Dog Lifestyle, Pets and Family

Dog Breeds that Families Love: Best Child Friendly Large and Small Breeds

Dogs are an essential part of our being as they bring energy and happiness into our lives and our families. Which is why you do not want to make a mistake when you are looking for the best dog breed for your family whether it is a large dog like a Great Pyrenees or small breed of dog.

Woman, Labrador and small child on a boat hugging.

If you are on the hunt for your families’ next dog family member you may be perplexed by the sheer number of dog breeds and their breed characteristics, including large dog breeds and small dog breeds but also very distinct personality traits that each dog breed reveals.  Afterall, the AKC reports that there are over 200 registered breeds.

We are going to look at some breeds in particular that are considered the best dog breeds for families.  Some dog breeds seem to have more of an affinity for family life and have the tendency to be more loving towards children, while some dog breeds may get irritated with the activity and energy of family life. Certain dog breeds just may be more compatible for you and your families needs.

Mixed Breed or Purebred for Your Family

We are in no way saying that you need to have a purebred (Spoiler Goldendoodle or mini Goldendoodle is on our list) but even a mixed dog breed will pick up the traits of any dominant and sometimes even less dominant breed.

Mixed breed brindle dog looking into the far off with uplifted ears and a flower collar on.
Mixed breed dogs make welcome family members but still carry the dominant breed traits so it is helpful to understand breed characteristics

So, if you are looking at your local rescue keep these dog breed traits in mind as you search for a mixed breed as well and learn more about the benefits of having a mixed breed dog.

 See our articles on mixed breed dogs:

Reasons to Get a Mixed Breed Dog and Dog Terms Glossary

Our Favorite:

The Ultimutt Quiz: Test Your Mixed Breed Knowledge

How to Choose a Dog for Your Family

It is wonderful to be the recipient of the love of many happy and healthy dogs from large breed dogs to small breed dogs.

In our family we have come to value three things the most in choosing a family dog: the size and natural temperament of the dog and your family’s lifestyle.

If your family, like ours, loves traveling, then your pup is likely to accompany you during your adventures, so small breed dogs that enjoy adventure will be more appropriate.

Small dark colored poodle in a suitcase with a sombrero and printed shirt ready for a trip.
If your family likes to travel a small dog may be more appropriate

Additionally, the temperament of dogs is also an essential factor, as certain temperaments of dog breeds will fit more easily into the family unit, while other dogs will be happier in a quieter household and are dogs that are not suitable for families.

Family Lifestyle Factors that Families Should Consider When Choosing a Family Dog

It is important for a family to really consider how they live and what they appreciate most in a pet.  Here are some important things a family can consider when looking for a pet:

Factor #1 To Consider When Choosing Family Dog: Activity Level

Certain families are on the go or even when at home they are constantly outside playing. An active dog like a border collie, Labrador, or terrier will love to join in on the family fun whereas a more calm small dog breed, like a Shih Tsu may prefer the couch and may not appreciate playing fetch for hours with the kids and going for hikes.

Blonde Labrador dog with a woman hugging her child on a boat making a great family dog.
Labradors make excellent family dogs for their adaptability but they are very active.

Factor #2 to Consider When choosing the Family Dog: Loyalty

Our family cherishes a loyal dog that holds us as number one so we choose dogs that are not going to be ball crazy or that tend to stray as we have seen in some scent dogs like, Basset Hounds when they get on a scent.

Mixed bred dog
We have had Zooey for 16 years as a loyal companion. Her dominant breeds are Doberman and Labrador

Some may argue that these dogs are just as loyal but for us being nervous about a dog straying is just too difficult.

Factor #3 to Consider When choosing the Family Dog: Coat length

We have had dogs with long hair and it is just too much.  German Shepherds (See our article on How Much Does a Baby German Shepherd Cost and Other Breed Questions Answered from an Expert Breeder) seem like a great large breed dog but the hair is too much of a challenge for our busy household so we stick with short haired dogs (mostly, although since writing this we rescued a Great Pyrenees!)

A dog may also have long hair but shed only during certain times, like the Great Pyrenees so that may be a consideration as well.

Factor #4 to Consider When Choosing a Family Dog: Size

This is obvious but small breed dogs are easy to take on the go, having had a Great Dane and a Rat Terrier we can say this should be taken into account.

Whereas we think Great Danes cannot be beat as a family dog they are a challenge to find space for on road trips once the whole family gets in the vehicle and we love to bring our pals with us. The love they give may may far outweigh the size consideration for many but dog size when choosing a family dog should be a consideration nonetheless.

Factor #5 to Consider When Choosing the Family Dog: Life span

Unfortunately many large breed dogs as opposed to small breed dogs have a shorter life span.  See our article on How to know if Your Dog is a Senior Dog

While the years of enjoyment are the focus it is hard for families to navigate the death of their pet family member and something that should be considered.  We have found that even larger breed mixed breed dogs tend to be very hardy and have a long lifespan.

Factor #6 to Consider When Choosing a Family Dog: Breeder or rescue

Our family rarely gets dogs from breeders but if you are looking for a specific breed you may have to.  There are some rescue organizations like Gentle Giants that do rescue specific breed types but a mixed breed is more likely to be found at your local rescue.  We love mixed breeds and rescues as when you do find a good match they have proved to be loyal companions.

To Learn more about working with a breeder check out our article on How Much Does a Baby German Shepherd Cost and Other Breed Questions Answered from an Expert Breeder

Factor #7 to Consider When Choosing a Family Dog: Affection

If your family is like ours you will love a good snuggle and a very affectionate dog.  As pack animals, all dogs appreciate being near their pack but some appreciate the attention of family and, in fact demand it, even more than others.

Fawn colored mixed breed dog on a leash beside a woman in a ski coat and gloves.
Dogs love affection and attention and most will appreciate it from you and your family!

Dog breeds that families love

Let’s list a few of the best dog breeds so you can choose according to your family’s needs. These breeds are amongst the most popular selected by families for the top family dog traits that we described above.

Top Dog Breeds for Families

Labrador Retriever

Though Labrador Retrievers are one of the large dog breeds, they are truly a medium size dog breed  and are a perfect fit for families. They are fast and intelligent and a dog breed that can not only protect your family but are also extremely tolerant and easy to get along with and trainable. Labradors also show up in our Amazing Dog Series due to their keen working abilities and great scent.

Labrador dogs are counted as one of the most loving breeds in the United States of America. They are easier to train, and their temperament is exceptional.

Blonde Labrador Retriever sitting on the ground looking into the camera representing a good family dog.
Labrador Retrievers make excellent family dogs

German Shepherd

No wonder German Shepherds are considered one of the most loyal dog breeds. They have a long-serving history as herding and hunting dogs in Germany. German Shepherds also take part in search operations and even provide assistance in rescue operations.

This incredibly loving breed of dogs has a gentle heart and an intelligent mind. Due to their exceptional loyalty towards their owners, German shepherds are a good choice for a large breed family dog.


The Boxer breed is among the most attractive and happiest dog breeds. Boxers have extremely loving and obedient personalities, but they can get more excited than other breeds and need regular exercise.  Once trained, no one can beat the possessives of Boxers in protecting the family.  Boxers have the additional added benefit of having very short hair.

Brown and white Boxer dog looking into a window with its paw up.
Boxer dogs are very loyal for families and they have short hair!


Goldendoodle’s, one of the many Doodle breeds are covered with curly but soft fur and are fast, athletic, obedient and attractive. They possess many dog breed traits to have a loyal bond with any family. Another amazing trait that makes them worth putting on your list of top family dog is their hypo-allergic nature.

If you have someone in your family who is allergic to dogs or other pets, then Goldendoodles can be a perfect fit in comparison to other family dogs. If properly trained, they develop a strong bond with your children in no time. Some families are also loving the mini Goldendoodle which also makes a fun option for families looking for a smaller dog breed.

Rat Terrier

I would normally say that Terriers, in general, are slightly harder to train and a rat terrier is no exception.  But, they also have so many other positive attributes that have made our family a serious and recent fan of the Rat Terrier.  They are active as our family, loyal, short haired and can easily come with us on trips due to size.  You will find that they are very active and need regular exercise like many of the other suggestions.

We hope it was helpful to learn about different characteristics and traits that families love in their pets and some of the most popular breeds so you can have the best and most rewarding experience with your family dog.

A rat terrier with a child looking into the camera while the child in a blue shirt pets the top of his head.

Top Family Dog FAQs

What is the most popular family dog breed?

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog in the United States but amazingly the Labrador has never won the best in show at the Westminster or the National Dog Show despite the status as the most popular dog breed in the United States. The breed is friendly, patient, and trainable.

What is the best family house dog?

A good house dog is a dog that is typically smaller and has lower energy, however don’t be fooled some smaller dogs have a lot of energy. Dachshunds make good house dogs and will eventually have less energy as they grow up. Any house dog still needs plenty of outdoor exercise time.

What are the best family dogs that do not shed?

Hypoallergenic dogs are dogs that are more compatible with people with allergies and many times shed less some examples are Scottish Terrier, Labradoodle (and other doodle mixes), Poodles, Brussels Griffon and the Shih Tzu.