10 Best Dog Breeds for Children and Families

Thinking about adding a four-legged family member? Check out these famously family-friendly breeds.

Any breed can be a good family dog, and a dog from any breed could turn out to be an absolute disaster. Much of it is in the training and treatment of the dog, but there are also certain traits that make some breeds more likely to be quality family dogs than others.

1. Golden Retriever

The quintessential family dog. As the name suggests, Goldens were bred to be working dogs, to retrieve game for hunters. The traits that make for a good hunting companion also make for a good family dog. They’re highly intelligent, eager to please, sociable, and loyal. The only real drawback is that Goldens are so friendly, they don’t make good watchdogs — they’re more likely to invite an intruder in than run them out.

2. Newfoundland

Another working breed, this one from, you guessed it, Newfoundland, in Canada. This massive dog may appear intimidating, but it's all an act. It would be hard to find a friendlier, more loving breed. Exceedingly gentle, with lower energy levels than Goldens, they’re excellent to have around young children. As long as you don’t mind all that hair, the patience, friendliness, and intelligence of Newfoundlands make them a great family dog.

3. Collies

From the classic Rough Coat Collie to Border Collies, the Collie is another classic family pet. A highly intelligent breed, they are very trainable and well behaved, making them good for first time dog owners, or for families with young children, who already have enough misbehaving to go around. Bred to care for flocks, Collies will turn those instincts into loyalty to the family, and protection of family members. With the high intelligence comes a potential stubborn streak, so be sure to train well, and remain consistent.

4. Beagle

Not the brightest animal, Beagles make up for it in their friendliness and liveliness. As a smaller breed, it may be more attractive to families with less space, or who don’t want to haul 100 pound animals around. Beagles are strong, thickly-built animals, built to withstand even the most rambunctious youngster. They have a tendency to wander, and to get fat, but both are easily managed with a little extra care.

5. Pit Bull

Pits get a bad rap. While it’s true that, if abused from an early age, they can become vicious, aggressive dogs, they can actually make great family pets. Pits must be trained and socialized early, and fortunately they are intelligent and eager to please. They’re full of energy, but don’t need much exercise. And that reputation can be put to good use — no one’s going to mess with the kids while a Pit’s on guard duty.

6. Labrador Retriever

A very high-energy dog, perfect for your high energy kids. Eager to please, Labs are very trainable. Loyal and protective, Labs are the kind of dogs you want around your kids. Their playfulness makes them good for kids, but their high energy also means they need a lot of exercise, so be prepared to provide that for them.

7. Boxer

Strong, graceful, athletic, powerful; all describe this high energy breed. That energy, along with the strength and athleticism, make this a potentially challenging breed, but for those wiling to meet that challenge, Boxers can be the perfect family pet.

8. Bulldog

Sturdy enough to tolerate the most energetic roughhousing, Bulldogs are actually quite peaceful, patient, friendly dogs. Though they’re happy to play, Bulldogs are low energy and low maintenance, making them great for busy families. They’re courageous and loyal, meaning they make good guard dogs for kids.

9. Poodle

Many families are prevented from adding that four-legged family member because one or more in the family is allergic to pet dander. Poodles are not allergy-free, but they are hypoallergenic. Known as a “thinking dog,” they are also ranked as the second most intelligent dog, behind Border Collies. Their famous coat requires care, but it’s worth it for allergy sufferers. Athletic and energetic, Poodles make great additions to high-energy families.

10. Mutts!

Don’t forget about mixed breeds! Especially if it’s a mix of one or more of the breeds mentioned above. Often, mixed breeds can retain some of the best qualities of their mixed parentage, while avoiding some of the extremes in temperament and behavior sometimes associated with purebred dogs. Mutts are cheaper, and rescuing a dog can lead to an extra special bond.

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