Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” but how can we introduce the bond between dog and owner too scared and shy children? The friendship formed between a child and a dog is wonderful and heartwarming to witness and should be available to all children, no matter their temperament.
When deciding what kind of dog to get for your child, there are many things to consider. Moreover, when choosing a dog for a child that is more fearful and timid than your average child, more careful research must be done to determine the breed of dog that will make your child happy without threatening him or her.
There is an overwhelming number of dog breeds that are perfect for children, but we have narrowed down this list to the five best dog breeds specifically for scared and shy children.
#1 – Beagle
Beagles are most known for their efficiency in small game hunting, but that is not the only notable characteristic of this breed. Beagles are extremely sweet dogs that can bond with an entire family but form special bonds with children. They are energetic and playful, and they hate to be left alone. So, your child will get to follow his new pet around all he wants!
- Snoopy, from the Peanuts comics
- Brains, Inspector Gadget’s companion
- Shoeshine, from Disney’s movie Underdog
- Beagles are a medium-sized dog breed that belongs to the hound sporting group.
- They make the perfect pet for families with children because they are extremely tolerant and playful.
- Beagles love to play outdoors.
- They live for 12 to 15 years, typically, and are generally healthy overall.
- Beagles require daily exercise and social training with their families. You have to establish yourself as the dog’s pack leader.
- They are scent hounds, and they often pick up scents and wander off to investigate. Monitor them carefully when in public.
#2 – Newfoundland
Newfoundlands are nicknamed “gentle giants” because they are friendly, loyal, and good-natured dogs that are massive! Don’t be intimidated by how large these dogs are, though. They are so calm and good with children that they’re popularly considered to be a “nanny dog” – a dog that is especially good with children.
- Nana, the Darling’s family pet in Peter Pan
- Seaman, Lewis’ pet that he brought along during the Lewis and Clark Expedition
- Newfoundlands were originally used to do hard jobs like pulling fishermen’s nets and hauling wood out of forests. This is likely the reason this breed is so calm and patient.
- This breed is right at home with children, able to employ his gentle and protective nature while being large enough to handle any accidental roughness.
- Adult Newfoundlands can reach 100 pounds, but they do require daily exercise in order to remain healthy.
- This large dog breed is better suited for larger and more spacious homes.
- Even though Newfoundlands are notably big dogs, they thrive when kept indoors, where they can be with their family. Don’t worry – they are just really big teddy bears!
- These dogs love to swim! They’ll enjoy playing in the water with their owners.
#3 – Collie
Collies have been popular pets for a long time. They are hailed as great dogs for children, especially young children, because of their loyal and protective qualities. Collies were originally used as herding dogs. They make amazing companions because they are sensitive, smart dogs that can sense what their owners need.
- Lassie, from the various stories and movies revolving about the fictional collie
- Blanco, collie pet of President Lyndon Johnson
- Collies are famously fond of children and are often the first pick when finding a pet for a child.
- They are athletic dogs that need regular exercise to remain happy, and they enjoy physical activities with their owners the most.
- Collies became a well-known and sought after breed because of the famous fictional collie named Lassie. However, the depiction of the collie in Lassie was very accurate. Collies really are extremely smart and intuitive and can sense when something is wrong, especially with their owners.
- They make ideal watchdogs. They will bark when they sense something new or dangerous, but they are not quick to aggression.
- Collies are a perfect choice for a therapy dog.
#4 – Golden Retriever
Often seen guiding the blind or working in search-and-rescue, golden retrievers are truly devoted and rather intelligent dogs. They keep their puppyish energy into adulthood, so your child can enjoy an active playmate for years to come. Golden retrievers aren’t bothered by noise, and they will play right alongside the kids – waiting to see who tires out first.
Famous Golden Retrievers:
- Duke, the canine spokesperson for Bush’s Baked Beans
- Buddy, from the movie Air Bud
- Liberty, President Gerald R. Ford’s furry companion
- Golden retrievers are natural athletes. They do extremely well in dog sports because they are intelligent and easy to train.
- They need about an hour of exercise each day in order to stay healthy. Come up with physical activities for them to do to help stimulate them mentally.
- Golden retrievers were literally bred to work well with people. Their natural friendliness and sweet charm make them eager to please their owners.
- They are more than willing to accept other pets! They love having other dog friends, and if they are properly introduced, they can get along well with other family pets like cats, rabbits, and more.
- Golden retrievers are great pets for young children, even with their bigger size. They are very even-tempered and gentle, and they can handle being climbed on.
#5 – Poodle
Poodles are elegant and clever dogs that can become affectionate and playful family pets. One amazing characteristic about the poodle that sets it apart from all other dogs on this list is that its coat is completely hypoallergenic! Even children with allergies can have a furry canine companion with the poodle.
- Betty Boop, an anthropomorphic cartoon character that evolved from a French poodle into human form
- Fifi, from Open Season 2 and Open Season 3
- Some may equate poodles with lazy, luxurious lives, but they were originally water retrievers for hunters.
- Poodles are very protective of their families and make a wonderful companion for children.
- They are incredibly intelligent and easily trained; they pick up new skills quickly and do not forget them.
- It is necessary to take proper care of a poodle’s coat. There are ways to make this care easy, or you can go all out and make the coat fancy.
- Poodles are known to be fun-loving and silly, and they thrive on attention. They will love making their companions happy.
Top 5 Best Dogs for Scared and Shy Children – Ranked
You’ve met the top 5 best dogs for children that are more timid and afraid. But how are you going to decide between 5 dog breeds that all have so many amazing characteristics?
Enter the website Dogtime. Not only does this site have thorough information on a variety of dog-related topics, but it also has helpful rankings for different categories to help people choose a dog that is perfect for their household.
To help you make your choice, we’ve made a small “Cheat Sheet” using the rankings of the 5 dogs that we have chosen. For each category, the dogs will be listed in order of ranking – highest to lowest – and will include a small description of their ranking.
For this category, breeds were ranked in 6 subcategories: adapts well to apartment living, good for novice owners, sensitivity level, tolerates being alone, tolerates cold weather, and tolerates hot weather.
- Poodle – 4/5 stars – The poodle is one of two of the top five breeds that were given 4 stars for this category. They score 5/5 stars in the subcategories of adapting well to apartment living and being good choices for new dog owners. On the other hand, they scored 1/5 stars in the subcategory of tolerating being alone.
- Collie – 4/5 stars – Collies scored really well with their level of sensitivity, being given 5/5 stars. They received 4/5 stars for the subcategories of being a good choice for a new dog owner and being able to tolerate cold weather. However, collies scored a 2/5 for the subcategory of being able to tolerate being left alone.
- Golden Retriever – 3/5 stars – Golden retrievers scored 5/5 stars in the subcategory of the level of sensitivity. They scored 1/5 stars in the subcategory of being able to tolerate being alone.
- Newfoundland – 3/5 stars – Newfoundlands scored 5/5 stars for being able to tolerate cold weather but scored 1/5 stars for the subcategories adapting well to apartment living and tolerating being alone.
- Beagle – 3/5 stars – While beagles didn’t receive any 5/5 star scores, they did receive three 4/5 star scores in the subcategories of adapting well to apartment living, level of sensitivity, and being able to tolerate cold weather. They scored 1/5 stars for tolerating being alone.
For this category, breeds were ranked in 4 subcategories: affectionate with family, incredibly kid-friendly dog, dog-friendly, and friendly toward strangers.
- Golden Retriever – 5/5 stars – Golden retrievers scored perfect in this category, ranking at 5/5 stars for all subcategories!
- Beagle – 5/5 stars – Beagles also scored perfectly in this category, ranking 5/5 stars for every subcategory!
- Poodle – 5/5 stars – Poodles scored 5/5 stars in the subcategories of being affectionate with family and being incredibly kid-friendly. In the subcategories of being dog-friendly and friendly toward strangers, they scored 4/5 stars.
- Collie – 5/5 stars – Collies scored 4/5 stars in the subcategories of being dog-friendly and being friendly toward strangers, and they scored 5/5 stars in the subcategories of being kid-friendly and being affectionate to family.
- Newfoundland – 5/5 stars – Just like poodles and collies, Newfoundlands scored 4/5 stars for being friendly to dogs and strangers and 5/5 stars for showing affection to family and being kid-friendly.
Health and Grooming
For this category, breeds were ranked in 6 subcategories: the amount of shedding, drooling potential, easy to groom, general health, potential for weight gain, and size. (You’ll notice the ranking for this category goes backward. That is because of the higher the score, the more grooming or health care the breed needs.)
- Poodle – 1/5 stars – Poodles are incredibly easy to care for grooming and health-wise. They scored 1/5 stars in the amount of shedding, drooling potential, and ease of grooming. However, they did score 4/5 stars in the potential to gain weight and their size.
- Collie – 3/5 stars – Collies scored 1/5 stars in the subcategory of drooling potential. For the amount of shedding subcategory, they scored 5/5 stars. They scored 3/5 stars in general health, the potential for weight gain, and size.
- Beagle – 3/5 stars – Beagles scored 1/5 stars in the subcategories of drooling potential and general health. On the other side, they scored 5/5 stars in the potential for weight gain.
- Golden Retriever – 4/5 stars – Golden retrievers scored 2/5 stars in the subcategories of grooming easiness and general health. They scored 5/5 stars in the subcategories or amount of shedding and potential for weight gain.
- Newfoundland – 4/5 stars – Newfoundlands scored 1/5 stars in general health. Additionally, they scored 5/5 stars in three subcategories: the amount of shedding, drooling potential, and size.
For this category, breeds were ranked in 6 subcategories: easy to train, intelligence, the potential for mouthiness, prey drive, the tendency to bark or howl, and wanderlust potential.
- Poodle – 4/5 stars – Poodles did well in this category, scoring 5/5 stars in the subcategories of being easy to train and intelligence. However, they did score 4/5 stars in the subcategory of potential for mouthiness.
- Golden Retrievers – 4/5 stars – Golden retrievers scored 5/5 stars in both easiness to train and intelligence, just like poodles. However, they also scored 5/5 stars in the subcategory of potential for mouthiness.
- Newfoundland – 4/5 stars – Newfoundlands scored 5/5 stars in the subcategory of being easy to train and scored 4/5 stars in intelligence. They also scored 4/5 stars in the subcategories of prey drive and tendency to bark or howl.
- Beagle – 4/5 stars – Beagles kind of missed the mark with this category. While they scored 4/5 stars for intelligence, they went on to score 5/5 stars in the following three subcategories: prey drive, the tendency to bark or howl, and wanderlust potential.
- Collie – 3.5 stars – Collies scored 4/5 stars in the following four subcategories: easy to train, intelligence, prey drive, and tendency to bark or howl.
For this category, breeds were ranked in 4 subcategories: energy level, intensity, exercise needs, and potential for playfulness.
- Beagle – 5/5 stars – Beagles are extremely active dogs, ranking at 5/5 stars in the subcategories of intensity and potential for playfulness. They ranked 4/5 stars for energy level and exercise needs.
- Golden Retrievers – 4/5 stars – Golden retrievers ranked 5/5 stars in the subcategories of energy level, exercise needs, and potential for playfulness, offset by a score of 2/5 stars for intensity.
- Poodle – 4/5 stars – Poodles scored a 5/5 star ranking in the subcategory of potential for playfulness. They scored 4/5 stars for energy level and exercise needs.
- Collie – 3/5 stars – Collies scored 4/5 stars in the subcategory of potential for playfulness. In the subcategories of energy level and exercise needs, the collie scored 3/5 stars.
- Newfoundland – 3/5 stars – Newfoundland scored a 4/5 star ranking in the potential for playfulness but scored only 1/5 stars for intensity. They scored 3/5 in the subcategories of energy level and exercise needs.
So, How Did Each Dog Breed Rank?
Part 1 – Similarities
Because all five of these dogs have been chosen as the best dogs for scared and shy children, there are definite similarities in their rankings. For instance, in the friendliness category, every single one of the breeds held the highest ranking, and three of the breeds ranked a full 5/5 stars on all the subcategories, as well.
This is not surprising, given that it takes a friendly dog with a gentle disposition to be able to charm a timid child. Another characteristic all of the breeds shared is their inability to tolerate being alone. This is another quality an anxious child would benefit from. It would allow them to have a furry companion that would always be by their side!
Part 2 – Differences
In the adaptability category, poodles and beagles ranked well in their ability to adapt to apartment living while golden retrievers and collies ranked high for their levels of sensitivity.
As far as health and grooming, poodles were the obvious “winner” of the category because of their lack of shedding and drooling and how easy it is to groom them.
Where trainability is concerned, all of these dogs breeds are highly intelligent and easy to train; however, beagles also scored highly on negative issues, like tendency to bark or howl, chasing prey, and potential for wanderlust.
For exercise needs, beagles were the “winner” with a score of 5/5 stars. They scored the highest scores in both potentials for playfulness and intensity, making them truly energetic companions for kids.
What Should I Consider Before Choosing a Dog?
The three main topics that should be considered carefully before choosing a dog are a lifestyle, the time you can spare, and how the dog reacts with people, namely children. Since this article has already chosen suitable dog breeds based on their ability to make great pets for children, you must only consider lifestyle and time you can spare.
When considering your lifestyle, ask yourself the following questions:
- How busy is my family on a daily basis?
- Do we often travel, leaving an empty home for days?
- Is my living space/yard big enough to house a dog?
- Are we able to afford a new dog?
- Is my family willing to love our new dog for life?
Having concrete answers to these questions can help you decide which dog to get; the answers can also tell you whether or not a dog is right for you and your family.
Most families with pets are fairly busy but do not buy a dog on a whim if you are busier than the average family. Plan out how you will care for the dog before you purchase or adopt one. If you travel often, you will want to get a dog that can tolerate being alone or have family and friends that are available to keep your dog while you and your family are traveling.
If your living space or yard is not big enough for the dog to have proper playing and exercising room, that could be an issue for active dog breeds, if you are not an overly wealthy family, some planning into the money it takes to care for a dog each month is needed. The final question, and the most important question, to ask yourself is if your family is willing to love your new dog for life.
If you are not willing to become your new dog’s owner and family for life, do not purchase or adopt a dog.
One common trait that most dogs share, including the five specified in this article, is the need for training. Giving time to your dog each day to help him adapt to his new home and family is absolutely vital. Your dog’s training will ensure that he develops good behavior and will not harm his family members, especially the children in the home.
Directly related to this list of dogs, breeds introduced into homes with introverted children will need to be specifically trained when it comes to interacting with those children. Make sure you have the time to give them this extra training.
New pets take time to adapt to their new families and homes, and they rely on their new owners to patiently guide them through this process. If you spend time training your dog properly in the beginning, you can expect a loyal and loving friend for years to come.
Time is not only important for the training of dogs, but it is also needed for the exercise that dogs require. Some dogs need 3 hours of exercise and playtime outside each day while others may only need a half hour of the same activity. Be aware of the type and amount of exercise your dog needs, so you can make sure your dog remains happy and healthy.
I’ve Chosen My Breed. Now, Do I Get a Puppy or an Adult Dog?
You probably thought all your careful consideration would be over one you decided on a breed of dog, but, unfortunately, you must now choose if you want a puppy or an adult dog.
Many people will advise against getting a puppy if you have a young child because they could hurt one another accidentally. Some people advise against getting older dogs because they could have been mistreated in the past and bring bad behavior into your home.
The truth is, there are pros and cons on both sides — your decision to get a puppy or an adult dog lies entirely with you.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy
Some pros of getting a puppy are:
- Allowing the puppy to grow up alongside his child owner; this is especially a plus if you have a child that has special emotional needs
- For older children, caring for a puppy can teach them respect and responsibility
- You are the first owner of the puppy, so some say the puppy will have an incredibly strong bond with your family
Some cons of getting a puppy are:
- The time it takes to care for them; puppies require a great deal more training and special attention than older dogs do – consider how much time you can truly spare, especially if you have babies or toddlers at home that require constant attention
- The time it takes to teach your children how to treat a puppy; puppies are typically more fragile than adult dogs, so children have to be taught how to handle them and be more careful around them than with older dogs
- Cost – a puppy will require certain shots to remain safe and healthy
Pros and Cons of Getting an Adult Dog
Some pros of getting an adult dog are:
- Most adult dogs have learned how to interact with children from past owners or experiences
- Adult dogs typically have more patience with young children, and they can also deal with the accidental roughness that young children can inflict without retaliating against it
- Adult dogs do not need as much attention as puppies do, making them less time consuming for busy families
Some cons of getting an adult dog are:
- There is a risk of bad learned habits from the past treatment of the dog; however, you can make sure to learn about the dog’s history before purchasing or adopting to lessen the risk of this
- Some of them, especially the ones on this list, are large dogs; you will have to give your dog time to adapt to his living quarters and, in the meantime, there may be some broken or destroyed objects
- Cost – you may find yourself dealing with illness sooner with an adult dog, so plan for veterinary bills
After all of the planning and deliberation, there is one thing that is certain. No matter which dog breed you choose and no matter the age of the dog, with the proper time, training, and love, your dog will be an amazing pet for a very long time.
Honorable Mention – Mixed-Breed Dogs
When you start searching for a dog for your family, in particular, one that is compatible with fearful children, most websites you find and people you talk to will recommended pure-bred dog breeds. But there is one small issue with this.
Mixed-breed dogs, commonly called mutts, make up a huge part of the dog population and are just as loving, affectionate, protective, and loyal as pure-bred dogs!
How a Mutt Could Be Perfect for my Child
Most mutts that are available for adopting or purchasing are found in animal shelters or your local area, being cared for by families who just so happened to be blessed with puppies. You can also find mutts in some pet stores.
You can keep a lookout at local stores or local online sales groups to see when people are offering up dogs that they can no longer house for various reasons.
Letting My Child Make the Decision
Scared and shy children tend to have special, strong relationships with animals. Sometimes, children are better at choosing their own pets than their parents are. So, what’s stopping you from letting them choose?
Find your local animal shelter’s website, and let your child look through the pictures of the available dogs. This will allow your child to let go of some of the nervousness they may feel before visiting an animal shelter.
Then, bring your child to the animal shelter and let him or her choose a canine companion! Your child may choose the perfect match for him or her right then. Sometimes, it may take visiting a few shelters to find the right match.
Letting your child choose his or her own dog can also make the process of integrating the dog into the family that much easier – one family member already loves it!
Why All Children Should Have a Pet
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry lists 5 very specific reasons why having a pet is very advantageous for children. They are:
- Children can talk to their pets openly and honestly without fear of punishment or judgment.
- Children learn lessons about life, like reproduction, illness, and death.
- Children learn responsible behavior while caring for another living thing.
- Pets provide a connection to nature for children.
- Pets teach children respect for other living things.
All of these advantages prove how wonderful having a pet can be for a child. Pets help children develop healthy self-esteem and self-confidence because the child feels confident about how he or she cares for the pet.
The relationship between a child and its pet is one of the purest and most loving relationships that can be witnessed. Children with pets are more likely to develop strong non-verbal communication skills and exhibit qualities like compassion and empathy.
Scared and shy children may need a bit of emotional guidance through the process of finding and getting to know a pet. However, once they bond with their new dog, they will have furry emotional support for many, many years to come.