They are fun, goofy, kid-friendly, easy to train, and laidback. They can adapt to a huge range of living situations, exercise levels, and people. In general, as long as they have plenty of attention, they are two of the most easy-going breeds you can find.
5. Portuguese Water Dog
Ever since the Obamas had a PWD in the White House, the popularity for this sweet breed has sky rocketed. I personally think it’s for the best, as this breed has a lot going for it. First, their curly coats are hypoallergenic, making them excellent for people who haven’t been able to have pets in the past due to allergies. They are independent without losing their affectionate nature, making them great for people who want a dog that can stay home alone during the day, and play at night.
Beagles are another dog with a great reputation for many reasons. First, they are often seen as ideal companions for kids, because they like to explore and have fun, but won’t typically run off. They are very smart dogs, often serving as baggage sniffing law enforcement dogs. They are also very healthy, and play very well with other dogs. The only downside that most owners report is the fact that these dogs are very vocal and love to howl – but this trait can be trained out of these dogs with effort.
7. German Shepherds
German Shepherds have a great reputation in large part as a protective breed. They are often seen as police dogs, and people feel as though they are good guardians. However, once you get to know a German Shepherd, you’ll realize these dogs are just as goofy and ridiculous as they come. They are great family dogs, especially if your family loves to laugh and have a good time. They are also very smart and easy to train, and they tend to be very healthy. Many people think of these dogs as “safe” because they offer protection for the home, rather than thinking of them as safe around strangers. It definitely depends on what your definition of safe is when it comes to this breed.
8. American Bulldog
It’s interesting to me that so many people love the American Bulldog. This dog is known for being the ultimate “bro”. It will chill with you on the couch, hang out at parties, love all your friends and neighbors, and just generally be a laid-back, outgoing dog. They are also fun to play with and do enjoy getting out for some fun. But Bulldogs also suffer from some pretty serious health concerns, something that a lot of new owners may not realize. The Bulldog’s great reputation seems to be mostly based on their personalities rather than their overall appeal. If you don’t mind having a close relationship with a vet, these are great dogs.
9. Border Collie
The Border Collie is one of the most athletic dogs there is, almost always performing in canine sports, obedience competitions, and shows. These dogs love to perform, they love to compete, and they love to please. They are very affectionate and smart, and they work great as family pets. If you live somewhere with lots of room for a dog to run, they’ll be even happier. These are working dogs who will enjoy having a job. If you live on or run a farm, a Border Collie will be a great working companion to help you round up animals and so on.
10. Irish Setter
This dog has a great reputation as a good choice for someone who wants a very dignified pet. They are affectionate and social, and even a bit more playful than you may realize, but they also are known for having gentle, Zen-like attitudes. They are beautiful as well, and are easily trained to take part in sports and obedience competitions. They are very keen on hunting and tracking, making them great dogs for anyone who loves the outdoors.
These dogs are the quintessential choice for pairing with young children. Known as being a “nanny dog”, they will herd children, follow them around, and babysit them all day long. They were originally bred as helpers for fishermen, and very much love to be of use to the family. They are legendary for having extremely docile tempers, being sweet, and being brave. They are often in the news for saving people from drowning, as they are very good swimmers.
A Note on Mixed Breeds
Now that you know the 11 dogs with the safest reputations, I wanted to take a moment to mention mixed breed dogs. If you are looking for a dog that has a good chance of being very friendly and overall genial, you often find that mixed breeds are the way to go. They don’t often have the quirks of pure-bred dogs that can make a dog unsafe.
They tend to have a mixture of all the best doggie traits: loyalty, fun-loving attitudes, easy to train, smart, and happy. They also tend to have very few health concerns because breed-specific health concerns are often regressive traits, and they also tend to be very long-lived.
In fact, if you choose a mix breed dog that has one of the breeds you like the most (such as a Labrador mix, or a Poodle mix), you’ll likely end up with a dog that has only the good behaviors of that breed and none of the bad. That isn’t to say that mixed breeds can’t have negative traits. They are just like other dogs in that their histories and training will impact how safe they are. But it’s a good idea to consider a mixed breed if you are looking for a great family pet.
These 11 breeds are some of the safest dogs by reputation, and make good pets for both families and single people alike. They are adaptable dogs that have great temperaments and good health, and they all tend to be very easy to train. That all spells a very calm, safe dog for you to add to your home.
If you are a new dog owner and you don’t know where to start, or even what kind of dog you may like, I would highly recommend starting with a breed from this list. Consider your lifestyle before you choose, though. If you have tons of time to devote to a dog, a highly active dog like an Australian Shepherd will fill your life with fun. If you need a more flexible dog, however, go with something like a Lab (this week’s breed of the week!), and you’ll both be happier.
Don’t be afraid to talk to a kennel worker or your vet about a dog if you aren’t sure if the breed would be safe to have around kids or other pets. These people are there to help you find the best fit for your family and for the dog.