Dogs can be a valuable addition to a family, and have the unique ability to offer unconditional love, encourage a more active lifestyle and help teach children the importance of responsibility and compassion.
But which dog breed is best for families? Every family is different, and your choice of dog will largely depend on your family’s situation and lifestyle. Family dogs must be outgoing and sociable, enjoy spending time with people and not exhibit aggressive or possessive behaviors, but each breed can vary enormously in size, characteristics, and care requirements.
By considering where your dog will largely spend it’s time, who it will spend time with and its typical day-to-day routine, you can help determine which breed is right for you. So whether you’re looking for a small, feisty character who’s happy to keep watch of your apartment while you’re out, or a lively, playful companion who can accompany you and the kids on outdoor adventures, our run-down of some of today’s most popular family breeds should give you a good indication of which breed will best suit your needs.
An outgoing, fun-loving playmate
Friendly, playful and incredibly child-friendly, the Labrador Retriever has been America’s most popular breed for the last 25 years and is the ideal choice for those looking for a loyal, gentle companion to join the family. Labradors are notoriously easy to train, and their willingness to please and cheerful nature mean they will always be eager to join in with family adventures.
Due to their energetic nature and size, Labradors will need daily exercise, and a spacious home environment is recommended. However, these dogs are low maintenance in terms of grooming and are at a fairly low risk of developing any serious health problems.
The Golden Retriever is a playful, lovable breed and is the ideal choice for families with children. Highly intelligent and easy to train, these dogs are suitable for suburban families as well as those with a love for the great outdoors. With a sweet, gentle nature and calm temperament, it’s easy to see why Golden Retrievers make the perfect candidates for therapy and service dogs too.
Golden Retrievers require lots of daily exercise and play sessions to stay happy and healthy. Owners should be prepared to have a hair-covered home as they shed profusely and will need regular grooming to help remove loose hair from their coat.
An easy-going, docile companion
If you need a docile, easy-going dog that loves to nap and adapts well to apartment living, then look no further than the English Bulldog. This loveable, gentle breed gets along well with children and other pets, and has a friendly, outgoing nature.
Bulldogs can be prone to developing several health problems, and have a tendency to drool and make snorting, snuffling and wheezing noises. They also struggle with warmer temperatures, and can overheat easily. However, as a relatively low maintenance breed which requires little daily exercise, a Bulldog will make a playful and affectionate addition to any family.
Newfoundlands are known for their sweet, easy-going disposition, making them ideal family pets. These gentle giants are playful and affectionate, and thrive on lots of love and attention. They’re also highly intelligent, and their obedient and sociable nature makes them notoriously easy to train.
While they may be less active than other breeds, Newfoundlands still require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy, and they have a natural talent for swimming. As a larger breed, Newfoundlands require a bigger living space, and with a tendency to drool and molt excessively, they can be a little more high maintenance than other breeds. However, these cuddly pups are always a big hit with children.
A breed suitable for allergy suffers
While they may be most commonly known for their elaborately-styled coats, Poodles are actually one of the cleverest breeds of dog, often coming top of the class in obedience and agility. Playful, sociable and affectionate, Poodles make wonderful family pets, and their minimal shedding makes them the ideal choice for allergy sufferers. Poodles come in three varieties: standard, miniature, and toy, so you can be sure to choose the right size to suit your family and lifestyle.
Their history as working dogs means that Poodles require lots of exercise and mental stimulation, and they will need to visit a professional groomer every three to six weeks to stay looking their best.
Yorkshire Terriers are one of the most popular toy breeds and are the ideal choice for families living in smaller homes. They’re playful, energetic and loyal, and make great companions for older children. Their big personalities mean they need consistent training and socializing from an early age.
Yorkies can be yappy, and have a tendency to bark at noises and strangers, so it’s important to nip any bad habits in the bud as soon as possible. As a hypoallergenic breed, their long silky coats need frequent grooming. However, Yorkies only require a short walk each day to stay fit and healthy.
A confident and loyal protector
German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherds are courageous, faithful companions, and make affectionate, child-friendly family pets. Their intelligence means they are obedient and easy to train, and they are one of the most versatile working dog breeds. German Shepherds are naturally suspicious of strangers, making them ideal watchdogs, and with early socialization and confident leadership, they make devoted, playful additions to any family.
As a large, energetic breed, German Shepherds require lots of exercise and mental stimulation. When left alone for long periods, they can also become anxious or bored and develop bad habits such as chewing or digging, so are best suited to active families and experienced handlers.
Despite their appearance, Mastiffs are incredibly affectionate and good with children. They also have a natural ability for sensing danger, making them the perfect choice for helping protect the family home. For those who don’t mind a little drool, Mastiffs make ideal companions, and their calm yet playful nature is loved by many.
Due to their size, Mastiffs need daily exercise and are more suited to larger homes with older children. Like many breeds, Mastiffs can become aggressive towards strangers and other animals if not socialized properly, so it’s important to stay on top of training from an early age.
There are many other areas to consider in your search for the perfect family dog. Should you opt for a puppy or an adult dog? How about adopting a rescue? Or maybe you should choose a cross-breed which has a combination of desired traits? All these factors will need careful consideration.
However, for more information on a specific breed’s care requirements, characteristics, health concerns and history, check out the Trupanion Dog Breed Guide and always research reputable breeders and shelters to ensure you find a healthy dog with a good temperament.