The 10 Best Dog Breeds for Families With Kids

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • Some dog breeds are better suited to families with children than others
  • It’s important to do your homework before deciding on the best dog breed for your family
  • The personality, temperament, size and energy level of the dog you chose should suit your family's lifestyle
  • It’s also important to remember that dogs are not humans, and even the friendliest, gentlest dog will display instinctive behaviors and reactions from time to time
  • The children in your family should be closely supervised around the dog until they understand how and when to initiate interactions with their pet

Some dog breeds are better suited to families with children than others, so it’s important to do your homework before deciding on the best dog breed for your family. The personality, temperament, size and energy level of the dog you chose should suit your family's lifestyle.

It’s also important to remember that dogs are not humans, and even the friendliest, gentlest dog will display instinctive behaviors and reactions depending on the situation. The children in your family should be closely supervised around the dog until they understand how and when to initiate interactions with their pet.

10 Great Dogs for Families With Kids

1. Labrador Retriever — The Labrador Retriever consistently ranks as one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S., because these wonderful four-legged companions have it all — playfulness, patience, a protective instinct and dependability. Labs are sweet-natured, smart, easily trained, and their short coats are easy to care for.

2. Golden Retriever — Golden Retrievers tend to be somewhat smaller and a whole lot furrier than Labrador Retrievers, but the two breeds are very similar in terms of temperament, intelligence, gentleness and loyalty.

Goldens are eager to please, even-tempered and patient, making them perfect companions for kids. They do need plenty of daily exercise, but since most can be excellent retrievers, swimmers and trail dogs, it’s easy for active families to help their pet burn off all that energy.

3. Poodle — The Poodle is one of the smartest dog breeds. They’re gentle, easygoing and patient, but they do need plenty of daily exercise and mental stimulation to be their best. Another benefit of this breed is it hardly sheds; however, regular professional grooming is necessary to keep that slightly wild, curly coat under control.

4. Collie — The Collie is a gentle dog, unaggressive and easy to train. They love children, are eager to please and protective. Collies have long, heavy coats and require daily grooming.

For very active families, a Border Collie can be a good choice. These dogs are highly intelligent, athletic, hardworking, playful and have lots of energy.

5. Beagle — Beagles are solidly built and energetic. They’re also intelligent, even-tempered dogs that typically get along well with other pets.

6. Bulldog — Bulldogs aren’t a high-energy breed, so don’t expect yours to be able to keep up with very active kids. However, Bulldogs are very sturdy and are generally easygoing, friendly and sociable. And believe it or not, despite their size, this breed adapts well to small living spaces like apartments.

7. Newfoundland — Newfies love and protect the kiddos in their family and make excellent canine nannies. These giant dogs are incredibly gentle, patient and sweet natured. They do need room, exercise, regular brushing/grooming, and they are world-class droolers.

8. Boxer — Boxers are entertaining goofballs who can provide endless hours of playtime, laughter and fun for your kids (and you). This breed loves to hang out with his humans, especially the little ones, and the more attention he gets, the happier he is.

9. Bull Terrier — Bull Terriers have an unearned reputation as aggressive dogs, but the truth is they were bred to be companions for both adults and children. Like the Bulldog and Beagle, the Bull Terrier is a sturdy playmate for young children in the family.

10. Vizsla — These sleek, athletic dogs need a lot of rigorous exercise, so if your family is very active, the Vizsla may be a good choice. This breed is animated, but also gentle and affectionate. Vizslas are intelligent, obedient and easy to train.