What Are the Best Dog Breeds for a Family Pet?

Aniza Pourtauborde
Aniza Pourtauborde
Labrador retreiver.
Labrador retreiver.

Being man's best friend, a dog definitely makes an excellent family pet, but some breeds are more suitable than others. The single most important quality is the ability to get along with children. A family dog should be easy going and tolerant, but also playful and a good companion. Some people may also want an animal that will discourage would-be intruders — in this case, protectiveness and an imposing appearance might be considered important characteristics. While, with the right training, any specific breed, or mixed breed dogs, can make a wonderful companion. We checked with the folks at Pettable for some insights on among the best breeds for a family pet:

Labrador Retriever


This active, playful and exuberant dog makes a marvelous pet for many families. Its genetic makeup gives it a natural instinct to recover anything thrown, be it a Frisbee®, stick or ball. A family with children who enjoy a lot of physical activities, such as playing catch, running, and swimming, may love having a Labrador. A big dog with an even bigger heart, this intelligent creature is typically good-natured, gentle and trustworthy with children.

Golden Retriever

Boston terrier.
Boston terrier.

The Golden Retriever is another favorite choice. Usually quite friendly and easy to train, its devotion to its owners often makes it a great guard dog. This may be a perfect pet for families who can give it plenty of time, space and attention. A demonstrative pet, a Golden Retriever may show its love by being eager to please and obeying its owners' commands. This dog is also an excellent swimmer and often will not hesitate to rescue a drowning child.

German Shepherd

A Labrador Retriever.
A Labrador Retriever.

Highly intelligent and extremely faithful, the German Shepherd is often considered to be an outstanding animal. Its noble appearance only accentuates its typically keen curiosity and brilliant ability to solve problems. This is one dog that usually needs plenty of stimulation, both mentally and physically. Its natural desire to herd and constantly stay close to its "pack" — owners — can lead to separation anxiety problems, but its patience and love for children often more than make up for this.


Golden Retrievers are a popular family pet.
Golden Retrievers are a popular family pet.

Many people find this twinkle-eyed, merry little dog to be a pleasure to own. Inquisitive and stubborn, it is often a tenacious tracker and hunter, so it needs to be leashed when taken on a walk. The beagle is typically a submissive canine, yielding easily to the command and domination of its owners, making it manageable even for young children. Since this dog requires a large dose of adoration, especially from children, it is a family pet recommended by many.


A poodle is considered a particularly good dog for a family.
A poodle is considered a particularly good dog for a family.

Whether it is the toy, miniature, or standard-sized poodle, this dog is considered one of the smartest and most sensitive of all dog breeds, which often makes it a wonderful family pet. A family with young children would likely find the standard-sized poodle most suitable, as it tends to have a more even temperament and often responds well to obedience training, compared to its smaller counterparts.

Boston Terrier

Pugs are known for being very good with people.
Pugs are known for being very good with people.

This 12- to 14-inch (30.5 to 35.6 cm) animal is typically a loving, intelligent and playful bundle of joy to have around the house. Pet owners, including children, can often easily handle this mild-tempered animal. A mix between an English Terrier and an American Bulldog, this canine usually gets along beautifully with people from all walks of life — adults, children, old folks, as well as other dogs and domestic pets. A number of other terrier breeds, for example the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also make good family pets.


Teaching a dog basic commands is part of good pet ownership.
Teaching a dog basic commands is part of good pet ownership.

As a family pet, this highly energetic canine companion may be able to keep the children occupied all day long. Unlike other dogs, the Boxer often remains high-spirited despite growing older and more mature. Being protective comes naturally to this animal, so parents may be able to rely on it to be an excellent family watchdog. Its typical automatic bond with children and never ending enthusiasm are endearing qualities for a pet.


Bulldogs can be stubborn, but they are generally calm and tend to be good with children.
Bulldogs can be stubborn, but they are generally calm and tend to be good with children.

These herding dogs, often seen in sheepdog trials, are usually easy going and loyal. They tend to have high intelligence, love to play and are protective toward children. As they are descended from working dogs, most like to be kept busy, so they need plenty of exercise and games, but they often make excellent pets for a family willing to spend lots of time with them.


Some breeds of dogs require more physical activity than others.
Some breeds of dogs require more physical activity than others.

This Dutch breed, although originally used as watchdogs, can also make an excellent family pet. They are typically playful, learn quickly, can easily be taught tricks, and enjoy playing games with children. Due to their heritage, they also tend to make good watchdogs — they will quickly announce the presence of strangers by barking, but they are usually not aggressive and they are unlikely to attack the postman.


The Pug is a small, or “toy,” breed that is very suitable for families living in apartments or flats. They have a somewhat comical appearance, which suits their playful temperaments. Pugs are often described as big dogs in a small package, as they often have very outgoing personalities, get along extremely well with people, and make great companions for children. They seem to prefer people to dogs, in most cases, but will generally be happy with other pets.

Other Large Dogs

For people with the facilities for a very large breed, a Newfoundland or Bernese Mountain Dog are both good choices. They are usually strong, protective toward their families, and big enough to deter intruders. Although enormous, they are often very gentle, easy going, and happy to play with children. Newfoundlands are very good swimmers.

Things to Consider

All the breeds above often make good family pets. Nevertheless, poor breeding, lack of proper obedience training, and cruel treatment are still factors that can affect and change a dog's character. To have a well-trained, good-tempered animal, parents must check carefully into the background of both the breeder and the dog before taking it home.

Other things to consider are the size of the animal and its need for exercise. Prospective dog owners should consider the degree of commitment they are prepared to make. For families living in an apartment or flat, one of the smaller breeds would probably be more appropriate. It should also be kept in mind that larger breeds will eat more, and therefore represent a bigger financial commitment.

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Discussion Comments


Totally agree about labradoodles. I have one. She's six. She's maintained her puppy-like attitude and is so gentle. She hardly barks except when we toss the cat down the hall way to get the dog wound up. She's playful and wouldn't hurt a fly.


Rhodesian Ridgeback: intelligent, calm, playful, laid back, rarely barks, loyal and beautiful.


For an apartment a small dog is best if you can't take them out frequently for long walks and runs. I have had Pomeranians and Shih Tzu and both were great. We presently have a Pomeranian who doesn't bark and a Cairn Terrier mix which are both great. My opinion is the best dog for those with families is a Golden. They are wonderful.


What about Newfoundlands? How could you leave this breed out?


you all are wrong. the best dog to have is a english mastiff they are loving and don't bark a lot. i have one named rilea.


are shiba inus good too because they are super cute but do they behave well? could you all so add more small dogs and pugs are a good family dog but they have some health problems because of their short snout.


i have had labs all my life and i have a three year old golden lab right now and he is very good in our apartment.

If you get him or her as a puppy, you will be able to tell them that its OK and as they grow up they will get use to the everyday sounds. even with us, we lived in the bush all his life so the city is a big change but he is still so good. we have been here about a month now and he acts as if he had lived here his hole life.

my black female was more the barking watch dog type. Even if ice fell off the roof she was barking at it. she is getting better now the older she gets.

In my life, I would say labs are the best dogs in the world. they are so very smart. you can train them to do anything. they are loyal and love kids. i honestly couldn't ask for a better dog. you need to walk them for at least a hour every day to keep them in shape and keep their hips moving. the stronger they are the better and the less fat they have to lug around the better, so if you're not willing to do it, don't get a lab. it's not fair for such an awesome dog to suffer because the owner is too lazy or doesn't have the time. they are like kids. they need your love and attention.


A golden is not a guard dog!


That is not true, it is better to get a pure bred because some mix breeds are not a good combination.


Which dog is good for an apartment? I am looking for a dog which would not cause the friction with the neighbors. Of course the dog is not a problem, it needs to bark but people are main problem. I would love to have a dog, but afraid the crazy neighbors would complain about any little noise.


I totally agree. don't go with a pure bred they are unhealthy since their parents are typcially brother and sister...better off going with a mutt. Live longer less health issues and you can get the best of the best. like a goldendoodle or a labradoodle. golden retriever/standard poodle or lab retriever/standard poodle cross.


Can someone tell me the breed of the brindle dog pictured on this webpage?


Please also consider a Great Dane as a wonderful house pet. Do research on the breed and you will find they are gentle giants that do well with other pets and kids. We love ours!


Labradors are really good family pets, as they are great with children. Some of these other breeds are also good, but a mutt is even better. If you can get a mutt that is primarily one breed, it will have the great characteristics but not the health problems. For example, Labs have a lot of hip and arthritis problems, but if you get a dog that is mostly Lab, it is often a very sweet dog without the health problems.

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    • Labrador retreiver.
      Labrador retreiver.
    • Beagle.
    • Boston terrier.
      Boston terrier.
    • A Labrador Retriever.
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    • Pugs are known for being very good with people.
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    • Teaching a dog basic commands is part of good pet ownership.
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    • Bulldogs can be stubborn, but they are generally calm and tend to be good with children.
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