10 Family-Friendly Dog Breeds

schoolboy cute boy with headphones does homework at table in stylish apartment kitchen with tablet and pet poodle dog with laptop, modern education and distance remote learning

Key Points

  • Families with dogs are healthier.

  • Kids with a family dog have better self-esteem and exhibit empathy at an earlier age.

  • With an unrivaled ability to teach compassion, obligation, and accountability, these 10 breeds are a great place to begin your search for the perfect family companion.

With a dog in the home, children learn the responsibilities of caring for someone else — even through the simple tasks of filling the water bowl and taking the dog for walks.

Research shows that having a family dog increases immune function and reduces the incidence of infections in children.

A family dog allows everyone in the home to learn about responsibility, trust, and compassion.

Children learn essential life lessons about bereavement and life's natural, healthy relationships when a pet passes away.

Dr. John Pilley, whose border collie Chaser is the subject of his book Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words, says, "The relatively short life spans of our pets cause us a lot of grief, but they also ground us in a natural life cycle of life and death, and, if we accept it, renewal. The spirit of our relationship with one pet lives on in and shapes the spirit of our relationship with another pet, even years later."

For an excellent family companion, begin your research with these breeds.

A golden retriever lays down on a trail in the woods

1. Golden Retriever

The wonderful golden retriever has the gifted personality to fit into various homes. Equally happy to play fetch in the backyard or learn performance tricks, this intelligent and energetic breed is an excellent family companion.

Known for their friendly, intelligent, and gentle nature, golden retrievers are classic good family dogs that get along well with children and other pets. These sweet dogs are 20" to 24" tall at the shoulder and live about 12 years. Their beautiful coats need weekly brushing and range in color from dark gold to light cream.

The golden retriever has an innate ability to please and is kind and intelligent. Goldens need daily exercise and cognitive enrichment to put their natural athleticism and brainpower to good use.

2. Labrador Retriever

The lovable Labrador retriever is America's most popular dog breed. The Labrador has webbed toes that make them strong swimmers and has a reputation for loving water.

Their low-maintenance coat comes in colors including black, chocolate, and yellow. They are 21 to 25" tall at the withers and have a life expectancy of 13 years.

Their high energy and muscular tails can be a challenge around very small children, but they are a delightful pet for families that take the time to educate their children on proper interaction with a dog.

Labs are easy to train, enthusiastic, and steady-tempered with children of all ages. They demand lots of daily exercise and enrichment activities to challenge their athleticism and bright personalities.

Labrador retrievers are energetic, loving, good-natured dogs that thrive in active families and are great with kids.

Black lab sprinting through dry grass

3. Beagle

The merry and family-friendly beagle is perfect for many households, standing from 13" to 16" tall at the shoulder, with a short coat that takes very little grooming. They have a long life expectancy of about 15 years. The family-friendly beagle is an affectionate, curious, and playful breed that adapts well to various environments.

Beagles are natural explorers that need to use their noses to lead a happy life. Lots of "sniff-aris" — expeditions where the dog is allowed to roam and sniff to their heart's content — are required for this breed. They have beautiful voices that can become a nuisance if the dog is left alone for long periods.

Beagles love to play, are conveniently sized, and make lively companions for active families. These dogs are determined but amiable and make gentle and loving family members.

4. Poodle

The versatile poodle is an adept swimmer that excels at water sports. Bred in three poodle varieties (standard, miniature, and toy) poodles are known for their intelligence, hypoallergenic coat, and friendly disposition. All poodle varieties are suitable for a variety of families.

Their dense coat requires frequent grooming and comes in black, white, apricot, or a combination of colors.

The standard poodle is 18"-24", the miniature is 11"-14", and the toy is 9"-11" tall. Their life expectancy is 15 years.

Poodles are intelligent dogs that can learn just about any task you want to train. This aristocratic breed is at home in a suburban neighborhood as it is on Park Avenue. Poodles are warm, bright, and affectionate family members.

Calming Dog Ad

A family sits on the couch near their new puppy

5. Boxer

Class clowns of the dog world, the boxer breed is a joyful and energetic family dog. Boxers are loyal and patient dogs that love playing with children and can be protective of their family without being aggressive.

Boxers are prone to heatstroke due to being flat-faced (brachycephalic). They make excellent watchdogs because they are likely to bark at strangers or anything unusual.

Boxers are silly, patient, playful protectors that make great family dogs for active families that take the time to socialize and train them.

The boxer breed has an easy, low-maintenance, and beautiful coat. Standing tall at 21"-25", boxers have a life expectancy of 12 years. As puppies, the boxer breed can be very exuberant, but they become steady and dignified family consorts as they mature into middle age.

6. Collie

The collie family dog is the pop-culture ideal of dogdom. The collie comes in two varieties: the classic luxurious full-coated rough collie and the sleeker smooth-coated variety.

Plan to spend time brushing your collie's iconic coat. This elegant dog stands 22"-26" tall and has a life expectancy of 14 years. It is a generally healthy breed.

The collie family dog is famous for being devoted to children and is a wonderful family pet. They are easy to train and need moderate exercise. The collie is intelligent, gentle, and devoted. They form strong bonds with their families and are known for being especially good with children.

A family embraces their family pet

7. Bichon Frise

A great choice for smaller homes or apartments, the bichon frise is an adorable family companion. Bichons are one of the best small family dogs, hypoallergenic dogs that enjoy companionship and are well-suited for families with allergy sufferers.

Their hypoallergenic coat needs lots of grooming, but keeping it clipped short makes grooming the bichon frise manageable.

Long-lived with a life expectancy of 15 years or more, this breed's 9"-12" stature makes it a convenient size. Though spirited, the bichon's personality is affectionate, gentle, and playful.

8. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This small, affectionate breed is known for its gentle and adaptable nature, making it an excellent choice for families with children of all ages.

The Cavalier King Charles spaniel (Cav) has an ideal temperament, is adaptable to all sizes of families, and is ideal around babies and young children. Children must be taught how to be gentle with this toy-sized dog.

Cavs soft, silky coat comes in various colors, from ruby red, black, and tri-colored, to the iconic Blenheim red-and-white, and needs weekly brushing.

Standing only 12" to 13", the Cavalier King Charles has a lifespan of 15 years. Many Cavs have mitral valve murmurs due to heart disease, but this is treatable, and they can live into old age with this condition.

The cavalier captivates you with their melting expression, beautiful face, and stellar temperament to match their good looks. Cavs are perfect for families of all sizes and ages.

A collie pet by two young girls

9. Newfoundland

The striking Newfoundland is a large working dog, and their sweet natures and gentleness make them wonderful family companions. Their large size, courage, and patience make them outstanding guardians.

The Newfie's life expectancy is 8-10 years. The coat of this gentle giant requires regular and frequent brushing. The color is usually black but also comes in grey, black and white, or brown varieties. These sturdy dogs stand tall at 25" to 28".

Newfoundlands are large, calm, and loving dogs that are protective of their families. True to their "gentle giant" nickname, the Newfoundlands are famously gentle with children.

10. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The silly, delightful Pembroke Welsh Corgi is an intelligent, loyal, and affectionate dog with a strong herding instinct, making them a playful and engaging addition to the family. They are easy to train and notoriously eager to learn tricks in exchange for treats.

Pembrokes typically have docked tails, accentuating the iconic wiggly hindquarters. Corgis are vocal dogs with a tendency to bark and need a fair amount of exercise despite their small size.

Though their heavy double coat sheds, they are easy to groom with weekly brushing. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a diminutive 10"-12" and is long-lived with a life expectancy of 14 years.

Corgis are active, good with children, and make a fun-loving addition to an active family.

Beagle sits in the grass near flowers

Patience and Preparation

Having a dog in the family yields numerous benefits. As you prepare to adopt your new best friend, remember that with patience, all dogs can thrive as new family members.

Subscribe to BreedExpert for more expert information on dog breeds.

Was this article helpful?