What Breeds Make the Best Family Dogs?

Getting a Dog

The short version:

What Breeds Make the Best Family Dogs?

  • Bichon Frise
  • Dachshund
  • Pug
  • Bulldog
  • Basset Hound
  • Beagle
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Poodle
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador
  • Great Dane

When it comes to deciding on the best family dogs, you need to start by considering your family. How much time, space, and attention can you give a pet? Think about what your life with them will look like. Do you want a hiking partner or a couch buddy? Will they be around little kids or teenagers? Are you into grooming or looking for someone low maintenance? Once you’ve worked that all out you can start exploring specific breeds. To help you out, here are some of our recommendations for the best family dogs.

Best Family Dogs: Small Breeds

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise are as friendly as they are cute–which is good because they attract a lot of attention and cuddles from kids. They’re also smart and energetic so love to play and learn new tricks. Being hypoallergenic they’re suitable for sensitive homes. Be aware their big hearts and brains mean they need a lot of attention, so don’t typically do well spending a lot of time apart from you.

READ: A Bichon Frise Is a Sweet, Loving, Dog for Anyone

Best Family Dogs


Despite their short legs, dachshunds make a pretty good effort to keep up with the most active families. They love to play, learn tricks, and socialise with people and pets. Occasionally you might need to pick them up on a long walk, but they’ll still be happy to be included. While they love their families, they can be a bit bratty with other dogs so socialisation classes are recommended. The upside to that big attitude is they’re surprisingly effective guard dogs.


There is a reason you always see pugs around. They get along with everyone, are sweet, loyal, low-maintenance, and happy to nap on the couch for most of the day. Just be aware that for as undemanding as they are they can have breathing and weight issues so you need to pay attention to their health.

READ: From Influencers to Royalty, Everyone Loves Pugs, Pugs, Pugs

Medium Breeds


They might look tough but bulldogs are sweet, patient, gentle and very low key. Not big adventurers, they’d rather snuggle with you than go for long walks. Although, they do well with training and socialisation classes so are perfect cafe companions. As with pugs, their pushed in noses and tendency to gain weight can lead to health issues so make sure you’re monitoring their diet.

Basset Hound

Basset hounds are famously relaxed–they’re more interested in having a sniff than a run. But their gentle curious nature makes them perfect family dogs. Always patient (even when their ears are being tugged), low-maintenance and oh so cute, they make a dream housemate. 


Beagles are famously team players. They were bred to hunt and live in packs, meaning they love family and play time. Just be aware they do have a LOT of energy so you want to ensure you can keep up with them through regular exercise, training, and play. Or at least have a lot of puzzles and toys around to keep them occupied.

READ: Celebrating Beagles, AKA Noses with Feet Attached

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were originally royal dogs and they still have a taste for lounging around being doted on. Although, if you feel like tuning up the energy they will happily join in. That duality means they’re perfect for a family with different personalities who may want a dog that can hype up but also settle down.


Smart, affectionate, tidy, fun, poodles fit in anywhere. Conveniently, they even come in multiple sizes! Ranging from toy, to miniature, and standard they suit many lifestyles. Larger (standard) breeds tend to be sporty while smaller (toy and miniature) breeds prefer a handbag to a day out in the wild.

Large Breeds

Bernese Mountain Dog

Don’t let their size fool you, Bernese Mountain Dogs are gentle giants. Bred to help save people in trouble on the Swiss alps, they are protective, caring, but very rarely aggressive. Which is good, because you know a five year old is going to try and ride them at some point.

READ: Bernese Mountain Dogs Are Too Pure for This World


If you’re after a mate with a LOT of energy, who can moonlight as a babysitter and a watchdog, a boxer might be perfect for you. Their close family bonds and love for children mean they can be fiercely protective of their home. Unlike some other territorial breeds they don’t tend towards aggression if they’re trained and socialised properly. Although no training will help with the drool unfortunately…

Golden Retriever

There is a reason that family sitcoms so often have a Golden Retriever in the mix. These big friendly lugs are fun, gentle, eager to please, and love to play and train with you. Their resume speaks for itself, often being used as search and rescue, therapy, or comfort dogs.


Similar to Golden Retrievers, Labs are a family classic for a reason. They’re as smart as they are sweet, known for their even temperament and loving natures. They also love exercise and adventure, so if you’re looking for someone to get muddy with they’ll happily join in.

Great Dane

As the name suggests, their imposing size means Great Danes aren’t always an obvious choice for a crowded family home. But despite being larger than most kids, they’re gentle, quiet, and low-key companions. They might eat a lot, but they only require a few walks a day and love lazing around at home. Just make sure they don’t bump anyone over.

For more on getting a dog:

Should we get a dog?

How to Choose a Dog Breed That Is Right for You? 

What to Know about Bringing a Dog Home for the First Time

How to Puppy Proof Your Home  

Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on July 14, 2021

Wendy's never met a dog she didn't like. Although she has a special place in her heart for muts: three legs, one eye, missing fur, bit of a weird walk? The scruffier the better. Her favourite dog in the whole world though is her terrier-mix Stevie.

Frequently Asked Questions

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