Adopting a dog or puppy into your family is a big step, so you want to be sure you pick the right breed before you take the plunge.
Dogs can do lots of things, but their heritage does determine whether they can do some things better than others. Some dogs instinctively like to dig, and some don’t. Terriers really like to dig. A Golden Retriever loves swimming. What activities would you like your dog to do? Be careful when you are choosing a dog that will be with you for 10 to 15 years
In this article, we offer you some sound advice on choosing a breed of dog that will make a great family pet.
- 1 Dogs and Kids
- 2 Choosing a Breed
- 3 Wrap Up
Dogs and Kids
If you have a young family, you’ll need a dog that will adapt to a busy family household and fit in well. But that doesn’t mean that a super-cute, fluffy breed will necessarily fit the bill. For example, the Chow Chow may look gorgeous, but he was initially bred to fend off wolves and guard livestock!
No matter what breed of dog you choose, you must teach your children how to behave around their new best friend. Any dog can snap if he’s tormented or treated incorrectly. So, your kids must learn not to tease the family pet or handle him roughly. Always supervise children around dogs, especially toddlers and babies who might grab floppy ears or a waving tail. Also, kids must learn that the family dog should be left in peace when he’s eating or sleeping.
Likewise, your dog must be well-socialized, which means attending puppy training classes. With this in mind, you might want to check out our informative article about the American Kennel Club’s S.T.A.R. Puppy Program to discover how your puppy and your family could benefit from becoming part of this brilliant incentive scheme.
Choosing a Breed
There are over 200 different dog breeds to choose from, so where on earth do you start your search for the perfect family pet?
First, let’s take a look at the six categories of dog breeds as defined by the American Kennel Club.
- Working group (like the GSD)
- Pastoral group
- Utility group
- Toy group
You’ll find that most of the dogs in each category are quite similar in behavior and temperament, and that can be very helpful when you’re picking the right breed of dog for your family pet.
Some groups typically have characteristics that might not fit so well in a family environment. For example, dogs in the pastoral group were bred to herd and guard livestock. So, snapping at heels and herding are common behaviors that you see in breeds such as corgis and collies. Also, dogs in this category tend to bond closely with one person, making them more suited to singles and adults than families.
Although small in stature, terriers are inclined to snap if they’re cornered or tormented by kids. Also, terriers tend to have a powerful prey drive, so they don’t mix well with cats and other small pets.
The working group contains large, muscular breeds such as the Akita, Bullmastiff, and Cane Corso. These dogs were often used for guarding and protecting livestock from attack by wolves and other large predators. Although some giant breeds such as the Newfoundland and Bernese mountain dog are docile and gentle, their bulk and weight could cause a problem around small children if playtime gets too rough.
Gundogs generally make excellent family pets. Gundogs are trained to have a “soft mouth,” meaning that they can retrieve shot game birds without damaging them. Loyal and highly trainable, the gundog group is a good place to start your search for a family pet.
So, here are 15 dog breeds that make excellent family pets.
The Labrador retriever has long been a favorite with families around the world. Labs are intelligent, friendly, highly trainable, and tolerant of children. The Labrador’s chilled-out attitude and gentleness make them a perfect choice for families with children. Although the Lab can be lazy given a chance, he has lots of stamina and will love to play all day with your kids.
On the downside, Labs are bred to be working dogs, and they will put on weight if they don’t get enough exercise.
The Golden retriever is another member of the gundog group and is renowned for his friendly, relaxed character. Retrievers are also excellent with kids, and they make wonderful, loyal, loving family pets.
However, like Labs, retrievers do need plenty of exercise and playtime. Also, these are big dogs that need plenty of space both indoors and outside too, so a retriever is not the best choice for you if you live in a small apartment with no outside space.
The beagle has only become popular as a family pet in the last decade or so. Beagles were traditionally used to pursue hare and other small game animals for hunts that followed their hounds on foot. Thanks to their breeding, beagles are happiest in packs, so your tribe will make the perfect setting for this sociable pup.
Beagles are fun-loving, jolly dogs that have enough stamina to play all day. That said, the beagle is also a confirmed cuddler who loves to snuggle up on your lap at the end of the day.
One small issue with beagles is that they can be somewhat wayward and are not always easy to train.
The Labradoodle is a crossbreed, rather than a pedigree dog. The friendly, fun-loving Labradoodle is the result of crossing a Labrador retriever with a poodle. These dogs are straightforward to train and are usually very good with kids. However, all crossbreeds take some of their personality from each parent, so if possible ask your puppy’s breeder if you can see his parents.
Labradoodles are medium-sized dogs that don’t tend to shed much, making them an excellent choice for families with a member who has a dog allergy.
The bright, fun-loving boxer has so much personality and energy, he doesn’t always know what to do with it all! If you’re an active family who spends a lot of time in the Great Outdoors, the happy-go-lucky boxer could be the perfect pet for you.
Although the boxer has boundless energy, he is typically not aggressive and gets on well with everyone. That said, you will need to invest much time and energy in training your boxer puppy so that he doesn’t grow up to be too unruly.
The chirpy, pretty little Bichon Frise is a canine bundle of joy that will thrive as the center of attention in a busy family household. The Bichon Frise has a natural affinity with people and his quiet, gentle personality make him a loving lapdog that your kids will adore.
The Bichon Frise has a short, low shedding coat that makes this breed a good choice for those with a dog allergy.
For a more unusual choice of dog breed, you might want to consider the Hungarian Vizsla or Velcro dog as he’s sometimes called. Often mistaken for a Weimaraner, the Vizsla is a very friendly dog breed that loves his family.
The gentle, affectionate Vizsla loves children and makes a loyal, protective family pet. The Vizsla has lots of energy to burn off and is also very trainable so that he would make a good companion and playmate in a household with kids.
English Cocker Spaniel
The English cocker spaniel is a lively, busy breed that seems to really enjoy the company of children. The breed is a medium-sized dog that’s a practical size for almost all family homes. Cocker spaniels are easy to train and can be taught a range of fun tricks too.
You’ll need to have plenty of time to exercise this pup, and he needs regular grooming to keep his coat in good condition.
English Springer Spaniel
Another popular spaniel is the English springer. The English springer spaniel has boundless energy, and this dog does need a lot of exercise to keep him happy. The springer has a good reputation with kids and is friendly and affectionate.
As well as lots of exercise, the springer spaniel needs regular grooming.
If you have a small house or live in an apartment, a pug could be the perfect size canine family pet for you. Pugs are comical and fun, they have a short coat that doesn’t need much grooming, and they don’t require lots of exercise. Best of all, pugs get along great with kids and other pets.
One thing to bear in mind if you choose a pug is that their flat faces can make them prone to breathing problems. Generally, brachycephalic dogs such as pugs don’t do well in hot climates, so if you live in a hot region, a pug might not be the best choice for you.
The dachshund is a family-friendly dog that’s good with kids. Standard size doxies, as enthusiasts fondly know them, will do fine in an apartment. If you wanted an even smaller pooch, check out the miniature dachshund.
Dachshunds can have a short, smooth coat, a wiry coat, or they can be longhaired. However, all the varieties only need a modest amount of grooming. Dachshunds are energetic little dogs that love kids, so your tribe will have hours of fun playing with their new best buddy.
On the downside, because of the dachshund’s long body, he can be prone to spinal problems. So, to avoid injury to your dog, you must teach your kids not to encourage your dachshund to jump onto furniture or to run up and down stairs.
The Boston terrier is becoming increasingly popular as a family pet for lots of reasons. These happy little dogs are great with kids, require minimal grooming, and don’t need a vast amount of exercise. The Boston terrier is also the ideal size for a small house or apartment.
The lively, friendly Boston terrier is loyal, affectionate, and very easy to train. These mannerly little dogs have earned themselves the nickname, “The American Gentleman” thanks to their good behavior!
With his furrowed brow, flat face, and sagging jowls, the bulldog is unmistakable!
Despite their somewhat stern appearance, bulldogs make great family pets. The bulldog does enjoy brisk walks and needs a moderate amount of exercise to prevent him from becoming overweight. The bulldog has a short coat that only requires a daily wipe over to keep it clean, and they are only moderate shedders.
The faithful bulldog will happily spend hours playing with your kids before curling up on a lap for a nap. Did you know that bulldogs make great guard dogs? Well, they do, and no stranger would risk breaking into your home with a bulldog on the loose!
The main downside to the bulldog breed is his flat face. Like all brachycephalic breeds, bulldogs don’t do well in a hot, humid climate, and they can suffer from breathing problems too.
The bull terrier might look fearsome, but he’s really a big softie at heart.
The bull terrier breed has an excellent reputation as a family dog, and he’ll play with your kids for hours without a problem. The bull terrier is cheeky and playful, exuberant, and energetic, thriving on exercise and the affection of his human family. That said, the breed is also very trainable, making them a pleasure to own. The bull terrier’s grooming requirements are minimal, and they are only moderate shedders.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has the perfect combination of the gentle, affectionate nature of a lapdog and the athleticism and energy of a working spaniel.
Cavaliers are well-known for their fondness for children, and will happily tolerate as much play and petting as your kids want to give them. The adaptable Cavalier will thrive equally well in an active household or a home where the pace of life is slower.
Despite having a lustrous, silky coat, the Cavalier’s grooming requirements are modest, and he doesn’t shed any more heavily than most breeds. Despite their laid-back persona, Cavaliers do need plenty of exercise and playtime to keep them fit and healthy. Always eager to please, the Cavalier responds well to training and is usually a very obedient and sociable dog.
Of course, these are just a few of the many dog breeds that make great family pets. When choosing a dog, remember to take into account other factors such as the age of your kids, the size of your home, whether you work, your budget, and your activity levels. To find out whether you and your family are ready to own a dog, check out our in-depth article at this link.
Owning a dog can be a wonderful experience for children, and it’s one they’ll treasure forever. Do your research, take your time, and you’re sure to find the right dog for your family.