The age-old question, “What are the best dogs for kids?” deserves to be answered in a complete way that doesn’t rely on calling out some breeds as no-no’s or claiming that a particular breed is the perfect choice. It requires a nuanced response that discusses what really matters and what doesn’t matter nearly as much. What really matters: the individual dog you bring into your home. What doesn’t matter quite as much as many think: the dog’s breed.

In my work as a canine behaviorist, I specialize in aggression, and have met thousands of aggressive dogs. Name any breed of dog and I have met an aggressive member of that breed. (I’ve also known sweet and sociable members of every breed I’ve met.) I only bring up my experience to disabuse anyone of the notion that choosing a dog because of its breed is a guarantee that you’ll end up with the dog you envision. It’s far…

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