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25 Worst Dog Breeds For Families with Kids [2023]

Most people think that if they train a dog well enough they will be fine around children. Although, this is not entirely true. Dogs relate back to instinct no matter how much you train them and because of this, not every dog is suitable to have around children. Even if the dog is not known to be aggressive in nature, it is important to keep an eye on small children when they are around dogs because if the dog becomes startled, frustrated, or too excited they could potentially hurt the child or the child could hurt them. It’s recommended that you stay away from these worst dog breeds for families if you have small children or a lot of foot traffic in your home.

Worst Dog Breeds For Families with Kids

One of the most popular reasons a family will purchase a dog is for their kids. The dog will be a companion for the entire family and can give children the opportunity to learn how to care for a pet when they are young. Although dogs are an excellent pet to choose for adding to your family, there are some breeds of dogs that are not suited to children, and this can be for a variety of reasons. Some breeds are too fragile to be in homes with smaller children who may unknowingly injure the dog or play too roughly with it, causing it to be defensive and, therefore, aggressive. There are also breeds that are by nature extremely aggressive, territorial, or predatory, which makes them also unsafe for your children. Below are the breeds of dogs you should avoid purchasing if you have children.

12 The Worst Dog Breeds for Families: Small Dogs

Naturally, many people assume that because a dog is small, it will automatically be friendly and easy to handle. A glance at the number of small dogs that are relegated to rescue organizations or shelters will tell you that this is not always the case. A small dog can be just as mean and hard to live with as will an ill-tempered Rottweiler–the difference being the level of damage that can be inflicted.

While a small dog may not be able to cause the profound level of injuries a large breed can, there’s no denying that some of these little “devils” can make life pretty miserable for the humans unfortunate enough to live with them. It’s true that some small dogs can be rehabilitated to become good family companions, but it might just be easier to choose a more amenable breed in the first place. A bit of research can usually help you to sort out the weeds from the flowers and make your home happier for all concerned.

1. Shih Tzu

shih tzu Worst Dog Breeds For Families

This toy breed is known for its long, silky hair and arrogant personality. Another one of Shih Tzu’s most notable characteristics is their underbite. This breed is commonly known as being affectionate, outgoing, and loyal but they require socialization starting at a young age because they tend to be stubborn when it comes to training them. Shih Tzus are generally mild-tempered but they are easily frustrated. If they are provoked to the point of becoming annoyed they have been known to respond with aggression and will attack their instigator. Because of this fact, they are among the worst dog breeds for families and it is not a good idea to have this breed around small children who have a tendency to poke, pull, and unintentionally agitate pets. For the most part, this breed is loving and outgoing making them a great companion but without proper training and discipline, they are known to revert to behaviors such as nipping and biting.

2. Jack Russell Terrier

jack russell terrier Worst Dog Breeds For Families

This breed of Terrier was commonly used for fox hunting and has an energetic personality. Jack Russells require high amounts of exercise and mental stimulation due to their origins as highly intelligent working dog. This breed is also known for its fearlessness and courage so it is not uncommon for them to challenge larger dogs and seek out prey despite their domestication as household pets. JRTs also have the tendency to be destructive and cause havoc around the home if they are not exercised and entertained enough. A JRT is also known to be very stubborn and aggressive if they are not properly trained so you should not underestimate them due to their size. Aside from this breed’s prey instinct and aggression, it is not advised to have a Jack Russell Terrier if you have young children because they do not take abuse well even if it isn’t done on purpose and they aren’t very resilient. This is what they are among the worst dog breeds for families.

3. Pekingese

pekingese Worst Dog Breeds For Families

Affectionately known as the Lion Dog, Pekingese are a toy breed dating back to ancient China. This breed was most commonly owned by royalty as a companion and lap dog though it has many risks for health issues. This breed is not well-suited for outdoor living due to their small head and flat faces causing them to not be able to breathe properly and therefore making them unable to regulate body temperature. They also require delicacy when being picked up, not an easy task for young children, because their backs are a little too long for their body to support making them at risk for back injuries. This breed requires extensive medical care for prevention and treatment and are incredibly delicate, for these reasons it is not recommended to have a Pekingese in a household with small children.

4. Chihuahua

dog chihuahua Worst Dog Breeds For Families

No one will argue with the fact that Chihuahuas are one of the cutest, small dogs around. Their round apple heads, big bat ears, and tiny size would seem to make them the perfect small dog for families. Undoubtedly, some Chihuahuas do make excellent companions, but there is a darker side to the breed, too. It’s no mistake that Chihuahuas are among the most common breeds surrendered to shelters or rescue; shelters in some states are actually overflowing with them. Not only do they tend to be very yappy, but they are also sometimes very nippy. Most of them have scant patience with children and will nip impatiently at times.

I have two Chihuahuas that are rescues. One is silent as a ghost the other barks at every sound. I can see how some people would put them among the worst dog breeds for families.

5. Lhasa Apso

lhasa apso Worst Dog Breeds For Families

Unlike that other small dog from Tibet, the Shih Tzu, the Lhasa Apso was not originally a companion and lap dog. This sturdy little dog was a tough guard dog of monasteries and herder of goats and other domestic animals. While often good with the family if given obedience training, the Lhasa Apso can be aggressive towards children outside its family circle as well as pugnacious with other dogs. This breed seems to be aware of its small size and will often react with barking or bites if it feels threatened. Because the Lhasa Apso was bred with the intended purpose of guarding its masters, it is a very tough and ferocious dog. Most are deceived by its size, but this is merely camouflage for a mean temper and lack of patience for strangers. Lhasa Apsos originated in Tibet where they were used to guard temples, and their loud bark and fierce tempers helped to deter intruders and warn the inhabitants of the temple, which accounts for its protective manner. Children who abruptly approach this animal or constantly pick at it may find themselves on the receiving end of a bad bite, and this is why the Lhasa Apso should be kept in a family with either older children or no children at all.

6. Cocker Spaniel

cocker spaniel Worst Dog Breeds For Families

For many years, Cocker Spaniels were noted for being among the best-natured of dogs. They are gentle, kind, and patient with children and make great companions as well as hunting dogs–usually. Unfortunately, a very serious problem has arisen in this breed–sudden rage syndrome. This is a dangerous condition that causes a Cocker Spaniel (as well as a few other breeds), to lash out in a full-blown attack without any kind of provocation. Very often, the dog will launch this attack out of a sound sleep. It is thought that the ill-conceived practice of line breeding has caused this; in effect, line breeding is inbreeding and any undesirable genes will be more likely to surface. The orange male Cocker Spaniels are the ones usually afflicted which puts them among the worst dog breeds for families. I have had a black Cocker Spaniel that was the happiest and friendliest dog ever.

7. Manchester Terrier

manchester terrier in white room

A lively ball of energy, the Manchester Terrier might not be the best choice for you for several reasons: these dogs tend to bark quite a bit, they need enormous amounts of exercise, they will nip if disturbed while “meditating,” and they can be very aggressive towards other pets. Manchester Terriers were originally bred to actively hunt vermin such as rats and they will attack and kill guinea pigs, rabbits, or even kittens; this is not evil on their part, it is simply their nature. These dogs are definitely better in a household where the children are older or where there are only adults.

8. Schipperke

schipperke lying on grass

It’s not for nothing that Schipperkes are also called “little black devils.” If not properly trained, your Schipperke will soon be running the household on its terms; you will be the subordinate party. Feisty, confident, and definitely unaware that their small size means anything, a Schipperke will sometimes become a one-person dog to such an extent that it will growl and nip at other family members. Early socialization is definitely needed with this breed and you will also have to be prepared to provide the kind of activities that will allow them to burn off some of that bubbling energy. These dogs also bark quite a bit and will be destructive if left alone and that could put them among the worst dog breeds for families.

9. French Bulldog

french bulldog in grass field

The reason the French Bulldog is here is simply because of its very strong attachment to people. Frenchies will suffer greatly when separated for more than a few minutes from the people they love. Leaving a French Bulldog alone for an entire day when everyone is out of the house is actually cruel to these wonderful little dogs. They will be naughty, too, if left alone for a long period; they will urinate and defecate all over the place (sometimes on the couch or bed), and will chew up anything they can get their very strong jaws onto. So, if you are not able to be home most of the time, this is one of the worst dogs you can choose, for both of your sakes.

10. Skye Terrier

skye terrier in white room

A very attractive terrier and one so suddenly popular that demand cannot always be met, the Skye Terrier can make life difficult at times. These dogs tend to be suspicious of anyone outside the family and are likely to be aggressive. The terrier personality comes out in the attitude that Skye Terriers have to small household pets–they are simply viewed as prey animals. Skye Terriers are quite independent in spirit and so can be difficult to train; they will definitely need early socialization. They will often attach themselves very tightly to one family member, although they have overall loyalty to everyone in the home. The long, lovely coat of the Skye Terrier will also require a lot of attention to prevent tangles and mats.

11. Finnish Spitz

finnish spitz on grass field

The Finnish Spitz is a hardy breed of hunting dog that has now found its way into the home as a companion. However, the hunting instincts are still very strong in this breed and they can be something of a handful for those who are not able to demonstrate leadership. A Finnish Spitz that has not been properly socialized is also more likely to be aggressive towards other dogs and will actively hunt small pets. These dogs also need a lot of exercise every day; throwing a Frisbee for a couple of minutes will not be enough, think more of a long, brisk walk of at least an hour at the minimum. Finnish Spitz which have not been able to rid themselves of their excess energy will be boisterous and rambunctious in the home.

12. Mongrel

mongrel sitting on grass

Small Mongrels are often adorable and it’s fun to try to guess the heritage of a Mongrel puppy when you meet one. But it is just this unknown background that can make Mongrels among the worst of the small dogs. Unless you know the parents of the Mongrel puppy, you are really taking a large chance on the future personality and behavior of the dog. Some Mongrels are excellent small dogs being just as loyal and affectionate as the mildest of purebred dogs, while others will be a rather hellish combination of a number of problematic small breeds. So-called Designer Dogs at least provide you with a clue as to the make-up of the Mongrel, but with others, it will be a guessing game. One important thing to note is that Mongrels are not any healthier, mentally or physically than purebred dogs.

13 The Worst Dog Breeds for Families: Medium-Large Dogs

1. Weimaraner

Weimaraner in white room

Not only are Weimaraners large dogs, but they were also bred for hunting boar, bear, deer, fox, rabbit, and fowl. This breed was also used for guarding the home but due to their size and natural prey instinct, it’s not a good idea to have a Weimaraner around small children. They have outgoing, happy personalities and require extensive exercise and training. This breed also requires a firm owner and should always be supervised when around small children because they enjoy rough play and will unintentionally hurt the child. Weimaraners tend to suffer from separation anxiety as well so if their favorite child has been away for too long then they may become too excited and overwhelmed upon seeing them and jump on them causing numerous safety hazards for the child.

2. Rottweiler

Rottweiler lying down in white room

Another large breed, Rottweilers were originally used to herd cattle. This breed has a variety of other uses such as guarding, search and rescue, guiding, and policing. Rottweilers can get up to 130 pounds and are generally laid-back and obedient dogs. Although they respond well to training, it is not recommended to have this breed around small children because they are extremely powerful and territorial. This means that if they aren’t comfortable around a child then they will become defensive and their protective instincts will kick in proving hazardous for the child. With their size and strength it is not a good idea to have this breed around small children. Rottweilers are a very affectionate breed of dog, but they are also known for having aggressive behavior and intense strength. They are often used by the military and in police canine units, but are also popular pets. The issue is often a poorly trained animal, but because it is an animal with hunting instincts, a well-behaved Rottweiler should never be taken for granted. They can be unstable emotionally and very territorial over their space and people, which only fuels its aggressive when a part of a family with children since children can be noisy, mischievous, and careless around the family dog. A child who pokes at this dog one too few times may find themselves with a very serious dog bite, so best to avoid purchasing this breed when you have kids.

3. Akita

Akita inu lying down in white room

This breed is also very powerful but is independent and dominant as well. They are very territorial over their property and are generally not good around strangers so a lot of socialization is necessary for an Akita. This breed is not a good choice for people who have never owned a dog before and there have been instances where this breed didn’t respond well to children. An Akita requires an owner that is firm and consistent with them which is hard to achieve with children. Being that they are independent, they also require a certain amount of space and alone time; this is a hard concept to teach to young children and if the child doesn’t give their Akita the space it needs, it may potentially respond aggressively creating a dangerous and hostile situation for a young child. The Akita originates from Japan and was used for hunting animals as big as bears but as fast as deer. It is a very defiant breed of dog that doesn’t always like to obey its master, and because of this, only those with tremendous experience and a firm hand should own one of these intelligent but aggressive dogs. It is believed that boredom can create aggression in the Akita as well as someone encroaching on their territory: be it a bowl of food, a favorite toy, your property, or you. Children should not be in households where an Akita is kept simply for the fact that this dog isn’t always apt to follow commands or behave well for its master, which could have very unfortunate consequences.

4. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute in snow field

Due to this breed’s strength and stamina they were bred to be sled dogs and for hauling heaving loads. They are very similar in appearance to, and often get confused with, Siberian Huskies. While it may be tempting to purchase an Alaskan Malamute for their wintertime playmate potential, Alaskan Malamutes are known for their independence and reverting to their natural instincts from adapting to harsh environments. Due to their origins, this breed has a high prey instinct and it should not be underestimated. This breed also requires incredible amounts of exercise and training. It is very important to socialize this breed, especially with small children as an Alaskan Malamute may view a child as prey and attack. This is obviously something that puts them among the worst dog breeds for families. Known also as the Alaskan Sled Dog, the Alaskan Malamute is a great household pet, but can be aggressive and act as a predator due to its primitive instincts to hunt. This makes it an unsafe animal to have in a house with small kids and other pets that cannot hold their own against it. It’s not that they do not enjoy their owners and their family, but they cannot help the urges they were bred with since their very beginnings, so this makes them unsafe due to the unpredictability and general instability of dogs that were originally bred for hunting.

5. Siberian Husky

Husky in park

This is a mid-sized working dog with origins from north-eastern Siberia. This breed is very energetic and resilient so many people tend to assume that they will be patient with small children. Although, they are a very dominant breed and as such, they don’t respond well to owners who are not firm with them. Siberian Huskies are most commonly known for their appearance in the animated children’s film Balto, where a half Wolf and half Siberian Husky played the role of Gunnar Kaasen’s lead sled dog. This breed is also known to revert to their ancient ancestors, wolves. These natural instincts include digging, chewing, and jumping as an escape attempt and they have the potential to cause havoc in the home if they are not properly cared for, trained, and disciplined. Due to their dominance, behavioral issues, and strength it is not recommended to have this breed around young children. This puts them among the worst dog breeds for families with small kids.

6. Bullmastiff

bullmastiff in park

This breed is generally recognized for their large size and short snout. This breed is derived from an English mastiff and the extinct Old English Bulldog. A Bullmastiff’s original purpose was to guard large estates and attack and capture poachers. They are a great breed to use as a guard dog for the fact that they are a very quiet breed unless they become startled. This breed requires consistency when training and extensive socialization due to their strength and sensitivity.

They tend to grow very quickly and because of their size, strength, and sensitive temper they are not recommended for families with small children or families that have a lot of foot traffic in and out of their home. They may perceive a situation as dangerous if children are engaging in rough play, running around, yelling, or if a person that they are not very familiar with enters the home.

7. Australian Shepherd

australian shepherd black background

Affectionately called an Aussie, this mid-sized breed was bred on ranches in the western region of America, despite it’s name. This breed is most commonly known for their trainability and herding abilities. This breed has an incredible desire to please their owner and are known for their obedience, if trained properly. Aussies have an impressive energy level and require a job due to their working dog origins. Because of their behavior, they require a lot of attention and exercise although some are known to be laid-back and calm. They are incredibly loyal, devoted, and affectionate to their owners and are also very resilient.

Aussies have a high risk factor for a number of health issues despite their unusually long life span. These factors may give the impression that this breed would be a great playmate for young children, though they have the tendency to engage in rough play and tend to nip, pounce, and shove young children as an attempt to herd them. Breaking an Aussie of its herding instincts is an almost impossible feat and is generally unheard of. This breed does well with adolescent and teenage children who can train, exercise, and discipline them appropriately.

8. Chinese Shar-Pei

shar pei in concrete sidewalk

With origins in China, this breed is known for having a distinguishing black-colored tongue, similar to the Chow Chow. Another notable feature of this breed is the rough texture of its fur and the excessive wrinkles that they have as puppies. As they get older, they grow into their skin but there are still wrinkles in their face and on their back. Shar Peis need to be socialized from an early age because they tend to be cautious around strangers due to their guarding instincts and can be very stubborn when it comes to training. This breed is known to be highly independent and laid-back but are also loyal and affectionate to their owners. If a Shar Pei isn’t trained and socialized adequately from a young age they could potentially become aggressive and territorial. This breed also doesn’t respond well to abuse or cruel treatment as they are not very resilient. Because of this, having this breed around small children can prove to be potentially dangerous.

9. Chow Chow

chow chow in grass field

Another breed originating in China, the Chow Chow is known for its distinctive black tongue and their incredible protectiveness of their property and family members. This breed is not overly active but does require adequate exercise daily to prevent boredom and subsequently destructive behavior. This breed also relies heavily on habits so if you exercise them every day at around the same time they will treat it like a schedule and hassle you until you entertain and exercise them. Due to the protective nature of the Chow Chow breed, your homeowner’s insurance rate may rise because many companies consider this breed to be high-risk. Chows tend to attach to one or two family members and will protect them at all costs making them potentially dangerous and putting them among the worst dog breeds for families. Although this Chinese breed of dog looks and feels extremely cuddly and friendly, the Chow is genetically related to the wolf. It is very loyal to its master and usually becomes very protective, and usually to a fault. Its primitive nature and protective personality make the chow unsuitable for keeping as a pet when you have children as it can be protective of its master (you) even when there is no real threat afoot, which makes it a very untrustworthy and unstable animal. This means children can become prey and that those with kids should avoid this furry friend.

10. Shiba Inu

shiba inu in white room

This breed is known for having a fiery, even fierce, nature, so is not a good choice for those who have little experience in training dogs. Shiba Inu are first and foremost hunting dogs and they will hunt any small pets you have in your home as well as chase every squirrel, chipmunk, or rabbit that they may come across outside. The Shiba Inu is also a very independent breed so training can present problems. Because they are not the most patient of dogs, they will probably work out best in households where the children are a bit older. Shibas will actively defend their food and toys not only from other dogs but also from children.

11. American Bandogges

A mix of Pitbull and Neopolitan Mastiff, the American Bandogge is especially dangerous when its master is away and others are taking care of it, meaning that kids and lesser masters like the master’s partner are in danger of being overtaken or bit. This dog is very aggressive and untrustworthy even with its owner due to its rebellious nature and moodiness, and because of its strength, this dog’s attack could lead to an extremely serious injury or fatality. Only those who have been trained to lead their American Bandogge with the utmost of authority should possess one, and never someone who has children.

12. Pitbulls

pitbull on snow field

Widely acknowledged as one of the most aggressive breeds available today, the Pitbull was bred for fighting, which means that it will always have the instinct within it for predatory behaviors. Despite a lot of controversy regarding the idea of destroying the breed altogether, many advocates believe that Pitbulls are only aggressive when poorly trained or physically abused, but there are a great deal of documented Pitbull attacks where the animal hadn’t previously shown any aggressive behavior with many of them being on children. Those who choose to risk this happening in their own home are advised to keep the Pitbull away from young children and under very close supervision. In addition, this dog should only be off leash when in a safe enclosure or where there are no children playing in order to prevent an attack.

13. Dobermans

doberman in white room

A guard dog by nature, this German breed is intensely loyal and has extreme power in terms of its bite. The Doberman is very intimidating and has a scary bark as well as bite with the ability to seriously injure or kill even an adult. It is not so much that this beautiful dog is a murderous animal with blood lust but it can often mistake a well-meaning individual for someone encroaching on their owner’s space and attack out of protection, which is no less severe than when the threat is real. Those with children should be wary of this breed and avoid it altogether if they wish to keep from dealing with a tragic misunderstanding.


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