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21 Worst Dog Breeds for Kids (With Pictures & Details)

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 27, 2024 by Dogster Team

Alaskan Shepherd (Alaskan Malamute and German Shepherd Mix)

21 Worst Dog Breeds for Kids (With Pictures & Details)

When you bring a puppy home for the first time, you’re smitten with how adorable they are. But did you stop and ask yourself if they will be more than just a cute face? It’s easy to assume that if we get a dog from puppyhood, they will acclimate to our lives and bond with everyone in the family.

That is true to a degree, but breeds say a lot about compatibility, too. And some breeds are just not as good for our kids. Are there exceptions to this generality? Of course! But if you’re on the hunt, you might want to veer away from the breeds we will discuss in the article.

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The Importance of Teaching Children Respect

Children are learning all sorts of things for the first time, including interacting with animals. Some kids will be pros at it from the beginning, while others will take some time to learn. That is totally normal and expected—but some dogs might not be so understanding of the process.

A successful pairing between kids and dogs comes from mutual respect. The relationship will organically grow into a lifelong companionship.

Your child should never:
  • Invade space
  • Interfere with mealtime
  • Jump, climb, or hit a dog
  • Tease with toys
  • Tease with food
  • Yell into a dog’s face
  • Play with a dog’s food

Even though you might expect more from your pooch, kids can trigger dogs to nip, growl, or viciously bark at a child. It’s usually an impulse, but these moments can hold their share of potential danger.

Supervision and teaching are the ultimate tools to acclimate your pets and children. Once everyone in the home is in harmony, things will go smoother.

The 21 Worst Dog Breeds for Kids

The dog breeds we are about to discuss are awesome dogs in their own right. But when it comes to having tiny tots running around, these options might not be the best ones to add to your family. Let’s find out who made the list and why.

1. Chihuahua

aggressive chihuahua
Image Credit: Piotr Wawrzyniuk, Shutterstock

How could such a tiny, adorable dog that looks totally harmless pop up first on the list? A Chihuahua may look like a little innocent face, but beware—these dogs can pack a punch. They tend to be very bonded to one person, and many don’t seem to be interested in being nice to anyone else.

They are big bite risks for small children, especially if they feel a child is invading their space. This breed can be very moody, not wanting any disturbing or annoying things happening around them. If they aren’t in the mood for kids, they’ll show it by nipping.

Plus, Chihuahuas are very small and will be very sensitive to rough handling. These fragile dogs need a more relaxed environment—they may do fine with older kids.

Bad Traits:
  • Fragile
  • Bossy
  • Moody or nippy

2. Akita

Akita dog
Image Credit: Anaite, Shutterstock

Akitas are fearsome protectors, guarding their families at every turn. They’re always on the lookout, having your back. However, the serious Akita might not make the best playmate for your kids.

Because Akitas are stern and somber, they don’t tolerate silliness or teasing very well. If they think the children are being too erratic, they might not respond appropriately. Also, an Akita might be protective of children in your family but dislike outsiders, which can be dangerous for guests.

Once a child is old enough to fully respect a dog’s boundaries, an Akita might work in your home. Always gauge the situation to see if your child’s personality and the Akita’s all-work-no-play attitude will work.

Bad Traits:
  • Doesn’t like teasing
  • Wary of strangers
  • Very serious

3. Chow Chow

chow chow on a retro vintage background
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock

It’s almost irresistible to get past a Chow Chow puppy. These fluffy little bear-like babies will steal your heart with their squinty eyes and wrinkles. But despite how adorable they are, a Chow might not work in a large family with small kids.

The biggest issue with Chows is that they take their loyalty to another level. They do not mesh well with strangers or with other pets. Even with children in the home, the dog might be very standoffish with them.

Chows don’t like being messed with if they aren’t in the mood, either. If they are lying down napping and a hyper child is bugging them, they can exhibit aggression.

Bad Traits:
  • Dislike strangers, even kids
  • Standoffish
  • Possibly aggressive

4. Greyhound

greyhound standing on grass
Image Credit: Pixabay

Greyhounds are very pleasant, timid dogs with reserved personalities. These dogs are also one of the fastest runners of the canine kingdom, making them fun yard buddies. While they make tremendous companions for older kids, they might not do so well with little ones.

Greyhounds don’t enjoy chaos or erratic behavior. A small child might startle a Greyhound often, which can lead to nervous tendencies and potential biting. They aren’t aggressive dogs but do spook easily.

Greyhounds prefer a low-key approach to life, making them incompatible with noisy households. Any parent can contest that no toddler is quiet.

Bad Traits:
  • Dislike noise
  • Prone to nervousness
  • Scare easily

5. Mastiff

bullmastiff dog standing on the grass outdoors
Image Credit: Michael J Magee, Shutterstock

The size of a Mastiff alone can be enough to deter parents from making this selection, but these gentle giants tend to be very doting toward children. These dogs are also protective, and a child can make this instinct stronger. But on the downside, that can be a danger for company.

Mastiffs have wickedly powerful tails. Most tails are face level with your toddler. One good whip and you have a serious injury on your hands—and that’s just their tail! These muscular dogs weigh a ton and can easily hurt your kids without meaning to.

When your kids reach 10 and over, Mastiffs can make charming additions to the family. But you might want to wait until your kids gain some height before your welcome in this big pooch.

Bad Traits:
  • Might knock kids down
  • Could hurt a child

6. Pekingese

Image Credit: T.Den_Team, Shutterstock

The Pekingese might look cute and cuddly, but don’t let their fluff fool you. These dogs can be quite frisky and particular, so they might not want kids up in their faces. If a child is too invasive, it could result in nipping.

A Pekingese might suffer from little dog syndrome, meaning they don’t have the same view or tolerance of children that some others do. They might view them as a rival or an equal, meaning they can boss them around just as much as the latter.

A Pekingese much prefers a relaxed environment where they can be unbothered by their favorite humans.

Bad Traits:
  • Little dog syndrome
  • Might nip
  • Bossy

7. Rottweiler

rottweiler dog walking on sand beach
Image Credit: everydoghasastory, Shutterstock

Rottweilers are absolutely excellent family companions and can integrate well into many lifestyles. They have a great tendency to be caretakers of younglings. However, small children might not be the greatest match sometimes.

Some Rottweilers can be very loving and doting, but they are also muscular and thick—and your child might be a tripping hazard. A Rottweiler that isn’t fully trained yet might drag around kids on the leash, too.

Since Rotties are big dogs, they mature slowly—making puppyhood last forever, long before they grow into their own feet. You might have a constant battle of deciding which is worse—your puppy or kids. Some Rottweilers are known to take on aggressive tendencies, too.

Bad Traits:
  • Bite risk
  • Slow to mature
  • Bulky and clumsy

8. Husky

Siberian Husky Dog
Image Credit: jpgordijn, Pixabay

Huskies are extraordinarily beautiful dogs, stunning onlookers with their beautiful eyes and coat patterns. They are playful and attentive to family members. However, Huskies are incredibly hyper and erratic, which can be overwhelming for little kids.

Huskies can also be very mouthy, meaning they communicate with nips of varying pressure. If they ever got mouthy with a small child, they could do some real damage—even if it’s unintentional. Also, because they are excitable, sometimes they’re hard to control.

If you were looking for a mannerly dog that your kids can casually walk down the sidewalk, the Husky is a bad choice for that, too. These dogs have a high prey drive and exercise needs, making them potential flight risks.

Bad Traits:
  • Mouthy
  • Hyper
  • Erratic

9. Malinois

Belgian Malinois
Image Credit: Pixabay

Malinois are bred for pure work and take their duties very seriously. They can make more than efficient guard and watchdogs. But owning a Malinois can be comparable to having a child itself due to the keen intelligence and energy level of the breed.

Having a growing Malinois and children at the same time can be a stressful thing since both parties require extensive work. Prepare for a houseful of chaos when the pairs collaborate. Malinois are heavy chewers, and they can quickly destroy or eat your kid’s toys.

Malinois who are on the serious side might not want any part of small kid shenanigans. You might have to wait for this breed until the kids are in the middle school age range. If for any reason your Malinois bites your child, their powerful jaws can harm your child tremendously.

Bad Traits:
  • High energy
  • High maintenance
  • Bite risk

10. Weimaraner

Image Credit: Pixabay

Weimaraners will stun you with their gorgeous coats and penetrating eyes. This hunting breed is an energetic dog that stays youthful in spirit. But the Weimaraner and children aren’t the best combination.

Weimaraners will run around with your kids, tuckering them out. However, they also have less patience than some breeds, making their tolerance of young children lower. It would help if you consistently supervised all interactions between your tiny tots and this breed.

Weimaraners are also intensely active. Even they might be too much energy for your kids to handle—never settling down.

Bad Traits:
  • Low patience
  • Bite risk
  • High energy

11. Shar Pei

shar pei_style81_Pixabay
Image Credit: style81, Pixabay

Despite their squeezable wrinkles and heart-warming expressions, Shar Peis are rather grumpy and particular—if you ask owners. Because of their moody temperament, they aren’t the best dogs to have with small children.

In fact, Shar Peis are inherently antisocial dogs with extreme territorial tendencies. They don’t get along with other pets nor do they tolerate children. They might also only take to one owner in the home.

Shar Peis works best in an only pet household that is peaceful and stranger-free. This breed is one you have to put up when company comes, including children they don’t know.

Bad Traits:
  • Grumpy, possibly aggressive
  • Intolerant of strangers—adults and children
  • Not good with other pets

12. American Pit Bull Terrier

American pitbull terrier_David Robert Perez_Shutterstock
Image Credit: David Robert Perez, Shutterstock

Once known as nanny dogs, Pit Bulls have had roles taking care of children for a long time. However, younger Pits are full of overflowing energy, which can be a lot to handle. These meaty brutes don’t know their sizes, leading to accidents and falls when they’re around small children.

Pit Bulls can be very territorial, too. They aren’t crazy about newcomers sometimes and often don’t get along with other dogs. Because of their prey drives, they are also incompatible with smaller animals, like cats—unless they are very well-socialized.

If your children have multiple pets, this might not be the best dog to have in the home.

Bad Traits:
  • High prey drive
  • Often bad with other pets
  • Don’t know their size

13. Alaskan Malamute

Alaskan Malamute in the snow
Image Credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock

Alaskan Malamutes are large sled dogs built for the snow. While they look similar to their Husky and wolf cousins, they are a breed all their own. These dogs can be extremely dignified, outgoing, and affectionate with their family members, but being around small kids has a few negatives.

Malamutes are very peppy, energetic, and big. They can easily knock children over or play too rough with them. They might not also recognize when they are being too much, which will require attentive training.

Some Malamutes are known to be more reserved and unaccepting of change, which might be tricky if you’re thinking about adopting an adult. Though a Malamute makes a splendid family addition, you should wait until children are a bit older before bringing one home.

Bad Traits:
  • High energy
  • Requires extensive training
  • Unaccepting in new situations

14. Dachshund

smooth-haired Dachshund dog standing in the garden
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

A Dachshund’s looks really don’t prepare you for what little spitfires they can be. Dachshunds enjoy being the boss, and they prefer no competition. Kids and Dachshunds might not see eye to eye when it comes to who deserves your attention.

Dachshunds have been known to nip at kids, which makes them incompatible. That rule doesn’t apply to all Dachshunds, but it’s common enough to be noteworthy. Dachshunds might love to romp around and play, but when play becomes too much, they can flip a switch of disapproval quickly.

Dachshunds also have very long spines, which can cause issues—especially if they get hurt in their younger years. If small children want to handle them a lot, it might cause accidental injury to the dog.

Bad Traits:
  • Bite risk
  • Frisky and moody
  • Prone to spine injury

15. Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher
Image Credit: DragoNika, Shuttersrock

Doberman Pinschers are excellent protectors that put family first. They are generally very protective of children, so they might seem like a suitable pick. However, Dobermans are very large dogs who are slow to mature mentally but get big fast.

They don’t understand just how big they are. That might be okay for older children, but little ones will get trampled a lot—especially during puppyhood.

If you adopt an older Doberman who hasn’t been properly socialized, they might feel frightened of younger children, resulting in nipping or biting. If they do bite, Dobermans have intensely powerful jaws, and you don’t want your child on the receiving end.

Bad Traits:
  • Bite risk
  • Clumsy
  • Slow to mature

16. Caucasian Ovcharka

Caucasian Ovcharka
Image Credit: Dariusz Majgier, Shutterstock

The breathtaking Caucasian Ovcharka is an absolute brute. Resembling a lion, Ovcharkas can weigh up to 220 pounds as adults. Outweighing their owners, sometimes by a landslide, you can imagine how this giant breed mixes with kids. One wag of a tail could send a small child flying.

The only reasonable way it would be a stress-free environment is to get your puppy while your child is well into their teens. If you do, they can grow together and live harmoniously. Since this breed is so mightily dominant, they need a firm hand around always.

These dogs might also view young children as prey. After all, little humans pale in comparison to this dog. Without supervision, your dog might act on instinct, proving disastrous.

Bad Traits:
  • Might view kids as prey
  • Massive size
  • Dominant attitude

17. Australian Cattle Dog

red australian cattle dog
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

The fascinating Australian Cattle Dog is a loyal and devoted companion. They do very well both outdoors and indoors, needing time in nature to be their happiest. However, there are a few downsides to this breed when it comes to small children.

Cattle Dogs are herding dogs, so they have a natural tendency to nip at the heels. They also aren’t the friendliest with outsiders. So, if you have a lot of company with kids your dog doesn’t know, your cattle dog might try to protect your children against others.

Cattle Dogs can be a little high-strung, and they have an intense prey drive. They will chase cats, squirrels, and other small animals. They might even chase your toddler if the child looks like they’re running away. Because of these instincts, they aren’t the best pick.

Bad Traits:
  • Nipping
  • High prey drive
  • Not good with other pets

18. Fila Brasileiro

young female of Fila Brasileiro Brazilian Mastiff
Image Credit: Artush, Shutterstock

The intense Fila Brasileiro is a physically stunning specimen with a robust body and sturdy stance. They have exquisite tracking potential, being leaders in their field of expertise. However, as a family dog, the Fila might not work so well.

Filas are one of the most aggressive breeds around. These dogs are very work-savvy and enjoy always having a task to do. While they might care for your children, they are much more concerned with having something to accomplish.

A bored Fila is a recipe for trouble, as they can exhibit aggression, destructive behaviors, and restlessness. They are very competitive and intimidating, making them incompatible with tiny kids.

Bad Traits:
  • Highly aggressive breed
  • Bore easily
  • Disinterested in kids

19. Dalmatian

Dalmatians playing in the desert sand
Image By: Andrew Laity, Shutterstock

Dalmatians are a real kid favorite, thanks to the adorable Disney movie 101 Dalmatians. Their sweet little spotted coats and friendly expressions don’t help things, either. But when it really comes down to it, Dalmatians don’t match well with small kids.

Many Dalmatians aren’t able to hear because of a genetic defect in the breed. So, being around a toddler or small child might startle them often. Kids can come out of nowhere—and if your Dalmatian isn’t expecting it, it could result in accidental bites.

Young Dalmatian pups can be incredibly hyperactive, which is fun for children. But because they tend to grow quickly, they might start getting too rough during play. Also, Dalmatians aren’t crazy about strangers.

Bad Traits:
  • Disability might make it easy to startle
  • Bite risk
  • Young Dalmatians are very hyper

20. German Shepherd

german shepherd walking outdoor
Image By: Spike Summers, Pixabay

German Shepherds are one of the most popular companions for people today—and for a good reason. These charming dogs are intelligent, devoted, and highly receptive. But even though they are excellent in so many areas of expertise, they might not make the best picks for kids.

Shepherds do well with children, taking them on as their own family. However, Shepherds are long, lanky, and clumsy. They can easily hurt a child during play without meaning to. Also, after sexual maturity, some males might become aggressive.

These dogs are also exceptionally territorial with food and toys. If your child gets in the way, it could put them at risk of attacks.

Bad Traits:
  • Can be food and toy possessive
  • Clumsy
  • Some become aggressive

21. Bull Terrier

bull terrier
Image By: Pixabay

Bull Terriers have a very noticeable breed-specific look. They seem like they would be fantastic companions, combining a sleek appearance with an award-winning personality. Even though they make terrific pets, they might not work best for little ones.

Bull Terriers are—well—bullheaded. They tend to be bossy and full of attitude. They might have some power struggles with your kids on who’s first in command. And if they aren’t in the mood for play, these dogs can get mouthy, even nippy.

Bull Terriers are playful dogs that can make wonderful companions, but they also can be territorial. They might not take so kindly to teasing or other normal child behavior, viewing it as a challenge. These stubborn dogs look at children as equals so they would do best with teens and adults.

Bad Traits:
  • Very stubborn and bossy
  • Don’t like teasing
  • Bite risk

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Other Factors That Determine Temperament

While weeding out what breeds won’t work, you must remember that it varies from dog to dog. You might have an incredibly docile, well-mannered Chihuahua that the kids carry around in toy purses—that is possible.

However, certain breeds are simply prone to certain temperaments with specific characteristics. Each one stands alone. Until you learn about breed specifics, it’s hard to know if you will be compatible with a particular breed.

But just because you opt for a docile breed doesn’t mean other factors don’t contribute to overall temperament. If a kid-friendly breed is tortured or teased by a child, they might develop a loathing for children. Much of what determines a good dog is early socialization and proper training.

Also, dogs must get the right amount of exercise for their breed. Even laid-back dogs can pick up bad habits when they don’t have proper outlets.

Kid-Positive Breeds to Consider

Even if none of these breeds were recommended for kids, there would be tons of good choices left. Here are some excellent breeds in all sorts of sizes you can research.

Small/Toy Breeds Medium-Sized Breeds Large/Giant Breeds
Pug Golden Retriever Poodle
French Bulldog Border Collie Labrador Retriever
Corgi Beagle Great Dane
Havanese Boxer Newfoundland
Bulldog Boxer

Final Thoughts

Each one of these breeds is fantastic in its own right. They were bred for different reasons, making them skilled and solid in specific areas. Even though they might not be the best with small children, they can still offer love and companionship to suitable homes.

If you are looking for a family-friendly breed, just make sure to do your research. When you pick out a puppy or adopt from a shelter, make sure that your children, other pets, and you are compatible before committing.

Featured Image Credit: Steve Heap, Shutterstock

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