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We want to get a dog, but are expecting our first bundle of joy for early April.

What kind of dogs are appropriate for a newborn?

We live in a house outside London with a small back yard and very close to a large park, but lead very busy lifestyles.

My wife's favourite contender is the West Highland Terrier, but I'm concerned it might be too unruly for a baby. Are other dogs more appropriate?

asked 07 Nov '09, 14:46

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pedromr
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A stuffed one ;)

I'm only half kidding here. Babies are a lot of work. Dogs & puppies are a lot of work. If you get a puppy it will need to be house-trained, obedience trained and probably won't sleep through the night without a bathroom break or two. Any new dog needs a lot of attention. Add in the stress of a newborn, and that is a lot to handle.

I would recommend that you hold off until after the baby has arrived and a nice routine has been established before adding a 4-legged member to the family.

You may want to read the following article from the CKC: Deciding To Get a Dog

If you decide to get a dog, the best type for any kid is a well-trained dog.

Good luck in your decision!

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answered 07 Nov '09, 18:09

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I want to mention that I volunteer with a canine rescue group, so my answer is definitely biased. I see a lot of dog + baby experiments that have not gone as planned. Still with a lot of work, it can be a success - I just don't want anyone to approach the situation lightly and would still recommend that you wait until your child is older.

(07 Nov '09, 18:29) Kate
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This was my first reaction as well: is one major lifestyle change at a time not enough? Especially with the 1st kid. pedromr is a braver person than I. I'd go nuts.

(08 Nov '09, 20:32) Dinah

I'd avoid terriers. They are very high energy and loud and as you said: unruly.

Retrievers, labs, and collies tend to be great for kids and much for the same reasons

  • They are big and sturdy so the kid won't easily hurt them
  • They're intelligent like terriers but without the hyperactive traits
  • They tend to have a laid back disposition where they take minor tugs and pokes from tots in stride

Here's an article that has other suggestions too: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/22428/top_five_dog_breeds_for_children.html?cat=25

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answered 07 Nov '09, 17:47

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You might want to look at this page from Safer Pets, it includes a list of breeds with good reputations with children as well as general advice on choosing a dog when you have children.

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answered 07 Nov '09, 17:49

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Meg Stephenson
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In our experience, having a (large, hyperactive) dog and a child:

  • We don't leave them in the same room alone
  • We insist that the dog move away when our daughter comes near
  • If the dog starts being hyper around our daughter, then the dog has to leave the room

Having practiced those things, we haven't had any problems. The dog particularly appreciates mealtimes now that it tends to "rain food" around the high chair.

So, answering your question, I would say, pick a dog you're confident you can control.

As for getting a puppy at the same time as having a child... well, you'll be awake anyway...

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answered 08 Nov '09, 04:33

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I agree with Scottie T, but also think that the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a generally trustworthy breed who is good with children. It's not as popular (at least in the US) as, say, a lab, so I thought I would mention it.

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answered 12 Nov '09, 14:40

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Fun2Dream
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We brought our baby home about 4 days ago where we have a 2 year old Cocker Spaniel mix and a 4 year old mini poodle.

The cocker is generally hyper and gets in to things while the mini poodle is very relaxed. We were very surprised to see the cocker basically mothering the baby by gently sniffing him and often following him around from room to room.

The poodle is sort of indifferent to the baby. He has sniffed him a few times but mostly just stays away. I had a poodle growing up that was very tolerant of children as well. On the other hand, his brother was a very mean dog.

I don't leave either of them alone with the baby, though. I would recommend that you get the dog first and determine their temperament before you have the baby. The downside is you might get attached and then have to give the dog away.

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answered 17 Feb '10, 23:53

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I would vote to go for a Chihuahua. I got one when my baby girl was 2 Months old and the dog is very Territorial of her because they have grown up together. My Chihuahua is great we are gone 8 hours a day and we have it crate trained where it stays in the crate while we are gone then is out while we are home.

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answered 07 Nov '09, 17:39

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edited 07 Nov '09, 22:21

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My sister-in-law has 2 little girls and one chihuahua. The dog is very protective of the girls. So much so that it tries to bite even guests and extended family that come near. It's good with the kids but I personally am very much not a fan.

(07 Nov '09, 17:48) Dinah

I recommend books by Caesar Millan. We read Caesar's Way and found it invaluable. There is a chapter on choosing a puppy that fits your home. He has some good tips on his website on raising puppies. The reason I mention it is that he would argue that the breed does not matter as much as the particular temperament of the dog and how you raise it.

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answered 07 Nov '09, 17:59

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edited 07 Nov '09, 22:18

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But just to be fair, Cesar is not without his critics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cesar_Millan#Criticism

(08 Nov '09, 04:25) Scott ♦♦
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Indeed temperament is the most important quality, not breed. But I'm not a big fan of the Dog Whisperer. As his show suggests, "Don't try this at home." Using force and intimidation can be dangerous. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/10/15/CMGPHL9D1N1.DTL

(10 Nov '09, 15:18) Scottie T

@Scottie I appreciate the controversy surrounding his "training" methods; however, my recommendation is more about his theories on choosing a dog that fits your family vs. how to train the puppy once you have it.

(10 Nov '09, 21:01) Tammy ♦♦

I don't think you will know until the dog is with the baby and how it reacts to it. But, I would hold off until the baby is older. I have two nieces that have been attacked and bitten by what was called their friend's family dogs. Their dogs would never hurt anyone, but they both attacked these young children for no reason. Personally, I don't think it is fair to the dog if you leave it all day long at home by itself while you are at work. I feel so bad for them.

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answered 09 Nov '09, 14:42

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Never think your dog will never hurt anyone. Train them and hope they won't but be prepared for what to do if they do. My friend who is a professional dogtrainer will be the first to tell you that the instinct to attack is still present in every dog. Although it's been rare, he himself has been attacked by dogs that were thought to be harmless. And he's encountered far too many cases where clients have had harmed babies because the proper precautions were not taken.

(12 Nov '09, 15:23) Dinah

I grew up with two Miniature Dachshunds. They were incredibly sweet, patient, playful and cuddly for a small child (unless I yanked on a tail, which I quickly learned not to do). I will give a word of warning about them. They are very territorial and if they adopt your child, they will defend him if they feel you or anyone else is a threat. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on your perspective. From my experience though, they are not vicious, but very loving, protective animals.

I also had a Norwegian Elk Hound. We never had any problems from him, but because of his size and friendliness, he tended to scare people. But once kids got past their fear, they loved him, and he was very good with them.

Currently I have a Rat Terrier and two small children. And it's not quite working out. Roxie (the dog) is just a little to excitable for me to feel comfortable leaving her alone with the kids. Not that I think she would deliberately hurt them, but in her excitement she might accidentally knock one down, and depending on where they are that could hurt them (though I tell my daughter to just learn to deal with small bumps and scratches).

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answered 09 Nov '09, 15:11

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Asked: 07 Nov '09, 14:46

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Last updated: 12 May '10, 16:01