The top 10 best breeds of dog for families

Updated April 17, 2017

Most breeds of dog are capable of living happily with families and children. However, there have been incidents of dogs attacking and even killing children, so it is understandable that parents wishing to have a pet dog would want to choose a breed based on its temperament, behaviour and suitability for family life. These ten breeds are amongst those considered good matches for families with children, but it's important to remember than any dog badly treated or harassed will bite, so children should be supervised around dogs.

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are intelligent, easy to train and good around children, making them the perfect family dog. They are friendly to everyone, usually including strangers and other dogs. This breed is perfect for families where pet care is a shared responsibility because they are very active and need plenty of long walks with the family.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in the U.S., partly because the breed makes such a good family pet. They have stable, reliable temperaments, meaning that they are predictable and trustworthy. They are an affectionate breed, perfect for larger families where there is always someone around to lavish them with attention. Like the golden retriever, Labradors are very active and require plenty of exercise.


Pugs are small dogs with a friendly temperament and an eager-to-please nature. They get on well with families, children and even other animals, and are happiest in homes where there is plenty of human company for them. They do require a lot of attention, so pugs may not be best for busy, working families, but they'll be very happy in families where someone is at home most of the time.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The fact that this breed is so often used as therapy dogs demonstrates its empathetic and friendly nature. Friendly to everyone they meet, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels need plenty of affection and attention and, like pugs, live happily in homes where there if usually someone around.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker spaniels are a perfect breed for family life. They are friendly, active and obedient and can live with other dogs. They thrive on company and affection, making them the perfect dog in homes where they are likely to be fussed over by loving children.


Beagles are smaller dogs, perfect for families in smaller homes. They are curious and playful and often mischievous and greedy. They are very loyal to their human family and are gentle and playful with children.


Despite their less-than-intelligent image, poodles are actually amongst the most intelligent dogs. They get along well with people and often behave as though they are as human as their owners. They are patient, particularly with children, making them an ideal family pet.


Boxers are curious, intelligent, self-assured and playful. They are also strong and athletic, so they fit in well in active homes where long weekend walks are the norm. Although they are gentle in nature, boxers are strong dogs and may inadvertently knock over small children while playing. They are therefore better pets for families with older children, rather than toddlers or babies.


Dalmatians are a family favourite and have been ever since they were made famous at the movies. They are large dogs, perfect for larger family homes. They are loyal and protective of their family, providing they are properly trained. Because these dogs are affectionate, they thrive on family life and the attention it brings. This means that if they are excluded from activities, they are likely to bark, chew or generally misbehave. As with other larger breeds of family-friendly dogs, Dalmatians require a great deal of exercise, so they are perfect for active families.


Perhaps the ultimate family dog is the collie. Collies are renowned for being friendly family dogs that form strong bonds with their owners, taking a special interest in children. Years of breeding specially for herding makes these dogs prone to "herd" the children they live with, following them around all day. An intelligent breed, they recognise routines and are often found waiting by the door for their owner's children to come home from school at the usual time. These social animals get on well with other pets, as well as the humans in the family.

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About the Author

Evelyn King began her freelance writing career in 2009, with expertise in animal care, sports and leisure topics. Her work has appeared in "Durham21" and "The Mildertian," among other publications. King holds an honors Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish from Durham University.