Are dogs furry kids?

I (somewhat) recently read a piece from Smithsonian Magazine that posed the following question: Are Dogs Now Just Furry Kids? I figured it would be your typical article about how people spend a lot on their dogs, dress them up, and do crazy things like blog about them.

I was wrong.

Instead, it was all science-y and stuff. Researchers have found that the human-dog bond is in some ways very similar to a parent-child bond.

Now, I’m not one who considers myself a mom to my pups (I don’t really know what word I’d use), but I thought I’d do my own non-scientific analysis as to whether dogs are simply furry children. (Being an English major, my “scientific analysis” is really just an imaginary debate I had in my own head. Just roll with it, okay?)

FOR: With both dogs and children, the cleaning of disgusting bodily substances is often required. It’s not a tidy undertaking.

FOR: Some of the bags that parents carry to dispose of diapers look suspiciously like the bags one might use to pick up after a dog. They even come in similar dispensers.

AGAINST: Children eventually grow up and learn to appreciate the value of toilet paper. Picking up dog crap is for life.

FOR: Both dogs and young children sometimes sleep in the bed with their parents.

AGAINST: It’s cool if your fourteen-year-old dog sleeps in your bed every night. It’s somewhat creepy if your fourteen-year-old son does so.

AGAINST: It’s also perfectly acceptable to let your dog sleep on the floor. Some might consider asking your daughter to make do with just a dog bed to be child abuse.

FOR: Paying for obedience or agility classes can feel like paying for preschool.

AGAINST: It’s still not expensive as college! - Having a dog is my favorite way to avoid the responsibility of having children.

One school of thought. (h/t

FOR: Both young children and dogs will try to eat things that they shouldn’t.

AGAINST: In theory, children eventually learn not to eat crayons. I’m pretty sure my dogs will still eat anything they can get their paws on.

FOR: Much like children, some dogs have wardrobes that would rival Cher’s closet from Clueless.

AGAINST: Dogs in clothes don’t have to wear bottoms. They can get away with the Winnie the Pooh/Donald Duck look.

AGAINST: My dogs (with my blessing) spend approximately 99.999999 percent of their time naked. I have to imagine that society might frown if my (currently nonexistent) children did the same, unless we moved to a nudist colony of some sort.

FOR: So much cuteness to love! Both kids and dogs can bring you joy.

AGAINST:  One is covered in fur; the other is not.

FOR: Screening dog walkers and pet sitters is a rigorous process not entirely unlike looking for a nanny or evaluating a daycare.

AGAINST: Most people will be far more interested in (and nosy about) your future reproductive plans than your future puppy plans. (I blame everyone’s obsession with that whole biological clock thing.)

Okay, there you have it. On the balance, I’m going to have to rule in favor of the crowd arguing that dogs are not simply furry kids. Dogs are so much more than that (and from what I’ve heard, kids make terrible pets.)

Dogs are dogs. Kids are kids. You can have both and enjoy each one of them for what makes them unique and special.

What do you think? Share your best arguments for and against in the comments!

(That’s right. I don’t just sit around watching old episodes of 90210 and thinking up puns of questionable quality. Sometimes I take breaks from doing those things to read articles about science-type things. I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a blanket that I wish had sleeves.)

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49 thoughts on “Are dogs furry kids?

  1. You make some insightful points here. 😉 Since I have both (kids and dogs), I’m just gonna refrain from adding to the list, since I might be biased. However, if at any time in the future, I determine that JF and Dewi are embarrassed to be seen with me, I’ll be back, singing a completely different tune.

    Also, I have a sleeved blanket for every letter in Roy G. Biv’s name (because I’m an addict). Let me know if you’d like to borrow one. 🙂
    Elizabeth K recently posted..Tacky Cardigan With Words on It: Dog Urban Legends – Hobbit Edition

  2. Haha! Love this! I know parents often get bent out of shape because of the dog/kid comparisons, but I think they’re over sensitive. I don’t counter kid stories with dog stories to suggest dogs (as a whole) are more important/valuable than kids (as a whole). Personally, my dog is more important to ME than your kid is (to ME), but I understand your kid is #1 in your eyes. I’m just trying to commiserate in a case where there’s a legimitate risk that you lose touch with some friends after they have kids. I’m trying to relate; I also have a messy living thing whose bodily fluids I have to clean up. I’m trying to empathize, not patronize! Though I had to chuckle a little bit when I first came across that study – at least now there’s some legitimate backing for that comparison.
    Jen K recently posted..Monday Mischief 19: Moses Meets a Porcupine

  3. In my book, dogs are definitely different than kids … your dog will never scream “I HATE YOU,” ask to borrow the car, or insist you’re not cool enough to meet their friends. Sometimes it seems like we humans set it up as a competition and make people who’d rather have dogs than children feel bad for their decision. I like how you approached this … there are plusses and minuses to both. And, each person should be allowed to make their own decision on which is best for them.
    Amy@GoPetFriendly recently posted..Faking Service Dog Status

  4. Winnie the Pooh/Donald Duck look — ROTFLMAO!!!

    Another difference: My dog will never say to me, “Stop talking to that kid like she’s a baby! It’s so annoying!” Dogs will take all the love you can give them; kids start throwing it back it you around age 12. 🙁 (I’m told it comes back when they grow a brain in their 20s.)
    one person’s view recently posted..The Pet Blogger Challenge – 2014 Edition

  5. You already know how I feel about this. I enjoy my dogs for what they are – fuzzy little bundles full of love. Dogs give you unconditional love & I don’t need to worry about child services showing up at my door when I leave my 9 year old (dog) home alone with only my 13 year old (dog) supervising. Another plus, there are several places I can take my dog with me for a drink (wineries & bars with patios) that I might get frowned upon if I had kids in tow 🙂

  6. Dogs are always grateful, rarely (sometimes they do) talk back, always love you no matter what, and are much easier and less work than kids. Dogs will never be human but if you don’t have kids for whatever reason, you can sure spoil your dogs as if they were kids. We are Mom’s girls and she treats us like her kids. She always wanted kids and couldn’t have any but she is totally happy having us dogs instead even though we will never be “real” kids.
    emma recently posted..Winter is a Season, Not an Excuse! | GBGV | #ScoopThatPoop

    • My fur babies are real kids to me. Couldn’t love them more. No human child ever loved you more than your fur baby. They might not be able to take care of you in your old age, but from everything I’ve seen & heard most 2 legs don’t really either. I wouldn’t trade.

  7. I think of my dogs as my fur kids, but pets are pets and kids are kids, you’re totally right. You can love them both, and some people can go way over the top in what they do for their dogs (I’m probably one of them), but ultimately, it’s totally different from having kids, at least i imagine… : )
    Tori recently posted..Fashion Dogs: Dalmatian Edition

  8. I didn’t get the “empty nest” feeling when my kids moved out but if my dog decided to move, I’d be devastated! I do find that I worry about both kids & dogs their entire lives, don’t like people who don’t like my kids/dogs and if you hurt either, I will go straight jacket crazy on you! Plus, they both like to look in the refrigerator anytime it is open to see if something magically appeared. : ) I love this post <3
    M. K. Clinton recently posted..Tuesday’s Wagging Tails

  9. I love my dogs differently than I love my kids, but that doesn’t mean I love them less. 🙂 They are my ‘babies’ but in a different way, they fill a void that was left when the children (as they should) moved out. The bond is different but it’s a deep one none-the-less.
    Jodi recently posted..The Blessing of an Ear Infection

  10. Interesting article – although I think they could have spun it a little differently. I suppose not as many folks would have read it then. I’ve read several articles about research showing how dogs are quite similar to toddlers – in terms of development and what not, but not in terms of “being a child to the human parent.”

    Anyway, love your list. I wish that dogs were *more* like having kids when it comes to vet visits/medicine. I wish you could explain to your dog “I know this medicine tastes like poop – no wait, you like poop… – I know this medicine tastes like broccoli, but it’s for your own good and it’s only temporary.” At least you can get a kid (past a certain age) to understand that. But the dog just looks at you like you’re trying to kill/punish her!

    Hmm. This post has made me realize that my sis, who claims to hate both Daffy Duck and Porky Pig because they don’t wear pants is actually probably hatin’ on them for some *other* reason. Because she likes Pooh. Going to have to get her to ‘splain.
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted..Monday Mischief: When Bed Dogs Equal Bed Hogs

    • Liked what you said but dogs are different, just like humans. My boy doesn’t eat poop, take food from strangers, or pick stuff up from the ground. I didn’t teach him those things, he was always like that. Maybe because he always watches me & won’t usually do things I don’t do + I have always talked to him since he was a baby, & he likes veggies. He shared raw cauliflower with me yesterday & enjoyed very much.

    • If only… I wish I could explain to Bella why her pills are for her own good, and that I could explain to Tavish why thunder is nothing to worry about!

      LOL about your sister!

  11. I have the same debate in my head a lot. A “for” is that it takes just as long to pack and get in the car with two dogs as it does with kids. I don’t currently have kids but helped raise my little brother (I was 17 when he was born) for the first few years so I KNOW how much work goes into getting out of the house with kids. A, “against” is that kids eventually grow up. Having a dog is like having a 3 year old drooling, pooping kid that never grows up. I have also wiped my dog’s butt when they had poopies on it – “for” 🙂
    Jessica @YouDidWhatWithYourWeiner recently posted..#DogDecoding: Why Does My Dog Bark and Lunge at Other Dogs?

  12. As the stepmom of four kids who each went through those lovely teenage years, I can honestly say that I’d trade a teenager for a puppy just about any ole day. Dogs are not emotional, they don’t bark back, and it’s pretty easy to figure out which dog did the bad need. In contrast, as I say in my book From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds in Tip #22: “A teenager can say ‘I love you, I hate you, you’re cool, you suck’ in the same breath and mean every word.” Teenagers are good at trying to hide their evil deeds, too. I’ll not forget the day my stepson returned home with the roof of his car caved in and said he had no idea how it happened. After some plying, it turns out he jumped on the roof (and said he was quite surprised to learn the roof was so wimpy). Meanwhile, my two dogs sat by the 4-pack of toilet paper they destroyed while we were gone, making it pretty easy to figure out who did what. Having said all that, I would’t trade my step kids for anything, since they’re all grown up now and I survived those teenage years four times. But there were times I would have traded them for pups. Oh, to see some very cute puppy photos, check out my web site And to read more about lots of different pets, click on the cover of my book, Something Furry Underfoot. You want to read about a house where people adapted to their pets, this is the book for you–humorous, touching, and filled with tips.

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