Whether you get your dog from a shelter or a breeder, whether he's purebred or an "All American," you need to understand his heritage to make an intelligent decision about whether he will work in your household. As with any breed or mixture of breeds, seek out the guidance of those with experience.
¢ Large-breed dogs. Many breeders of these dogs, from Rottweilers to Ridgebacks, do not place puppies or adolescents in homes with children under 5, or sometimes even 7. Young dogs can be boisterous, and during their FRAPs - Frenetic Rapid Activity Periods - they can scatter preschoolers like bowling pins. This has nothing to do with the dog's temperament but rather its youthful energy and underestimation of a young human's ballast.
¢ Terriers. Traditionally used as ratters and vermin catchers, many of these dogs have small frames but very sturdy bodies - the better to go underground to battle their quarry. That natural feistiness is also what makes many breeders and rescuers reluctant to place dogs in households with very young children; a terrier's finite patience may wear thin after the umpteenth nose bonk.
¢ Toy dogs. Size matters with these guys: Clumsy handling by a toddler who doesn't know better - or an older child who does - can lead to serious injury. Some toy breeds are sturdier than others - a pug or Shih Tzu, for example, might be a better choice than a papillon or Yorkie. Owing to their hardy spaniel heritage, cavalier King Charles spaniels also can be a good option for older, well-mannered children.