Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

22 Worst Dog Breeds for Kids

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Little girl scared by dog

There’s nothing quite as wholesome as watching young children play with dogs. Both parties are so full of innocence and enthusiasm — it’s enough to melt the hardest of hearts.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should bring home just any dog if you have kids in the house. Some breeds are much more tolerant of youngsters than others, and you don’t want to find out the hard way that your dog isn’t a fan of children.

The list below will reveal the worst breeds for homes with kids. Before we begin, though, we should note that every dog is an individual, and some dogs that belong to “bad” breeds can be total sweethearts, and other dogs from supposedly safe breeds can be holy terrors.

Divider 1

The 22 Worst Family Dogs:

1. Chihuahuas

chihuahua lying on grass
Photo Credit: HG-Fotografie, Pixabay

These dogs are best known as accessories, as they are usually found sticking out of purses or semi-permanently attached to their owners’ laps. Their diminutive stature makes many people overlook the fact that Chihuahuas can be extremely aggressive, territorial, and prone to biting.

They’re what many experts consider a “nervous” breed, which means they can be easily provoked and snap with little to no warning. They’re not likely to do much damage when they bite, but they can certainly break the skin and give your kids a nasty scar.

2. Akitas

Photo Credit: Nikoleta Vukovic, Shutterstock

Akitas are natural-born guard dogs, and while you can tamp that down somewhat with proper training and socialization, you’ll be unlikely to completely iron it out of them. That guardian instinct, coupled with their intense devotion to their families, makes them wonderful protectors for every member of your household, including the kids.

The problem arises when your kids have friends over. If they start roughhousing, your Akita may take it as a sign that their family is in danger, and they can respond viciously.

3. Siberian Huskies

Siberian Husky
Photo Credit: BARBARA808, Pixabay

These dogs are extremely energetic and don’t always know how to play appropriately with small children. That could lead to rough play that quickly gets out of hand.

Even worse, these dogs are independent and hard to train, so you’ll have a hard time convincing them to play the way that you want them to. However, if you have older kids, then a Husky could be the rough-and-tumble playmate that they’ve always wanted.

4. Pekingese

pekingese smiling
Photo Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

Like Chihuahuas, Pekingese are small dogs with serious Napoleon complexes. They overcompensate for their small size by being overly aggressive when they feel threatened — and when you’re the size of a large baked potato, there’s much in this world that can make you feel threatened.

These dogs are possessive as well, so they could lash out at your children if they get too close to a favorite toy, their food, or even your lap. This can lead to your kid getting hurt even if they’ve done nothing to provoke the animal.

5. Chow Chow

chow chow
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Chow Chows are misunderstood creatures and have a somewhat undeserved reputation for being aggressive. The fact is, they’re not necessarily violent, but they’re completely dedicated to their families — and that leaves little room in their hearts for outsiders.

Like Akitas, Chow Chows should be safe around the kids who live in their household, but guests should be careful around them. In addition to being overly protective, they’re also dominant and stubborn, which isn’t a great combination for a dog that you’ll have around small children.

6. Pit Bulls

american pit bull terrier
Image Credit: Ivanova N, Shutterstock

You won’t find a dog anywhere as controversial as the Pit Bull. Some people claim that they’re mindless killers, while others swear that they’re kindhearted “nanny dogs” that are great with children.

The truth is that it depends largely on the dog. Many Pit Bulls are great with kids, but there are enough reports of kids getting mauled by these dogs that you’ll have to think twice before bringing one home.

7. Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar pei puppy portrait at garden_Waldemar Dabrowski_shutterstock
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

Many people look at these wrinkly dogs and assume that they’re cuddly teddy bears. That can be true but it’s not always the case. Shar-Peis were actually bred to be guard dogs, and that instinct has never quite left them.

They’re also notoriously stubborn and difficult to train, so you may never be able to completely trust them around small children. That’s not good when you have a dog that invites as much face-to-face contact as the Shar-Pei.

8. Rottweilers

Image Credit: TeamK, Pixabay

Rottweilers, like Pit Bulls, have a nasty reputation that’s not entirely earned. However, these massive dogs can still do a ton of damage if they decide to attack, and that’s not a trait you want in a dog that will be around your kids.

However, it’s important to remember that like with Pit Bulls, these dogs are extremely common and yet, attacks are fairly rare. Their ranking is more out of respect for the damage that they can inflict if they decide to turn violent than it is a reflection of their propensity to attack.

9. Shih Tzus

shih tzu
Image Credit: sylviesi, Pixabay

Shih Tzus aren’t necessarily aggressive, but they do have a knack for being in the way. They love nothing more than to dart in and out of your legs as you walk, which makes them a poor fit for households with small children or senior citizens.

In fact, many Shih Tzu breeders won’t sell their puppies to families with small kids in the house. This is one breed that can put your children in the hospital without ever laying a tooth on them.

10. Alaskan Malamutes

Alaskan Malamute standing on lawn
Image Credit: Mohan Nannapaneni, Pixabay

These dogs are like bigger, bulkier versions of Siberian Huskies, and they have many of the same shortcomings. Alaskan Malamutes have actually been linked to multiple fatal attacks, especially in Canada, but they don’t get much publicity because the breed isn’t as well-known as other supposedly vicious breeds.

They’re also extremely energetic and difficult to train, and they can be nightmares to walk. All of this adds up to a dog that shouldn’t be adopted until your kids are teenagers at least.

11. Weimaraners

Image Credit: Pexels

These gorgeous, ghost-like dogs will take your breath away — but they can also knock your kids’ wind out of them. They love to roughhouse and can easily trample a small child in the process.

These dogs don’t seem to be overly fond of children either, so they’re likely happier in an adults-only household, and your kids will probably be happier in a Weimaraner-free household, as they’re probably not big fans of being on the business end of a canine stampede.

12. Saint Bernards

st bernard
Image Credit: Grigorita Ko, Shutterstock

No dog breed has seen its reputation rise and fall due to its portrayal on the silver screen quite like the St. Bernard. Is it the vicious beast depicted in “Cujo” or the lovable babysitter from “Beethoven”? These sweet dogs tend to be more like the animal in the latter movie, but that doesn’t make them safe around kids.

St. Bernards are absolutely massive, often tipping the scales at over 180 pounds. They’re also fairly dumb, and they can easily trample, crush, or squash a small child quite by accident.

13. English Toy Spaniels

English Toy Spaniel
Image Credit: Mark_KA, Shutterstock

English Toy Spaniels are the classic live-and-let-live dog. As long as your kids don’t do anything that this dog doesn’t like, then everything should be smooth sailing in your household. However, these dogs never let bad deeds go unpunished, so as soon as your kids mistreat them, the dog will respond aggressively.

That’s especially troublesome because these tiny dogs resemble stuffed animals. You’ll have a hard time convincing a child to leave the dog alone — and an even harder time convincing the dog to let the kid off the hook.

14. Dalmatians

Image Credit: Freepics4you, Pixabay

As with some of the other breeds on this list, Dalmatians have a reputation that was largely given to them by Hollywood. However, they’re not quite as sweet and cuddly as the movie “101 Dalmatians” would have you believe.

These dogs have a great deal of energy and can be high-strung if they don’t get enough exercise. All that pent-up energy can then be taken out on your kids, either in the form of rough play or aggressiveness.

15. Dachshunds

Image Credit: ArtTower, Pixabay

This dog’s wiener-like appearance often makes it the target of ridicule rather than fear. However, Dachshunds can be quite aggressive at times — much more than other “vicious” breeds like Rottweilers and Pit Bulls, in fact.

That’s not surprising, given that these dogs were originally bred to chase badgers out of their holes. You have to have a mean streak for that kind of work, but that’s not a temperament you want around small children.

16. Jack Russell Terriers

jack russell terrier outdoor
Image Credit: Annabel_P, Pixabay

When most people think of Jack Russell Terriers, they think of adorable pooches like Eddie from “Frasier” or Wishbone from the PBS series. While these dogs are certainly fun to look at, they can be unbelievably aggressive and have actually caused multiple fatalities over the years.

Sleeping infants are particularly likely to be this breed’s victims, as their small stature makes them resemble the prey that Jack Russells were bred to attack. Also, a baby’s vocalization patterns sound like animals in pain — perfect prey for a hunter like this.

17. Cocker Spaniels

Cocker Spaniel
Image Credit: Ilona Krijgsman, Pixabay

Whenever you learn that a dog breed is known for something called “rage syndrome,” you know that you have a massive red flag on your hands. Rage syndrome in Cocker Spaniels looks like a vicious, unprovoked display of aggression; it’s often caused when the animal is startled or frightened.

It’s not terribly common, but there’s always the possibility that it could pop up at an inopportune time. It’s thought to be genetic and there are treatment options available. However, once you’ve seen a dog fly into a rage for no reason, it’s hard to convince yourself to trust them around your kids ever again.

18. Australian Shepherds

australian shepherds
Image Credit: Eve Photography, Shutterstock

There’s an issue you may run into with any working dog, and Australian Shepherds are extremely prone to it: herding. They may try to corral your children, especially if they’re running wild in the backyard. While this behavior may be well-intentioned, it can end with your kid getting hurt.

For one thing, Aussies have no problem using their bodies to move you around, so they can easily trip or knock over a child in motion. They’ve also been known to nip when their efforts are being ignored.

19. Basenjis

Basenji outdoor
Image Credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock

Basenjis are ancient Egyptian dogs that are extremely athletic and playful. As such, they make great companions for older kids, but smaller children won’t be able to keep up and are likely to get bowled over in the process.

Also, these dogs rarely make any noise, which is great if you live in an apartment. However, the lack of warning signs means you may never get advance notice if they decide to lash out, so you won’t be able to take any steps to prevent it from happening.

20. Doberman Pinschers

Doberman Pinscher
Image Credit: patstatic, Pixabay

The Doberman Pinscher used to be what the Pit Bull is today: a near-mythical beast that was to be feared rather than owned. However, that reputation (which wasn’t really deserved in the first place) has fallen off them in recent years.

They still aren’t great pets for homes with children, though, as they only have one gear: full-speed ahead. These dogs will tear around your yard like missiles with faulty guidance systems, and they won’t hit the brakes just because your toddler got in the way.

21. Cane Corsos

Cane Corso
Image Credit: agutti, Pixabay

The Cane Corso is one of the biggest, strongest dogs on the planet, and many people like to own them because of the power they project. However, they can sometimes have aggressive streaks, and that’s not something you want in a dog this size.

Many of these dogs are sweet and loving, but the problem is that if your Cane Corso decides to attack, there will be little you can do to stop them.

22. Tosa Inus

Tosa inu male dog closeup_acceptphoto_shutterstock
Image Credit: acceptphoto, Shutterstock

The Tosa Inu, or Japanese Mastiff, has such a nasty reputation for aggression that it’s actually banned in 14 countries, including the United Kingdom. Originally bred for dogfighting, these massive, 200-pound animals are extremely difficult to control if they decide to turn vicious.

That’s not to say that these are bad dogs, but they should only be kept by experienced owners who are confident in their training skills. Even then, it’s best if there aren’t any small kids in the house. This is one of the worst dogs for babies.

Divider 3

Worst Dog Breeds for Kids: Final Thoughts

So what is the worst dog breed for kids? While the breeds on this list aren’t the best choices for houses with small children, that doesn’t mean that any dog that’s not listed here will be safe. The fact of the matter is that you should never leave your kids unattended around a dog, no matter how sweet or reliable you think that the animal may be.

Also, while it’s important to train and socialize your dog, it’s equally important to teach kids how to behave around them. The vast majority of bites and attacks could have been prevented, so instructing your children on the proper way to treat a dog will go a long way toward keeping them safe — and keeping your dog’s breed off a list like this.

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Angelov, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database