A Guide to the Top Family-Friendly Breeds At This Year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Jace Cook

 

A wire fox terrier may have taken the 138th Westminster Dog Show, but is it the winning breed for your own burgeoning brood? Check out this ranking of


2014’s top breeds below to find out how the finalists would fit in with your family based on kid friendliness, obedience, cleanliness, and whether they’re hypoallergenic. Because when it comes down to it, winning Westminster is less important than being the champion of not making your guests wheeze.

 

 

A+

 

STANDARD POODLES

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 1

 

Obedience: 1

 

Hypoallergenic: 1

 

Cleanliness: 1

 

•Originally bred as water retrievers, standard poodles — one of which finished as the runner-up at Westminster this year — are highly intelligent, obedient, and excellent with children(PetMD ranks the breed as one of its 10 most family-friendly).

 

•Standard poodles are “smart and gentle, and are good for children with allergies, as they do not shed as much as other breeds,” according to Cesar Millan, host of Dog Whispererand author of the best-selling book Cesar’s Way.

 

•While poodles are hypoallergenic, their hair requires regular grooming.

 

A-

 

WIRE FOX TERRIER

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 1

 

Obedience: 1

 

Hypoallergenic: 2

 

Cleanliness: 1

 

•Bred in the 1800s to keep up with hunters on horseback, wire fox terriers have won 14 “Best in Show” titles at Westminster, this year included. No other breed has won more than eight times. They are the Yankees of breeds.

 

•Active, friendly, playful, and highly trainable, they became popular family pets in the 1930s because of their prominence in the Thin Man films, which also popularized drinking too many martinis.

 

•The American Kennel Club raves, “Its sturdiness and size combined with its friendly and playful nature make it an excellent companion for children.” Winnie Stout, spokesperson for the American Fox Terrier Club, concurs: “Traditionally, fox terriers are excellent playmates.”

 

•The breed’s wire-haired coat has minimal shedding.

 

B+

 

IRISH WATER SPANIELS

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 1

 

Obedience: 1

 

Hypoallergenic: 1

 

Cleanliness: 2

 

•A dual-purpose hunting dog (upland game and waterfowl), the Irish water spaniel “goes at everything in life with gusto and enthusiasm,” according to Animal Planet, and are “generally good with children, though some can be timid” (so much for gusto).

 

•The breed needs regular exercise, is considered relatively easy to train, and thanks to its hunting has a “soft mouth”, so your morning paper will arrive undamaged, and only lightly slobbered.

 

•The Irish Water Spaniel Club of America says that not only are these dogs wonderful with families, they “have powerful endurance and bold eagerness enlivened by a clownish sense of humor.”

 

•Finding a puppy may prove a challenge. The rarest of the Westminster finalists, Irish water spaniels ranked 141 out of 177 breeds in the AKC’s registration statistics last year.

 

•The dogs’ hypoallergenic coats require regular brushing. What’s up with all this grooming!

 

B

 

PORTUGUESE WATER DOGS

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 2

 

Obedience: 1

 

Hypoallergenic: 1

 

Cleanliness: 2

 

•Web-footed seafarers, “Porties” would have disappeared last century if not for the breeding efforts of Portuguese businessman Vasco Bensuade. The breed’s popularity has surged in recent years thanks to Bo and Sunny Obama.

 

•Few working dogs are as suitable to family life. “When you think of their history with fishermen, they were a team — that’s the environment they thrive in,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson, who adds that “because they’re so intelligent and bright, aside from being active and needing that sort of stimulation, they need a lot of mental stimulation as well.”

 

•The breed is known for its “mouthiness,” a trait that can be a liability around rambunctious children. “One of the jobs the first Portuguese Water Dogs had was to retrieve things,” according to the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. This required the breed to use their mouths, much more than is typical for water dogs generally.

 

•The breed has hypoallergenic coats and sheds very little but requires regular grooming.

 

B-

 

CARDIGAN WELSH CORGIS

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 2

 

Obedience: 2

 

Hypoallergenic: 2

 

Cleanliness: 2

 

•Favored by the Queen of England, this short-legged herder’s “loyalty and delightful sense of humor make him an outstanding family pet,” according to the Westminster Kennel Club.

 

•According to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi Club of America, the Corgi mirrored the father’s role in the family structure, tending to herds during the day, then at night serving as family protector. The dogs also served as friends and companions to the children, which was also a total 1800s dad thing to do.

 

•The breed is easy to train; its fur requires regular grooming.

 

C+

 

MINIATURE PINSCHER

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 2

 

Obedience: 2

 

Hypoallergenic: 2

 

Cleanliness: 2

 

•Known as the “King of Toys,” miniature pinschers have a bossy and fearless demeanor and look like tiny Dobermans.

 

•While they’re active and agile, they also excel in smaller spaces such as apartments.

 

•In a bit of pop dog psychology, the American Kennel Club says “The ‘Min Pin’ will be happiest with a family that treats him like a standard-sized dog.”

 

• On the question of “are they good with kids”, even the Miniature Pinscher Club of Americais undecided (their response: a super-helpful “yes and no”).

 

•Their short coat needs little grooming.

 

C-

 

BLOODHOUND

 

 

 

 

Good with Kids: 3

 

Obedience: 2

 

Hypoallergenic: 3

 

Cleanliness: 3

 

•While the bloodhound proved the crowd favorite at this year’s Westminster finale, no bloodhound has ever won Best In Show (only five hounds of any kind have).

 

•Known for its stubbornness and independence, the high-maintenance breed can be difficult to train…unless trailing is involved, which will come naturally because of their legendary noses.

 

•While trustworthy around children, the breed isn’t exactly playful.

 

•They’ll consume more of your life than those children: “You don’t ‘own’ a bloodhound,” writes Sue Ruff on bloodhounds.org. “It owns you!”

 

•The breed requires regular grooming.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.poodleclubofamerica.orghttp://www.animalplanet.comhttp://www.akc.orghttp://www.petmd.comhttp://www.pwdca.org/http://news.nationalgeographic.com/http://www.cardigancorgis.comhttp://www.westminsterkennelclub.orghttp://www.minpin.orghttp://www.bloodhounds.org

 

 

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