Thinking about bringing a new pup or dog into a family home with kids?
Well then, your first thought is probably to search out breeds that are known for being kid-friendly.
But before we get into breeds that are renowned for being great family pets, it’s important to note that not even the dog that everyone says is great with kids, like a Lab or Golden Retriever, can you be 100% certain he or she won’t act out of character in certain situations.
If they’re scared or in pain, they may respond to a situation unexpectedly. So regardless of whether he or she is a ‘kid-friendly’ breed, use your common sense if thinking about leaving your dog alone with your child.
Warning aside, you also need to think about your own home environment and family unit.
Whilst the following breeds are known to make good family pets, not all will be right for your home.
Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Personality – do you want a calm, more chilled dog that’ll lounge around with you and the family at home, or one that loves long hikes and playing outdoors to fit in with your family lifestyle?
- Energy levels – Some breeds need more exercise and physical activity than others. Can you accommodate those and will they fit with your family dynamic now, or would a less energetic breed suit your family unit better?
- Care requirements – long hair versus short hair. Older dog versus a pup. Each require different levels of care, which one suits your family best?
- Size – do you live in a house or apartment? Have a big car or small? The answer to these types of questions will determine the size of dog best suited to your family lifestyle as it stands now.
Okay, ready? Let’s get on with 10 dog breeds considered to make a great family pet…
The lab is a super popular choice in many homes around the world. Here are some key stats:
- Colour: Blond, black, or brown.
- Coat: Short hair, easily managed. Weekly or even bi-monthly grooming recommended.
- Size: 20-25 inches tall
- Weight: 55-80 pounds
Temperament: Friendly, outgoing, energetic, loyal, loving. Loves his food, so be mindful of overfeeding.
Energy level: Once a working gundog, Labs have high energy levels that need to be met through plenty of walks and swimming, as well as through games like fetch, tug, chase… any games you’re up for playing really! Labs are easily trained, and in fact will tend to enjoy the process because of the mental stimulation that comes with it.
Environment: Labs would be more suited to a house over apartment with ideally a garden to run around in.
Concerns: Other than the usual health concerns that all dogs can be prone to, if good nutrition is followed and exercise needs are met, Labs can live long healthy lives.
- Colour: All shades of gold, from light to dark
- Coat: Thick, long coat that sheds moderately in the winter and summer, and heavily in the spring and fall. Daily grooming is advised.
- Size: 21-24 inches tall
- Weight: 55-75 pounds
Temperament: Sweet, calm nature. Loving, loyal, and smart. Golden Retrievers love to be around his ‘pack’, but can be quite boisterous and easily (unintentionally) knock a child over due to his or her size. This breed also love their food, so be mindful of their diet and your feeding patterns.
Energy level: Golden Retrievers were bred to work, and this hasn’t changed. They have high energy levels that need daily commitment to exercise, both physical and mental. Do not adopt one unless you can meet these needs. As with labs, retrievers are easily trained, and also enjoy the mental stimulation that comes with the training process.
Environment: Golden Retrievers are big and energetic so would suit a house with garden. Not really suited to apartment living.
Concerns: Other than the usual health concerns that all dogs can be prone to, if good nutrition is followed and exercise needs are met, Golden Retrievers can live long healthy lives.
- Colour: Tricolour (most common) and dual colour (red & white)
- Coat: Short and smooth hair
- Size: 13-15 inches tall
- Weight: 18-30 pounds
Temperament: Gentle, sweet and funny but are also independent, can be a bit naughty, and when they catch a scent it can be virtually impossible to get their attention back. Beagles don’t do well being left alone for too long. If they are, they’ll find something to entertain themselves which usually results in something destructive! And lastly, training can take longer than other breeds because they’re led by their nose. So patience is required. Another breed where diet is crucial to avoid them becoming overweight, but with the Beagle, also make sure nothing edible is left lying around as they’ll sniff it out!
Energy level: Beagles must be stimulated both physically and mentally to be tired out. They’re small but full of energy so daily walks and games are strongly advised. Just be careful to have fully trained him for recall if off the lead, and if left unsupervised, any outdoor space is securely fenced as his trademark scent hound characteristics will have him off chasing something without any hesitation.
Environment: Beagles are small and can adapt to apartment living as long as you take him out for regular walks, ideally twice daily, and are happy to play some indoor games too. If a garden or outdoor space is available and you let him go out unsupervised, make sure you’ve secured the area well, and I mean well. He’ll do a Houdini on your otherwise! They do not like being left alone though, so if you’re out a lot and can’t take him with you, a Beagle shouldn’t be your choice to adopt.
Concerns: Beagles can be prone to obesity, particularly as they age, so monitor portion sizes and be sure to continue daily exercise. Otherwise, just the usual health concerns that all dogs can be prone to, if good nutrition is followed and exercise needs are met, Beagles can live long healthy lives.
- Colour: Wide variety of colours including red brindle, solid white, solid red, and patches of two or more colours
- Coat: Short and smooth with only weekly grooming needed. But be mindful of his wrinkles and be sure to clean and dry them well to avoid irritation and sores
- Size: 12-15 inches tall
- Weight: 40-50 pounds
Temperament: Bulldogs can be stubborn and lazy by nature, though patient. They’ll be happy napping most of the day away. Some can be aloof, but in general, bulldogs make affectionate pets.
Energy level: Bulldogs will happily not move too much during the day, so they don’t demand much exercise. However, they are very prone to weight gain so it’s strongly advised to take him out for a daily walk regardless of his enthusiasm.
Environment: The Bulldog can adapt to apartment or house living, or even in a van (though prone to flatulence so you may decide to reconsider that latter option!).
Concerns: Bulldogs can’t tolerate heat so during summer months watch out for overheating. With their short noses, they can be prone to a number of respiratory ailments. And they like to overeat so obesity can become a problem – so watch portion sizes and ensure physical exercise is taken regularly.
- Colour: Collies come in four colours – sable, tricolour (black with white markings and tan shadings), blue merle (silvery blue and black), and white (predominately white with markings).
- Coat: There are two types of Collies – rough (long hair) and smooth (short hair). The former should be brushed a few times a week to minimise knotting. The latter only needs grooming once a week or so.
- Size: 22-26 inches tall
- Weight: 50-70 pounds
Temperament: Super friendly, protective and intelligent, Collies are loyal, loving companions who don’t like to be left alone for too long. They’re quick learners too, so will train easily and do particularly well with obedience training to suitably stimulate their intellect.
Energy level: Collies require physical exercise, but perhaps surprisingly, not excessively. A good walk once a day and some playtime will meet a Collie’s physical needs pretty well. But they also need plenty of mental stimulation, so stock up on canine enrichment activities and be sure to add them into daily life too.
Environment: Collies can live in apartments as well as houses, but be mindful of leaving he or she alone for too long as they will bark (which may make you want to reconsider apartment living).
Concerns: Collies are generally healthy dogs; they don’t have any obvious ailments to look out for. But, as with all breeds, they can fall into poor health. But with good nutrition, exercise and being able to recognise if something is amiss, and of course keep regular check-ups with your vet, your Collie should remain healthy through all stages of his life.
- Colour: The Standard Poodle comes in many colours – blue, black, white, grey, silver, brown, apricot, and cream.
- Coat: Hypoallergenic, but when it comes to grooming… high-maintenance. Regular grooming, every three to six weeks, sometimes more often, is needed to keep the coat in good condition. Because of the time and slight complexity, grooming is often done by a professional groomer, so expense is something to bear in mind.
- Size: 15-22 inches tall
- Weight: 45-70 pounds
Temperament: Poodles are known to be one of the most intelligent breeds in the world. They’re also super friendly, affectionate, playful, and easy to train. Similarly to the Collie, they need to be kept busy and not left alone for too long, otherwise they’ll find something to ‘do’ aka destruction!
Energy level: Poodles love a walk and particularly love some play time. They can be quite mischievous so will happily play games with kids in the garden or park. Assuming he’s walked and played with daily, and has had some mental stimulation, he’ll be a happy, tired pooch by the end of the day.
Environment: Poodles can happily live in an apartment or house, city or country life. They’re main priority is to be a companion, so as long as they’re with you, they’re fine. They do need regular physical and mental exercise, so make sure you’re able to provide it. Training, obedience and agility classes would suit this breed to stimulate his intellect.
Concerns: As with the Collie, there are no specific ailments to look out for. Just get to know him so you can spot if something’s not right. Feed him well, exercise him and keep up with grooming, and your Poodle should stay fit and healthy.
- Colour: Newfoundland’s come in four colours – black, brown, grey, or white with black markings.
- Coat: Thick and long and sheds a lot in spring. Regular washing and grooming is recommended to avoid smelliness and knots.
- Size: 2-2.5 ft tall
- Weight: 100-150 pounds
Temperament: The Newfoundland is a sweet-natured, strong yet gentle, friendly, protective dog. However, he’s another dog who doesn’t like to be alone. He loves companionship, so regardless of his size, don’t banish him outside or to a kennel.
Energy level: Again, both physical and mental exercise is important. Ideally you’ll be able to take him to some water as he’s a fantastic swimmer. During summer this is particularly important as it’ll keep him cool under all that coat. Being a working dog, you may want to take him to some kind of agility classes to meet his innate work ethic.
Environment: Being a large dog, the Newfoundland is not really suited to apartment living. This breeds needs space, inside and out.
Concerns: Be careful during puppyhood. As with all large breeds, if they start doing too much too soon, they can develop bone disorders. Ideally, you’ll be walking and playing on grass and, as already said, in water. Leave the hard surfaces until after 2 years when their joints have fully formed.
The Newfoundland is also prone to some health issues, mainly dysplasia (hip and elbow), hypothyroidism, and cataracts. All can be hereditary, but the risk of the former, particularly, can be lower if types of activity are controlled in the first 2 years of his life.
- Colour: Two varieties – white (may have a marking on head but nowhere else) and coloured (with white markings).
- Coat: Short, shiny and easy to groom! They shed twice a year though, so be prepared to brush a little more, ideally outside or you’ll have hairs everywhere.
- Size: 21-22 inches tall
- Weight: 35-75 pounds
Temperament: Bull Terriers are friendly and loving, and again, hate being left alone. He’ll do best in a family where he can be involved the whole time and there’s plenty of activity going on. He does need training though (and a lot of it) and to know he’s not the boss! Terriers can be aggressive towards other dogs, and the Bull Terrier is no exception. So socialisation from puppyhood is hugely important. Ideally socialisation classes, training classes, and obedience classes is required here.
Energy level: Highly energetic, do not adopt a Bull Terrier if you can’t meet his needs. Both plenty of physical and mental exercise is needed to keep him from destroying your home and garden.
Environment: Bull Terriers can live in apartments or houses, but bear in mind they’re energetic. They don’t do well in cold weather, so outdoor living is definitely not for him.
Concerns: Other than the general health issues all breeds can experience, Bull Terriers can be prone to hearing issues, heart, thyroid and kidney issues.
- Colour: Typically fawn or black.
- Coat: Short and smooth coat that sheds heavily in spring and summer, so be prepared to brush (and ignore dog hairs on your clothes!).
- Size: 10-14 inches tall
- Weight: 14-18 pounds
Temperament: Pugs are renowned for being a bit of a clown! They have a good personality with humour and playfulness. Pugs were bred to be a companion, so they don’t do well alone. If you’re out for long periods of time during the day, this is not the breed for you. They’re also quite stubborn dogs, so whilst training and socialisation classes should be attended, you’ll have to work hard and have patience to get him onboard. Final point, Pugs are greedy. So closely monitor his diet and portion sizes and make sure there’s no food left lying around he can get access to or it’ll be gone!
Energy level: Low energy dogs, a Pug will happily sit on your lap all day. But it’s important to get him out walking daily and be sure to monitor his food portions or he could easily become obese.
Environment: A Pug does not need a lot of space, so he will adapt nicely to apartment living, as a garden or outdoor space isn’t necessary either. This is the ultimate house-dog!
Concerns: Pugs can’t tolerate high heat and humidity because of their short muzzle, so keeping him inside by a fan is a good idea during hotter months (their short muzzle also means they’ll wheeze, snort and snore, loudly!). Pugs can also be prone to eye injuries, as they protrude slightly. And finally, if not controlled, Pugs are prime candidates for obesity. So as much as you may love him, don’t overfeed him.