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13 Best Family Dogs for Homes with Kids

By Molly Weinfurter


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The best family dogs are great options if you’re new to being a dog parent and don’t know what to expect. Researching the best dogs for kids can give you an idea of what dogs to look out for when you choose your new family member. However, before bringing home a certain dog breed, make sure you do lots of research on their special needs, such as exercise and grooming requirements.

13 Best Family Dogs for Homes with Kids

If you want to find some good dogs for your family, keep reading to learn a little bit about popular breeds. If your heart is set on a specific breed, look for that breed at shelters, rescues, and reputable breeders rather than inhumane sources like puppy stores and online sellers.

What Makes a Good Family Dog?

Any dog can be a good family dog if trained properly, but here are a few traits to look out for when meeting adoptable dogs:

  • Gentle
  • Easygoing
  • Adaptable
  • Intelligent
  • Obedient
  • Playful
  • Affectionate

When meeting adoptable dogs, keep an eye out for these positive aspects. Most importantly, pay attention to how the dog responds to all of your family members, especially your kids. Even if a dog is known for being a kid-friendly breed, they won’t be a good match if they’re scared of your kids.

You’ll also want to consider each dog’s grooming and exercise needs. If you already have a lot to deal with at home, you may not have time to go on long runs or brush your dog daily. So, even if you like a dog’s appearance, you need to consider what type of care needs to be put into giving that dog the best life.

Easygoing, adaptable dogs are ideal for most families because they’re generally more tolerant of children and are more willing to go on new adventures. So, they may be the perfect pets to take on dog friendly vacations. Well-behaved family dogs are also more obedient when visiting dog friendly restaurants and stores.

Best Family Dogs

Below are 13 of the best family dog breeds. These are based on common traits of each breed, but every dog can have a unique personality. So, take your family to meet a dog before deciding to bring them home.

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever

  • Weight: 55 to 80 pounds
  • Height: 21.5 to 24.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 11 to 13 years

Labrador Retrievers have been the most popular dog breed for decades, and there’s a good reason for it. They’re friendly, outgoing, and highly intelligent. That’s why they’re commonly used as working dogs. Most Labs are so sweet that they’ll fall in love with anyone they meet, especially kids. However, families should prepare for lots of exercising and a decent amount of shedding if they adopt a Lab.

2. Beagle


  • Weight: 20 to 30 pounds
  • Height: 13 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

For families looking for a smaller dog, Beagles are a more manageable size. Yet, they have a lot of personality in a small package. They’re silly, friendly, and will play with just about anyone that’s willing to spend time with them. They respond well to training, and their coats are easy to maintain. However, these floppy-eared canines are known for being vocal with their distinct howls.

3. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever

  • Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
  • Height: 21.5 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

Golden Retrievers are good family dogs and one of the friendliest dog breeds, which is why you see them in public so often. They love to play, but most Golden Retrievers know to be gentle around children. They’re active dogs, so they need a family who’s willing to exercise them often. They’re eager to please, which can make them easy to train but also overly sensitive. You can expect to have lots of dog hair floating around your house if you adopt a Golden Retriever.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

  • Weight: 13 to 18 pounds
  • Height: 12 to 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Most of the time, small dogs are wary of children because kids handle them too much, but Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are more tolerant of kids than similar breeds. However, you should still teach your kids to be gentle and not smother your pup. These dogs have soft, low-shedding coats, and they’re more laidback than other good dog breeds. The only downside is that they’re prone to a lot of genetic health problems, so they needs lots of vet checkups.

5. Pug


  • Weight: 14 to 18 pounds
  • Height: 10 to 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 13 to 15 years

Pugs have a lot of charm because they both look and act silly. They love eating, sleeping, and playing, but they get tired much faster than other dogs. So, they can be great snuggling companions, especially since they like to be near their humans as much as possible. They’re also very adaptable to new environments. Unfortunately, they’re prone to breathing problems due to how they’re bred, so you shouldn’t keep them out in the sun for too long.

6. Newfoundland


  • Weight: 100 to 150 pounds
  • Height: 26 to 28 inches
  • Lifespan: 9 to 10 years

Newfoundlands might look intimidating, but they’re gentle giants. They’re one of the breeds that are sometimes called “nanny dogs” because of how good they are at looking after children. They can be very active, and they especially love hiking and swimming. However, they’re also content lounging around with their loved ones. As you can imagine, lots of brushing is needed to maintain their fluffy coats.

7. Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dog

  • Weight: 70 to 115 pounds
  • Height: 23 to 27.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years

Bernese Mountains Dogs can get pretty big, but they have so much love to give. These dogs are active and playful, so they need a family who can run around and play with them as much as possible. Plus, their soft coats are perfect for cuddling with. They’re strong, intelligent dogs, so they like to be kept busy as much as possible. However, they don’t live as long as most other dogs breeds.

8. Irish Setter

Irish Setter

  • Weight: 60 to 70 pounds
  • Height: 25 to 27 inches
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

Irish Setters have beautiful red coats, and they’re usually happy to let anyone pet their soft fur. They’re very active dogs, so they need an active family by their side. They’re one of the best dog breeds for kids because they love meeting new people and working on training with their humans. They shed moderately, and they usually only bark when they feel it’s necessary.

9. French Bulldog

French Bulldog

  • Weight: 16 to 28 pounds
  • Height: 11 to 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

If you’re looking for a couch potato, a French Bulldog might be right up your alley. Since they’re small and generally quiet, they’re great for apartment living but can adapt to a variety of environments. They’re always happy to play, but they also need plenty of time to lounge around with their loved ones. Like Pugs, they can also deal with breathing issues related to poor breeding.

10. Poodle


  • Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
  • Height: 18 to 24 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 18 years

Standard Poodles are a lot more than a pretty face. These dogs are active, playful, and gentle around kids. They’re one of the best pet dogs because they barely shed, making cleaning the house much easier. However, their curly coats need lots of maintenance to avoid matted hair. If Poodles are too big for you, you can adopt a Miniature Poodle instead. Miniature Poodles have similar personalities, only in a smaller size.

11. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel

  • Weight: 20 to 30 pounds
  • Height: 13.5 to 15.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 14 years

Cocker Spaniels are one of the best dog breeds for families because of how gentle and laidback they usually are. They have soft, wavy coats that are perfect for cuddling, and they don’t seem to mind when kids gets close to them. They can still be playful and active, but their smaller size is more manageable. They love going for regular walks and playing games with their humans.

12. English Bulldog

English Bulldog

  • Weight: 40 to 50 pounds
  • Height: 14 to 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 8 to 10 years

Sadly, English Bulldogs face a lot of health concerns, but they can still bring a lot of love throughout their lives. These lazy pups are perfect for families who love to lounge around at home. They’re very food motivated, so training them is usually easy. They can thrive in any environment as long as they have a cozy spot to curl up. Just make sure you don’t expose them to the sun for too long due to their short snouts.

13. Mutt


  • Weight: Varies
  • Height: Varies
  • Lifespan: Varies

Most dog parents will tell you that mutts are the best, and they’re right! A mutt is a mix between any breeds, and there are tons of mutts available at rescues and shelters. Mixed breeds are great companions because they combine all the great traits of the breeds they’re mixed with, which sometimes results in them being better behaved than a purebred. So, please don’t overlook adoptable mutts because sometimes they’re the best dogs to have around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions related to the best breed of dog for families.

Where Can I Find Adoptable Dogs?

A good place to start searching for adoptable dogs is PetFinder.com. PetFinder compiles a list of dogs from many of the shelters and rescues near you and lets you narrow down your search into certain categories.

When is the Best Time to Adopt a Dog?

The best time to adopt a dog is when the weather is nice out and you have a lot of free time. Then, you’ll be able to spend lots of time getting to know your dog and walking outside with them. Before bringing a dog home, make sure everyone in your family has met the dog and is on board with the decision.

How Long Does it Take a Dog to Adjust to a New Home?

It can take about three weeks for a dog to feel settled into their new home and used to their new routine. It may take up to three months for a dog to feel like they’re a full member of the family, so please be patient with your new family member.

All Dogs Can Make Great Companions!

The dogs mentioned in this article are just a few of the best dogs to own if you have kids. However, any dogs can make great companions with the right family. So, the best way to find the best dog for you is to have your family meet lots of adoptable dogs and then decide which one seems like the ideal fit for your home. Adopting a dog is a big decision, so don’t rush into it.

If your new dog ends up being a good travel companion, consider RV camping with your dog or flying with your dog.

About Molly Weinfurter

Molly Weinfurter is a freelance writer and editor that specializes in family, travel, and animal-related topics.

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