20 Great Dogs for Families


Many people choose dogs as family pets and of course they want one that’s family-friendly.

There are many dogs that are perfect pets. We look at the qualities that are mandatory when looking for a dog that will be as safe as can be around children.

Golden retrievers are good family pets
Golden Retrievers are great playmates for children

Of course, children needed to be taught how to act around animals as much as dogs need to be socialized at an early age.

Here are the 20 great dogs for families with children!

The Doggy Candidates

Golden Retriever

You will probably recognize the golden retriever as the commonly used guide dog for the blind. Amongst others of course.

There’s a good reason for this, they are an intelligent breed that has an ability to be able to understand human emotions more than others.

Retrievers are great family pets

They are usually friendly, sociable dogs who are extremely loyal too. The golden retriever can grow to quite a large size and need to get a fair amount of exercise every day.

This is another reason why they make such excellent guide dogs of course, like some kind of super-battery, they just keep going and going.

The golden retriever is arguably the ultimate canine for the family, they are the go-to dog when most families are initially looking.

They are very tolerant and well behaved with children and can be a fantastic companion for many years.

Pug

Another dog that’s not traditionally linked with specialist roles. However, that doesn’t they won’t make a good dog for your child.

They are a lot of fun and kids may bond easier with these rather than others (such as the German Shepherd) as the Pug is smaller and less intimidating.

Animals, in general, can be quite nervous with children due to their unpredictable nature but the Pug takes all this in their stride and won’t be fazed.

If you’re looking for a happy dog that’s sociable and difficult to upset, then this could be a great choice for an autistic child.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Don’t jump to conclusions about either its look or its name. Find someone who owns one and they will most likely have different thoughts to popular opinion.

They are very strong dogs, this is true but typically only dangerous if they’ve been trained to be so.

They are not out looking for a fight and why they typically get depicted in films in this way is disappointing as many will miss out on a loving home because of this.

If you get one as a puppy and if you are a loving family then your Staffordshire Bull Terrier will be too. They are actually quite a docile breed, loyal, and have a great personality.

They want to be sociable and will follow you around the house because they want to spend time with you. Don’t judge this dog by how the breed has been branded in public, make your own choice.

Is it true that there have been known attacks from this dog? Yes. But you could say that about absolutely any dog breed and it all depends on how it has been treated.

Poodle (Standard Breed)

Not traditionally associated with therapy, this breed has for a long time been discounted. Like some other breeds, the media portray it in a certain way and we come to accept it.

A dog that’s seen as many as an accessory that celebrities can carry around with them, like a handbag.

This is not fair though, the poodle although quite small, has a big heart and if they realized the image the media portrayed of them, it would make them quite sad.

They are intelligent and easy to train and can follow out tasks quickly and without too much fuss.

The poodle is a highly intelligent dog and requires a lot of stimulation to keep them happy. You will find that your poodle may be a little shy with people they don’t know initially but it won’t take them long to warm to a kind human.

If you want to train them (and you should) a Poodle is one of the easier breeds to train as they can be very obedient. They also love playing fetch and getting involved in any sports you might like to play down the park.

Poodles are generally great with kids and they love having fun. However, they are better with the older child rather than the baby/toddler.

If the environment is calm then this will suit the Poodle perfectly but they should have enough room to play inside if possible.

Note that as per the heading, I am talking about the standard breed here as other breeds can be less tolerant of young children and their unpredictable behavior.

Poodles don’t like being left alone, like most dogs, so maybe best for the family who will be around most of the time.

Old English Sheepdog

Known for never being nervous and never having an ounce of aggression within them, the Old English Sheepdog is a lovely breed.

They are quite large and have a friendly furry coat, not unlike a bear! They are a dog that needs a lot of space both inside and outside and they demand a fair amount of exercise.

They have their history in working and so, therefore, are a dog that can be taught relatively easy, remembering though that the earlier you start the easier it will be for you.

They love fun and thrive on playing with children. If your child may struggle with communication then the Sheepdog will cater for this and will be patient and caring. They can sometimes be lazy but will never typically turn down play time.

They are an intelligent breed that is adaptable and extremely sociable. The Old English Sheepdog is a breed that would take some beating when considering a dog for your family that will give you joy, love, and loyalty throughout its life.

Labrador Retriever

The most popular type of dog for service requirement. Although the Golden Retriever is used as a blind dog, the Labrador Retriever is used even more.

It is a great dog to be trained and will actively enjoy the experience, it’s like it actually needs it. An extremely calm breed, any kind of aggression in a Labrador is very rare.

In fact, sometimes you will think it’s constantly in a good mood and that may well be because it actually is! If you’re looking for a therapy dog then it would be hard to find a reason why the Lab Retriever isn’t well suited.

They have actually been the most popular dog in the US for around 30 years, that says a lot!

All dogs have a great sense of smell, we know this. The Labrador Retriever though has an exceptional sense of smell that enables them to track down the source very quickly.

This is the reason why military services around the world use them to locate thieves. Although they are known to chew a little more than some other breeds this can be trained out of them.

They are great with children (babies included) and also other animals. They are a fun loving breed that enjoys an elongated puppy spell when they can be cheeky and generally over-playful for up to around three years.

They love exploring, which can, of course, be a problem. It’s a sad fact of life that this popular breed can be stolen so if you’re thinking of getting one, please get it microchipped!

Vizsla

Originally from Hungry, the Vizsla isn’t that well known in the US or Western Europe. There are loads of dog breeds you wouldn’t have heard of but I can’t include them all.

The reason why the Vizsla is included is that they are a very special breed. A strong, enthusiastic dog that is well known for being exceptionally healthy.

They have a lot of energy and need a lot of attention, as they will give you a lot in return. The Vizsla will form tight bonds with those it cares for and will be their protectorate from that point onwards.

They are gentle and loving but will become quite anxious when left on their own or when they don’t get enough attention.

They can be a good guard dog when trained, they are a good hunter but pay attention to the training aspect here. You need to get the balance just right and not over-do it.

The Vizsla loves to swim, probably because of their hunting abilities. They are very good with children and they will become a companion that you will treasure for as long as life permits.

Yorkshire Terrier

Another terrier, but this time not so big. The little Yorkshire Terrier is a breed of dog that will want to play with you and will want to play with you.

They certainly have a personality and have been known to be somewhat stubborn! They are a proud dog and also one that wants to be active, often.

Often overprotective of their owner you can see why they are a favorite for some autistic children. However, they do need to have been trained well and ideally, you would have them from a puppy.

Fortunately, they are one of the easier dogs to train! They are known to be quite intelligent and you certainly couldn’t call them submissive.

With an appetite for exercise, you’ll need to be fit to keep up with them. If you can’t get them out on long walks you will need to spend a lot of time playing with them inside.

They aren’t the biggest of dogs of course so they can only do so much before exhaustion sets in. You’ll know if you have a well-brought-up Yorkshire Terrier as they’ll be quite content to curl up on your lap with you on a cold Winter’s evening.

They are also known to be quite barky dogs but this has been associated with one that is not quite content. So if your Yorkshire is doing this, find out what’s wrong!

Great Pyrenees

A warm, friendly dog that with the right amount of perseverance can be trained (it is not known to be the most intelligent of breeds) and will be a best friend for a child for life.

They are calm, friendly, and typically won’t bark unless stressed (make sure they get enough attention!). A confident dog who needs to give as much love as they get and will be patient and loyal to their owner.

A large dog, it can be used to guard and will do a good job. They may become outwardly aggressive to strangers (which is why they can be a guard dog) however they will calm down if their owner is there and shows no signs of stress.

Newfoundland

This is a large dog breed. The male will end up weighing about the same as a fully grown man. Lots to consider before you consider one of these, simply due to their size.

You have to have a lot of space for them. So why are they even mentioned here? Well it’s not their fault they’re so big, they have a lovely personality and seem to be particularly fond of children.

They are used as a therapy dog for kids with special needs, including autism. Despite their size, they can still dart around pretty quick and will expect you to take them out for exercise frequently.

Another advantage of the Newfoundland is that they’re relatively easy to train.

They are a very loyal dog and it’s unusual for them to become aggressive. Simply because of their size, they may not be best suited for smaller children as they could knock them over or lean on them.

You wouldn’t want 70 kg of weight falling onto your small child.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog and child

A sociable, smallish dog that you’ll find easy to maintain and will be full of love and personality. Versatile, they will cuddle up to you at night and play with you in the park.

An extremely loyal dog that needs routing and some training when they’re younger to get the best out of them.

The French Bulldog will want to be with you all the time and would not be happy if left alone so as with other breeds unless someone is going to be around the house all day, this is not the breed for you.

They can become anxious and destructive when this occurs so don’t let it get to this point.

The French Bulldog needs to be kept at a stable temperature as they are unable to regulate this themselves due to inherent problems with their breathing.

It can become cold during the winter and too hot during the summer so care needs to be taken how you manage this. They rarely bark and will make a loyal and affectionate companion to you.

They are great with children due to their patience and will also be okay with other dogs.

German Shepherd

Used by police throughout the world they are a great servant. They are capable (and enjoy) many different roles and are incredibly loyal.

An intelligent dog who will focus on the tasks that they’ve been trained to do. They need a lot of input though and should be trained properly, formally, from a young age.

The German Shepherd needs a lot of exercise and companionship, if it doesn’t get this you will quickly notice signs of anxiety.

Boxer

Boxers are lovely family pets

Another dog that has been branded as dangerous. They are not an aggressive dog by nature. The key with the Boxer is to ensure they are socialized properly from a young age.

If you raise these dogs as a family pet they will not be aggressive in any way. In fact, they will be gentle, loving, and caring.

They have the ability to be able to read moods very well and seem to know what their owners need, and when. They have a lot of energy and should be exercised regularly.

Assuming they have been socialized when young the Boxer is a great dog for children. They will become very attached to your family, in fact, they will be more comfortable with humans rather than other dogs.

Care should be taken when introducing them to larger dogs, particularly if they are of the same sex.

King Charles Spaniel

Spaniels are good family pets

No doubt about it this is a beautiful breed. They are an extremely loyal, affectionate dog and are a great choice of dog for children as they are very calm.

They are very friendly and any signs of aggression are rare. Due to this, don’t expect them to be a good guard dog! But that’s not what you’re looking for here of course.

They don’t need a particularly large amount of exercise and would probably prefer to jump up onto your lap than go out for a walk. They can tolerate other dogs and have been used as a therapy dog.

The King Charles Spaniel isn’t a noisy dog and you shouldn’t have any problems with them barking but don’t leave them alone for a long time.

Being left alone doesn’t suit the temperament of this breed and you may find their personality changes due to the anxiety caused by their lack of companionship.

Corgi

The Corgi dog is a fun loving animal that is probably best known to be a favorite of the British Monarchy. It’s a small dog that has a happy demeanor and they are generally laid back and open to being trained.

They have a colossal amount of energy for their size and typically enjoy being the center of attention. They are an independent dog and need to be trained from an early age to get the very best out of them.

They certainly aren’t aggressive but do have a strong personality and won’t be a push-over. They are good with children and would make a great life-long best friend.

Bichon Frise

A small breed, not dissimilar on physical attributes to the standard poodle in many ways. It is a dog that thrives on companionship.

The Bichon is a friendly breed that will happily give much back to anyone who wants to give it some attention. It is a happy, tolerant and loyal dog that has been used for therapy in groups of children previously.

Even young children with their erratic movements don’t seem to phase this breed. In fact, it is best to keep an eye on the children rather than the dog due to its part submissive behavior.

They like to get out and play and will most likely have more energy than their owner! Other animals don’t usually present a problem to it and if required, training should not present any problems.

Bernese Mountain Dog

A large dog that historically worked on farms. Don’t underestimate the size of this dog, they can become big, very big. If this isn’t a problem for your family though, then read on as this is an awesome family dog.

This, of course, is down to their personality, which is laid back and non-aggressive. They are confident and will be loyal to you and your family.

Known for being a little harder to train than other breeds but this could be because they take a bit longer to mature than other dogs. Basically, you just need to have a bit more patience and perseverance, they are worth it!

If looking into this further it’s important that you understand how they’ve been brought up. They should be well socialized at an early age (when they’re still puppies) and they should also have had formal training during this period and (arguably) for longer.

They love being outside and they expect (and deserve) a lot of exercise, despite not having the most amount of endurance. If yours is barking then typically it’s because they’re not getting enough of this.

They love kids and are very affectionate towards them. They’re not snappy in any way and will be tolerant of kids making a big fuss of them, due to their calm nature.

They are great with strangers, a good guard dog, and bond very well with their owners, although usually they will latch on to just one individual.

Labradoodle

I guess arguably the Labradoodle shouldn’t be in this list as it’s not a breed as such, it’s a cross between a Labrador and a poodle of course. However, they are extremely clever dogs which can learn very fast.

This, of course, means they can also be trained quickly. It has been noted that Children who spend time with these dogs have increased social skills as well as confidence.

They are typically friendly and are great as a family dog, however, the key is in their upbringing and training. As their descendant dogs are very intelligent you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Labradoodle is also.

Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are good family pets

The smallest of all the dog breeds. Despite this, they have stack loads of energy and will play with you until the cows come home. They are a loving dog who relishes spending time with children and craves the attention they provide.

I’ve said this so many times in this article but the Chihuahua has to be trained properly otherwise they have been known to be somewhat stubborn.

Also, this isn’t a dog you should leave alone for any amount of time – they can become stressed and destructive, chewing up all your furniture in no time at all.

Interestingly, a Chihuahua’s temperament appears to depend directly on what the temperament was of their parents, so this is a factor also, as well as training at an early age.

If this breed is to be used as a therapy dog it is imperative to know the history and it must be fully trained. It is possible they can become aggressive if not.

The Chihuahua wants to feel safe and protected, will be at their best in a loving family with a lot of attention. If you can provide that for her and ensure they have been trained properly, this could be a great choice.

St. Bernard

A big dog. Be under no illusion, this is a very big dog. Typically, a very calm breed that is known to be well behaved with children.

Like most breeds though, and this should go without saying. They need to be brought up in the right way and introduced to children and other animals at an early age.

This will make them easier to deal with and there will be less chance of them being aggressive over their territory and property.

If your child is little then you need to be careful that the St. Bernard doesn’t bowl your child over when playing. If you haven’t seen one before (the dog, not the child) then go and visit one in person, it’ll make sense then.

Training and strict control of the St. Bernard is required as if they are left to their own devices they will be difficult for anyone, even a grown adult to control.

They can be intimidating and bark at people they don’t know which can (not surprisingly) make people quite wary of them.

Stating the obvious perhaps but you’ll need a large space to be able to accommodate this breed.

They do shed a lot and you’ll be picking up fur forever. However, this is a small price to pay for such a grand dog.

Our Recommendation

5th Place – Newfoundland

4th Place – Old English Sheepdog

3rd Place – King Charles Spaniel

2nd Place – Golden Retriever

1st Place – Labrador Retriever

So, there we have it. After analyzing many dog breeds the place for top spot goes to the Labrador Retriever and perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise to many.

It has a proven, caring nature can’t be topped however that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider the other breeds.

All twenty of these dogs have their qualities, you just need to pick the right one for you. Take your time. Give your child (and the dog, whichever one you end up going for) the greatest life possible.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions about this article, we’d genuinely love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Jane

I'm Jane Pettitt, co-owner of Pets Knowledge Base with my husband, Matt. I have a grand total of 50 years’ experience as a pet owner. It all started with a guinea pig called Percy when I was 5 years old and since then I’ve lived with two more guinea pigs, a hamster, mice, a rabbit, a tortoise, a dog, and 11 cats. I’ve learned so much about pet care during this time and many of my articles are based on my personal experiences plus those of my family and friends.

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