Many dog owners will tell you that their home was not complete until the addition of their canine friend. Having any pet can be incredibly rewarding, and there's no substitute for the unmitigated attention and love that dogs show us. If you're a prospective pet owner who's just starting a family, then you've probably found that selecting your first dog can be quite an involved process. It's best to start your search by familiarizing yourself with the calmest dog breeds that are known to be child-friendly.
A great deal of insight into a dog’s personality has been gleaned from its breeding history, which can often be traced back thousands of years. If you have a child or are expecting one soon, the priority is to bring home a pooch that won’t intimidate or cause injury. Overly energetic and territorial dogs can pose a risk to young children.
While it's important to consider the basic characteristics of certain dog breeds, training is also beneficial for the new dog in your life, especially as a bonding exercise.
Because every pup has a unique personality, there's no ordered consensus on the absolute calmest dog breed of all time. But over time, dog experts have been able to pinpoint breeds that are predisposed to being calm (and even a bit sluggish), which should help you on the search for your first fur baby.
Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese mountain dog, known for its confidence and its calm demeanor, used to help farmers with various tasks many years ago. Its loyalty and need for companionship make it a great breed for new pet owners and families.
Many of the calmest dogs happen to also be some of the beefiest, like the gentle bulldog, which can weigh up to 50 pounds. The American Kennel Club (AKC) mentions that the Bulldog is known to be “a sweet and mellow pet [that] is fond of children."
This breed of spaniel is easygoing and great with everyone, including kids and other dogs. Clumber spaniels love retrieving toys and chasing after tennis balls, but they don't require intense exercise like other spaniels in the working class.
Don't be fooled by the Irish wolfhound's massive weight and stature (up to 180 pounds and three feet tall). Wolfhounds are actually very docile companions and according to the AKC, they are "characteristically patient with children." Back in 15th-century Ireland, they used to accompany their owners on elk and wolf hunts, but today they're content to lie on a rug and nap all day.
The sweet "Newfie," another strikingly large dog (typically 100 pounds or more), is known for its love of children and its ease in being trained. Newfs love swimming and long walks but don't require constant exercise. The biggest problems you'll face in owning one of these gentle giants are their year-round propensities to shed and slobber.
The Scottish deerhound, another huge dog breed, is perfect for active dog owners, especially those who run and jog as part of their daily routines. (It was bred to hunt Scotland's huge red deer, so puppies, in particular, need regular exercise.) That said, they are quiet and polite, and older deerhounds will be "hard to pry off your couch," says the AKC.
One of the few verified calmest dog breeds in the AKC's non-sporting category is the nonaggressive bichon frise, a clownish, alert cotton ball of a dog that gets along well with kids and other dogs, too. These little guys are hypoallergenic, perfect companions for city-dwellers, and easy to train.
Named for the ancient Aztec god Xolotl, the Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced Sh-Oh-Lo-Eets-Kweent-Le) breed is native to Mexico and has always been an important part of its culture. The Xolo, as it's affectionately known, has two varieties: hairless and coated. Their demeanor is calm, quiet, and alert, making them the perfect companion to a new dog owner with children—and allergies.
Border collies, one of the smartest dog breeds in the world, are easy to train and generally very healthy. Although they require loads of daily exercise (they're born to run long distances to herd sheep), they love kids and have plenty of affection to go around.
Nearly every dog breed on this list is quite large, but the great Dane really tops the charts. Because this breed is one of the biggest, if not the largest in the world, it requires frequent daily exercise. Despite their hulking size (upwards of 110 pounds), the AKC describes great Danes as "people pleasers who make friends easily" and are "patient with kids."