Are Spaniels Good With Kids?

by Betty Lewis
    Spaniels tend to be affectionate dogs, happiest with their families.

    Spaniels tend to be affectionate dogs, happiest with their families.

    Stephanie Zieber/iStock/Getty Images

    The American Kennel Club, or AKC, recognizes 13 types of spaniels. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is the most popular of the bunch, followed by the English springer spaniel, cocker spaniel and English cocker spaniel. Generally, these guys are good with kids, however, remember every dog is unique and may have traits not typically associated with his breed.

    The cute little Cavalier King Charles spaniel maxes out at about 18 pounds, putting him in the AKC's toy category. Though he's a playful pup and gets along fine with children, he's no toy and may be better in a family with children old enough to respect his small size. He'll be happy to frisk with the kids, playing a game of chase or fetch, but when it's time to settle down he's apt to cuddle in a lap. A smart little fellow, he can be a bit stubborn, but like his spaniel relatives, is responsive to gentle, positive training.

    There's the cocker spaniel and the English cocker spaniel, two breeds who were split from one breed in 1946 because of their difference in looks. Though they vary in appearance -- the English version is a few pounds heavier, a couple of inches taller and sports a shorter coat -- they have similar temperaments. Historically, they've been popular family dogs because they adapt well to children. No matter which version you're talking about, you're looking at a medium-sized dog, so he fits in just about any home, but it's his personality that makes him a solid choice for the family with kids. He's up for fun and games with children, which provides good daily exercise for him, but his affectionate nature makes him a good cuddler. Don't worry if you have other dogs or cats in the family, because chances are, he'll be friendly with them too. Both types of cocker spaniels tend to be intelligent dogs who respond well to kind, consistent training.

    Unlike the cocker spaniel, the English springer spaniel is one breed, however, his looks vary quite dramatically, depending on whether he's been bred for working or show. A working English springer spaniel -- from hunting lines -- weighs between 35 and 45 pounds and is very energetic. This guy has a sharp mind as well, and thrives when he's busy and well-trained. The show English springer spaniel is a bit larger, weighing between 40 and 50 pounds, and isn't quite as active as the hunting springer, however he still needs plenty of exercise. No matter the lineage, the English springer spaniel can make a great family dog. He'll make a good playmate for children and is especially suited for the active family who wants a canine companion to take on adventures.

    The Tibetan spaniel is ranked No. 106 on the AKC's list of registered breeds. Fiercely loyal to his family, he is a small dog, weighing between 9 and 15 pounds. His diminutive size means he's not an ideal candidate for homes with young children who may get a little too rough with him. If the Boykin spaniel has a bad experience with one child, he may decide that he's not keen on any children, making him better suited for a home with kids who respect his boundaries. At 124 on the AKC's list, the Welsh springer spaniel isn't as popular as his English cousin, however, he's a great choice for the family with kids. He's affectionate and gentle, yet large enough to hold his own with rambunctious playmates. Other spaniels include the clumber, English toy, field, Irish water, American water and Sussex. If he runs true to his spaniel heritage, just about any spaniel is good with kids, though the smaller breeds may be better suited for homes with older children.

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    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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