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Mutts or Blends
In the animal welfare movement, some advocates are replacing the word "mutt" with "blends" or "mixed breeds." "All come with positives and negatives," says Diana M. Knight, VMD, at South Orange Animal Hospital in South Orange, New Jersey. "And many people believe that mutts are hardier because of their lower incidence of genetic disease. What it comes down to when finding the perfect pet for your family is your lifestyle."
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Golden retrievers are laid back and tolerant of tail and ear pulling by small children. "As with any dog, children should be supervised by an adult," says Dr. Knight. "These dogs need active families. Otherwise, they will get into mischief."
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Before you start looking for a specific breed, think about your family's lifestyle. Are you active or is an evening sitting on the couch watching a movie more your speed? Boxers are quite active, friendly, and good with kids.
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"I've seen many Doberman pinschers in my practice that are loyal and incredibly protective of kids," says Dr. Knight. "They aren't as friendly with outsiders, though. They also require exercise."
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Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers
These extremely playful and energetic dogs are wonderful companions for active families. Many of these dogs remain energetic throughout their entire lives. They also get along well with other dogs and are completely devoted to their owners.
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Standard poodles (those are the larger ones) and the miniatures (medium size) are quite intelligent and are eager to please. Despite their elegant looks, they make great watchdogs. Plus, they have hair, not fur, which makes them appropriate for families dealing with allergies.
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Portuguese Water Dogs
This breed became popular after President Obama received one for his family. These fun-loving dogs are great with children, and because they have hair, not fur, they are great dogs for people with allergies. Portuguese water dogs are quite affectionate and active. They need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation.
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Also known as shelties, these herding dogs are smart and easy to train. They love being a part of a family, "and while they are great dogs, they need to have tasks to occupy their minds and tire them out," says Dr. Knight. "They also like to be heard, so they tend to bark."
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Often called "gentle giants," Great Danes are good dogs for children. Because of their size, Great Danes need to be exercised — but after that, many of these dogs enjoy sitting next to you on the sofa.
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These small, sturdy dogs are well mannered and good around children. The caveat here is that they need a fair amount of mental and physical exercise. Like most intelligent dogs, Boston terriers can get into trouble if left alone. However, with plenty of attention and exercise, they are extremely playful and loyal.
Michele C. Hollow writes the family-friendly pet blog "Pet News and Views."
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