Choosing the right family dog is an important decision. On the one hand you may want security with a guard dog type and then if you have children you'll want peace of mind that they will be safe if playing with the dog. First of all whichever breed you have or choose please remember that leaving a young child alone with any type of dog is not advisable. Not only do you have to take into account that the dog, however placid, could turn aggressive, there is also the worry that your child could provoke and annoy him enough that he then attacks.
Of course you probably look at your child as a complete angel, but there is always going to be something they haven't tried yet. Pulling the dogs ears, feeding it crayons, trying to see if he likes hanging by his tail, the list could go on. Naturally children want to explore and learn so teaching them animal care and pet responsibility from a young age is a great idea. Over time your dog will begin to see your child as part of the family if he is on the receiving end of care and attention like being watered and fed. Don't expect your dog to tolerate having their sleep or bone chewing time interrupted by anyone. It is your responsibility to teach your child these things.
Personally I wouldn't have a small dog around children as they can be quite snappy and a child may be tempted to pick them up and play with them as they're a manageable size.
I'm a big believer in rehoming rescue animals, but this could pose a problem if your dog has been through an abusive past. However docile and calm they may seem, if they're poked by your child with their latest toy you never know how they will react. That's not to say rescue animals shouldn't be in the company of children, just that you should supervise and be aware of these factors at all times. So let's look at the different breeds of dogs and what their traits and characteristics are towards children.
Golden Retrievers and Labradors.
Both of these breeds have similar temperaments, loyal, protective and kind. The Retriever tends to be a bit smaller than the Labrador, other than that they both love to play and are usually calm by nature. They also love affection which is good for children who want to cuddle their dog. Labradors are more likely to be a bit more aggressive towards other dogs where as Golden Retrievers aim to get along with everyone. Labradors have shorter hair so are easier to groom but are more likely to get overweight as they get older. They will be patient with children which is good for when your child is learning about their grooming routine. Both love exercise which is great for kids and families.
Nicknamed "natures nanny" this dog breed has a huge reputation of being very loving towards children and is also extremely protective. They're big enough to withstand rough and tumble playtime and docile enough not to get too bothered when your kids get out of hand. These gentle giants are also excellent guard dogs and usually get on with other animals too. They do need a lot of exercise and combing and also drool a lot so be prepared.
Maybe not the most energetic of dogs, but definitely one of the most affectionate. They have a strong tendency towards protection of anything that is smaller than them. If you tell your kids off you might find that you're in the doghouse for a while as they will feel you're attacking something more vulnerable than them. They are very sensitive so don't let their easy going nature fool you, if you're upset they'll come to comfort you. They're at their most content when they're owner and family is happy. Not top of the list when it comes to guard dog behaviour though.
They're big softies when it comes to children. They are very patient with little ones and will tolerate kids wanting to play with them. They tend to forget their size and will most likely try to get comfortable sitting on your lap. They love to exercise (and need it) which is good for kids and are another breed that is very protective of their families and home. Sadly their lifespan is usually under ten years, so bear in mind how that may affect your family as well.
Full of energy and fun this breed is perfect for a young family. They love cuddles and are extremely affectionate. Being a sturdy dog they can handle rough housing at playtime but like any animal they won't tolerate children poking or hurting them. Beagles are social animals by nature they won't be loyal to just one member of the household but will enjoy time with all the family members.
Obviously every dog is different and a lot has to do with how the dog has been socialised from being a puppy. So always do your homework and check the history of any animal before you bring it into your home. One last note as mentioned earlier, train your children too, they need to respect the animal member of the family and not treat them as a toy to throw around.