10 of the Best Big Dogs for Families With Kids

Key Points

  • Large dogs are better than smaller dogs for families with young children as larger dogs tend to be better at handling rough play and offering protection.

  • The best big dogs for kids are gentle, patient, easygoing, loyal, and alert, but never aggressive.

  • The 10 best big dogs for kids include basset hounds, Labrador retrievers, German longhaired pointers, German shepherds, Weimaraners, Samoyeds, Alaskan malamutes, Goldendoodles, Newfoundlands, and Bernese mountain dogs.

You may wonder if it is time to add a dog to your family. You may consider a smaller dog over a large one because they need less space and are easier to manage, but did you know that bigger dogs are a better option for families with children?

This article discusses why big dogs make better family dogs, the factors you must consider when picking a breed, and the 10 best big dogs for kids.

Benefits of Having a Dog in the Family

The benefits of owning a pet for kids are endless. It's not just about having a fluffy friend for the little ones to play with, but it's also about helping children develop social and emotional skills, teaching them to be responsible, understanding how to care for someone else, and allowing them to bond with living creatures.

Developing Social Skills

Having a pet in the home helps children develop better social skills. Kids learn how to interact with other people by practicing on their dogs, which helps them hone their communication skills and make friends easily at school or elsewhere. The presence of a four-legged friend also allows children to break social barriers and feel more at ease talking to strangers.

Small child with Alaskan Malamute

Teaching Responsibility and Building Self-Esteem

Owning a pet is an excellent way to teach children responsibility from an early age. Taking care of another living creature teaches them accountability.

Psychotherapist and host of Mentally Strong People Podcast, Amy Morin, claims that in caring for their furry friend, children "feel empowered when they see that they're able to help care for an animal by helping feed or walk the dog. They may also feel better about themselves when they are able to help with the responsibilities of caring for a pet."

Building Empathy 

Dogs offer companionship and nonjudgmental love in both good times and bad, teaching children how to empathize with others. When kids learn to view life differently, be it humans or animals, they become far more understanding and compassionate toward those around them. Understanding other people's feelings is an invaluable skill that stays with your little one for years ahead.

Boosting Overall Well-Being

Pet exposure boosts your child's physical and mental health. The presence of a pet in the family reduces anxiety and improves the overall mood of kids. Exposure to dogs during infancy results in a boost in physical health and lower risks of developing asthma and allergies.

Encouraging Kids To Spend Time Outdoors 

Many parents have difficulty peeling their kids away from screens, but having a four-legged companion around is an easy way to encourage outdoor activities. Simple tasks of taking the furballs out for pee trips and daily short walks encourage children to spend more time in the open air and connect with nature.

Making Kids Smarter 

Owning a pet makes kids smarter too! When kids teach their pets new tricks, they must use their problem-solving skills. The more they practice, the better their brains become at breaking up difficult tasks into manageable smaller steps. The mere presence of pets in the home encourages kids to interact with them. They must use their cognitive skills to figure out how animals behave, which may help increase your child's IQ over time. 

Why Big Dogs Are Better for Kids

Many parents think smaller dogs are the best for kids, but large dogs are much better. Although some children are gentle and patient enough to handle smaller dogs, most are unaware that dogs are not toys and they may get hurt from rough play. Every year, small and toy breeds arrive at animal hospitals with broken bones because their young owners threw them in mid-air, left them on platforms that are too high, or even grabbed them too harshly.

Two kids with Samoyed

Big Dogs Are Better at Handling Rough Play 

One of the main reasons big dogs make great pets for families with kids is that they are good at handling a bit of rough play, and they know how to protect themselves and their owners. Unlike smaller dogs, large dogs stand their ground or even put a paw down if they feel threatened by heavy play.

Big Dogs Are Full of Fun and Companionship 

Big dogs come with plenty of fun too. Their silly antics provide endless entertainment and keep your kids occupied for hours. Playing games, such as fetch or tug-of-war, build strong bonds between pet and owner, not to mention getting some exercise into both pup and child alike. Because these larger breeds tend to be quite laid back, they make great cuddle buddies during movie nights or rainy days stuck inside.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Big Breed

If you want to add a big canine companion to your family, you need to consider a few factors before bringing home Fido. It's important to choose a breed that is compatible with young children and their energy levels. 


The breed's temperament is one of the most important aspects when deciding whether or not it's suitable for young children. While some breeds may be naturally more friendly and gentle, some herding breeds instinctively desire to chase and herd smaller animals. Without intensive socialization and training, these breeds may nibble or bark at children running around.

Trainability and Socialization

All dogs are good dogs with sufficient training and socialization. However, some breeds tend to be more stubborn and require constant obedience reinforcement. Other breeds have an innate nature to please and take well to any training. The best big dog breeds for families with younger children are usually ones with amiable personalities that happily take to training.

Energy and Exercise Needs

Although all large dog breeds require more exercise than their smaller buddies, some are more energetically inclined than others. If you have a child that loves cuddling and spending time reading, a laidback pooch is a better match. However, if your child tends to be hyperactive and runs around nonstop, a more energetic canine friend may be the solution to keep all family members entertained and happy.

Grooming Needs and Health Problems

When it comes to grooming needs, some big dogs require more maintenance than others. Long-haired breeds like the Newfoundland or Old English Sheepdog need frequent brushing and combing to prevent matting and shedding. Short-haired breeds usually require less maintenance.

Additionally, some large breeds are prone to joint and skeletal issues due to their size. Picking a breed with good overall health not only helps you avoid hefty medical bills but also allows your family to spend many more years enjoying with your pup.

The Best Large Dog Breeds for Families With Children

Whether you're seeking a dog with an extra-large personality or one who is more easygoing, plenty of large breeds would be right at home in your household.

Calming Dog Ad

Check out these 10 breeds that are perfect for a home with kids.

1. Bernese Mountain Dog

The Bernese Mountain Dog is an incredibly loving and loyal breed. Once bred to work in the Swiss alps searching and rescuing skiers and hikers, these gentle giants love everyone. They have an innate nature to protect all those weaker than they are, making them exceptionally patient with children.

Bernese Mountain Dog

2. Samoyed

These pure white beauties have always been companion dogs and protectors of people and reindeer in the cold of Siberia. They combine gentle and mischievous, making them entertaining companions for adults and children alike.

If you are wondering which breed clocks in as the number one most friendly dog breed, these white smiling teddy bears are probably the most fitting candidates. Although Samoyeds are good at alerting you of strangers, they are never aggressive. If your family members suffer from dander allergies, Sammies are excellent options as they are hypoallergenic and do not drool.

3. Newfoundland

Newfoundland dogs are incredibly gentle and often referred to as the nanny dog. These Canadian dogs are affectionate and laid back but happy to join any outdoor activity. As great swimmers, they make ideal companions and protectors of children. The only downside is that they need frequent brushing to maintain their thick double coat.

4. Alaskan Malamute

Like the Samoyeds, the Alaskan malamutes serve to protect humans and livestock in the harshest conditions.

The breed is boisterous playfulness and boundless energy, which makes these giant furballs ideal companions for active children. The only problem with these giant furballs is that they are extremely vocal. Aside from barking and growling, they talk back in many ways to tell you what they want. This special quality may provide endless hours of entertainment for your kids.

Alaskan Malamute dog

5. Goldendoodle

As a cross between poodles and golden retrievers, Goldendoodles are one of the most popular low-maintenance family dogs.

As one of the hypoallergenic breeds, they are perfect for families with members that suffer from allergies. The breed is great family dogs, highly intelligent, and easy to train. These pups make any kid smile with their goofy personalities and loveable nature.

6. Basset Hound

Basset hounds are a great choice for families with young children.

These sad-looking dogs are extremely loyal and loving companions. They have a friendly disposition, which makes them great playmates for young kids. Basset hounds have an easygoing nature and love lounging around the house with their family. Plus, they don't require extensive exercise or too much grooming, so they're perfect if you have limited time and energy to dedicate to caring for a pet. 

7. Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are puppies at heart, no matter how old they are!

As one of the lovable low-maintenance dog breeds, these short-haired retrievers are great for families with kids. They are eager to please and love running around, making them ideal playmates for active children. Plus, Labs have an easy-to-train temperament and they require minimal grooming.

Girl with Labrador Retriever breed

8. German Longhaired Pointer

German Longhaired Pointers are excellent family pets as they are gentle, patient, easygoing, and loyal.

The breed is also known for their high energy level, so they love to join outdoor activities with the kids. The only drawback is that these dogs require a lot of grooming to keep their coats looking great. If your family has other smaller animals, you must reinforce early socialization with your pup to extinguish their strong prey drive.

9. German Shepherd

If you are wondering what is the most loyal family dog, here is your answer — German shepherds.

These beautiful and intelligent animals are alert and protective guardians, yet gentle and loving with the family. They are happy to participate in any activity you have planned for them, from frisbee to fetching balls. The breed is very trainable and learns quickly, yet they are also goofballs and love children. Back in the days before there were strict child safety regulations, parents enlisted their shepherds as nannies. They multitask as protectors, play buddies, and even safety blankets.

10. Weimaraner

Known as ghost dogs because of their unique silvery-gray coats, the Weimaraner is an intelligent, loyal, friendly, and fearless breed that loves to be around people, especially children.

The breed is also quite low maintenance and takes obedience training extremely well. They are extremely devoted to their family members and love to accompany the young members no matter where they go.

Time To Welcome a Large Pooch to Your Family

Now that you know more about the best large dog breeds for families with children, it's time to start considering what qualities are most crucial to you and your family.

Kid with big dog

By taking the time to research the breed of your choice, asking the right questions, and finding a reputable adopting agency that adheres to ethical standards, you are much more likely to make a responsible decision that brings joy to your family for years to come.

The perfect large pup is out there — all you need to do is find it!

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