Pet owners

13 of The best family dog breeds

    Dogs become much-loved members of the family. Your furry friend can keep you company while helping your children learn how to care for animals.

    If you're thinking about getting a new dog, you're not alone. More people are getting pets now than ever before. In a recent survey, approximately ¼ of current pet owners said they acquired their new pets in the last 3 years.

    But with so many different breeds to choose from, how do you choose the right dog for your family? 

    The perfect family pooch will depend on your lifestyle, space, and whether or not you have young children.

    What are the top dogs for families? We’ve read reviews from real pet owners and found a pet to match every family. Whether you’re looking for a particular size, temperament, grooming regime, energy level, or space requirement — it’s covered in this list.

    Let’s take a look at some of the most popular kid-friendly dog breeds.

    What should you look for in a family dog breed?

    Before you choose a family dog, there are a few things you should consider. 

    Of course, the perfect match for a family will be a pooch that's good with kids.

    You should also look for a breed that fits your lifestyle. For example, some dogs need more space and exercise than others. There are dogs that need lots of training and mental stimulation, and some that are more like couch potatoes — happy to be left at home while you're at work. 

    The climate you live in can also play a role in the type of dog you choose. For instance, there are pups that love water and some that thrive in cooler environments.

    Another consideration is potential allergies. If one of your family members suffers from a pet dander (or other related) allergy, a hypoallergenic or hairless breed can be a viable option.

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    Next, you need to think about whether you want to get your new dog through a breeder, an adoption organization, or a rescue center. Your budget also matters when making this decision, as the price can vary dramatically, with mixed breeds typically much cheaper than pure breeds and rescue dogs sometimes requiring only spay and neutering fees.

    The breed is only part of the story. The type of dog accounts for only 9% of behavior variation. Age and training can also have a big impact on a pet's compatibility with your family.

    Even if you rent instead of own, you can still get a family dog. When you use our unique software, your pet will get a rating — a system that helps match pet owners with the right properties. Get started here.

    What are the best family dogs?

    Here's a look at some of the dog breeds, presented by size, that make great family pets. There's something for everyone!

    Best mini dogs for families

    1. Shih Tzu

    Shih Tzus are small dogs; in most countries, they’re classified as a toy breed. 

    Shih Tzus have long coats and need regular brushing. They enjoy company and love every member of their family.

    Because of their small size, Shih Tzus can get injured during rough play. For this reason, they may be best suited for children over four years old.

    These dogs are fairly easy to train and ideal for first-time owners.

    This is a popular breed for those living in apartments because they're quiet and have a gentle demeanor. Shih Tzus are also comfortable in homes with big backyards, but they prefer to sleep indoors.

    Size: 9–10 inches tall
    Weight: 9–16 pounds

    2. Toy Cockapoo

    As a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle, a Toy Cockapoo is a “designer” breed. 

    Toy Cockapoos are outgoing and bond with multiple family members. They have low exercise requirements but often enjoy walks and water play. 

    The color and texture of a Toy Cockapoo’s fur can vary depending on the litter. For example, some Toy Cockapoos have curly coats, while others have straight hair. These dogs have a hypoallergenic coat and shed minimally.

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    Toy Cockapoos are fairly easy to train but do have a playful nature. Their small size makes them suitable for apartment living. They prefer to sleep inside but will appreciate some time outdoors.

    Size: 8–10 inches tall
    Weight: 7–12 pounds

    3. Jack Russell Terrier

    Jack Russell Terriers are small, friendly dogs. They're athletic and need regular walks. 

    Jack Russell Terriers are good pets for families with children over three years old and are easy to train. They enjoy playing games such as fetch, and it's in their nature to dig holes.

    These dogs need moderate grooming. Though they come in different coat lengths and types, Jack Russell Terriers usually shed all year round.

    Because they have a lot of energy, Jack Russell Terriers need regualr time outdoors. They can still live in an apartment, though, as long as you're committed to exercising them every day. Alternatively, they're also hard workers and are therefore comfortable in a farm environment.

    Size: 10–15 inches tall
    Weight: 13–17 pounds

    Best small dogs for families

    4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

    The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is one of the top kid-friendly dogs. It's a happy breed with a sweet nature.

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have a medium-to-long coat and come in red, black, and white combinations. They do shed somewhat, but with weekly grooming, you can keep their coat under control.

    These spaniels are easy to train and want to please their owners. They're friendly, people-loving pups and suit children of all ages. They also tolerate other pets well.

    Due to their small size, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can live in apartments. However, they need a short walk each day and do best in a backyard with a secure fence.

    Size: 12–13 inches tall
    Weight: 13–18 pounds

    5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a good pick for families with kids over eight years old. They're an intelligent breed that creates strong bonds with their owners. 

    They're fast learners, but without the right training, these dogs can be prone to barking. 

    Pembroke Welsh Corgis have straight, medium-length hair in a range of color combinations. They shed an average amount; as such, you can expect to brush them once per week.

    Your Corgi should be walked every day for up to 45 minutes. These dogs can be suitable for city or country living and don't mind small spaces. Keep in mind, though, they don't like to be left alone for long periods. 

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    Size: 10–12 inches tall
    Weight: 22–31 pounds

    6. Dachshund

    Dachshunds have long bodies and short legs. There are different coats to choose from, including smooth, wire-haired, and long-haired.

    They shed an average amount and should be brushed at least once a month.

    These loyal pups are good with children as long as they're socialized at a young age. This breed can be a good fit for those with teenagers. 

    Dachshunds are smart and easy to train. They can get cold in the winter, so they are best suited to warmer environments. These dogs are also suitable for both apartment living and larger country properties. Miniature versions of this breed are also available.

    Dachshunds are typically a medium-activity breed but still require daily walks. 

    Size: 8–9 inches tall
    Weight: 11–32 pounds

    Best medium dogs for families

    7. Japanese Spitz

    The Japanese Spitz is a fluffy dog with long, straight, white hair. They're small to medium-sized dogs with long muzzles and black noses. They are good family dogs and will form a bond with all members of your household.

    Their fur is double-coated and can shed heavily as the seasons change. You can expect to brush these pets up to three times per week. 

    Despite this, the Japanese Spitz's fur is resistant to dirt, so they require minimal bathing.

    These sweet pooches are friendly, cheerful, and love to play. They're easy to train but can be prone to barking. 

    They enjoy company, so they may suffer from separation anxiety. This active breed prefers to sleep indoors and is best suited for homes with fenced yards.

    Size: 12–15 inches tall
    Weight: 15–19 pounds

    8. English Bulldogs

    English Bulldogs (also called British Bulldogs) are solid, medium-sized dogs. They stand out with their stocky bodies, wide muzzles, and short legs.

    English Bulldogs have short, straight coats and are low-maintenance. A quick groom once a week is usually enough, but they tend to drool a lot, so you might want to wipe their mouth regularly.

    When socialized, these gentle canine companions are patient with children of all ages. They usually have a sweet temperament and a low energy level.

    English Bulldogs are prone to obesity, so they should be encouraged to go for short walks daily. Because of their low activity levels, these pooches are happy to live in an apartment setting. 

    English Bulldogs can suffer in both hot and cold environments, so mild climates are best.

    Size: 12–16 inches tall
    Weight: 49–53 pounds

    9. English Cocker Spaniel

    English Cocker Spaniels are medium-sized dogs with silky fur and long ears. This adventurous breed loves children of all ages and needs lots of attention.

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    This breed sheds constantly and needs brushing multiple times per week. They also need baths every one to two months.

    English Cocker Spaniels are energetic and enjoy going for walks. However, they can get distracted easily, so a leash is recommended.

    English Cocker Spaniels are affectionate and intelligent. Because of their high energy levels and tendency to bark, they're best suited to properties with space to play. A medium-sized or large backyard will be the best fit.

    English Cocker Spaniels aren't usually compatible with apartment living.

    Size: 15–17 inches tall
    Weight: 26–34 pounds

    10. Border Collie

    Border Collies are intelligent and athletic dogs. They need plenty of exercise and are best suited to active families with older children.

    Border Collies come in different colors and have a soft, thick coat. Their hair is straight and medium-length.

    You can expect to brush your Border Collie at least once per week. They shed more heavily when the seasons change, so additional brushing will be required during those times. 

    Border Collies are easy to train and obedient but like to be kept busy. They require up to 90 minutes of exercise each day, so if you want a Border Collie, you'll need a big backyard with a fence.

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    Size: 18–22 inches tall
    Weight: 27–55 pounds

    Best large dogs for families

    11. Golden Retriever

    If you have a household with kids, a Golden Retriever can be a good choice. This is a large breed with dense, water-repellent fur.

    Golden Retrievers shed constantly and require regular brushing. They’re generally a happy breed that loves to splash in water and jump in mud. This means they often need regular baths. 

    You should commit to at least one hour of walk time each day if you own this breed. Training can help reduce barking, digging, and chewing behaviors.

    Golden Retrievers are known as kind, gentle pets, but puppies can play rough.

    This breed likes to be close to people and enjoys spending time indoors. Due to their size and high energy levels, Golden Retrievers need a home with a medium-to-large-sized backyard. 

    Size: 20–24 inches tall
    Weight: 55–75 pounds

    12. Labrador Retriever

    Labrador Retrievers are a sporty breed with an athletic build. They're loyal, easy to train, and patient with young children.

    Labrador Retrievers typically enjoy swimming and other water play, and they like being around people. They require regular walks of at least one hour per day.

    These dogs have dense, straight, medium-length hair. Daily brushing will help control shedding, and the occasional bath will be required.

    With the right training, Labs will be happy sharing their space with large families and other pets. If they get lonely, they may dig or bark.

    This is a large breed that needs room to run and play. A large property with a big backyard is the ideal living situation for this family-friendly pet.

    Size: 21–24 inches tall
    Weight: 55–80 pounds

    13. Standard Poodle

    Standard Poodles are known for their curly coats and playfulness.

    With the right training, they can be the perfect fit for households with kids of all ages. If they're socialized from a young age, these pooches will also be happy to live in a multi-pet household.

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    Standard Poodles are intelligent and easy to train. However, they can be stubborn, so perseverance on your part is important.

    Because of this breed’s curly, fast-growing coat, professional grooming is recommended. Even though they don't shed, you'll still need to brush them regularly. 

    These dogs are high-energy and need daily exercise. They may become stressed if left alone overnight.

    Standard Poodles can adapt well to apartment living. However, those living in small dwellings could consider the miniature or toy variety over the standard.

    Size: over 15 inches
    Weight: 40–70 pounds

    The best family dog breeds

    Thinking about getting a dog for your family? The right pet will depend on your children’s ages, your lifestyle, and how much space you have.

    The best mini dog breeds include the Shih Tzu, Toy Cockapoo, and Jack Russell Terrier. If you’d prefer a small dog, popular breeds include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Dachshund.

    Medium dogs to consider include the Japanese Spitz, English Cocker Spaniel, and Border Collie. For active families with more space, a Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, or Poodle could be a good fit.

    Also, keep in mind that many mixed breeds — like the Cockapoo mentioned in this article, for instance — make great family pets, too!

    But remember, breed isn’t the only consideration you should make when choosing a dog. All children should be supervised around pets, and no matter what dog you choose, obedience doesn’t come automatically — it’ll need to be trained.

    Did you know you can get a pet for your family even if you’re renting? Learn more about PetScreening’s services.