What’s the best family dog breed? There are a lot of breeds that come to mind when you consider what makes a good family dog. Some, like the Labrador and Golden Retriever breeds, are well-known choices for families with children. But there are plenty of other breeds to consider too.
Sometimes your choice can depend on the specifics of your family and living situation. Do you have young children or older children? How much time and attention can everyone in the home give to a new dog, especially if it’s a puppy? Do you have a large yard, a small yard, or no yard at all?
These and other questions can factor into your decision-making process when choosing a family dog. We’ll help you narrow down the options, and maybe even introduce you to a few lesser-known dog breeds, so you can make the best choice for your family.
The 15 Best Dog Breeds for Kids:
1. Golden Retriever
What list of best dogs for kids and families would be complete without the lovable Golden Retriever? The Golden is known for being exceptionally good with children of all ages. The breed can be a gentle companion for very small kids and an enthusiastic playmate for active older children too.
It’s hard to find a downside to adding a Golden Retriever to your family, but experienced Golden owners will tell you that this breed does shed heavily, and all that thick, soft fur requires a good amount of grooming.
During seasonal shedding times, you can expect to brush your dog’s coat every day. If you prefer a dog with a low-maintenance coat, the Golden, as sweet as it is, may not be the best choice for you.
It doesn’t get more low maintenance than the Vizsla’s sleek, short coat. If you’re looking for an affectionate and energetic dog that’s good with children of all ages, consider the Vizsla. Originally a Hungarian hunting dog, the Vizsla has become known as a good family dog.
Vizslas love their human family members and become very attached to them. The breed is known for being good with young children, and its high energy level makes it a good choice for active adults and older children.
The Vizsla’s strong attachment to family means that your dog will want to be with you and will not do well if left alone for long periods. If your family activities include your dog, the Vizsla may be an excellent choice.
Can smaller dogs be good for children and families? While some pint-sized breeds might not be ideal for families with small children, the small but mighty Pug makes an excellent family dog, especially if you don’t have the space for a larger breed.
The Pug is an affectionate and fun-loving dog. They are happy to cuddle and snuggle with all family members but are always up for playtime too. They are small but sturdy, which can make them a good choice for small living spaces and young children.
The Pug’s cute, smushed face is part of its appeal, but potential owners should be aware that it is a brachycephalic dog breed, which means that it can be prone to breathing problems, especially in hot weather or after a lot of activity. You’ll also need to keep an eye on your Pug’s food intake and weight to avoid obesity.
4. Irish Setter
Prefer your family dog on the larger size? The beautiful Irish Setter could be the perfect dog for you. Irish Setters were originally bred as hunting dogs, but their elegant looks won them loads of admirers and they soon became sought-after companion animals.
Irish Setters are known for their happy and enthusiastic temperaments. They are energetic and make a good choice for active adults and older children. Their size and rambunctiousness might be a little overwhelming for younger children, though.
This breed is also a better fit for larger homes and yards because of its size and energy level. A full-grown male Irish Setter can stand 27 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 70 pounds!
5. Labrador Retriever
Yes, it’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite family dog, the lovable Labrador Retriever. The Lab has been the most popular dog breed in the US for years. Labradors are famously friendly, affectionate, and social. They make excellent companions for family members of all ages, from young kids to seniors.
Labs tend to be playful and energetic, and so very young children should be supervised when interacting with them. Although the breed is sweet-natured, its large, sturdy build and high energy level can be a lot for a small child not used to being around dogs.
Be sure to include your Lab in all your outdoor family activities as they require a lot of interactive exercises and play. They are very easy to train and can benefit from organized canine activities like agility training to keep them happy.
Although originally bred as a pack hunting dog, the Beagle has long been a favorite dog breed for families with children. The Beagle is known for its cheerful, energetic, and intelligent nature. They can be a good choice for families with children and other dogs.
Beagles have high energy levels and require a lot of daily activity. They also like to interact with people or other dogs, which makes them good for households with enough playmates (human or canine) to go around.
Older children can be a better fit for Beagles than younger kids and should feel comfortable supervising their Beagle when outdoors. They have been known to dig under fences and escape when in the yard and must be walked on a leash as some can have a strong prey drive and take off running.
7. French Bulldog
The French Bulldog, or “Frenchie” as it is often called, was bred to be a loving and playful companion animal. It’s a popular breed that combines cute looks with an impish personality, making it a good match for families with kids.
The Frenchie’s compact size makes it a good choice for small homes and yards. Although small, it’s a sturdy dog that is not too delicate for enthusiastic play sessions with children of all ages.
New owners should be aware that, like the Pug, the French Bulldog is a brachycephalic breed that can suffer from breathing problems, so care should be taken during hot weather and with exercise.
Not all dog breeds that are good with children are child-sized. Some of the biggest dogs can be exceptionally patient and gentle with children, such as the furry Newfoundland. The Newfoundland, or “Newfie,” is a giant breed that’s known for its sweet temperament and love of children.
An adult Newfoundland, although gentle, can be 28 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh as much as 150 pounds. This should be a consideration for smaller living spaces. Newfies also tend to drool, and their thick coats require regular grooming—daily during shedding season.
If you don’t mind a little mess, Newfies are truly gentle giants that are so caring and protective of children they are often called “nanny dogs.” Their temperaments have also made them famously dedicated working water rescue dogs.
9. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Don’t let the breed’s muscular appearance fool you, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier makes an excellent dog for families with children. Originally bred for fighting, the Staffie would now much rather be a family dog and loving companion and playmate for kids.
Like the Newfoundland, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is also often called a “nanny” dog breed because of its affinity for children. The breed is known for being very patient with children and devoted to all family members.
Not all Staffies will get along well with other dogs, though, so it’s best to make sure that your older children are comfortable maintaining control of them when outdoors where other dogs may be around.
The Havanese is a charming toy dog breed that is very good with children. Lively and intelligent, the little Havanese would much rather play with kids than be toted around in a purse all day.
The Havanese is a friendly and social dog that enjoys the companionship of people of all ages. Although small, it is a sturdy little dog that isn’t fearful of children. The small size also makes the breed good for small indoor and outdoor spaces.
Its long, silky coat does require regular grooming to keep it in good condition, and many busy families choose to keep their dog’s coat trimmed to a shorter length for convenience and ease of care.
What’s the ideal family dog for you and your children? Dogs that are good with children can come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the size of your house and yard can be a bigger factor than the size of your kids, as many big dogs make excellent companions for children.
Small dogs can be a good fit for families with children too. Some tiny dogs have a reputation for not being good with kids, but lively and cheerful breeds like the French Bulldog or Havanese are a fine choice if you have children. And of course, perennial favorites like Labs and Goldens are popular with families for many reasons.
But there are tons of choices! With proper socialization and training, most dog breeds can make great family pets.
Featured Image Credit: Rebecca Scholz, Pixabay