All dog breeds that are perfect for a family with children share three all important traits: they are loving, playful and patient. They interact well with children and make excellent family dogs. Some are ideal for active, outdoors families; others are playful but lazy, making perfect family dogs for city living. And although the best dog breeds for a family with children will lack the aggression needed to be guard dogs, they will still make excellent watch dogs and be loyal to their family.
The following list of the 10 best family dogs offers you choices depending on your lifestyle, where you live, how much dog grooming you can commit to, and how big you want your family dog to be. Without exception, all these dog breeds are very popular and make wonderful dogs for a family with children. And please remember that you can adopt a rescue dog that is a mix of two breeds. In fact, rescue dogs are typically more loving and loyal.
Best Family Dogs: #1. JACK RUSSELL TERRIER
The Jack Russell Terrier is a delightful dog breed for an active family with children. Loving the outdoors, this perfect family dog is full of life and joy, is highly intelligent and easily trainable. For a family with children, the Jack Russell Terrier can make a wonderful watch dog who won’t sleep on the job. Playing and running are this family dog’s most favorite activities, and the speed at which this little guy can run will astonish you. Perfect for interacting with other dogs as well as children, the Jack Russell Terrier is friendly but will not allow others to bully him. Best of all, this happy-go-lucky family dog requires very little grooming, despite spending so much time outdoors. For an active family with children that enjoys the outdoors, this is a perfect family dog.
Best Family Dogs: #2. SCHNAUZER
The Schnauzer is one of the most wonderful dog breeds for a family with children. Both affectionate and loving, this ideal family dog will also prove loyal and brave in protecting his family, and will care deeply about the one’s he loves. A truly loyal and loving dog breed, this family dog will be an excellent protector of children in the park or in nature. Requiring some exercise, the Schnauzer will love being out of doors, playing with children, but does not require excessive exercise to keep fit. Grooming should be done by professionals or using dog fur clippers every quarter, to hand-strip the curly fur. (Much the same is true of the Miniature Schnauzer, although these family dogs are more active, making them an ideal dog breed for a highly active family with children.)
Best Family Dogs: #3. GOLDEN RETRIEVER
Straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, the most loved family dog of all is the Golden Retriever. This mid-sized dog is known for its luxurious fur and boisterous personality. Golden Retrievers are so friendly and loving they are one of the best dog breeds for a family with children. However, for this same reason Golden Retrievers will not make good guard dogs, not unless a stranger shows fear, in which case most dogs will start to bark and sense that something is wrong. As puppies, this great family dog is especially blusterous, so an adult should always be around to watch over little children. Golden Retrievers love to play and be cuddled and will be especially patient and loving with children, even when their ears are being pulled and their tail spun around by toddler hands.
Best Family Dogs: #4. COCKER SPANIEL
The Cocker Spaniel is a real happy-go-lucky dog breed ideal for a family with children. Loving to play and requiring regular exercise to avoid gaining weight, the Cocker Spaniel will enjoy playing with children and will keep them amused for hours. Regular grooming is important for this family dog, as the Cocker Spaniel will be prone to ear infections if his ears aren’t trimmed and checked regularly. In addition brushing is important, and here is a great opportunity for children to learn to care for others. This wonderful dog breed for a family with children will add joy to the household and teach children the value of friendship and loyalty. Though friendly in temperament, this family dog will bark to warn you of approaching strangers and will feel protective of the children he’s attached to.
Best Family Dogs: #5. BISCHON FRISE
The Bischon Frise is one of the best miniature dog breeds for a family with children. Playful, happy and active, this small family dog will enjoy playing with older children who will know the difference between playing and being too rough. Grooming is required daily, to keep this delightful fur ball looking beautiful. The Bischon Frise will bark a warning when strangers approach but is too small to be anything like a guard dog. Like children, this family dog is full of energy and needs to play and exercise to keep calm. If you have time for a little daily brushing but no room for a big dog, the Bischon Frise is an ideal dog breed for your family and children.
Best Family Dogs: #6. COLLIE
Collie’s are gentle, intelligent and loving, making them a perfect dog breed for a family with children. Bred to herd sheep, Collie’s love to play but are gentle with children and patient when children play a little rough. Regular brushing is important to keep this family dog looking shiny and beautiful. Collies love to bark, and will guard children by barking at any approaching stranger. However, Collies are not a guard dog per se, as they are absolutely without any aggressive tendencies. Once more, the very qualities that make the breed a perfect family dog make it a poor guard dog, though an excellent watch dog.
Best Family Dogs: #7. BEAGLE
The Beagle is small, easy-going and friendly, making this dog breed a perfect match for a family with children. Loving exercise, this family dog will love running around the backyard with children, playing fetch or chase, and simply rolling around the grass or in the snow. Grooming is very simple for the Beagle, requiring occasional brushing or a bath, in addition to the usual nail clipping. The Beagle will protect his family by warning of approaching strangers, but being a gentle dog breed, this family dog will show no signs of aggression. Beagles love to play not only with children but with other dogs and are a delightful furry friend for a two-dog family.
Best Family Dogs: #8. DACHSHUND
The Dachshund is a small dog breed of a gentle temperament ideal for a family with children. Easygoing and playful, this family dog will love the attention lavished on him by children. But Dachshund are also known for being very stubborn, much like children can be. For this reason, this family dog can create interesting scenarios in which children must learn to deal with opposition to their immediate wants. Loving exercise and running in the woods, this family dog will enjoy play time with children. When strangers approach, this family dog will warn emphatically, though without showing signs of aggression. With other dogs, the Dachshund are just as friendly as with children. And as to grooming, the Dachshund is a very easy dog breed to keep clean.
Best Family Dogs: #9. SIBERIAN HUSKY
The Siberian Husky is a perfect dog breed for an athletic family with children. Despite its size, the Siberian Husky has the easy-going, loving nature of a teddy bear. Affectionate to the extreme, always wanting to play, be petted and lay around the people he loves, this great family dog will make a loving playmate for children. Requiring constant exercise, this family dog will enjoy outdoor activities, hiking and running, making the Siberian Husky a perfect match for active families. Moderate grooming is required, especially if this family dog spends a lot of times out doors. A wash or thorough brushing twice a week is ideal.
Best Family Dogs: #10. BOSTON TERRIER
The Boston Terrier is an ideal dog breed for a laid back family with children. Tractable, happy and friendly, this delightful family dog can’t be bothered to lose his temper. Enjoying the serenity of a happy existence, the Boston Terrier will enjoy being fussed over by children and will prove a patient playmate. Requiring little exercise, this family dog is ideal for a city family that can only find the time for one or two walks a day. Best of all, despite his relaxed nature, this family dog makes an excellent guard dog. With acute hearing, the Boston Terrier will pick up any suspicious noise and warn his family. Grooming for this family dog is minimal, although eyes should be wiped regularly to keep them clean and healthy.
Taylor, David: The Family Dog, an Owner’s Guide to All Aspects of Caring for Your Dog. Barron’s (Harper Collins), Hauppauge, NY, 2001.
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