20 best dog breeds for families

What are the best dog breeds for families, especially if the family has a baby or small children? Look for a dog that has a chilled and laid back temperament. Keep in mind that every dog is unique and their temperaments are affected not only by breeding but also by their upbringing and environments.

Here we list a compilation and summary of experts’ recommendations for the best dogs for families.

How to Find a Good Family Dog

If you’re looking to adopt a dog from a breeder or rescue shelter, take your family with you and watch how your children and the dogs interact. Dogs, true to their nature, will sniff everyone to collect their own data and assess the situation. Observe what they do after that — do they come back to the kids with tails wagging? That’s a good sign that they’re kid-friendly. Be wary of dogs that show signs of aggression or negative behaviors like growls, bared teeth, hair standing on end or walking away from children.

Best Dogs for Families (Alphabetical List)

Airedale terrier

Airedales are highly intelligent and protective without being aggressive. They’re also energetic and playful and do well with families that have fenced-in yards.

  • Shedding: Low
  • Drooling: Low
  • Protective: High
  • Trainability: Moderate to High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: High
  • Kid friendliness: High

Alaskan malamute

Mals are playful dogs that can grow to be 75 pounds or more, so train this dog early to understand “sit,” “stay,” and “quiet” commands. Otherwise, they are wonderful playful dogs who absolutely adore their families.

  • Shedding: High
  • Drooling: Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: High
  • Kid friendliness: Moderate to High (older children)

Beagle

There’s a reason the beagle is known as one of the best family dogs. Not only are they cute as heck, but they’re playful and love to be around people. This high-energy breed does well with active families, but they can be barkers. Beagles can take a little more time to train, but they do well with the BarxBuddy ultrasonic training device and positive reinforcement.

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Low (requires patience)
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Bernese mountain dog

These gentle giants are protective of their families and make great pets for families. However, given their enormous size (90 to 120 pounds), a young and energetic “Berner” might not be the best choice for toddlers who’d easily be toppled by a dog that is nearly triple their size. Still, this breed is highly trainable and easy to please, which gets them a place on our list of top 20 dogs for families.

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: High
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Very High
  • Energy: Moderate to High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Bichon frise

Another people-pleaser on our list is the bichon frise, which does very well in family settings, especially households that have lots of active people. Bichons don’t do well when left alone for long periods, so that’s another reason they tend to do well in family settings where someone is almost always home. They’re very smart and respond well to positive reinforcement training techniques.

  • Shedding: Low
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Very Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Very High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness:  High

Boston terrier

Boston terriers are known as intelligent, friendly, and energetic small dogs, which makes them great dogs for families. This breed can be frustrating to train, especially if there are a lot of distractions around. They do well with the ultrasonic trainer and healthy training treats.

  • Shedding: Low
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Moderate to High
  • Barkiness: Low
  • Energy: High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Boxer

One of the most popular dog breeds in the United States, the boxer has a great reputation for being a family-friendly breed. They’re energetic and susceptible to separation anxiety (which can show up in destructive ways), so they also do well with toys and training techniques designed to reduce separation anxiety.

  • Shedding: High
  • Drooling: Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Low
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: High

Brittany spaniel

This hunting companion is also a wonderful companion for families. The Brittany spaniel does well with active families, especially if there are lots of people willing to play. Brittanys make our list of top 20 dog breeds for families because of their happy personalities and trainability (they were bred to be hunting companions).

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Very High
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Moderate
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Bulldog

Is there any face more lovable than a bulldog? This drooler needs some exercise and lots of mental stimulation, contrary to some myths that suggest the bulldog is a lazy porch dog. Not at all. The bulldog is actually prone to destructive behaviors if it becomes bored or is left alone for long periods.

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Very High
  • Protective: Very Low (extremely friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Moderate
  • Barkiness: Low
  • Energy: Low
  • Kid friendliness: High

Cardigan Welsh corgi

Cardigan Welsh corgis tend to be better pets than their cousins, the Pembroke Welsh corgi. Both dogs have reputations for being “Velcro” dogs — a little on the clingy side — but Pembrokes can be a little more alpha doggish, which might not do well with families that have small children. Cardis are easy going, smart and lovable.

  • Shedding: High
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Moderate
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Low
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: High

Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Another lapdog is the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, an adorable and happy little dog that fits in well with families of all makes and sizes. Cavs can be easy to please but also prone to separation anxiety — they love their families, so they do well when they aren’t left alone all day.

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Very Low (extremely friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Cocker spaniel

Happy, playful and lovable, the cocker spaniel has been among the most popular dog breeds for families with small children (always supervise small children around all dogs). They can be easy to please, so cocker spaniels do very well with positive reinforcement training techniques.

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Moderate
  • Trainability: Very High
  • Barkiness: High
  • Energy: High
  • Kid friendliness: Moderate

Collie

The collie is famously known for being a wonderful family dog. They’re loyal and playful. Thanks to their high intelligence, the collie is easy to train. They do well with active families, though: Collies are known to misbehave and bark when they’re bored.

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: Moderate
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

French bulldog

There’s a reason the French bulldog is number four on the AKC’s list of most popular breeds. The Frenchie is cute, affectionate and playful and not a high maintenance breed in terms of grooming needs. They can be a bit of a barker, so early and consistent training are key.

  • Shedding: Moderate
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly toward strangers)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: High

Golden retriever

The golden retriever is one of the most popular dogs in the US, and it’s easy to understand why. This breed is incredibly devoted to their families, and they are very good with children. They’re energetic and make friends everywhere they go; therefore, they don’t have the greatest reputation as guard dogs! But if you’re looking for a lovable four-legged family member — the golden retriever and golden retriever mixes tend to make excellent family pets.

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: High
  • Protective: Very Low (extremely friendly)
  • Trainability: Very High
  • Barkiness: Very High
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Irish setter

If you have an active family that is often at home, outdoors and ready to play, the Irish setter could be a very good addition. This breed tends to be high energy and in need of stimulation; otherwise, they get bored easily. Bored dogs can be prone to separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviors. Not to say all Irish setters are destructive! Quite the contrary. Irish setters do well with positive reinforcement and early socialization and training.

  • Shedding: High
  • Drooling: Low
  • Protective: Very Low (very friendly)
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Very High
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Labrador retriever

Since 1991, the Labrador retriever has topped the AKC’s list of America’s favorite breed of dog. Is there any wonder why? This adorable, loyal, smart, protective and affectionate dog is the perfect addition to any size family — couples, families with kids, retirees, singles. They are easy to train, eager to please, highly motivated by food (caution about over-feeding!), and gentle with children (always supervise kids around dogs).

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: Moderate
  • Protective: Very Low (extremely friendly)
  • Trainability: Very High
  • Barkiness: Very High
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Newfoundland

With any giant-size dog, always keep an eye on them when they’re around babies, toddlers and little kids. These gentle giants are great with families, but because of their size, they can topple a toddler. Better suited for a single-family household rather than an apartment or small city lot, the Newfie loves, loves, loves being around its humans. Newfies aren’t excessive barkers, but being big dogs, when they do bark, it can be loud. They do very well with positive-reinforcement training, as well as homes where someone is almost always home.

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: Very High
  • Protective: Low (friendly)
  • Trainability: Very High
  • Barkiness: Moderate
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: Very High

Pug

If you’re looking for a snuggler who’ll binge watch Netflix and Disney Plus with you, it’s the pug. This lovable breed is on our list of “Velcro dog breeds” that have clingy reputations. If you’re looking for a couch potato snuggler, it’s the pug. Although they do bark, the pug’s bark isn’t loud and disruptive; when they bark, they have something to say. Pugs are trainable and highly motivated by food rewards; take care not to overfeed this food-loving breed.

  • Shedding: Very High
  • Drooling: Very Low
  • Protective: Low (friendly)
  • Trainability: Moderate
  • Barkiness: Low to Moderate
  • Energy: Moderate
  • Kid friendliness: High

Weimaraner

Rounding out our list of 20 top dogs for families is the graceful “gray ghost,” so named because of their sleek gray color and their hunting heritage. Weimaraners are great additions to active households, but introduce them to other pets slowly and with supervision. Weims have a high prey drive, which comes from their hunting companion ancestry. They’re eager to please, so they can be easily trained and do well with positive reinforcement.

  • Shedding: High
  • Drooling: High
  • Protective: Moderate
  • Trainability: High
  • Barkiness: Very High
  • Energy: Very High
  • Kid friendliness: High

Looking For Other Dog Breed Recommendations?

In separate posts, we’ve listed our top breeds for guard dogs, best dogs for first-time down owners, as well as the best large dog breeds, best medium dog breeds, and best small doggies.

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