There is often a recurring notion that large breed dogs and children don't mix. However, it’s a broad statement to imply that large dogs are unsafe around kids. It really comes down to the specific breed and the training the canine receives.

Now, it’s true that there are certainly breeds that inherently pose some risk to children, such as the pit bull terrier and Doberman pinscher. This doesn’t mean, though, that all large breeds should be lumped into this category. There are actually quite a few that are quite affectionate and generally safe around minors and tots.

The following represents the 12 best big dogs for kids. These species are beloved for their gentle temperament, mild mannerisms, and easy ability to train.

1. Collie

Collie family dog Collies are a popular breed thanks to Lassie. They were originally bred as herding dogs, though there is no need to worry that they will herd young children.  

Collies are gentle mannered and also quite active, so do be sure to give them a large yard where they can receive plenty of exercise. If you exercise outside, take the canine with you for some owner/dog time.

2. Great Dane

Great Dane kids On the surface, Great Danes may appear to be a risk for young children due to their imposing size.

In fact, they are the largest canine breed in existence.

Luckily, they are not the aggressive type. In fact, they are quite docile and content most of the time just by curling up next to their owner. For this reason, they are suitable for apartments and homes that lack a yard.

Be aware, however, that Great Danes crave constant attention from their owner, and neglect can lead to unsociable behavior.

For the most part, they are great with kids, though they may accidently knock a child down from time to time when they place their front paws on a child’s tiny shoulders.

3. Bernese Mountain Dogs

bernese mountain dog kids This is one of the most affectionate dog breeds that are really laid back in the presence of children. Due to their immense loyalty to their owners, they can be untrusting and standoffish towards strangers.

To strengthen the bond between your child and a Bernese mountain dog, have your child interact with it on a regular basis. Daily grooming is a good activity that is simple and creates deep bonding time.

4. Labradoodles

labradoodle kids

As you can probably figure out from its name, the labradoodle is a mixed hybrid between a Labrador,  Retriever and Poodle. The end result is one of the best big dogs for kids due to its mild mannerisms.

Labradoodles, in fact, are so friendly that they are frequently employed as therapy dogs at children’s hospitals. The fact that they have non-shedding coats also makes them fairly easy to maintain in the grooming department.

5. Golden Retrievers

Labrador children

The Golden Retriever is a hunter’s best companion. This breed is generally laid back and is hardly a menace even when it comes to strangers. Due to their genetic makeup as a hunter and retriever, they are naturally athletic and do require a lot of physical activity.

If bored, they can act out much like a child, so invest at least 20 minutes twice a day for outdoor exercise like running or fetching.

Have your children tag along so they learn a thing or two about pet responsibility while developing a stronger bond with your Retriever.

6. Newfoundlands

Newfoundland families

The Newfoundland dog originated in the country of the same name. This breed is so large that it has at times been mistaken for a bear. Even with their stocky stature, they are a gentle giant in every sense of the term. While they are one of the best big dogs for kids, they do require daily exercise. However, do be careful to incorporate physical activity on a gradual basis especially if the dog is still a puppy. They can grow enormously in a relatively short amount of time, and too much physical exertion can compromise their bone structure and density as they mature.

7. Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenee's family dog The Great Pyrenees is gentle and affectionate while at the same time overprotective of the household. They were originally bred as guard dogs and would protect their owner’s flock of sheep from foxes and other predators. They also tend to be gentle with children residing in the household. As far as maintenance goes, daily grooming is required, which you can have your kids do to develop a strong bond.

8. Mastiffs

Mastiff family dog The Mastiff is often regarded as the second largest dog breed next to the Great Dane. While not as tall, they are certainly thicker than the Dane. They can be wary of strangers, which makes them excellent guard dogs. However, they are surprisingly affectionate when around children they recognize.

Also keep in mind that while mastiffs can grow to a massive stature, they are also prone to unnecessary weight gain, which can place undue stress to their joints. Ensure that they get enough exercise; about 30 minutes a day of running or fetching should be adequate.

9. Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound kids As you can guess from its name, this breed originated out of Ireland and was used to track and hunt wolves. Even with this reputation, they are among the best large dogs for kids due to their calm temperament around the little ones and other pets.

They can be quite active, so it’s recommended that you have a spacious yard where they can roam freely and get in sufficient exercise on their own.

Do keep in mind, however, that the Irish Wolfhound has a very short lifespan, usually only about 6 to 8 years. Be sure that your children are aware that their canine companion will only be with the family for a few years.

10. Leonberger

Leonberger family dog

This is one massive canine breed that can grow up to 170 pounds. They are, however, among the affectionate dog breeds, and even the adults can have a puppy like disposition.

Proper training and socialization is required with a Leonberger; otherwise, they will act out, such as by scratching furniture or digging holes in the yard.

However, they are naturally loyal and eager to please their owners and will usually comply during training or attendance at an obedience class.

11. Saint Bernards

saint bernard family dog The dog from the Beethoven movies was a Saint Bernard. Despite their hulking size, they tend to be quite docile and are not destructive as portrayed in the movies. Saint Bernards don’t require a whole lot of exercise, and a brisk walk around the neighborhood will usually do. The breed, however, is notorious for slobbering, so do expect to get some dog drool on your face and clothing from time to time.

12. Poodles

Poodle family dog

While medium and toy-sized Poodles tend to be more common, they are also available in large breeds. Poodles are hardly ever aggressive but do crave for constant attention. Their penchant for pleasing their masters also makes them fairly easy to train.

They don’t require intense exercise or even a large yard, though you should take them out for regular walks and occasional playtime in the park.


The best big dogs for kids are known for their easy-going nature, hence the reason they are recommended for households with children.

However, keep in mind that while these breeds may be inherently less dangerous, every dog is still an individual, and factors like poor socialization can elevate the risks of a dog exhibiting aggression towards children or its owner.

Just because affectionate dog breeds are known to be gentle does not mean you should eschew the importance of training and conditioning.

Kids are Healthier with a Dog!

Obesity among children aged 6 to 11 has more than tripled in the past 30 years in the US. While 6 out of a hundred children between 6 and 11 qualified as obese back in the 80s, today 20 out of a hundred do.

According to ScienceDaily, children, whose families own dogs are more active than those without. Children from dog-owning families have higher levels of physical activity compared to children without."

Dog owners spend 11 minutes more doing physical activity, 11 minutes less doing sedentary activities and took 360 more steps a day than others.

In our experience a dog in the family is not only likely to make the children more healthy, but it will also help the development of their personality and increase the chances of having a balanced emotional life.

And now let's check out some super cute big dog-small kid friendships:

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