Perhaps some of your fondest memories growing up included precious moments with the family dog. He was BFF. He was your companion through it all, from playing to comforting you when you were sad. It’s no wonder then that you’d want your children to have the same experience and joy. If you’ve already started researching pets for your kids, you’ve probably figured out that they are not all the same.
Some pets are more affectionate and tolerant of kids. Others, such as the Chow Chow, are not as child-friendly. Many differences are the result of selective breeding and a particular pet’s background. Companion animals often make excellent choices in households with little ones. Likewise, herding dogs are well-known for making the kids their responsibility.
Our roundup includes a wide variety of animals, from small to giant. You’ll see some familiar faces and some new ones, too. Grab a cup of joe, and get ready to find your next family pet.
The 22 Best Pets for Kids
1. Bernese Mountain Dog
One look at the face of a Bernese Mountain Dog, and you know that you’ve stumbled upon a special pup. He’s a good size pooch that can top 100 pounds. As big as he is, he is incredibly gentle and easy to train. His history included a variety of jobs, from guardian to cattle drover. He still has that hard-working attitude that will make him an excellent playmate for the kids.
The Newfoundland is a sweetheart of a dog. He’s a very friendly pup, even with strangers. If your kids like to swim, your Newfie is sure to join them in the water. He’s quite playful with enough energy to keep up with the playtime. He’s also a devoted companion. One of his ancestors even traversed the country on the Lewis and Clark expedition.
3. Maine Coon Cat
The Maine Coon is a monster of a cat, weighing in at over 12 pounds. That with her muscular body will make her a good companion for children of all ages. She’s a sweetie that will shower her love on the entire family. She’s also quite vocal, always has to get a word in edgewise. This cat will do well outdoors and keep up with the kids.
The ferret is a pet you can’t help but love. His big brown eyes and sweet face are sure to please. This guy is small but sturdy. The kids will have a willing playmate with this pet in your home. While he’s enthusiastic about the play, he also has a calm side to him that the parents will appreciate. He’s quiet and easy to care for, which is another reason to welcome him into your family.
5. Netherland Dwarf Bunny
One of the standout traits of the Netherland dwarf is his compact size. He’ll make a delightful addition to your household, whether you live in the country or city. Your kids will find that he is an outgoing pet and an enthusiastic playmate. This guy knows how to have fun. The Netherland dwarf is also intelligent and easy to train. He’ll learn new tricks quickly, making him the hit of the neighborhood.
The hamster is an excellent choice for a first-time pet for kids. They are small and easy to care for with the right cage and supplies. These rodents respond well to regular handling. Your children will love watching him stuff his cheek pouches with food. Hamsters are entertaining and so darn cute, too. They are nocturnal, so you may want to put him in a different place than the bedroom.
7. Ragdoll Cat
The Ragdoll is about the most adorable cat you’ll ever see. She gets her name from her calm disposition. She’s an easygoing feline that will enjoy watching the world go by her when she’s not playing with the kids. This breed gets up to 12 pounds or more. She has the body size to stand up to handling. This feline is quite adaptable, too. She’ll fit in well with the family routine.
8. Guinea Pig
The guinea pig is an excellent choice for kids who want a pet larger than a hamster. This guy loves to play and will make a fun companion for the children. He’s a hardy pet that can live up to 8 years old with the proper care. This cavy prefers a routine, which is a boon for parents who want to teach their kids responsibility.
The parakeet is probably one of the friendliest birds you’ll ever meet. He has a happy-go-lucky personality and an outgoing nature that makes him an ideal companion for your children. He’s playful and enthusiastic, too, even if he’s a chatty one. This guy is to care for, too. Your children can even teach him to enjoy being handled, especially if treats are involved.
If you want a pet with boundless energy, look no further than the cockatiel. He is an interesting bird with an equally playful nature. He can learn tricks to entertain the entire family. He’s a vocal pet that will whistle and chatter. He always seems like he has to say. Patient and calm children can teach him to tag a ride on their shoulders.
If you’re new to the wonderful world of cockatiels, you’ll need a great resource to help your birds thrive. We highly recommend taking a closer look at The Ultimate Guide to Cockatiels, available on Amazon.
This excellent book covers everything from the history, color mutations, and anatomy of cockatiels to expert housing, feeding, breeding, and health care tips.
11. Russian Blue Cat
The Russian Blue’s face tells you everything you need to know about the personality of this cat. She is so easygoing and patient that you’ll likely wish your kids would learn from her. She’s a very affectionate cat that will probably bond with at least one family member. This feline prefers the company of those she knows instead of strangers. She’d prefer to cuddle up on the couch with you then meet new people.
The gerbil is an active animal that is surprisingly social for a rodent of its size. He’s hardy enough to do well with the kids handling him. This guy has a lot of personality. Your kids will enjoy watching him interact with other critters because you can’t have just one. However, like the hamster, he is nocturnal and saves most of his playing for nighttime.
13. Zebra Finch
The zebra finch is an active bird that seems to move dizzyingly fast around his cage. While he’s not a pet you handle like a parakeet, he is a fascinating animal to watch. If you get a pair, you can teach your kids some valuable life lessons about raising young. These birds are quite social and do best in pairs or groups, preferably in a flight cage to get adequate exercise.
Raising a chicken is an excellent way to teach your children the ins and outs of the responsibility of owning a pet. If you get a laying hen, they’ll also learn about animal husbandry. It’ll give them a better appreciation for the food they eat. If you get a few, your child might be able to supply the neighbors with eggs, too. They are easy to raise without a lot of extra work, either.
Having a goat is an excellent bridge to owning larger livestock. Yes, it means more of a commitment on your part. They need space to roam and a friend or two, too. They are entertaining animals that will make you laugh with their antics. Goats are also social creatures. Don’t be surprised if they get quite attached to you and your children.
16. Freshwater Tropical Fish
Setting up an aquarium is an excellent way to teach your kids about science and ecology. They can learn the importance of tank maintenance to keep their fish healthy. It’s not just a matter of filling an aquarium with water and tossing in a few guppies. It’s also takes planning to determine which species get along and perhaps how to breed them, too.
Owning a horse is a rewarding experience that your children will love. Sure, it’s hard work to keep a stable clean and him well fed. However, there’s also the companionship of taking your pony on the trail. Horses are quite social animals. They will bond with their owners. In return, your child will learn respect and the commitment of raising a long-lived pet.
The chameleon, or anole, is an excellent beginner reptile. They are small and inexpensive to raise. Proper cage setup is vital for keeping them healthy—and in their cage! These animals are hardy for a reptile of their size. The downside is that they need live food, which carries its responsibilities, too. They don’t bite, which makes them a possible pet for younger kids.
19. Labrador Retriever
If we were to cast the perfect kid’s pet in a movie, the Labrador Retriever would definitely be on our shortlist. There’s a good reason why this pup is the reigning champ as AKC’s most popular breed. Everything about him says friendly. He’s got the energy and stamina to keep up with the kids. He may even wear them out, too.
20. American Shorthair Cat
The American Shorthair Cat is one of the nicest pets you’ll meet. She is affectionate and playful in a way that only kittens are. The breed is a healthy one, too, with few glaring medical issues. While not less allergenic, she only sheds moderately. She is a loving pet that will share her attention with everyone in the family. She is also easygoing and not as vocal as some breeds.
21. Greek Tortoise
If you want a quiet pet for younger children, consider bringing a Greek tortoise home. They are easy to raise as long as you set up his cage correctly. Like other reptiles, he needs daily sunlight and warmer temperatures to keep him healthy. Maintenance is manageable compared to water-dwelling animals. Bear in mind that these animals can live up to 50 years.
22. Golden Retriever
Where does one begin when talking about a boy and his Golden Retriever? It’s the stuff of Norman Rockwell paintings. Not only is he kid-friendly, but he’s also tolerant of children. His happy disposition makes him even more endearing. While he’s not the best watchdog, your family will enjoy having this pup around the house. This pooch has love to share with everyone.
Final Thoughts About Kid-Friendly Pets
Kid-friendly pets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are playmates, eager to get in on the action. Others are guardians that will protect your children and even herd them back to the homestead, if necessary. If there’s one thing that ties all these animals together, it’s the life lessons that they can teach your kids about responsibility and commitment, and how to love and be happy. That makes having a pet priceless.
Featured Image Credit: Zurijeta, Shutterstock