The Most Family-Friendly Dogs to Bring Home to the Kids
If you’re finally ready to give in to the kids’ pleas for a new pet but don’t know where to begin, it’s worth becoming educated on what breeds offer the most bang for full households. While “doodle” mixes are hot, don’t overlook this list of breeds known for being particularly good choices for families.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These small dogs (they typically weigh under 20 pounds) are surprisingly versatile — they can be either couch potatoes or agreeable athletes, depending on their family. “They have wonderful temperaments; they’re incredibly sweet and gentle, love people, and are the ultimate lap dogs,” says Catherine Gilmartin, a certified dog trainer in New Canaan, Connecticut.
These sturdy little dogs are adaptable to apartments or homes, and do well when their families are around often — so not the choice for the busy family who needs to leave their pet at home alone a lot. Nonetheless, “They are happy, bouncy little dogs that will never fail to entertain you, and they’re likely to love snuggling up with their family members,” Gilmartin says.
These gentle giants do well with children and other pets. “What I feel sets them apart from other large breeds, and what makes them the most family-friendly, is their typically rock solid and steady temperament. They tend to be tolerant and patient, which can make them a great match for families with kids,” Gilmartin says.
Before hopping on the doodle bandwagon, you may want to give this breed a shot. “It’s become increasingly popular for people to want hypoallergenic dogs, which often leads them to "doodle" mixes that are not as hypoallergenic as one might think. The bichon frise is a wonderful option for those looking for a non-shedding breed. They have great personalities — sweet, social, and happy,” Gilmartin says.
The Pug is considered an even-tempered and loving breed. “They love everyone they meet and all they really want in life is to be snuggled up to their people. They have huge personalities and will never fail to make you laugh. That being said, pugs are a breed that can be prone to health issues and breathing problems, so if you decide you want one of these wonderful dogs, please do your research and go to an extremely reputable and responsible breeder. Or even better, look for a rescue pug,” Gilmartin says.
This breed is best for active families that are willing to devote time to daily walks and playtime. “There’s a reason this breed is the quintessential, all-American family dog. They are typically very social, friendly, loyal, and loving dogs and can be a great match for families,” Gilmartin says. “They make wonderful family members but need plenty to keep them busy,” says Jess Sanchez, who, along with staff members of Passage East Kennels, a boarding, grooming, and day care center in Wilton, Connecticut, included the breed on their own list of favorite family-friendly dogs.
Bernese Mountain Dog
These large, powerful dogs are also amazingly easygoing and sweet. “They are similar in temperament to Newfoundlands, but may have slightly more energy,” Gilmartin says.Sanchez agrees, saying, “They make excellent companions for everything from long hikes to a relaxing night of Netflix at home.”
Much like the golden retriever, this breed has been an extremely popular family dog for decades, and for good reason. “They typically adore people and are good with kids, and are all-around happy and fun dogs to be around,” Gilmartin says. They are an energetic breed who enjoys — and needs — daily walks and playtime. If you have a pool, they will likely join you for a swim.
“I would describe Boston Terriers as quite similar to pugs, but with a little more energy,” Gilmartin says. The breed is friendly, portable and sturdy, and loves to be around people.“They’re very social and open to meeting new people and pets — always helpful if you have family members or new friends frequently going in and out,” Sanchez says.
It’s nearly impossible not to think of Lassie when thinking of the graceful collie. This breed is devoted to its family and known as a loyal companion to children. Collies are generally extremely energetic, so they do best in an active family that can keep up with its exercise demands.
“Standard poodles have a high level of intelligence and are quick learners who love being around people,” Sanchez says. “Their playful personality can make them a fantastic addition to families with children of different ages.” While the breed requires frequent grooming, their non-shedding hair can be better for family members with allergies.
“Beagles are super social, friendly dogs who love being part of a family and thrive on human interaction,” Sanchez says. Because of their small size and short coats they’re also generally low maintenance when it comes to health care and grooming needs.