Your kids have been pestering you for a pet, and up until now your answer has been, “We’ll think about it.” Finding the best pets for kids can be a daunting task…
After all, family life is hectic. And even if you did the due diligence you’re not sure you’ll have time or energy for a pet. But did you know, research shows the benefits of sharing your life with a pet go beyond companionship, and can have positive impacts on your family’s mental and physical health?
Our own research concurs. 93% of the 1000+ NZ pet parents PD Insurance recently surveyed said it’s important for their children to grow up with a pet. And 96% said having a pet was good for mental health.
It can help build your child’s self-esteem, confidence, compassion and teach them about responsibility too.
There’s no doubt it’s a big decision. Some pets live for decades. So how can you be sure you’re choosing the best pet for the kids and for you? In this blog, we’ll share some of the most child-friendly pets to help you answer that question.
Deciding on the best pets for your kids
Before you decide to adopt a pet, it’s important to consider how they’d impact your current (and future) family dynamic and lifestyle. Considerations include:
- Are you an energetic family who gets outdoors often? Or do you prefer quiet indoors activities?
- How much do you travel? Do you spend long periods away from home each day?
- How old are your children? Are they independent or need a lot of your time too? Will they help with the pet?
- How much time do you have to commit to caring for a new family member?
- Do you have enough indoor and outdoor space to keep the pet happy and healthy?
- How much money do you have to put towards food, equipment, accessories, pet insurance and ongoing maintenance costs?
Keep reading to learn which pet is suited for you and your family.
Best dog breeds for children
It’s easy to see why dogs have a reputation as being the best FBF’s (furry best friends). They’re loyal pack animals who just want to feel like one of the fam. And when they do, they’ll shower you with unconditional love and affection. Naawww.
When it comes to child-friendly dog breeds, it’s best to consider their age, temperament and energy levels. Then picture how that will fit with your family dynamic.
For example, if you’ve just had a new baby, maybe now isn’t the best time to welcome a new dog too. Especially a high energy one. Both parents and puppies need time to adjust to family life.
While most dogs need lots of stimulation and exercise, some have a tendency to jump up when excited. This can obviously be dangerous for babies and smaller children, as well as older people with mobility or balance issues (is Grandma always visiting?).
Also, young kids can struggle to understand a dog’s personal space. This can confuse and annoy your pup, making it snappy.
If you do go ahead with a new dog and are welcoming a new baby into the family, experts recommend you prepare your pet. That way they don’t feel rejected and/or territorial when your bub arrives.
But don’t fear – the following small dog breeds are often perfect for growing families. Want some tips on adopting a god? Read our Dog Adoption Checklist for New Pup Parents.
Best small dogs for kids
Let’s explore some of the breeds that are known to be some of the best pets for kids:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Easy going, indoor dogs who thrive on fun, companionship and love a good snuggle. They’re not fussy about where they are in the pecking order of your household either, making them great with young kids.
- Bulldogs and Pugs: Both breeds luuuurrrve kids. They’re ideal for busy families who don’t have time for long walks. Why? Respiratory problems can cause these breeds to overheat so they can’t hack lots of walking. A game or two in the backyard is plenty of exercise each day.
- Beagles: Cute but mischievous and get bored easily, so don’t like being left alone all day. Beagles are clever but are ruled by their noses because of their keen sense of smell. They’re a great choice for busy outdoorsy fams with kids, but don’t leave that smelly soccer bag or lunch box lying around as temptation!
- Boston Terriers: Indoor dogs who don’t need a lot of grooming. They’re easy to train and don’t need a lot of exercise. A frolic in the back yard is just fine, and they’ll also cope with living in an apartment – as long as you make time for short walks and playtime. The walk to school and back (via a quick stop at the park) is perfect.
Best large family-friendly dogs
There are plenty of large dogs that work well with a kid-rich family – here are three:
- Spanadors (aka Labrador Retriever and Cocker Spaniel cross): Beautiful, medium sized dogs with a shaggy spaniel coat and a lab’s playfulness. They’re loyal, affectionate, intelligent and hardy dogs who’ll form close bonds with you and your kids. They need a fairly energetic family, and are easy to train.
- Labradoodles: “Designer” hybrids of labradors and poodles. They’re affectionate and beautiful dogs, and because of their patient temperament are often used for therapy too. Easy to train, they can be lively but with a strong work ethic since they’re eager to please. The perfect FBF for your fam.
- Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Collies: These popular breeds are clever, quick learning doggos. They’re fabulous for kids of all ages who love to get out and play fetch, swim, run and spend lots of quality time together. These gentle souls will need lots of structure and stimulation to thrive.
Kid-friendly cat breeds
If you’ve been watching one too many cat videos online, secretly wishing that you could continue giggling at their antics at home, then you’re in the right place.
You might be worried they’ll be a bit feisty or aloof for your kids, yes? You needn’t be – there’s a feline friend for every family.
But before you take the leap, now that cats are best kept inside because they’re natural hunters. Many cats roam their neighbourhood, killing wildlife, if they are left to their own devices.
They’re also territorial, so may get into fights with other cats (racking up vet bills!).
If you’re keen for a cat, prep to keep it inside – especially at night.
Cats for consideration
- Burmese: Affectionate, fun-loving kitties that are super intelligent and beautiful companions. Often dubbed ‘the dog cat’ because they’re loyal and loving like a pup. Get two of these social kitties to prevent them getting bored and into trouble.
- Ragdolls: Hardy, affectionate and forgiving. They’re known for letting kids carry them around like dolls. Relaxed and playful, ragdolls are perfect for a fam with young kids.
- Siamese: Talkative, loyal and attention-seeking, these kitties are a beautiful breed known for their dark paws, tail, nose and ears. They love to play and form quick bonds with kids and other pets, but don’t like to be left alone. If you aren’t home a lot perhaps choose another breed.
- British Short Hair: Like ragdolls, these kitties are tolerant and easy going, but they’re also a little cautious. So, they pair well with older children who are more patient. Once you’ve bonded though, they’re one of the best cat breeds for cuddling, making them the ideal feline friend.
Whatever you do, please remember to pop a bell on your cat’s collar right from the get go. That way if it’s stalking prey the animal will be well aware of its presence. You don’t want your furry feline to be responsible for killing birds and other wildlife.
Cats are gorgeous friends to families and single people – with or without kids – but their natural urge to hunt can be problematic. Be a responsible pet parent if you decide a feline is for you.
Wondering about other animals that are the best pets for kids? We’ll write about that in the near future. Watch this space.
Best insurance for the best pets for kids
As a nation of pet lovers, we love love love our furry, feathery and scaley family members. To safeguard the cost of their health, why not check out our affordable dog insurance plans and cat insurance plans?
We have flexible policies with month-to-month payment options and no lock-in contracts, plus third party liability in case your pup or pussycat causes damage to someone else’s property (like rentals).
Over to you – best pets for kids
What are your thoughts on which dogs and cats the best pets for kids? Do any of these pets we’ve mentioned appeal to you? Let us know in the comments below or head over to our PD Insurance NZ Facebook page.