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By by Hilary L.

Top five dogs for families with small children

Forget about keeping cats as pets – they will actually eat you if given half a chance – dogs are truly man’s best friend. Still, not all dogs are suitable for every purpose or environment. For example, keeping a large dog like a Great Dane in an apartment is not only foolish, but also detrimental to the dog’s health. Similarly, those living in the southern part of the U.S. should avoid dogs like malamutes, huskies and other long-haired breeds to avoid contributing to heatstroke in those poor animals.

For those with small children, other parameters apply and they are not inconsequential when it comes to the safety and security of your child. With those thoughts in mind, here are a few suggestions on what breed of family dogs to get if your children are under the age of eight:

Chihuahua – These little bundles of energy have a reputation for being somewhat temperamental, but if a child is coached on how to handle the dog properly, chihuahuas are an excellent pet for a child. They are compact, full of energy and fiercely protective of both their masters and their surroundings. In addition, chihuahuas are easy to care for as both their feeding and hygiene requirements are minor when compared to larger dogs.

Lhasa apso – Adorable and somewhat lethargic, lhasa apsos make the perfect lap dog for a small child. The dog is not heavy and likes nothing better than to make itself comfortable on its owner’s lap. It is an attention hog – something that some children find irresistible. Another small breed, these dogs are easy to care for – even in a small apartment – although their long hair can sometimes become a nuisance and even an allergy hazard.

Sheepdog – While many experts will recommend such good natured breeds as bulldogs and mastiffs, these dogs are simply too large for small children to deal with properly. The dogs may not mean any harm, but their bulk and enthusiasm are cause for concern. Not so with the sheepdog, whose only goal in life seems to be to keep the kiddies collected in a single group. Admittedly, sheepdogs are a little bit messy with their long hair, but a home that allows them to stay outside most of the time will surely appreciate one.

Jack Russell terrier – One of the fastest dogs around, this breed is an excellent choice for families with multiple small children, as the dog revels in being chased and is quite difficult to catch when playing. Don’t worry though, they are extremely intelligent and with the interdiction of an adult can be taught to “heel” and “come” on command with a minimum of training. One caveat: these dogs like to run and should not be cooped up in an apartment. Instead, a home with a yard is far more desirable.

Labrador retriever – For those families with small children that enjoy being around the water, a Labrador retriever is great choice as a pet. While this breed of dog is medium-sized and a little rambunctious, its inherent fondness for the water makes it a great addition to any lake- or sea-side home as well as those with pools. It is also tireless and will play for hours – not a small consideration for parents who want to tire the little ones out before bedtime.

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