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What is a Good Family Dog?

french bulldogWhat is a good family dog? You have settled down, started a family, and now you want a dog. Which breeds of dogs make good family dogs?

Below you will find some dog breeds that make good family pets. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list and there are other dog breeds that are good with kids.

First, you need to ask yourself a question, then look at other qualities. What energy level does your family have?

Your energy level needs to meet or exceed the dog’s energy level. Without proper exercise, your dog can develop behavioral issues such as chewing inappropriately, digging, or barking excessively.

Keep in mind that there are many rescue groups for all kinds of dogs, including purebred dogs.

Qualities to Look For


You should consider a medium to large size dog, because kids can be rough and they could injure a small dog by accident. There are a few small dogs with sturdy builds that are not delicate.


You will need a friendly and even tempered dog, especially if you have small children. Small children can be rough on dogs and they tend to pull ears, tails, and sit on dogs.


A smart dog will be easy to train and will learn quickly. Some dogs won’t learn as quickly as others, but with patience and time they will. With children around, you will need a well trained dog. A large dog jumping on a child could cause injuries.

Breeds to Look For

Labrador Retriever

labrador good family dogA large size dog and popular breed for service dogs. They are friendly, outgoing, easy to train, protective, loyal, and they get along well with other animals.

As a playful and very energetic dog, they love to play with kids. Being a retriever, they love to play fetch, catch a Frisbee flying through the air, or take a swim to release energy.

Labradors can be stubborn and determined at times but they are affectionate, love to cuddle, and are generally healthy dogs.

Golden Retriever

golden retriever family dogAnother large size dog, the Golden Retriever is even tempered, very energetic, easy to train, friendly, protective, and they bond quickly with family members.

While they are easy to train, they can be distracted easily while training. You will need to be patient during training sessions.
Lots of exercise and plenty of chew toys will be needed as they love to chew. Be sure to place personal items out of the reach of your dog.

Great Dane

great dane family dogThe Great Dane is a large size dog but they don’t have the energy of a retriever although they do enjoy playing with kids.

Patient and friendly, they make good dogs for families with kids and they become a part of your family and bond very well.

Overall, a Great Dane will make a good family pet for families without high energy levels. A leisurely walk and a game of fetch will satisfy them.


beagle family dogBeagle’s are small to medium sized dogs that are friendly, energetic, and love to play with children. Being pack dogs, they bond strongly to their family.

They are smart dogs and easy to train as they learn quickly. Keep them on a leash or inside a secure fenced in area so they won’t wander off following a scent.

Lots of exercise is required for a Beagle so they will need an active family. Provide a variety of chew toys as they tend to chew, along with plenty of exercise.


english bulldogEnglish Bulldogs and French Bulldogs are a medium sized dog that has a laid back attitude and they are good with kids and other animals.

Without a high energy level, they are calm, friendly, and patient making a good pet for a family.

Determined and not easy to train, keep training positive and reward based. They tend to drool, and can develop breathing problems as most dogs with short muzzles can.

Standard Poodle

standard poodleStandard Poodles are large in size, friendly, playful, gentle, and they can adapt easily making them good with children.

Poodles are very smart dogs and are easy to train. They are energetic and love to play, needing mental and physical stimulation daily with training and practicing commands.

Poodles have a thick curly coat and they do not shed although they will need regular hair trimmings and grooming to prevent matting of their hair.

Bernese Mountain Dog

bernese mountain dogLarge in size, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle giant and they can be shy with strangers. Socialization is especially important to prevent anxiety with strangers.

Being energetic, they will need a large space to run and play or they may show destructive behavior without enough exercise for this high energy dog.

You will need to have patience when training as they can be stubborn. Consistency and positive reinforcement will go a long way in training.

Irish Setter

irish setter family dogA large size dog, the Irish Setter is very energetic, friendly, loyal, and outgoing. They require lots of exercise and space to run.

For training, you will need patience and consistency, beginning as early as possible, as they can develop bad habits quickly .

An agility course would provide mental and physical stimulation that they need. Irish Setters make a good pet for an active family.

Boston Terrier

boston terrierThe Boston Terrier is small in size with a sturdy build, energetic, friendly, and they love to receive attention and cuddle.

Boston Terriers are very adaptable dogs and they are good with everyone from children to elderly adults.

A highly trainable dog using positive reinforcement and treats. Consistency is important along with staying calm.

Mixed Breeds

good family dogMixed breeds combine the best qualities of breeds and they can be loyal, protective, playful, and energetic. The best dog I ever had was a mixed breed stray that became a member of our family.

Look for a dog with an energy level to match your family’s energy level. Without enough exercise, behavioral issues can develop. If your family is not active, don’t choose an energetic dog.

A dog shelter is a great place to start looking for a mixed breed dog. Shelter staff will be able to tell you about the dogs at the shelter and help you make a good decision.

What is a good family dog? Think carefully when choosing a dog for a family pet and make sure the characteristics of the dog breed will match your family’s lifestyle.

Do you have a favorite dog breed that would make a good family dog? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your favorite breed. The information on this website is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian, dog trainer, or dog behavioral specialist.



  1. Very helpful article. Even though Im not looking for a dog now, I believe your informations can really help people to choose a breed.

    And mixed breeds also live longer in average, right? I heard that before, and I have that experiance as well, we had a small mixed breed from dog shelter, and the tough little guy had over 18 years until he died last month 🙁 , but he had a happy and beautiful life with us so he can rest in piece now.

    Anyways, really useful website about beautiful niche.

    Keep it up!


    • Alice

      September 30, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Hi Lukas! I have heard that mixed breed dogs live longer also. Mixed breeds usually get the best from the breeds it is mixed with, but the size of the dog also matters as small dogs live longer than bigger dogs. I love to hear about successful adoptions and dogs living out their lives in a happy home! Thank you for your comment and compliments.

  2. Some great dogs on your list there, but no Shih Tzus. I’m a fan of the Shih Tzu as I have one myself. They are robust little dogs and love to play. Generally they are very good with kids. And another good thing about this breed is they will suit both energetic and laid back families. They love to exercise, but are also just as happy hanging around the home.

    Labradors and Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs and so gentle with kids. Which is your favourite dog breed?

    • Alice

      October 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you, a Shih Tzus will make a wonderful family pet. They are good with kids and other animals. As I stated, this is not a complete list of good family dogs and there are other dogs that make good family dogs like the Shih Tzus.

      My favorite dog breed is the Basset Hound. I love their laziness and silly personalities. Although they are stubborn at times, they are a great low energy dog. I have a 10 year old Basset that acts like she is five when she is not sleeping.

  3. What’s a useful and funny article! Your article is very useful for me to select the appropriate new family member. Due my small apartment, I can only select a calm and small size dog. Bulldog is the most suitable one. It is lovely and easily to stay together. I can’t wait to have a bulldog to be my new family member.

    • Alice

      January 2, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I agree, a Bulldog can live in a small apartment with their easy-going attitude and low energy levels. You will enjoy having a Bulldog, and they love being with you. Look for a Bulldog rescue in your area if you are considering adoption. Best of luck with your new family member!

  4. My all time favorite is the mixed breed. I know they don’t look charming in many ways, but after years of working at the vets, I found that pedigree presents some of the most challenging diseases to treat.

    Also, another misconception is that when parents buy puppies for their kids, it’s still their responsibility to learn/care/manage the breed properly – not the children’s.

    Pedigree makes beautiful dogs, but when they grow old, they are often neglected in which I think is very sad.

    • Alice

      March 30, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      I agree with you, I believe mixed breeds are healthier dogs. Often times, pure breed dogs pass along genetic diseases to their offspring.

      Yes, parents do need to be responsible for the dogs they give their kids. The kids can learn how to be responsible but the parents must make sure the dog is properly cared for. Thank you for your comment.

  5. Aw, I love this article! I am an avid pet lover with two pups of my own. We do not have any children yet, but I have wondered how it might be once we finally decide to start a family. Ours are both mixed breeds, and I agree that mixed breeds can be the best dogs ever!! Thanks for a good read.

    • Alice

      April 23, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Most dogs will easily adjust to a new baby. When my first child was born, my dog was 10 years old. She would sleep by the crib and bark when the baby would wake up. Thank you for your comment!

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