Some dogs are referred to as “family dog breeds” because they are considered breeds that are usually safe to raise with children. But dogs are every bit as unique as people, and when raised properly, almost any dog can make a suitable family pet.
However, choosing the right dog for your family is not always easy. You must remember that when you bring a dog into your home, it’s like welcoming a new family member.
It’s definitely not something you should do spur of the moment, or on a whim, without carefully considering whether the dog is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.
Families that have children should consider family friendly dog breeds that get along well with children. If you bring home a dog that does not tend to fare well with kids, you run the risk of endangering your children (as well as the dog), if he or she snaps or bites or becomes aggressive for some reason.
Some dogs simply can’t handle the high levels of stress that come in a busy and active household, and flourish better in home environments that are more laid-back. Especially if they are a naturally nervous breed.
You must be careful when choosing the size of your dog, and consider what stage your family is at with your children. Smaller dogs will obviously not be ideal if you have young children, because they can be more fragile and prone to injury.
You also probably don’t want a dog that is too large or rambunctious, because then your young child could end up in harm’s way, even if by accident.
Factors to Consider When Getting A Family Dog
That said, here are a few key factors to consider when choosing your next canine family member.
Is the dog you are considering intelligent?
It’s much better to choose a dog that can be easily trained over family-friendly dog breeds that tend to be stubborn or not particularly bright. A well-trained dog is safer than a dog with no manners, so it’s important to choose a breed that does well in this regard.
Is the dog rowdy and rambunctious?
Rowdy and rambunctious is fine, when the dog is trained properly. While you don’t want a dog that is full of energy and poorly trained, you do want a dog that is energetic and well-trained, so that they play and can keep pace with your kids, but they still listen and follow commands. This is especially important if your family is very active.
Does the dog seem warm and friendly?
Obviously, every dog is different and has their own unique personality. Usually that personality emerges early, even as a young pup. So, beyond looking at the type of breed that is most suitable for families, look also for a dog that seems to have the personality and temperament you want.
It’s a good idea to stay away from nervous breeds or breeds that are known for aggressive or impatient behavior.
Is the dog fragile or fairly stout?
As you know, kids can be every bit as rowdy and rambunctious as a dog, and even if the dog happens to be small and rambunctious, you still want to choose one that is sturdy. Small and delicate dogs (like the miniature Chihuahua) may not be a good choice for your family pet because they will be prone to injury.
The best course of action is to take the time to meet the dog you are considering, let your family meet the dog, and see for yourself if he or she is a good fit for the clan before you make your decision.
Another consideration to keep in mind is whether you have other pets as well, and whether your new fur baby will get along with them.
Best Family Dog Breeds
With all that in mind, here are twelve of the top dog breeds for families that have the potential to be a great new addition to your home.
Bernese Mountain Dog
These dogs are often called gentle giants. Once upon a time they were farm workers, and today they make excellent companions. Bernese Mountain Dogs are very teachable and love to learn, with a calm and quirky temperament. However, keep in mind that these are large dogs, so if your living space is cramped, you may want to choose a smaller breed.
This is another gentle giant, and was a war dog in another life. Irish Wolfhounds are considered one of the tallest breeds in the world, yet despite their size, they are very calm and well-suited for urban living.
However, because these dogs can get up to 280 pounds, make sure you have enough space before you bring one home. If you do go for one of these dogs, they are extremely loyal, as well as easy to train. Another plus is that even though they need regular exercise, they also have no problem being lazy. Win, win!
The Neapolitan Mastiff is large and can look forbidding. They weigh in at about 200 pounds full grown, and though they might move slowly and look rather clumsy when doing so, it doesn’t make them appear any less threatening. Despite their appearance, they are big old softies, making them great family dogs as well as excellent guard dogs. They are also calm and fairly lazy so they make great nap partners too.
Much like a Great Dane, these furry monsters like to pretend they are lapdogs and fit themselves into places that are just not meant for their size. They are happy to get plenty of attention and love, and they are patient with kids. Just make sure you have lots of room, because they will need it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these dogs are more into lounging than romping, so you might have to make them get up and go for walks to get in the necessary exercise they need each day.
These dogs can also be dominant and somewhat stubborn, so keep that in mind as well before you bring one home to the family.
Beagles make great family pets, and they love playing outside every bit as much as your kids probably do. They were hunting dogs in another life, and are built for endurance.
They also have great temperaments, friendly and warm, and they are very smart. If you have other fur babies, your new Beagle should fit right in as they tend to get along with other animals well.
There are several different breeds of Collies, but the important thing to focus on is the fact that Collies are whip-smart. This makes them a breeze to train, and they are also known for their gentleness and predictability.
Collies were herding dogs in another life, so if you have children, your new Collie might try to herd them if they are running wild through the house.
Though this is cute, and can be funny, you probably will not want to let this behavior become a habit for them. Despite their herding tendencies, Collies are a great choice for families with children and families that don’t have a lot of experience with dogs.
These dogs are lively, but very gentle and affectionate. They’re also loyal, smart, and obedient. This makes Vizslas an ideal choice for active families, especially in families who have older kids.
This is another energetic and playful dog that loves to socialize, and gets along great with kids. They can however get a bit anxious when left on their own and when they are away from the family for long periods of time, simply because they get so attached.
Keep in mind that Irish Setters need a lot of exercise, however they can be a great companion for a family with rowdy kids. They are also very trainable, which is ideal given how high energy they are.
Poodles are actually quite smart, as well as easy-going and gentle. They are bred in standard and miniature sizes, so depending on your family and environment, you can choose one or the other. Just keep in mind that they do come with some differences.
Standard poodles tend to be more outgoing and playful, while miniature poodles are more apt to attach to one person. Regardless of their quirks, both breeds are great with kids as well as other furry family members, and they are obedient and highly trainable.
These dogs are excellent family dogs who adore children and are extremely protective. They are also patient and gentle, and are often dubbed nature’s babysitter.
Highly intelligent, Newfoundlands love to spend time with their family. However, keep in mind they are very large, so they need plenty of open space. If your family is active, they will fit in well as they do not mind being challenged and put through their paces.
Unfortunately, they also tend to shed and drool a lot. Despite that, these are not outside dogs and will want to be inside with you, so if you aren’t keen on copious amounts of hair and drool, this breed might not be a good choice for your family.
Labrador Retrievers are extremely popular among families, simply because they have so many excellent qualities.
They are energetic and playful, warm and affectionate, protective, patient, loyal and reliable. They are also very trainable, extremely intelligent, and exhibit great stamina and strength.
Labs get along great with pretty much everyone, including other four-legged friends, and they love to be outdoors. They also require quite a bit of exercise, as well as a decent amount of room, so make sure that your home and your family is up to the task before you bring one home.
Bulldogs are great for rowdy kids because they are strong and sturdy. They are also very warm and friendly, although they are not particularly energetic.
You can raise a Bulldog in a large or small home, and they should be equally as comfortable. Just keep in mind that because they have so many wrinkles, they may require a little extra attention when it comes to taking care of their coat and cleaning them properly.
These are small, compact dogs that make for a wonderful family addition, especially if you have energetic kids that are still learning how to treat animals.
The Bull Terrier’s high pain threshold keeps them from reacting too hastily if they are accidentally hurt, and they are friendly and social, despite rumors that they can be aggressive.
These are bred to be companion dogs, but they are also smart and active, so you need to keep them busy and challenged to avoid boredom and keep them from acting out with undesirable behaviors.
Bringing home a new member of the family is always a big event, whether it’s the human or furry kind. Pets are a big responsibility, and require a significant investment of both time and attention.
Make the proper provisions beforehand, consider all the needs of your family and the constraints of your home and your lifestyle, and choose the dog that will fit in as seamlessly as possible.