My list of the best family dog breeds includes the 10 most popular breeds, depending on your priorities, plus one surprise. It's very important to choose a dog breed that will fit your lifestyle right now and for the next 10+ years!
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It depends on your priorities, and how old your children are. You may want a totally calm dog breed, if you have younger children; OR you may be looking for a more active breed, if your children are older, and you are interested in activities such as the sport of Canicross .
My list of the 10 Best Family Dog Breeds includes calm dogs, playful dogs, sporty dogs and maybe 1 or 2 breeds that you may not have expected.
The most popular dog breed in the United States, the Labrador Retriever is a friendly, good natured and patient dog breed. It makes an ideal family dog, even with small children, although you should never leave any dog alone with a small child. The Labrador is a muscular and hardy dog, and may knock over a small child with sheer excitement.They can be boisterous and excitable, and need careful training.
Having said that, their sheer good nature makes the Labrador a great
family dog. Most Labradors will shed some hair, so be ready with your
Check out our Labrador Retriever page.
The Golden Retriever is a docile and easily trained breed, eager to please and willing to play at the drop of a hat. However, the Goldie does need exercise, and can become bored and destructive if left alone without exercise for long.
This is a good breed with small children, as they are very gentle, and yet also ideal if you want some exercise with your dog. Walking or running, chasing tennis balls, and of course swimming!
Check out our Golden Retriever page.
The Olde English Bulldogge is one of the calmest dog breeds of all. Extremely docile, and ready for a snooze at any time, while being ready to play too. It's important to remember that this Bulldog has a restricted airway, and will not run around for long. As a calm companion dog, he has few equals!
This low-energy breed does not take much looking after, as they do
not shed much hair. All they need is a place to snooze and human
Check out our Olde English Bulldogge page!
Some people may be surprised to see the Rhodesian Ridgeback on this list, but they were bred to be family and home protectors as well as hunting dogs. They are extremely patient with small children, although their sheer size and weight means they could knock over a child during play. They have a quirky sense of humor, and love dragging kids around the garden on a towel, or chasing a ball - although they usually won't bring it back!
They need human company, and get bored and destructive if left alone for long, especially as puppies. My own Ridgeback ate the garden hose, the barbecue cover, and the seat off my son's bike one summer!
Probably best suited to families with children older than around 6 years+.
Check out our Rhodesian Ridgeback page to read more about MY dog!
The Boxer will be well-known as a family-friendly dog. They love horsing around with children, and will bond with your kids very strongly. Again, as a larger breed they need to be watched when around small children, as they may inadvertently knock one over. Probably best for families with children over 6 years +.
They are not difficult to train, and their short coat does not shed a lot of hair.
Check out our Boxer dog page.
The Collie is another dog breed that may not spring to mind when thinking about the best family dog breeds. Star of the "Lassie" films and TV series, the breed is very tolerant of children, and plays well with all ages. A smaller breed then the Ridgeback and Boxer, the Collie is less likely to knock over a small child, and makes a great family dog breed.
The rough-coated Collie has long hair, and there is also a
smooth-coated Collie, with short hair if you are worried about dog hair
around the home.
Check out our Collie page.
This is a BIG dog, with an extremely docile and soft nature. They have a very strong instinct to retrieve anything from water, and are expert rescue dogs. With their huge size, they might be expected to be a little clumsy around children, but are in fact very aware of kids, and tend to move very slowly or not at all!
The breed standard includes a very calm and sweet nature, so by
breeding the Newfoundland has the ideal character to be around small
children. However, you will need a decent-sized back yard, and somewhere
big enough for the dog to sleep comfortably.
Check out our Newfoundland page.
Originally bred to drive sheep and cattle to market, the Old English Sheep Dog is intelligent and kind, with a sense of humor. Widely known in the U.K. as 'the Dulux Dog' owing to an Old English Sheepdog featuring in the Dulux paint company's television advertisements.
The Old English Sheepdog is gentle with children, and makes the perfect family pet. They love the attention that children give them, and enjoy playing with them. This breed does well in an apartment setting as well as in the city or out in the countryside.
Check out our Old English Sheepdog page.
The Hungarian Vizsla is an athletic and muscular dog, similar in many ways to the Rhodesian Ridgeback but not as big nor heavy. They love company, and make very good family dogs. They do not like being left alone for long. They also need a fair amount of exercise, and love running with you, either in a park or in a Canicross event.
The Vizsla has a short, dense coat, and does not shed much hair.
Check out our Vizsla page.
The Jack Russell is a loving, mischievous dog breed, very loyal and yet ready to play at any time. As a smaller dog, they are good with small children (- but NEVER leave a small child alone with ANY dog) - and less likely to knock a child over; unless the child trips over the dog.
The Jack Russell loves chasing things - like any terrier - and will enjoy chasing tennis balls with your kids.
Check out our Jack Russell page.
The lovable, excitable Cocker Spaniel makes an ideal family dog breed. They are small enough to be non intimidating to small children, yet active enough to run around with the most energetic kids. Spaniels are good-natured and anxious to please, wanting to be part of the family.
Check out our American Cocker Spaniel page.
The massive Irish Wolfhound is a surprise addition to this page, but it's confidence, calmness and amiable nature make it a great family dog. It is supremely patient and gentle with small children, and welcoming to strangers, even home invaders. It will only start to take action if it's human family are threatened.
Check out our Irish Wolfhound page.
This is a relatively recent breed from the USA, produced by crossing the German Shepherd with the Alaskan Malamute. The aim was to create a breed that is calm, confident and amiable. They make excellent companion and family dogs. However at 100 lbs typically, they are large dogs, and they need early socialization and training for best results.
Check out our Shiloh Shepherd dog page.
All of these family dog breeds will make great family pets, providing you pick a breed that is compatible with your own personal circumstances; how big is your family; how big is your house; how big is your yard; how old are your kids; how much time do you have to exercise your dog; how well will you train your new dog? And so on.
Be sure to take your time and see every breed on your shortlist nose-to-nose! There is no "one best family dog breed" for everyone - you have to find the best breed for YOU!
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