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My fiancé and I are looking to get our first dog together, and are trying to decide the what breed to go for. As we're going to start a family in the next few years the most important thing is that they're good with young children. Our house is quite small so we want a small - medium sized dog.

We both like spaniels so maybe a spaniel or spaniel cross. We were thinking of a cockapoo but heard they can be snappy because of the poodle in them, is this true? Or maybe a springer or sprocker... are they good with children?
 

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I acquired a Springer in 1996. I can't say enough good things about Chadwick. He was smart and playful with everyone, including children and my horses. Springers seem to never grow up. He was as much a puppy when he was eight y/o as he ever was. Loved that dog. Springers have my vote. Good luck with your choice.....Tom
 

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I've had a lot of spaniels through fostering and owning some. The ones that get my vote, depending on lifestyle, are Springer Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. If I had to pick one to have with small kids, I'd pick Cocker. But maybe that's because I grew up with them. I found them to be a lot calmer than any of the others I've owned. My absolute favourite Spaniel variety is the Irish Water Spaniel. They are amazing dogs for an active family. However they are very bouncy and are large dogs. I generally don't recommend them for little kids because they could knock them over or just be too much for the child to handle. If your kids aren't use to dogs and you are going the Spaniel route, Cocker or King Charles get my vote.

If you are looking for specific qualities, I'd recommend going with a purebred dog. Mixed breeds, while great and also great pets, can be more unpredictable. Cockapoo's and the like aren't breeds and there is no real standard.
 
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I have met some seriously messed up cockers and springers, but I have never met or even heard of a bad-tempered cavalier king charles.
 

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You will find good and bad experiences and representatives of any breed. Spaniels in general tend to be happy go lucky, friendly dogs. What will be more important than the breed you pick, since you can still find a lot of variation within breeds/bloodlines, is that you find a good breeder who's goal is producing healthy dogs with good temperaments.

Here is some info on responsible breeders--be sure to check out the links within them! http://www.dogforum.com/new-additions/bybs-puppymills-petstores-reputable-breeders-88226/
http://www.dogforum.com/new-additions/note-about-reputable-breeders-pet-population-88242/

Also, get familiar with the health tests that each breed requires and other health issues prevalent within the breeds. A good starting place for that info is the national/parent breed club's website, so google something like "Cocker national club." Dealing with health issues can be heartbreaking and costly--not something that goes well with young children.

If you are open to adopting an adult dog, one of the best advantages to it is that for the most part "what you see is what you get." ie you will know what his end result temperament is, whether he's good with kids, if he has any major health issues, etc. So checking out rescues (foster-based often really get to know the dogs and tend to get more training) and shelters (likely to see a more stressed dog in the kennel but if you take one out, you'll get a better idea of the potential--and hey, if a dog can handle a shelter just fine, then you've got a pretty solid dog IMO) is another good option for you. The biggest downside (IMO) is now having the health testing history of the parents--which is likely to be no health testing because if they made it into the shelter, chances are slim it was a responsible breeder to begin with.... But like I said, at least you know for the most part what you'll be getting. Plus, no busy, often stressful, puppy stage to go through. ;)
 
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