The 15 Best Dog Breeds for Families, According to Vets

Experts say these are the best dogs for kids.

circle

Dogs are man's best friend—not just because they're cute, but also because they teach us wonderful life lessons about responsibility and unconditional love. However, adopting a pet isn't a decision to be taken lightly, especially when there are little kids in the house. Though temperament ultimately depends on the dog, certain breeds are better suited for families with young children. With that in mind, we've consulted veterinarians to find out which breeds make the best family dogs and the best dogs for kids.

1
Labrador Retrievers

Labrador puppy playing with a baby
Shutterstock

"Labs are some of the best dogs for families," says veterinarian Sara Ochoa, veterinary consultant for DogLab. "These dogs are very playful and easy to train. They can be very active to run around all day with kids or curl up on the couch and watch a baby sleep."

Veterinarian Rachel Barrack, founder of concierge practice Animal Acupuncture, agrees, noting that Labs are "great with kids, adults, other pets—basically everyone!"

2
Golden Retrievers

Golden retriever puppy with a child
Shutterstock

There's a reason why Golden Retrievers are such popular family dogs. As Barrack notes, these pups are "friendly and energetic, making them great companions for any member of the family." This dog breed is more active, though, so only adopt a Golden Retriever if you have the space and energy to handle it!

3
Vizslas

Vizsla dog with a child
Shutterstock

If you want a larger, more energetic family-friendly dog that isn't a Lab or a Golden Retriever, consider a Vizsla. According to veterinarian Shelly Zacharias, vice president of medical affairs for Gallant, this is "an active, sporty breed who is sensitive, affectionate, and level-headed. When 'working,' the Vizsla is all business, but when it's family time, not many breeds compare to the devoted, loving nature of this intelligent breed."

4
Jack Russell Terriers

Jack Russell terrier puppy playing with a child
Shutterstock

If you live in an apartment with limited space, you might be wondering which small breeds make the best family dogs. According to Ochoa, Jack Russell Terriers are some of the best dogs for kids thanks to their vibrance. "These dogs can be very high energy and love to run and play," she explains.

5
Pugs

Pug and little boy looking out the window
Shutterstock

"Pugs are another option if you are looking for a small and lovable dog," says Barrack. Unlike Jack Russell Terriers, these smaller pups are more mellow, "so if your family is looking for a dog to snuggle up with, this is the one."

6
Bulldogs

Little girl with bulldog
Shutterstock

Though Bulldogs and pugs often get mistaken for each other, the two family-friendly breeds could not be more different. While pugs prefer to snooze and cuddle, Barrack notes that Bulldogs have "tons of energy for kids who like to chase and roughhouse with their dogs." She also says they're great with other animals, "so if you are [thinking about] adding a pup to your family and you already have one pet, consider a Bulldog!"

7
Boston Terriers

Boston terrier giving a girl paw
Shutterstock

"Boston Terriers are small, sweet, and lively with very good temperaments," explains Zacharias. "While they are very playful, they are also gentle and affectionate dogs. These personality traits make them ideal family dogs for young families. They are called the 'American gentleman' due to their wonderful personalities and black-and-white color markings."

8
Beagles

African american mother and daughter playing with their beagle dog
Shutterstock

Beagles are "cute, loyal, friendly, fun, lovable, active, and intensely devoted," making them one of Zacharias' favorite family-friendly dogs. This breed is a companion above all else, and "they are happy to sit on the couch with you, go on hikes, or play with the kids."

9
Pit Bulls

Funny pitbull eating baby's spaghetti
Shutterstock

Though pit bulls get a bad rap, Ochoa argues that they are actually "great family dogs." In her practice, she sees many of these dogs, all of whom are "very loyal and protective of their families."

10
Newfoundlands

Newfoundland dog and baby in the leaves in the fall
Shutterstock

Don't let the giant size of the Newfoundland fool you. According to Barrack, this dog is "sweet, patient, and loyal," making it one of the best family dogs. She notes that "they also have a watchful nature that will look out and protect your children." D'aww!

11
Irish Setters

Cute irish setter puppy being held
Shutterstock

"Irish Setters are intelligent and easily trainable, which is important to consider when choosing a dog," notes Barrack. "These dogs are playful, energetic, and love being around people, especially kids."

One thing to keep in mind if you're considering an Irish Setter, though: According to Barrack, they "get very lonely when their family is not around," so if you plan on being out for most of the day, this probably isn't the dog for you.

12
Bernese Mountain Dogs

Bernese mountain dog playing with a child
Shutterstock

"The Bernese is a versatile dog who is happy, patient, and does well in various situations whether at home or in public," says Zacharias. It's loyal, well-tempered, and sweet, making it an ideal family dog for those seeking a bigger breed.

13
Poodles

Asian kid playing with a poodle
Shutterstock

Who doesn't love a Poodle? As Zacharias explains, these dogs are "extremely intelligent" with "non-shedding, hypoallergenic coats." The best part? This breed comes in standard, miniature, and toy sizes, so whether you want a big or small dog, the Poodle is still right for you.

14
Border Collies

Border collie giving kisses to a child
Shutterstock

The border collie is as smart as it is sweet. These "sensitive dogs" are "easily trained and eager to please," Zacharias says. If you want a dog that's obedient, kind, and oh-so-cuddly, then a border collie is definitely up your alley.

15
Mixed-Breed Dogs

Child getting a kiss from family dog
Shutterstock

"Mixed-breed dogs are great for kids," says Ochoa. Not only are they friendly and fun, but thanks to their mixed genetics, "they rarely have health issues."

As Zacharias notes, "A rescued mutt can be appreciative, affectionate, intelligent, active and most of all, they cherish being part of a family." Head to any shelter and you'll find tons of mixed-breed pups just waiting for a forever home!

Filed Under
 •  •
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE