The Best Dog Breeds for Family Homes
Updated: Apr 6
A lot can be said about nature vs nurture in dogs. Any dog, with the right training, can become a lovely addition to your family. If you have small children they can become gentle protectors and playmates. However, the level of training required does typically depend on your best friend's breed, some require a lot more than others. So while any dog, if you particularly prefer the looks of one breed over another, can become what you need in a dog, it’d be much easier just picking a breed that is known to be a great family dog.
When we’re looking into family dogs, we mean dog breeds that are known for being good around children. When you’re picking out a new pup there are three major factors that we need to go into. These are their temperament, their size and their energy levels.
Temperament is your dog’s personality. A breed with an agreeable temperament would be best suited to a family setting. For example a dog with a calmer nature and the ability to form deep and meaningful bonds will be an amazing companion for your children.
Size sounds obvious but it needs to be looked at in relation to both the temperament and energy levels. For example some larger dogs can be quite docile while smaller dogs can be excitable.
Energy level is based on the preference of your family. Be realistic with yourselves about the lifestyle you can maintain for your dog - if you can’t walk them daily then don’t opt for a dog with high energy. If you can’t meet the dog’s needs for exercise then his excess energy can lead to behaviour issues further down the road.
Always meet a potential new puppy before you buy them, ask either the breeder or the shelter worker a few questions before you solidify your decision. We’ve got five questions for you to ask that will help you decide if this particular dog is right for you.
1 - “Is this dog safe for all members of the family?”
Some dogs are perfectly happy to socialise and respect every member of the family, but some dogs will prefer only adults, or only one gender.
2 - “How energetic is this dog?” You might want a dog that can accompany you and the family on long walks. You might also prefer a pup that can be carried in your arms for the majority of the time.
3 - “What long term care will the dog need?” Is it a long haired dog who’ll need regular visits to the groomers to keep their fur in check? Maybe it’s a senior dog that might require more vet visits, or maybe there’s an underlying health condition.
4 - “How old is the dog?” Puppies will require a lot more training, but will most likely learn to socialise with your whole family really well as they don’t have learned behaviour you need to overwrite first. Alternatively, older dogs come mainly potty trained, but they may be shy around people or have unwanted behaviours you’ll need to iron out.
5 - “Is this a pet friendly dog?” Do you need your dog to integrate well with other family pets? Maybe your child also has something like a rabbit. You need your new dog to be kind and gentle with the other pet, and you need that other pet to get on well with the new dog too.
With that out of the way, here are our ten best dog breeds to bring into your family home!
10. The Bulldog
If you’re looking for a patient pup that will act affectionately towards your kids and be completely devoted to them, then the bulldog is the way to go. They’re built sturdy, so any roughhousing from your kids will be taken in your pups stride. They’re right at home living in either big houses or small apartments and will get on fine with other pets too, including other dogs. They’re really not energetic dogs, though they’re docile, friendly and loyal. They’re mainly fine with outside visitors too, which means if you have lots of extended family or a good social life, your dog will be fine with your guests.
If you are interested in a Bulldog, keep in mind that the compressed nature of their jaw means they’ll need a little extra care in the teeth cleaning area, and wheezing, snoring and some drooling is par for the course. On the other hand, their coat needs minimal care, although the folds around their tail and facial wrinkles will need to be cleaned to prevent dirt build-up.
Beagles are short in stature and can be carried easily. They’re calm dogs making them a great option for families. In particular, if you have children that love the outdoors or forest walks then this breed of dog will fit right in. There’s nothing more they love than being in the outdoors and exploring. They were originally kept as hunting dogs, and more recently have become a popular breed for police sniffer dogs! They’re built to be sturdy and their history of going on long hunts means that they’re never too tired to play!
They’re incredibly smart, happy and friendly dogs who usually get along really well with other pets, but be aware that their energy levels means that their friendships will include a bit of chasing! A negative of having a beagle is that they do shed and will require frequent brushing and bathing.
8. The Bull Terrier
They’ve recently been branded as an aggressive animal but the Bull Terrier historically has always been a companion dog who is friendly and loving towards grown ups and children alike. In fact, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is nicknamed “the nanny dog” because of their guardian-like behaviour around small children. This well-framed dog also has a high threshold for pain which makes it a great dog to have around children who haven’t yet learned how to play gently.
Keep in mind that your Bull Terrier may often have mischief on its mind, especially when it comes to other small animals and dogs. Avoid problems by keeping your pet mentally and physically active every day. Their short, flat coat is easy to care for, and the breed does best as a house dog with easy access to a yard for play.
7. The Collie
There’s a wide range of Collies, such as the Border Collie, the Bearded Collie and the Rough Collie, so your options for a family friendly pup aren’t just limited to the classic “Lassie” breed (the Border Collie), although we’ll focus on that breed here. Collies are gentle dogs with predictable behaviour. They rarely misbehave and are very easy to train, which makes them perfect for families unfamiliar with dogs. Collies get on great with kids and they love pleasing their owners as well as protecting their family.
While usually mild mannered, they were originally bred to be herding dogs. Occasionally they may try to herd your children. This might seem fun at first, but no matter how useful you might think this is, you should probably try to iron out this behaviour. Collies have long hair, so the breed requires that regular grooming take place to keep their fur in tip-top shape. They’re extremely sensitive and intelligent and both gentle and stubborn, so some obedience training will be required.
6. The Newfoundland
Want something that looks more like a bear than a dog, but is also a gentle giant? The Newfoundland breed might just be for you! They’re nicknamed “nature’s babysitter” and they’re one of the most intelligent dog breeds in the world. They also just so happen to love children and are incredibly protective of them. Both young and old people will quickly fall in love with this gentle, kind and patient breed.
The Newfoundland best suits a family with large open spaces, and although they are known to drool and shed excessively, they should not be left to live outdoors in the yard. This breed wants to be inside with its family. The Newfoundland breed are also great swimmers and have been known to save lives in emergency situations. They’re large and strong, are easily trained and are quite task oriented, so don’t be afraid to provide them with stimulation that requires a little extra work on their part.
5. The Vizsla
The Hungarian Sporting dog, this breed isn’t exactly a common household name, because of its need for regular exercise. However it’s actually one of the best dog breeds for active and energetic families with older kids. The Vizsla has a lively disposition but a gentle manner, and is both loyal and affectionate. The breed is also obedient, confident and smart, forming close bonds with family and able to learn new tricks quickly. Sensitive, gentle and full of energy, they’re sure to keep up with your active kids!
4. The Irish Setter Dog
The traditional gun dog that’s known for its red coat, the Irish Setter is playful, energetic, loves being around people, and plays well with children. In fact, this breed loves being with their family so much that they hate to be alone, which means they’re on their best behavior when surrounded by their loved ones.
This doggy needs lots of exercise, and is a good match for energetic kids. A smart and trainable companion, the Irish setter is perfect for people with a yard, and they’re great at greeting new people into your home, as well.
3. The Poodle
Besides their often-distinctive haircuts, the Poodle also happens to be a very smart and gentle dog. The breed is available in both miniature and standard sizes, meaning you can choose the specific Poodle size that best matches your living environment. They’re great for kids with allergies, as they shed very little.
Each breed comes with different perks. The Standard breed, for example, is very obedient and smart, playful and adventurous. Although often shy with strangers, they get along great with familiar people and kids. Miniatures, on the other hand, tend to dedicate themselves to one person in particular, but they are good with other pets and kids, and are smart, responsive, obedient and playful, making them a great match for kids, too.
No matter the particular breed of Poodle, however, their coats do require scheduled grooming. This is a proud and elegant dog that is both caring and loyal, seldom annoyed or bored.
2. The Labrador
This is one of the most popular dog breeds, and for good reason—the Labrador Retriever is playful, patient, loving, protective, and reliable. Another perk is that Labs are highly intelligent, and take well to training. They require a lot of exercise (they love swimming!), so be sure your family is up for the challenge, and a little extra room for them to run around and play in would be optimal.
Whether it’s the black, chocolate or yellow variety, you’ll find that all Labradors share the same sense of stamina, strength and obedience that makes them such a popular breed. They are affable dogs that get along well with other animals and pretty much everyone they meet, plus their short coats means they only really need a weekly combing to keep them clean and healthy.
1. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever is a confident, smart, kind, and loyal dog. Neither aggressive nor timid, the Golden Retriever is extremely patient, which makes them a perfect match for kids.
While the breed does need a lot of exercise, they love to play (retrieving games are their favourite—for example, your Golden might love playing with dog flyer disc toys), which makes this an easy goal to achieve. You’ll often find that the fun-loving Golden Retriever is affectionate and obedient, as well, meaning your kids will fall in love instantly. Proper care for their glorious golden coats requires twice weekly brushing, and while the breed is adapted to live outdoors, they’d really prefer to be indoors, with their humans, most of the time.