Family-friendly dogs aren’t hard to find. After all, don’t they say dogs are a mom’s best friend? (Especially if she winds up being the one to walk the pup all the time, which, let’s face it, happens way more than we care to admit.)
But you know what isn’t a mom’s best friend? Your child begging you for the 165,739th time for a puppy. Like seriously, we heard you the first thousand times! So if you’ve decided to acquiesce, or if you’re just looking to add that special touch to your house that only a four-legged creature full of unconditional love can, we can help you choose the best small and big dog breeds for families.
Adoption vs. Buying a Dog, What You Need To Know
First off all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, buying versus adopting. We’re not here to judge — after all, it’s likely that you’ve already made the choice of which of the two is right for your family. But with either choice, here are some things you might want to consider.
While adoption is a cheaper option, in some states and shelters, adoptions fees can rival the costs of buying a dog. Saving a dog from a shelter is also a valiant deed! And getting an older dog who may be house trained and leash trained can be a huge perk. But adoption comes with its own gambles. In some cases you will not know where the dog came from or even their exact age. In other cases, the dog has endured trauma or may have issues that you will need address with a trainer. If you do choose adoption, make sure to go to the shelter with your whole family, and see how a dog interacts with your family. If foster to adopt is a possibility, you may want to consider it.
Buying a pure-bred dog can be a pretty hefty expense. One of these (literal) puppies can set you back a few grand! But for many people getting a pure breed, knowing where you dog came from, and starting with puppy is worth it. Still, you are going to want to find a reputable breeder — a good way to find one is through the American Kennel Club. Just select a breed, and AKG will help you find breeders that meet their standards and regulations. The ASPCA also has great advice on how to find a responsible breeder. Buying a puppy is also a big commitment, especially in the first year. House training a puppy can take anywhere from a few weeks to months, and may require for someone to stay home in the first weeks.
What to keep in mind when getting a family-friendly dog:
To find the right dog for you family, you may want to consider the following things:
- The age and nature of your kids: For younger kids with high energy, you are not only going to want a dog that can keep up, but a dog who can be roughhoused with. Smaller dogs may be too delicate for a toddler. But if your kids are older and can be gentle with a dog, maybe a cuddly and lazy little puppy is what you need.
- Energy level: If you have a bazillion extracurricular activities, you may not want a dog who is too high energy and who will destroy your home. But if your family loves the outdoors and takes long walks and hikes on the weekly, a high energy dog is a perfect fit.
- Grooming: Some dogs may require more grooming than others, so consider whether you have the time and energy to upkeep their truly gorgeous mane while, you know, trying to upkeep yours!
- Living situation: Do you have a house with a yard or do you live in an apartment? Some kid-friendly dog breeds don’t do that great cooped up in an apartment all day, so that’s another thing to consider. The bottom line is, there’s no right or wrong, just what works and doesn’t work for your particular family.
Using information from the American Kennel Club, we’ve assembled this list of adorable breeds! But it’s worth mentioning that they also have a great personalized dog breed selector.
Best Big Dog Breeds
Golden retrievers are one of the most popular dog breeds in the country — and for good reason! They don’t just make the perfect service dogs, they make truly amazing, sweet family dogs. They are super smart and easy to train. Goldens are also very gentle and incredibly patient with kids. They love to cuddle with their families, but they also have the energy level to entertain an excitable toddler. That does mean that they need plenty of exercise, so they may not be the perfect dog for a family of couch potatoes (no judgement, we love to potate!)
Labradors are the most popular breed in the United States! It’s true. They’re just so friendly and adorable. They’re smart and easy to train. They love to play, and they love to love! While labradors don’t require frequent grooming, they do shed. And they needs lots of exercise! We’re talking long walks, and lots of running around.
Boxers love their humans, and children are no exception. They’re sweet and loyal, and have a lot of energy to keep up with kids. They don’t require much grooming and are pretty easy to train. They’re also fiercely protective of their loved ones. And we have to admit, they’re pretty badass looking.
They’re called nature’s babysitters for a reason. These gentle giants (and we do mean giants — they can weigh up to 150 pounds!) are great with kids. Newfies (best dog nickname ever) need less exercise than Goldens and labs, but they still need some daily exercise and while their coat is luxurious, brushing it once a week should be enough. So if you have the room for a Newfie, we can’t recommend them warmly enough.
The Irish setter has it all — beauty and a winning personality. These gorgeous red furred dogs are loving and lovable and they can keep up with any kid (that does, once again, mean that they do need exercise!)
Mastiffs are huge, but adorable! These big bears are fierce family protectors and make for good family dogs. They do not need a ton of exercise or too much grooming. But you will want to train them early and well!
Best Small dog breeds:
Beagles are great with kids and they love to play! But like many playful breeds, they need their exercise. Beagles can also be loud howlers, so keep that in mind if you have a small baby that is easily stirred or live in an apartment where noise is a concern.
Cavalier King Charles:
The Cavalier King Charles is a gorgeous dog. It’s no wonder Lady, from Lady and the Tramp was designed after this adorable breed. And cavaliers are true cuddlebugs. It’s what they were bred for. But they’re also sweet, playful, and funny. If you’re looking for a smaller breed, cavaliers also usually weight less than 20 pounds. That means they can board a plane with you, if you’re a family of frequent flyers. They also need moderate exercise and grooming, and are happy to just spend the day in your lap.
Let’s talk about mutts, baby! We’re talking about a wide range of dogs right here, so we can’t really say much about the particular mutt you might wind up choosing if you adopt. Mutts can often be more robust and healthy than their purebred counterparts, and can save you lots of Benjamins on veterinary care, so that’s definitely a perk! Getting a puppy may be a gamble, but getting a sweet older dog might actually be the best pick for your family — and you may be able to get a mix of one of the aforementioned dogs.