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15 Best Family Dogs

Written By
9 min read

Updated - Jan 8th, 2021

Dogs are cherished members of our families. They provide unconditional love, wet kisses, endless snuggles, and a lifetime of memories. 

Choosing the right dog for your family, therefore, is an important decision.

And there’s a lot to consider when thinking about the best dog breeds for your family – personality, size, energy level, and more – depending on what you and your family is looking for in your next canine companion. 

Of course, there are certain types of dogs that are known as ideal family pets, especially when it comes to their affection for children.

So, what are the best family dogs? This list has you covered.

Best Family Dogs

Whether you’re looking for the perfect dog to run around the yard with your young children or  you’re seeking a companion to explore the city with you and your partner, there are a variety of dogs to choose from.

Let’s take a look at some of the best family dog breeds.

Labrador Retriever

  • Personality: Labs are friendly, sweet, and outgoing. They’ve topped the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular dog breeds since 1991.
  • Size: These are medium to large-sized dogs.
  • Energy-level: Labs are very active dogs, requiring daily exercise. They love to participate in all sorts of activities and excel with training.
  • Best for: Labs are one of the all-around best dogs for families, especially families with small children. These dogs are known for their sociable and affectionate nature, agreeable with kids, other dogs, and other animals. Labs are also particularly great for active families and will enjoy activities like swimming or hiking.

Golden Retriever

  • Personality: Golden Retrievers are smart, playful, and eager to please. Like the Lab, Goldens are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States.
  • Size: Goldens are medium to large-sized dogs.
  • Energy-level: Bred to be sporting dogs, Goldens have a lot of energy and require daily exercise. 
  • Best for: Similar to the Lab, Goldens are an excellent family dog for children, especially for those with space for running around, playing, and doing different activities together. Goldens are very friendly and will do well with training – they also make great therapy and working dogs.

Beagle

  • Personality: Beagles are happy-go-lucky, loving, and energetic. These hunting dogs were bred to run in packs and continue to enjoy the company of others.
  • Size: Although not your typical small dog, Beagles are certainly on the smaller side.
  • Energy-level: Beagles are very active and energetic. These dogs love playtime and should definitely get daily exercise.
  • Best for: Beagles are good for all kinds of families. These dogs will definitely fit in well with active families, especially those that like to spend time outdoors. Beagles are also great with kids of all ages.

Bulldog

  • Personality: Calm, friendly, and devoted, Bulldogs are loyal companions.
  • Size: These are medium-sized dogs.
  • Energy-level: Of all the dogs on our list so far, the Bulldog is the most low-maintenance. Although Bulldogs should get regular exercise, they’re not particularly high-energy and are happy to spend time relaxing.
  • Best for: Bulldogs are great for families with less space, such as those who live in apartments or in a city. In addition, Bulldogs are well-suited for families with children who are a little older and perhaps less likely to want to play.

Poodle

  • Personality: Smart, active, and eager to please, Poodles are known for their versatility.
  • Size: Poodles come in three different sizes. There are toy Poodles, miniature Poodles, and Standard Poodles. 
  • Energy-level: Poodles are extremely high-energy and active sporting dogs. They require regular exercise and love to participate in activities. These dogs also excel in training.
  • Best for: With three different sizes, Poodles can fit a wide variety of families. These dogs are excellent with children, are great for active families – and, as an added bonus, Poodles are a hypoallergenic dog breed making them good for allergy sufferers.

Collie

  • Personality: Just like Lassie, Collies are devoted, gentle, and loyal. These dogs are well-known for their companionship with children.
  • Size: Collies are large dogs.
  • Energy-level: A herding dog at heart, Collies are pretty active dogs, requiring daily exercise. These dogs will enjoy playing with kids, running around in the yard, and generally participating in anything with their families.
  • Best for: Collies are good family dogs for children of any age. These dogs love to be active family members and are great for anyone looking for a loyal, reliable companion.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Personality: A true companion dog, Cavaliers are gentle, affectionate, and sweet.
  • Size: These are small dogs.
  • Energy-level: Like all dogs, Cavs should get some activity, but they’re not particularly high-energy or too active. Bred for companionship, Cavs enjoy spending time on your lap as much as they do going for a brief walk.
  • Best for: If you’re looking for a small dog breed, the Cav is one of the all-around best family dogs. These dogs are great with children, can live in small apartments, and are generally low-maintenance in comparison to some of their larger counterparts. Plus, if you want a dog that likes to cuddle over one that needs more exercise, the Cav is a perfect choice.

Newfoundland

  • Personality: Often referred to as “the nanny dog,” the Newfoundland is patient, sweet, and gentle –with an affinity for looking after kids.
  • Size: Newfoundlands are a giant breed. Although these are gentle giants, they are known to drool, so maintenance is something to keep in mind with this breed.
  • Energy-level: Newfoundlands have a moderate activity level and should get regular exercise. A natural working dog, they excel at outdoor activities and canine sports.
  • Best for: Newfoundlands are great family dogs for kids. Despite their size, these dogs do not need particularly active families, but will need a lot of space. Overall, Newfies are loving companions who will be happy to spend time with their families.

Pug

  • Personality: Pugs are known as lovable, mischievous, and charming.
  • Size: Pugs are a toy breed, but don’t let their small size fool you. They’re full of “big-dog” personality.
  • Energy-level: Pugs are lively and friendly, but not extremely active, only requiring moderate daily exercise.
  • Best for: Pugs are particularly great family dogs for city dwellers, especially those that live in apartments – as they don’t need a lot of exercise and don’t take up a lot of space. Along these lines, their friendly personalities make them ideal companions for urban life and meeting new playmates on daily walks. That said, Pugs can also get along perfectly well with or without kids, making them a good choice for a variety of families.

Irish Setter

  • Personality: Outgoing, sweet, and active, Irish Setters are known for their playful personalities. 
  • Size: Irish Setters are large dogs.
  • Energy-level: A sporting dog at heart, Irish Setters are full of energy. These dogs are very playful and should get regular, daily exercise to release their energy.
  • Best for: Irish Setters are great companions for children – their fun-loving and active nature makes them excellent playmates, especially when it comes to running in the yard, chasing balls, swimming, and more. 

Bichon Frise

  • Personality: Bichons are playful, curious, and extremely adaptable.
  • Size: Bichons are small dogs. Like Pugs, however, Bichons are small dogs with big personalities.
  • Energy-level: Bichons are somewhat active and their activity level can often depend on the individual dog. These are often great lap dogs who love to cuddle, but can also be excellent dogs for a brisk walk in the park.
  • Best for: Bichons are one of the best family dogs for apartment and city life – these dogs even make great watchdogs. That said, Bichons are good with kids and don’t need as much space or exercise compared to some of the other dogs on our list. In addition, Bichons are a hypoallergenic dog, making them ideal for families with allergies.

Vizsla

  • Personality: Vizslas are affectionate, gentle, and full of energy. These are athletic dogs that form tight bonds with their family members.
  • Size: Vizslas are medium-sized dogs.
  • Energy-level: These are high-energy dogs. Vizslas require a lot of exercise and love to participate in outdoor activities and playtime. 
  • Best for: Vizslas are excellent dogs for athletic and outdoor-focused families. These dogs will excel with active children who are willing to spend time with them and take them on adventures, especially hiking, jogging, or biking. Vizslas are friendly and eager to please, so they’re also great for any family looking for a steadfast and loyal companion.

French Bulldog

  • Personality: Frenchies are adaptable, playful, and smart. These dogs have quickly become one of the most popular dog breeds, especially in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
  • Size: French Bulldogs are small to medium-sized dogs.
  • Energy-level: Frenches are alert (making them great watchdogs), but not very high-energy. They don’t need too much exercise and can be satisfied with daily walks.
  • Best for: As you might expect, Frenchies are one of the best family dogs for cities, especially for those who live in small apartments. These dogs don’t require a lot of space to run around and their friendly personalities are well-suited to city walks. Frenchies can be good for families with or without kids – they’re pretty happy to go with the flow and they’ll have fun meeting new friends along the way.

Boxer

  • Personality: Boxers are fun-loving, affectionate, active, and even silly. This is another breed that has long been one of the most popular dogs in the United States.
  • Size: Boxers are large dogs.
  • Energy-level: Boxers are extremely high-energy. These dogs are very active and require daily exercise. Although Boxers make great playmates, their size and energy can be a little overwhelming for very small children or older family members.
  • Best for: Boxers are excellent dogs for kids, known for their protective and loyal nature. They can make great guard dogs, acting with both patience and dedication. They are also good for active families with space for them to run and play in the backyard.

Dachshund

  • Personality: Dachshunds are friendly, curious, and spunky hounds bred to be hunting dogs.
  • Size: Dachshunds come in two sizes, standard and miniature, and despite their small size these dogs have big personalities.
  • Energy-level: Dachshunds have a moderate activity-level and require regular exercise. 
  • Best for: Dachshunds are versatile dogs that can be well-suitable for a variety of families. These dogs are independent and smart; they can make good watchdogs. Although Dachshunds are extremely adaptable, their size and friendly nature make them particularly great for those who live in cities.

Choosing a Dog For Your Family

When it comes down to it, every dog is unique and so is every family. 

So, whether the right dog for your family is the Labrador Retriever, the Bulldog, the Vizsla, or another dog breed entirely, only you can make that decision.

And whichever dog you choose, learn how Pumpkin can help keep your new pup healthy.

Writer, Proud Dog & Cat Mom
Randa is a writer & former assoc. digital content editor at the American Kennel Club. She's also mom to 1 Corgi & 2 orange cats.