One of the best pets for kids is a cat.

Top Tips for Choosing the Best Pets for Kids of All Ages

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Your kids have been pestering you for a pet and up until now your answer has been, “We’ll think about it.” Finding the best pets for kids can be a daunting task. In this blog post, we provide info on some of the most family-friendly dogs and cat breeds to help you make the perfect choice…

Benefits of having the best pets for your kids

Family life is busy. Even if you did the due diligence, you’re not sure you’ll have time or energy for a pet. But did you know that children growing up with pets receive companionship, stress relief and physical benefits when owning a dog or cat?

Our own research concurs. 93% of the 1,000+ NZ pet parents PD Insurance surveyed recently say it’s important for their children to grow up with a pet. 96% also said having a pet was good for mental health. We agree – pets and good mental health are often linked!

A family pet can help build your child’s self-esteem, confidence, compassion and teach them about responsibility too.

There’s no doubt it’s a big commitment, hence a decision you’ll want to get right. Some pets live for decades. So how can you be sure you’re choosing the best pet for the kids and for you? Read on…

one of the best pets for kids is a ginger pussy cat

Questions to help choose the best pets for kids

Before you decide to adopt a pet, it’s important to consider how they’d impact your current (and future) family dynamic and lifestyle. Considerations include:

  • Are you an energetic family who gets outdoors often or do you prefer quiet indoors activities?
  • How much do you travel?
  • Do you spend long periods away and should you get a pet if you work fulltime or do you WFH?
  • If your kids want a dog, how long would you leave it home alone each day?
  • How old are your children? Are they independent or need a lot of your time too?
  • Will they be able to help with the responsibilities of keeping a pet?
  • How much time do you have to commit to caring for a new family member?
  • Do you have enough indoor and outdoor space to keep the pet happy and healthy?
  • Do your kids have allergies? (find out more about hypoallergenic cat breeds)
  • How much money do you have to put towards food, equipment, accessories, pet insurance (more on this super important essential further down) and ongoing maintenance costs?

These questions give you a good basis on which to start exploring what the best pet for your fam might be. Different breeds have different exercise, food and health needs. They’re often known for having different personality traits too.

Let’s begin by looking at some of the best dog breeds for kids.

A child walking her dog on a path with tall grass in the background, about to cross over a bridge

Best dog breeds for your children and family

It’s easy to see why dogs have a reputation as being the best FBF’s (furry best friends 💗). They’re loyal pack animals who just want to feel like one of the fam. And when they do, they’ll shower you with unconditional love and affection. Naawww.

  • Dogs and babies. If you’ve just had a new baby, maybe now isn’t the best time to welcome a new dog too. Especially a high energy one. Both parents and pups need time to adjust to family life and puppies need a lot of training. Still want to go ahead? First research tips and tricks for introducing your dog to a new baby.
  • Setting up expectations between dogs and kids. While most dogs need lots of stimulation and exercise, some tend to jump up when excited. This can obviously be dangerous for babies and smaller children, as well as older people with mobility or balance issues (is Grandma always visiting?). Young kids can struggle to understand a dog’s personal space. This can confuse and annoy your pup, making it snappy. Find out how to teach dogs and kids to respect each other’s boundaries.

Up next: If you don’t have a garden or live in an apartment, one of these next dog breeds might be your family’s best pet choice…

Two girls sitting on the floor with a dog in a living room, enjoying one of the best pets for kids

Best small dogs for kids

Let’s explore some of the best small dog breeds that are great for apartment living. And in particular, breeds that are known to be some of the best pets for kids:

  • Beagles: Cute but mischievous and get bored easily, so don’t like being left alone all day. Beagles are clever but are ruled by their noses because of their keen sense of smell. They’re a great choice for busy outdoorsy fams with kids, but don’t leave that smelly soccer bag or lunch box lying around as temptation!
  • Pomeranians: These little furballs are the divas of the dog world, and we’re here for it. They’re uber cute. So cute in fact that they’re considered one of the cutest dog breeds in the world. Sure, they might demand a bit more grooming love, but who can resist those luxurious locks? Short walks, a little indoor play – that’s their jam.
  • Havanese and Cocker Spaniels: Both breeds luuuurrrve kids. A frolic in the backyard is just fine, and they’ll also cope with living in an apartment – as long as you make time for short walks and playtime. The walk to school and back (via a quick stop at the park) is perfect.
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: These easy going indoor dogs thrive on fun, companionship and love a good snuggle. They’re not fussy about where they are in the pecking order of your household either, making them great with young kids.

Don’t plan to adopt from a shelter? (if you do, read our Ultimate Dog Adoption Checklist) Before you go ahead and buy a purebred or pedigree puppy or dog, don’t be scammed by unethical dog breeders! Watch this video below to find out Dr Cath’s top tips for finding ethical dog breeders in New Zealand:

Best medium to large family friendly dogs

There are plenty of large dogs that work well with a kid-rich family. Interestingly, big dogs tend to have shorter expected lifespans than their smaller counterparts – something to keep in mind when researching and choosing.

Here are a few of the best big family dog breeds:

  • Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Collies: These popular breeds are clever, quick learning doggos. They’re fabulous for kids of all ages who love to get out and play fetch, swim, run and spend lots of quality time together. These gentle souls will need lots of structure and stimulation to thrive.
  • Spanadors (aka Labrador Retriever and Cocker Spaniel cross): Beautiful, medium sized family dogs with a shaggy Spaniel coat and a Lab’s playfulness. They’re loyal, affectionate, intelligent and hardy dogs who’ll form close bonds with you and your kids. They need a fairly energetic family and are easy to train.
  • Labradoodles: “Designer” hybrids of Labradors and Poodles. They’re affectionate and beautiful dogs, and because of their patient temperament are often used for therapy too. Easy to train, they can be lively but with a strong work ethic since they’re eager to please. One of the best family dogs ever!

While we’re talking large, find about the biggest dog in the world.

One of the best pets for kids is a fluffy dog like this brown labradoodle.

Tips for choosing the best kid friendly cat breeds

If you’ve been watching one too many cat videos online, secretly wishing that you could continue giggling at their antics at home, then you’re in the right place.

You might be worried they’ll be a bit feisty or aloof for your kids, yes? You needn’t be – there’s a best feline friend to fit every family’s ideal pet for kids.

But before you take the leap, consider keeping an indoor cat or using a cat enclosure like a catio to keep them and wildlife safe. Cats are natural hunters and they’re good at what they do! Many cats roam their neighbourhood killing wildlife if left to their own devices.

They’re also territorial, so may get into fights with other cats (racking up vet bills). If you’re keen for a cat then prep to keep it inside – especially at night and around dusk and dawn.

Best friendly cat breeds for consideration

Here are some of the friendliest cat breeds to welcome to your household:

  • Burmese: Affectionate, fun-loving kitties that are super intelligent and beautiful companions. Often dubbed ‘the dog cat’ because they’re loyal and loving like a pup. Get two of these social kitties to prevent them getting bored and into trouble.
  • Ragdolls: Hardy, affectionate and forgiving. They’re sometimes the best pets for kids because they’re known for letting themselves be carried around like dolls. Relaxed and playful, Ragdolls make for a friendly cat breed that is perfect for a fam with young kids.
  • Siamese: Talkative, loyal and attention-seeking, these kitties are a beautiful and friendly cat breed known for their dark paws, tail, nose and ears. They love to play and form quick bonds with kids and other pets, but don’t like to be left alone. If you aren’t home a lot perhaps choose another breed.
  • British Shorthair: Like Ragdolls, this friendly cat breed is tolerant and easy going, but they’re also a little cautious. So, they pair well with older children who are more patient. Once you’ve bonded though, they’re one of the best cat breeds for cuddling, making them the ideal feline friend.

Whatever you do, please remember to pop a bell or two on your cat’s collar right from the get-go. That way if it’s stalking prey the animal will hopefully be aware of its presence. You don’t want your furry feline to be responsible for killing birds and other wildlife.

Cats are gorgeous friends to families and single people (with or without kids) but their natural urge to hunt can be problematic. Be a responsible pet parent if you decide a feline is for you.

One more note on cats – Ready to Adopt a Cat, You Think? Read This First.

One of the best pets for kids is a friendly cat like this black cat lying on a bed with a human brother and sister.

Easiest pets for kids to care for

The winner of the “Easiest Pet for Your Mini-Me” award goes to…the humble goldfish. Here are a few fin-tastic reasons:

  • Swim, little fishy, swim: Goldfish require a simple aquatic setup, like a fishbowl or a small tank. Just make sure it’s roomy enough for your goldfish to explore and show off those graceful swimming skills.
  • Low maintenance: If the best pet for your kids is one that’s low maintenance, these finny pals don’t need constant attention like some pets do. They’re quite content to swim around, blowing bubbles and minding their own business.
  • Easy peasy cleaning: No need to stress about housebreaking accidents or scooping up litter. Just give your goldfish’s tank a clean once a week, and you’re good to go.
  • Fascinating fish tales: Goldfish provide endless fascination for curious young minds. Your kids can observe its unique behaviours, marvel at its beautiful colour and even give the goldfish an adorable name like “Sir Swims-a-Lot” or “Bubble Trouble”. Really and truly, it’s a mini-aquatic adventure right in your living room.

Of course, every pet comes with a few things to keep in mind. Ensure you create a safe environment for your goldfish by keeping them away from direct sunlight and temperature extremes. And remember, while goldfish may not demand much attention, they still deserve love and care. So, shower them with affection from time to time (metaphorically, of course—water and all).

More tips for creating the best pet friend for kids

Ready to bring a new family pet home? Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible by reading these helpful blog posts below:

  1. Pet Nutrition 101: Feeding Your New Puppy Right
  2. Introducing Your Kitten and Cat for the First Time
  3. Top Tips for Puppy Sleep Training
  4. How to Stop a Kitten Scratching Furniture
  5. How to Stop My Puppy from Crying

Hopefully you’re one paw closer to making the pawfect choice in getting the best pet your kids could ask for.

Two people holding a friendly Siamese cat and a family Chihuahua dog in their hands.

Pet insurance for your family’s new bestie

As a nation of pet lovers, we love love love our furry, feathery and scaley family members. To safeguard the cost of their health why not check out our affordable PD dog insurance and cat insurance plans?

Vet bills can cost an arm and a leg (but pet insurance doesn’t). Knowing you have a pet plan in place means you’ll be able to provide pets with the medical care they need when they need it most. You’ll be able to spend more time with your best pet without worries, knowing they have the protection a fur kid deserves!

Plus, when you buy your pawlicy online, PD Insurance will give you one or more months of FREE award winning pet insurance. Click below to start your quote; there’s no time like the present.

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