Once you’ve decided that it’s time to add a dog to your family, the biggest question often becomes, “What type of dog do we want?” While your daughter might want a small, fuzzy dog that will cuddle with her, your son might want a big dog that will play frisbee with him for hours on end. From the parents’ perspective, you want a family-oriented dog with a pleasant demeanor. You should also consider your living environment when it comes to the type of breed selected, as some are better suited to suburban life. In contrast, others adapt easier to apartment living in a city. To help families make the most informed decision, we’ve compiled a list of the top dog breeds that are ideal for families.
1. Labrador Retriever
Among the most popular dogs in the U.S., labradors are beloved for their friendly nature, endless patience, and being highly trainable. This free-spirited breed is eager to please, plays well with other dogs, and is energetic enough to keep up with young children. Labradors rank among the larger breeds, with the average size being 23.5” and 75 pounds for males, and 22.5” and 65 pounds for females. They tend to shed quite a bit, with weekly brushing cutting down on the need to sweep your floors every few hours.
2. Golden Retriever
This lovable breed was probably expected on a list of family-friendly dogs, considering their agreeable personality, (generally!) good behavior, and reputation for being intelligent and playful. An active and energetic breed, golden retrievers are incredibly loyal to their owners and obedient due to their devotion. Among the more active breeds, they’re ideal for families with young children who have the energy to burn alongside a dog that requires a lot of activity and exercise. Another endearing quality of a golden retriever is that they don’t tend to bark at everything that moves, reserving their barks for when necessary.
These compact and intelligent dogs make for excellent family dogs due to their friendly and curious personality and active lifestyle. They tend to be more on the vocal side when it comes to barking — with a range of barks including a standard bark, yodel-like bay, and a howl — but their reputation for being easily trained can help curb their barking habit. The fact that Snoopy from the “Peanuts” cartoon is a beagle usually wins over kids when it comes to choosing a breed to join the family.
4. Irish Setter
These red-haired, stunning dogs are ideal for active families that match this breed’s high energy levels and need for exercise. An outgoing and highly-trainable dog, Irish Setters are great with children and other dogs and are known for their incredibly sweet-natured personalities. Once you get past their glorious mahogany coat, you quickly realize this breed is mischievously fun — making a quick bond with your kids a guarantee. If you welcome an Irish Setter into your home, be sure to brush them often, as their hair coat tends to pick up debris. Hill’s Pet Nutrition details more of the wonderful characteristics of Irish Setters.
There’s no mistaking this breed with their distinct wrinkly face, and any bulldog owner will tell you they’re excellent with children. Loyal and highly adaptable to any living environment, bulldogs are always eager to spend time with their families. While they have a dignified air about them, they’re a very friendly and amusing breed. They’re on the quieter side and not very active dogs, but they will play, run, and engage when encouraged. Due to their lower activity levels in comparison to the other breeds we’ve mentioned, bulldogs are great for families with busy schedules who may not have the time to tire out dogs with endless exercise.
6. Mixed Breeds
Mixed breed dogs, often called “mutts,” are excellent family dogs and are said to have more even-keeled temperaments than some purebred dogs. Not only that, but you can teach your family members a valuable lesson on the importance of adopting instead of shopping for a dog. Head to your local pound/shelter or go online to find a rescue near you to save a life. You’ll likely have this dog for many years, as mixed breed dogs generally don’t get medical conditions that are often associated with pure breeds, such as hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, and cataracts.
A decision such as adding a dog to your family is a big one that should involve all family members. Take everyone’s desires into consideration, and you’ll most likely discover that one of the breeds above has characteristics that will make everyone happy. For specific details on each breed, including size and life expectancy, visit the American Kennel Club. Contact us if you would like to learn more about family-oriented dog breeds.