On the hunt for the best family dogs? Your search ends here! Learn more about the qualities of each breed and the types of families and lifestyles they’re most compatible with, so you can find the perfect addition to your family. Read on and find out more about the best family dogs in this post.
Best Family Dogs That Make Homes Livelier
In this article:
- Small Family Dogs
- Medium-sized Family Dogs
- Large Family Dogs
- Low-shedding Family Dogs
- Rescue Dogs To Adopt
Small Family Dogs
Beagles are known for their superb sense of smell and tracking skills. Because of their abilities, they are often employed as detection dogs. Of course, Beagles make wonderful family pets, too! They are upbeat, affectionate, and friendly—so friendly they get along with everyone, including other dogs, cats, and strangers. Considering their size, Beagles are pretty vocal and are known for their distinctive baying howl.
Family lifestyle: Beagles thrive in both houses with fenced yards and apartments. Because they are scent hounds, they tend to roam and wander off. This is why keeping them on a leash when they’re outdoors is essential. It’s easy to think Beagles are couch potato toy dogs because they are small but take note that they are quite active and need daily exercise, preferably outdoors.
Pugs, like Beagles, are not delicate small dogs and are among the best small dogs for kids. They have solid builds and are sturdy enough to play with young children. And, like Bulldogs, they are charming, easygoing, and clownish. They love being with their owners, watching from a distance or sleeping on the couch. Sometimes, they teem with short bursts of energy and can be very playful.
Family lifestyle: Pugs are not very active and athletic as they are companion dogs. They like being indoors and adapt well to small living spaces and apartments. Still, Pugs enjoy strolling and playing outdoors, too! Because of their facial structure, it is hard for Pugs to tolerate hot and humid climates. The folds and wrinkles on their faces need daily grooming as well.
Naturally happy and affectionate, the Havanese are great companions. They’re the type to follow their owners around the house and may even get anxious when left alone for long periods. Although these little dogs love attention, they are not as overly demanding as other toy dogs. Active toddlers can play with them as they are sturdy despite being small.
Family lifestyle: The Havanese like being indoors and do really well living in apartments. They are active little dogs but they don’t really require much exercise. They still enjoy strolling and playing fetch outside. The Havanese long coats’ protect them more from heat than cold and are actually adaptable to warmer weather.
Medium-sized Family Dogs
Sweet and adorable, Bulldogs are among the best family dogs around. Their massive, short-faced heads and stocky build are simply irresistible! They are especially loving towards children and typically get along well with other pets. If you want a laid-back and affectionate family pet, with a good dose of goofiness, Bulldogs can definitely fit the bill.
Family lifestyle: Bulldogs are pretty adaptable and can live well in both apartments and larger homes. Because of their facial features, they may find it difficult to tolerate hot or cold climates and are better off staying indoors. They like being couch potatoes and are usually content just being near their loved ones. Although they only require moderate exercise, they enjoy daily walks, especially when the weather is mild. But some Bulldogs love doing sporty activities and can even skateboard and surf!
Often described as Velcro dogs, Vizslas love sticking close to their families all the time. Their attached and affectionate nature may have developed from their roots as hunting dogs. They are talented pointers and work very closely with the hunters to locate the prey, often forming a solid bond with them.
Family lifestyle: Vizslas are very playful and energetic. They thrive with families that are active, making them awesome jogging, running, or hiking buddies. For Vizslas, it is challenging to live in apartments. A house with a yard where they can run free safely suits them best. Even though they love being outdoors, Vizlas also love staying inside with the family where they can stay warm.
6. Portuguese Water Dog
As their name suggests, Portuguese Water Dogs love swimming. They were once fish herders and retrievers, often serving as loyal crew members in fishing boats. Because of their webbed feet, they can swim really well which is good news for a family of active swimmers. Swimming may be their favorite activity but as they are generally energetic, they also like walking and jogging. Portuguese Water Dogs are not just athletic, they are really intelligent and are highly trainable as well.
Family lifestyle: Portuguese Water Dogs do well in cooler climates. Even though their hair is long, they don’t shed that much. But they still need frequent grooming to keep their coat free from tangles. Given their love for water, they do well in beach or lake houses, boat houses, or simply houses with swimming pools. They can adapt to apartment living as long as they can exercise daily.
Large Family Dogs
7. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers and their cousins, Labradors, often top the lists of best family dogs—with good reason. They are very endearing, intelligent, and eager-to-please, which is why they do great as therapy dogs or guide dogs for people with special needs. As they are sweet and fun-loving, Golden retrievers get on well with children of all ages.
Family lifestyle: Golden Retrievers are typically very active and need to be with families that can keep up with their energy. Show line Labradors are not as energetic and only need moderate exercise. They generally do well in fair or cooler climates and are adaptable to different living spaces. A house with a yard suits them best but they can adjust to apartments if they have ample space to go around and are often given opportunities to exercise.
Newfoundlands are one of the largest dogs around with the potential to grow up to 150 pounds. Despite their intimidating size, Newfoundlands are very sweet, docile, and easygoing. They share a similar history to Portuguese Water Dogs and are strong swimmers. They are also known for saving people from drowning. These giant dogs are protective of their families and are especially tolerant of young children. They have a pleasant disposition but parents need to be watchful of their kids, especially the little ones, as these giant dogs might accidentally knock them over.
Family lifestyle: Newfoundlands are laid-back and can easily become couch potatoes. Although they are not very active, they do need to walk daily and are better off in living spaces with a pool or access to a lake or beach. They are giant dogs and naturally need enough room to go around without knocking anything or anyone over. Because of their heavy coats, they thrive in places with cooler climates.
A few years ago, Collies easily topped the list of the most popular dog breeds because of the Lassie movies. But even though their popularity has declined, Collies remain among the best family dogs. They are very loyal and devoted to their families, especially to children. Although they are protective, they are typically not aggressive. With their history as herding dogs, Collies won’t hesitate to bark when something is amiss.
Family lifestyle: Collies are active and do well in both country houses or city apartments. Although they are often content enough to be indoors, they still need daily exercises. Doing other activities outside the routine is important to keep them happy as well.
Low-shedding Family Dogs
Poodles come in three different types. The Standard Poodle, Miniature Poodle, and the Toy Poodle. Poodles are very good in some dog sports and activities. They also ranked second for the most intelligent dog breed next to Border Collie. Poodles have taken honors during dog show and conformation show. For sure, the kids would love to play with these beauties at home.
Family lifestyle: Poodles are generally active dogs who love to play, swim, walk, and run. They adjust well to apartment living and are quite content to chill at home, too! Because of their long and curly hair, Poodles do need daily grooming. The good news here is that their coats are low-shedding, meaning people who are prone to allergies can tolerate them.
11. Bichon Frise
Bichons are like little rays of sunshine—they’re upbeat, cheerful, and fun-loving! They love charming people with their funny antics and will happily follow their owners wherever they go. These white, puffy furballs make great friends with kids. But parents must be wary of very young children as they may unintentionally hurt the little Bichons with rough play.
Family lifestyle: Bichons are energetic and playful dogs that do well in apartments. They need daily exercise, all dogs do, but they are happy enough with short walks and a few minutes of playing in the park or even at home. Bichons are great choices for first-time owners and the elderly.
12. Irish Water Spaniel
Irish Water Spaniels are very energetic and love to play. They like doing a lot of activities with their families, particularly swimming. At home, they are affectionate and eager to please. But they may be reserved around strangers. They can be a bit headstrong and need proper training and early socialization.
Family lifestyle: Irish Water Spaniels were once companions to hunters, tracking, and retrieving game for them. Because of this, they are much more suited to homes with easy access to parks and fields. These dogs love to swim, too, so, they’re better off living in houses with swimming pools or those near a lake or the beach.
Rescue Dogs To Adopt
13. Pit Bull
The term Pit Bull is often used to identify dog breeds that have similar features—these are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Pit Bulls are often discriminated against and misunderstood, which is why it is not really a surprise that many of them wind up in shelters. Because of their ill reputation, Pit Bulls have fewer chances than most to be adopted. Pit Bulls, when raised in a loving environment, are really good companions. They are especially gentle with children as well. Treat a Pit Bull right and it can turn out to be the best family guard dog ever!
Family lifestyle: Getting a Pit Bull puppy is more suitable for first-time owners. Because these dogs are strong and have a powerful body structure, it is important that they’re disciplined and properly trained to socialized early. Pit Bulls can live in both houses and apartments. But what’s important is that they’re given the right exercise for at least an hour daily.
14. Labrador Retriever
Labs are among the most popular dog breeds in the US but many of them still wind up in dog shelters. Many people get these dogs without knowing the responsibility of having to take care of one. First off, Labs are really active and need daily exercise. Second, they tend to eat a lot which definitely puts a strain on your budget if you’re unprepared. Labs are better off with families that give them what they deserve—good food, a space to play, and loving owners who can take them out daily.
Family lifestyle: Labradors, as mentioned, are very active dogs. They need to exercise every day and even do other activities outside of the routine. A home with a yard suits Labs best. They also like to swim, so, a house with a swimming pool or access to the beach or a lake is even better.
Mutts, mongrels, or mixed-breed dogs are often left out in shelters. Some people are simply not comfortable adopting a dog they don’t know or whose behavior they can’t predict. But just like other dogs, mutts generally need a safe space and loving pet owners so they can grow into affectionate, loyal family dogs.
Family lifestyle: Small-sized mutts may adjust to apartment living. The bigger ones may be better off in houses with a yard. They need daily exercise as well, just like any other dog breeds. Depending on their coat type, mutts thrive on either a cooler or warmer place.
Learn how your kids can help you train your family dog in this video by Zak George’s Dog Training rEvolution:
If you want to give your family the gift of a new puppy, make sure you buy one from reputable breeders or shelters. Adopting a puppy or a senior dog from a shelter may be the best option! Consider that there are many dogs in need of loving homes and families. And, taking in one or two (or even three!) dogs from these shelters may encourage other people in your circle to do the same. Imagine the number of dogs you’ll be able to help! Before you get a dog, just remember that the best family dogs are not always determined by breed but by how their owners take care of them.
Got more to add to this list of best family dogs? Let us know in the comments section below!