Top 10 Best Family Dog Breeds

What are the best family dog breeds? There are many things to consider when choosing a dog. And there are more things to think about when small children also live in the house. Let’s look at what to consider before we get into the top 10 best family dog breeds.

What to Look for in a Family Dog?

There are important factors to consider before you decide on a family dog.  It’s so much more than just falling in love with an adorable puppy.

The first thing to consider is how the dog will fit into your lifestyle and living environment:

  • Understanding the dog’s energy levels
  • Do they need wide open spaces?
  • Size. How large will the dog grow?
  • Temperament. What are their personality traits? 

Energy levels

The energy level of your dog should match the energy level of your family.  Do you like hiking, running, or walking? If so, maybe look for a dog who can keep up, such as a Border Collie or Jack Russell terrier.

If you’re more the indoor type that likes to stay in and curl up on the couch most days, then a low-energy dog like a Great Dane or a Bulldog will be a better fit.

It’s also important to note that it’s not just the physical energy you need to consider. Also, their mental stimulation.  The smarter the dog, the more mental stimulation they need.

Be realistic about how much time you can spend exercising your dog physically and mentally. 


Don’t be fooled by the size of a dog and its relationship to energy levels.  As mentioned above, a Great Dane is very laid back and will spend most of the day sleeping, requiring very little exercise. Whereas a Jack Russell terrier is highly active and requires a lot of attention and exercise. 

Where size does matter is their food intake. Logically, smaller dogs eat less than bigger dogs which means you spend less on food.

It’s also well researched that smaller dogs have a longer life span than larger dogs. This is something that should be taken into consideration.


This is especially important if you have small children.  Consider a calm breed with a gentle personality that will form a bond with your children.

When selecting a breed, consider the following;

  • What type of personality does the family have?  Match that to the type of dog you select.
  • Are there small children in the home? Would a calm, low-energy breed be an appropriate fit?
  • Does everyone living in the home agree on the temperament of the dog they want?  It’s important that all involved are in agreeance on the selection. 

Important factor: No matter the breed and its inherent behaviours, your dog’s personality will be heavily influenced by the training you provide and the environment they are in. It’s important to be consistent with their training. Not only when they are puppies, but for the rest of their lives. It takes commitment from you to keep a well-behaved dog. 

Dogs can cost a lot of money!
It’s not just the purchase price,
you also need to consider ongoing costs.

What to Know Before You Decide

There are many things to consider before bringing a new family member into your home.

Here is a list of questions you and your family should answer. Make ensure you are all on the same page. And ensure you are all committed to looking after your new dog responsibly. 

Will the dog get the required daily exercise?
Make sure everyone understands that the dog needs daily exercise.  This includes walking, games, and general interaction.  The breed will determine the extent of the exercise required. 

Time to spend with them
Do you have the time to meet the dog’s daily emotional needs for their entire life?

Can you afford a dog?
Dogs can cost a lot of money! It’s not just the purchase price, you also need to consider ongoing costs such as;
1. Obedience school
2. Food and treats – including additional nutrition needs
3. Pet insurance
4. Veterinarian bills – desexing, vaccinations, check-ups, and teeth cleaning
5. Toys and accessories
6. Grooming – some dogs require more grooming than others, such as long-haired dogs. 

Further considerations may be;
7. Training – apart from puppy school, you and your pet may benefit from regular training.  This can be determined based on the temperament of your chosen breed. 
8. Daycare fees – in the event your dog cannot be left home alone for 8 to 12 hrs a day.
9. Dog walkers – In the event no one in the family can walk your dog.
10.Boarding and pet resorts – This is an option if there is no one to look after your pet whilst you are on holidays.

Before Deciding on the Breed

It’s important to consider the family dynamics and environment before selecting your breed. Here are a few points to help you decide on the best breed for you and your family.

1.  If you have a baby and/or young children, you may want to ensure the breed is calm and low energy.  This means the dog will more likely have a gentle approach to the children.

2.  Select a breed that will thrive in your home environment.  Consider the energy levels of the breed. If you live in an apartment or small-town house, you may consider a low-energy breed.  If you live on a large property or farmland, a high-energy breed will be better suited. 

3.  Do your research on breed behaviours and make sure they suit your and your family.

Our Top 10 Best Family Dog Breeds

Whether it be an urban or rural environment, there will be the perfect breed for you. 

Here is our pick of breeds. 

1. Labrador Retriever

two children with a blonde labrador

This breed is ideal for families with young children.  They are intelligent and have a sweet personality.  

Weight and height: Male – 29 to 36kg/57 to 62cm. Female – 25 to 32kg/55 to 60cm. 
Personality traits: Friendly and outgoing, intelligent and easy to train. They are calm, playful, patient, loving, protective, and reliable.
Energy level: They are highly active and require a lot of exercise.  
Expected life span: 10-12 years.
Other:  They are big shedders and require weekly brushing and occasional grooming. 

2. Golden Retriever 

Family sitting on a couch with their dog, Best family dog breeds - Golden retriever

Goldies are confident, affectionate, and kind. Their agreeable personality makes them a great family dog. 

Weight and height: Male – 30 to 34kg/56 to 61cm. Female – 25 to 32kg/51 to 56cm. 
Personality traits: Friendly and outgoing, intelligent and easy to train. Playful, calm, and eager to please.
Energy level: They are highly active and require a lot of exercise.  
Expected life span: 10-12 years
Other:  They shed seasonally and require regular brushing and occasional grooming to avoid matting in the fur. 

3. Newfoundland

closeup of Newfoundland face

This highly intelligent breed is well known for connecting strong bonds with children and is very protective of them, often referred to as the “Nanny Dog”.  All members of the family will fall in love with their sweet and gentle nature.

Weight and height: Male -65 to 80kg/69 to 71cm. Female – 55 to 65kg/63 to 66cm. 
Personality traits: A sweet temperament. They are patient, gentle, and intelligent.  A wonderful companion to any family. 
Energy level: Medium level of energy, they do need room to move and daily exercise. They are great swimmers and love task-orientated games. 
Expected life span: 9-10 years.
Other:  They are droolers and shed excessively, their long coat requires weekly brushing and regular grooming.

4. Bulldog

Bulldog sitting on the grass with a pink bow surrounded by coloured balls

Their low energy ‘relaxed’ behaviour make this breed perfect for families with small children.  Adaptable to any environment, they are happy when they are indoors with the family. 

Weight and height: Male -23 to 25kg/31 to 40cm. Female – 18 to 23kg/21 to 40cm. 
Personality traits: Great with kids of all ages, friendly, docile, laid back, and loyal.
Energy level: Low energy, they don’t require a lot of exercise. Leisurely walks will do them just fine. 
Expected life span: 8-10 years.
Other: They love to spend most of their time snoozing.  They tend to overheat in warmer climates. Shed seasonally and require regular grooming due to the folds in their skin.  

5. Beagle

two beagles running towards the camera

There are cute and totally loveable! Beagles have a range of behaviours that make them suitable for small children through to teenagers. They are very companion orientated. This means they don’t fair well when left home alone for long periods of time. 

Weight and height: Male – 10 to 11kg/36 to 41cm. Female – 9 to 10kg/33 to 38cm. 
Personality traits: Suitable for families and children of all sizes. They love to explore and can play for hours.  They are intelligent, friendly and playful.
Energy level: Very active and energetic.  They require a lot of physical and mental exercise.
Expected life span: 10-15 years
Other: These hounds are known to be escape artists. They shed seasonally and require occasional brushing.

 6. Pug

Small pug lying on carpet looking sad

These small bundles of bundles of love are full of personality which is both charming and mischievous.  Their playfulness makes them great family dogs.

Weight and height: Male – 7.6 to 10kg/30 to 36cm. Female – 6.1 to 9.1kg/25 to 30cm. 
Personality traits: They are laid back but full of personality.  They love to play but their real loves are eating and sleeping.  A perfect companion to chill with the family on quiet nights.
Energy level: Mostly low in energy with occasional bursts of energy. Daily walks and plays are required. 
Expected life span: 13-15 years.
Other: They shed regularly and require weekly brushing

7. French Bulldog

Best family dog breeds - French bulldog

The Frenchie, is currently one of the most popular small dog breeds in urban communities.  They are easy-going in nature and have excellent adaptability. Making them ideal for families with young children.  And let’s be honest, they are seriously adorable. 

Weight and height: Male – 9.1 kg to 12.7kg/ 28-33 cm. Female – 7.3-10.9kg/ 28-33 cm
Personality traits: Frenchies have a playful personality, intelligent, and respond well to training.  They are highly adaptable and friendly.
Energy level: 
low energy and relaxed.  Short walks are ideal for them. 
Expected life span: 10-12 years.
Other: They shed seasonally and require regular brushing

8. Irish Setter

Irish setter standing on grass in a field

This beautiful red-coated breed doesn’t fair well when left alone and is most happy when being with their family and plays well with children.

Weight and height: Male – 27  to 32kg/ 64 to 67 cm. Female – 24 to 29kg/ 55 to 62cm
Personality traits:  Highly intelligent making them easy to train. They are energetic, outgoing, gentle, and friendly. They love people. 
Energy level: Highly active and needs lots of exercise.  They are a great fit for active families who spend a lot of time outdoors.  
Expected life span: 12-15 years.
Other: They are very human-orientated and have a high tendency to suffer from separation anxiety. They shed seasonally. Their long coat requires weekly brushing and regular grooming.

9. Brussels Griffon

Best family dog breeds - Brussels Griffon

A small bundle of love with a huge personality is an ideal companion for families looking for an active but gentle pooch. 

Weight and height: Male – 3.6  to 4.5kg/ 17.7 to 25.5 cm. Female – 3.6 to 4.5kg/ 17.7 to 25.5 cm. 
Personality traits:  Intelligent and energetic, this breed needs mental stimulation and connection with its family.  
Energy level: Although small, this breed is active and loves to run and play.  Multiple short daily walks are required.  
Expected life span: 12-15 years.
Other: They shed seasonally and require weekly brushing 

10. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Best family dog breeds - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These adorable dogs are great with children of all ages. Cavaliers are friendly and bond well with people and other pets. 

Weight and height: Male – 5.9  to 8kg/ 33 to 35 cm. Female – 4.5 to 18kg/ 30 to 33 cm. 
Personality traits:  They are friendly, playful, and loving. Their dependant nature can make the clingy.
Energy level: An active and sporting breed who loves to chase and run.  They require daily physical and mental daily exercise. 
Expected life span: 9 to 14 years.
Other: They love to be with people and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time. They shed seasonally and require weekly brushing 

Best Family Dog Breeds – Mixed Breeds

In addition to our top 10 picks, we are also fans of mixed breeds.  There are many family-friendly mixed breeds that offer you the best of two worlds.  Mixed breeds can provide the best traits of multiple breeds. Some popular mixed breeds are the poodle mixes such as;

  • Cavoodles
  • Spoodles
  • Labradoodles 
  • Groodles 

These mixed breeds all make ideal family pets and the poodle mix means they don’t shed their coat.

One Last Consideration:

Although it’s wonderful to pick a cute little puppy from a litter. It’s also just as wonderful and rewarding to save the life of a homeless pet from organisations such as RSPCA.  These pets have been handed back for a variety of reasons. It’s not uncommon to find one with all the right traits to make the perfect family dog. 

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About the author

Ayda Hornak

Trained in canine psychology and studying natural animal nutrition, Ayda has a passion for natural health and wanted to provide the same for her dog Archie who was born with genetic anxiety. As a result, PetWell® was born. All-natural supplements and treats that help in preventing and managing pet health issues.

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