What is the Best Pet for a Child?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: August 31, 2017
What is the Best Pet for a Child?

A pet is not a toy, but that doesn't mean a child can't play with their pet and enjoy their company. If you are considering giving your child a pet, there are different factors you should take into account before choosing the animal in question.

The first factor is the child's age and temperament. A hyperactive child will require a different pet to a child with a calmer personality. Similarly, a child of ten can enjoy a larger range of pets that a child of four.

You will also have to assess the household economy and space and time available, as well as other logistical factors such as whether you have access to a garden or not. It is not the same to live in a rural area than in a big city. Valuing all these different factors, at AnimalWised we will advise you on what is the best pet for a child.

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  1. Before adopting a pet
  2. Siamese cats
  3. Golden Retrievers
  4. Pugs
  5. German Shepherds
  6. Maine Coon cats
  7. Labrador Retrievers
  8. Toy Poodles
  9. Greyhounds

Before adopting a pet

You can give your child many different types of pets, but we recommend playing it safe for both the animal and the child's welfare.

If the child shows a preference for small pets because they fear or do not like dogs or cats, you could consider a rodent. Among the most requested and recommended pets for children we can find guinea pigs, hamsters and mice.

If your child likes reptiles, fish or birds, we recommend waiting until they are at least 11 years old. Caring for these animals is more complex; terrariums and aquariums must be precisely regulated, taking into account issues such as temperature, pH, humidity, and other complicated parameters. Similarly, birds are too difficult to care for for a young child.

Giving a pet to a child means more than giving them a fun companion to play with; your child must learn to be responsible for their new friend and commit to their care. Keeping a pet is also a learning tool: your child will learn to provide basic care - such as food or water - to their animal. Eventually, they will be responsible for their hygiene as well.

As parents, it is our duty to teach our children to be responsible for their actions. We believe that a child who learns to care for an animal and develops a deep bond with their pet will eventually grow up to be a more empathetic and caring adult.

Teaching a child how to care for an animal is more complex than reminding them to feed it regularly. By keeping a pet, a child will learn how much force to use when playing, to monitor their pet for possible health problems, and to make themselves responsible for the animal's life and happiness. Once you adopt an animal, you cannot return it or leave it to someone else.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Before adopting a pet

Siamese cats

Among all cat breeds, children usually get along the most with Siamese cats. This beautiful cat breed has it all - they are intelligent, clean, elegant, friendly, loving, active, calm, and empathetic with children. Besides, Siamese cats are among the most affectionate cat breeds and can get along well with other pets - except for birds (and sofas).

You can find young and adult Siamese cats in shelters. They are perfect for apartments regardless of size, and they are suitable for children of all ages and temperaments. Moreover, Siamese cats are among the most long-lived breeds.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Siamese cats

Golden Retrievers

A Golden Retriever is a magnificent pet for the whole family, and especially for children: they are very intelligent, gentle, loving and patient dogs. Golden Retrievers make very good friends with young children, and they even bravely put up with the "little monsters" pulling on their hair.

Golden Retrievers are relatively large, but they can adapt to living in apartments. However, they will need regular outdoors exercise, and they'll be happier if they have access to a garden. They get along well with other pets. Here you can find out 10 things you should know about Golden Retrievers.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Golden Retrievers


If you live in a small apartment and you want a small dog that will get along with everyone, the Pug is one of the best pets for a child. They are very sedate and loving dogs that need little exercise due of their physical constitution; in fact, they're considered among the best dog breeds for beginners. Pugs are sociable, affectionate and curious, and your child will love them for sure.

However, Pugs require specific care. Because of their morphology and constitution, they should never be exposed to extreme heat or intense exercise; they can easily suffer from heat stroke, and they are also likely to develop obesity.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Pugs

German Shepherds

If you live in a farm or rural environment, the best pet for an older child is a German Shepherd. This breed is extraordinary in its intelligence, willingness to learn, obedience and affection it professes to the family that takes it in.

However, if you want a German Shepherd to fully develop its personality, you will need to provide it with regular exercise and multiple walks a day. This is why this breed is happier in the countryside; they can develop their physical and mental skills more easily there.

If you live in a city, take it for long walks while you ride a bike, for instance. German Shepherds are very sensitive; improper training and care can cause them to develop an unstable temperament. Here you can discover the common diseases of German Shepherds.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - German Shepherds

Maine Coon cats

If you are fortunate enough to have a large house or apartment with access to a garden, the best pet for your child will be a Maine Coon cat. This huge breed is very affectionate, sweet and gentle with the whole family, and especially with kids. Maine Coon cats love water, and they are good swimmers: if you have children and a swimming pool, the combination will be ideal.

The only drawback of the Maine Coon cat is that it is a big eater - although if you have a private garden and swimming pool, you probably will be able to afford feeding this cat. Maine Coon cats are lazy, and one of their most common diseases is obesity. You will have to monitor your pet's diet and take it to the vet regularly. Maine Coon cats get along well with other pets.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Maine Coon cats

Labrador Retrievers

Another of the best pets for a child is the Labrador Retriever or Lab. It is similar in temperament to the Golden Retriever, although it is more active and requires more exercise. Labrador Retrievers have short coats - although they require some brushing - that can come in different colors.

Labrador Retrievers are excellent pets for children, and they are also great service and therapy dogs.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Labrador Retrievers

Toy Poodles

The Toy Poodle is a smart and playful breed. These dogs are surprisingly smart; they can be taught many tricks and they are really affectionate, as well as able to surprise us with their peculiar sense of humor.

Toy Poodles are suitable for children over 7 years old. Small breeds are more sensitive to bumps and collisions than larger breeds, and they can easily get hurt. While a Labrador or Golden Retriever wouldn't flinch at being accidentally hit by a child, a Pug or a Toy Poodle could be injured. However, at 7 years old children are already aware of their strength and can be more careful.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Toy Poodles


Greyhounds are a highly recommended breed for families who want to choose a pet for a child. These are sociable dogs, with a calm, gentle and loving temperament. Unfortunately, greyhounds are too often used for commercial purposes, such as gambling and racing, and they are often abused. Greyhounds are relatively common in dog shelters and kennels; adopting one will mean giving them a second chance at a loving, respectful home.

We can't even begin to describe how affectionate greyhounds are; unlike other dog breeds, greyhounds are subdued and peaceful, showing their love in a calmer way. They usually get along with other pets, and they don't need much space to live as long as they get regular exercise. Greyhounds are caring and patient with children.

This breed loves sleeping; while it is one of the fastest dog breeds in the world, it is also one of the laziest. Greyhounds tend to suffer from cold, which is one of the reasons why sometimes they appear to shake and tremble.

What is the Best Pet for a Child? - Greyhounds

Now that you know what is the best pet for a child, share your experiences in the comments section!

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What is the Best Pet for a Child?