The 15 Best Dog Breeds for Families, According to Vets
Experts say these are the best dogs for kids.
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.
"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!"
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!
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."
Jack Russell Terriers
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.
"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."
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!"
"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."
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."
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."
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!
"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.
Bernese Mountain Dogs
"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.
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.
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.
"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!