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Friendly Dog Breeds for Families

7 min read

By Clarissa Vanner

  • Dogs are great companions and can be especially good for kids, teaching them responsibility and patience.
  • Not all breeds are good for families though. It’s important to do your research to ensure the breed meshes with your lifestyle and family.
  • When choosing a dog, be sure to consider its temperament, size, and energy levels.

Dogs make great companions and quickly become a part of the family. They can also be great for kids, teaching them responsibility, trust, compassion, and patience. But before you add a new puppy or dog to your crew, it’s important to do your research to ensure the new furry family member meshes with your lifestyle and children.

Some breeds are calm and patient (great for little ones!) while others can be more energetic and playful (suitable for older children). Deciding which breed is best for your family can be difficult but we’re here to help! To help you on your journey, we’ll take a look at factors you should consider when choosing a furry companion as well as 11 friendly dog breeds that are great for families.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dog for the Family

When choosing a dog it’s important to assess your current lifestyle to ensure you have the capacity to take care of a pet. Whether you want a purebred, mixed breed, or a mut, PetMD says there are three important factors to consider when choosing a dog for the family: temperament, size, and energy levels.

Temperament refers to the dog’s personality. It’s important to understand its temperament to ensure they mesh well with your family dynamic. For example, a calmer, patient dog may be better suited for small children. The size of the dog is also essential. A larger breed might not be a good fit for your family if you live in a small apartment or don’t have access to a lot of green space.

Finally, knowing the dog’s energy levels is important too and is a matter of preference. Some dogs require more exercise than others, so be realistic with your lifestyle to ensure you can meet the dog’s needs. Now that you know the important factors to consider when choosing a furry family member, let’s take a look at 11 potential dog breeds you should consider for your family!

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers may be one of the most popular family dogs, and for good reason! This breed is smart, confident, and incredibly loyal. They’re also very easy to train. Goldens are also suitable for families, especially those with young children because they’re very patient and gentle.

The one thing you’ll need to keep in mind is that golden retrievers are a larger breed and do require a lot of exercise. But if they suit your environment and lifestyle, they can make great companions for children as they love to play retrieving games, run around, and go for many walks. Another thing to keep in mind is you’ll need to take care of their coat — they require a twice-weekly brushing.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are at the top of the list right beside golden retrievers. They too make great companions for families. They also come in a few varieties such as black labs, chocolate labs, and yellow labs. Like goldens, labs are playful, patient, protective, and very smart.

While labs do make great companions they do have high energy levels and require a lot of exercise and room to roam. If your family likes to stay active then a lab may be the perfect fit. Along with daily walks or runs, labs also love to swim!

Irish Setter

At a first glance, an Irish setter looks a bit like a golden retriever. They have similar eyes and long silky coats but one thing that sets them apart is that Irish setters have much longer ears. This show-stopping breed is also very family-friendly. In fact, they can be so loyal that they hate being alone. PetMD says because of this, they behave better when they’re surrounded by their family.

Irish setters also require a lot of exercise and are a great match for energetic children and families. Their longer coat also requires regular grooming and brushing to prevent it from matting.


If a large breed is too much to handle or if you don’t have the space, a pug may be a great alternative for your family. Pugs may be small, weighing about 14- to 18-pounds, but they have huge hearts that make them great companions for adults and children alike.

Pugs also have a good appetite and love to eat so it’s very important to maintain a regular healthy diet and provide plenty of exercise. Given the opportunity, a pug will love to snuggle up on the couch with you and the family.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is famous for being a favorite of King Charles II and it’s easy to see why. This adorable toy breed is affectionate, patient, and eager to please. They also love to cuddle, making them great companions for families.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are also low-maintenance, non-shedding dogs. They do have long silky coats though, so it’s important to brush them at least once a week to prevent their fur from matting.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain dogs earned the nickname “gentle giants” and for good reason. They’ll get along with the whole family, and will be especially gentle with children, although they “often become more attached to one lucky human,” says the AKC. Though this breed is very large, weighing 70- to 115-pounds, they are sweet, loyal, and affectionate — a great contender for your family!

Bernese are great housepets but they also enjoy outdoor activities like long walks or hikes. This breed is also intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train. That said, they don’t respond well to harsh corrections, says the source.


Beagles are great small-medium size dogs that can be easily carried. They also have a calm and friendly temperament, making them great for families with children. Hill’s Pet says they also get along with other pets.

One thing beagles don’t like though is being left alone. Too much alone time may cause them to howl and be destructive. Additionally, beagles were originally bred to be hunting dogs so they will never say no to playing games and exploring the outdoors. Beagles also shed moderately year-round and require regular grooming and weekly brushing.


Collies are majestic, just watch Lassie and you’ll see why! They’re renowned for their herding skills but they’re also very loyal and affectionate. According to the AKC, “Collies are famously fond of children and make wonderful family pets.”

Collies are also very intelligent and can learn rapidly with gentle training. They’re also best for active families as they thrive on “companionship and regular exercise,” says the source. Though rough collies (long-haired) are most well-known, there is also a smooth collie breed that has shorter hair. Keep in mind you’ll want to have plenty of space for these furry friends as they’re a larger breed weighing 50- to 75-pounds.


If you’re looking for a less energetic dog for your family, consider a bulldog. These devoted breeds are loyal, friendly, and affectionate towards kids, says PetMD. Though they can thrive in large houses, they will also do well in smaller apartments.

The source points out that one thing you need to keep in mind is they have a compressed jaw which means you’ll need to take extra care with teeth cleaning. It’s also important to pay close attention to the wrinkles and folds in their skin and clean them regularly to prevent dirt buildup.


Poodles are regal dogs. They may be best known for their distinctive haircuts but they also happen to be very intelligent and gentle breeds. Poodles are also very loyal to their families and barely shed which makes them a great fit for anyone with allergies.

Additionally, poodles come in varying sizes from standard to miniature and even toy, which means you can find the perfect size for your environment. Keep in mind that each size comes with slightly different temperaments. PetMD says the standard poodle breed is obedient, smart, playful, and adventurous but is often shy with strangers. The miniature breed on the other hand usually becomes attached to one person, however, they’re still good with children and other pets.


According to PetMD, the Newfoundland breed is nicknamed “Nature’s Babysitter.” These gentle giants are also considered one of the most intelligent breeds in the world and not only love children but can be very protective too.

This extra-large breed does require a large living environment though and is best suited for families with large, open spaces. You’ll also enjoy that they’re easy to train but their long coats do need regular grooming.

Junior Managing Editor

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.

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