If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet for the family, whether it’s to teach the kids about responsibility or simply because you’ve always wanted a critter to take care of, then you think carefully about it. You’re not just choosing a pet based on your own needs, after all. You’re picking one that’s suitable for the whole family. For that reason, here we’re going to look at which pets make for the best family companions.

Hamsters

If you want a pet that’s a little more compact and easier to keep a hold of in the home, then hamsters can be a very good choice. They make for a good first pet for any children, as they are lovable and engaging, but they also don’t take a lot of work to look after.

Hamsters are very cheap compared to almost all of the other pets mentioned here, so most of the expenses are going to come in the form of their cage, necessities as you can see here, and food, but even hamster food is going to be much cheaper than feeding some of the other pets here. They’re also quite docile, so there isn’t too much of a risk of your child getting hurt by a bite or the like.

Guinea pigs

You might see this option and think something along the lines of “guinea pigs? Aren’t they just like hamsters?” It’s true that they do have a lot of the same benefits, such as not needing a lot more than a decent-sized cage, some decor for it, and necessities to exercise and so on. But there are differences between guinea pigs and hamsters, as this site shows. Guinea pigs are bigger, so they do need more space, more food, and bigger necessities in general. There are major differences between personalities, too, as they are very social animals, and typically very mild-mannered, but they also typically like and require more floor time with a larger area, so they typically shouldn’t be kept inside a cage all the time.

Dogs

The number one choice for a lot of families, there is a lot to love about dogs. If you’re looking for a companion to spend your time and affection on, then dogs can make for the most erstwhile friends you can find in the animal kingdom. Of course, some breeds of dogs, like the retrievers you can view here, are even more typically suited to family life, as they are loyal, friendly, gentle with children, and enthusiastically playful and affectionate. However, dogs also require more work than practically every pet listed here, from walks to grooming to medical needs, you have to ensure that you have room in your life for a dog before you get one. If you have a yard, consider getting a GPS dog collar fence to keep them safe.

Cats

A lot of people think that cats are very much the opposite of dogs, but the truth is that they can be caring and loving companions, too. They just happen to be much more independent in their behavior than dogs and have different preferences. Some cat breeds, like the ragdolls shown here, are really good companions for affectionate children as they tend to love all kinds of physical contact. Given that cats tend to know their boundaries very well, they can be great pets for teaching your children about the respectful treatment of animals. While they might not need walks like dogs (though you can take them for walks with cat harnesses), cats do require a lot of stimulation in the form of toys and the like.

Birds

When it comes to birds, people typically choose the parakeet or parrot family of species to welcome into their homes due to their relative intelligence and friendliness. Birds can be excellent pets and can provide a lot of companionship for your children, but they require a lot of responsibility to care for. They have needs aside from eating and sitting in their cage and they will be loud about, for instance, needing some time outside of the cage. One particularly unique feature of birds is that they can choose one member of the family to bond with particular and may love spending time around them, so birds tend to be better picks for small families, where a lot of children aren’t going to feel left out if the bird doesn’t show them quite as much attention and affection.

Fish 

If you want the ultimate no-hassle pet, then there is no easier option to care for than a fish. They still require care, from feeding to the maintenance of their tank and providing a good environment for them. However, fish don’t interact with humans in the same way as any of the animals above, nor do they require a lot of space outside of their tank or for your to pet-proof your home. As such, a lot of parents choose fish as a means of teaching their children about caring for animals and, although it might sound a little morbid, about the nature of death.

Lizards

Another animal that’s relatively easy to look after, lizards might seem like an odd pick at first, since they are not quite as cuddly as some of the others here. However, they can still be affectionate and playful creatures, enjoying human contact and being engaging in interaction. They can also be quite expressive creatures. Although they don’t display as much emotion as mammals, the personality of a lizard will still definitely come out in the course of taking care of them. What’s more, like fish, they require a tank but not a lot of space around it, although people and lizards alike enjoy taking them out of their tank and letting them climb around with close supervision. If you get a lizard, however, you do have to get used to handling bugs, like chilled dead crickets, to feed them.


Which pet is best for you depends on what kind of care and how much time you are willing to put into looking after them. They all come with their own demands and you shouldn’t ensure that you’re able to meet them before you even think about buying any.