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12 Best Family Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & Info

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Bichon Frise dog standing on grass

12 Best Family Dog Breeds: Pictures, Facts & Info

Whether you have kids or you’re thinking about starting a family, it’s important to choose a dog that will be suitable to be around children. Temperaments can vary between individual dogs, but well-bred purebred dogs have breed standards that take their temperament into account, giving you an idea of what kind of dog you’ll be dealing with.

To make it easier to choose the perfect dog breed for your family, we’ve put together a list of the top picks!

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The 12 Best Family Dog Breeds

1. Beagle

beagle dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Fran Vargas, Shutterstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
Height: Up to 15 inches

Beagles were originally bred to be hunting dogs in packs, so they’re often considered a good option for multi-pet homes. On top of that, Beagles are beloved by many for their love of children. They are gentle but fun dogs that tend to be pretty easygoing, although that doesn’t mean they don’t need plenty of exercise every day.

Often described as being “merry,” the Beagle is an ideal companion for people of all ages, not to mention how cute this breed is!


2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier king charles spaniel dog standing on grass
Image Credit: Fotyma, Shutterstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Height: 12 – 13 inches

If you’re looking for one of the cutest dog breeds in existence to complete your family, then look no further than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The Cavalier is an athletic but laid-back dog that is known for its gentle demeanor and general good-naturedness.

This breed loves to have fun and won’t hesitate to keep up with your kids, and they’re known for being good with other animals as well. Just be prepared to peel your Cavalier off the couch sometimes to get exercise—some of them love to snuggle up and sleep all day.


3. Golden Retriever

golden retriever dog lying in the living room
Image Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Height: 5 – 24 inches

Often considered the quintessential family dog, the Golden Retriever has been a family favorite for decades. These medium-sized dogs have a beautiful golden coat and are known for their extremely gentle nature.

They’re intelligent dogs that excel at all types of activities, including obedience and duck hunting. They’re eager-to-please, social, and easy-to-train dogs that love people of all ages. They’re also known for being good options for homes with other pets, including small animals, like cats.


4. Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever dog standing on the lawn
Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock
Origin: Canada
Lifespan: 11 – 13 years
Height: 5 – 24.5 inches

Known for its 3-decade run as America’s favorite dog, the Labrador Retriever is an excellent family companion. This breed is playful and exuberant, and it excels at activities like duck hunting and dock diving.

Labs are prone to obesity, so it’s important to closely monitor your dog’s food intake and ensure adequate daily exercise. When it comes to children, Labs are known for being loving and patient, but they can be excitable, so it’s important to train against jumping to avoid hurting smaller children.


5. Irish Setter

irish setter in mountains
Image Credit: Kseniia Kolesnikova, Shutterstock
Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Height: 25 – 27 inches

Although a high-energy breed, the Irish Setter is a loving dog that is known for its sweet nature and gentle temperament with children and adults alike. They love to play and socialize, making them ideal family pets.

This gun dog breed is equally as popular with hunters as it is with families. The Irish Setter is a beautiful dog breed that is adaptable and bold, as well as trainable and intelligent. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement training methods.


6. Newfoundland

newfoundland dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: PH888, Shutterstock
Origin: Canada
Lifespan: 9 – 10 years
Height: 26 – 28 inches

Don’t let the enormous size of the Newfoundland fool you—this breed is a gentle giant. Newfies, as they’re known by their admirers, are gentle, loving dogs that make excellent companions for children, often being considered “nanny” dogs.

According to the breed’s standard, the sweet temperament is, “the most important single characteristic of the breed.” They are highly trainable and trusting, loyal pups who tend to be patient with children and other animals. The biggest downside of the Newfoundland is their short lifespan.


7. Pug

pug dog standing on grass at the park
Image Credit: MVolodymyr, Shutterstock
Origin: China
Lifespan: 13 – 15 years
Height: 10 – 13 inches

The Pug may not be the first breed that comes to mind when considering dogs for your family, but this breed loves nothing more than to love their people and receive love in return. Pugs are curious dogs that get along well with people and animals alike.

Like Labs, Pugs are known for being big eaters, so keeping your Pug’s food intake under control is an essential part of maintaining the health of this breed. It’s also important to ensure you are getting your Pug from a reputable breeder that has dogs with healthy airways since the flat face of Pugs can lead to breathing difficulties.


8. French Bulldog

french bulldog walking outdoor
Image Credit: dezy, Shutterstock
Origin: France
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Height: 11 – 13 inches

The French Bulldog is the breed that dethroned the Labrador Retriever from the #1 dog in America spot that it held for over 30 years. These dogs are very cute, with large, bat-like ears and cartoonish faces. They’re alert dogs that aren’t typically very noisy, but they do love to socialize with people and animals. They’re suitable dogs for a wide variety of homes.

Like Pugs, it’s important to ensure you only purchase your Frenchie from a reputable breeder and not a pet store, backyard breeder, or puppy mill. This breed has been bred to have a flatter face as time has gone on, which has led to many health conditions.


9. Standard Poodle

white standard poodle dog standing on a pathway
Image Credit: Anna_Bondarenko, Shutterstock
Origin: Germany
Lifespan: 10 – 18 years
Height: Over 15 inches

Although the Poodle comes in three sizes, the Standard Poodle is often considered to have a different temperament than the smaller versions of the breed. They are extremely intelligent dogs that are highly trainable and learn quickly. They’re also usually gentle and loving with children.

The Standard Poodle isn’t always the best option for homes with other pets, though. When considering this breed, keep in mind that it does require very routine professional grooming and brushing at home to maintain the coat.


10. Collie

A Collie dog.
Image Credit: steamroller_blues, Thinkstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Height: 22 – 26 inches

Best known for the books and movies about “Lassie,” the Collie is a herding dog that is protective and gentle with children. This isn’t an overly affectionate breed, but you can expect a Collie to accompany your children everywhere they go.

Like other herding breeds, Collies may try to “herd” children, including nipping at their heels, so it’s important to train this behavior out of your dog. This breed has a lush, long coat, but it is actually only a moderate shedder and doesn’t need much coat maintenance beyond regular brushing to eliminate mats and tangles.


11. Bulldog

English Bulldog wearing life jacket going for a swim in the pool
Image Credit: Wasitt Hemwarapornchai, Shutterstock
Origin: United Kingdom
Lifespan: 8 – 10 years
Height: 14 – 15 inches

Sometimes referred to as the English Bulldog, the Bulldog is a squat but powerful dog that tends to be a little bit lazy and a lot loving. They aren’t always great with other dogs, but they do make companions for children.

This breed may be less tolerant of children crossing their boundaries than other breeds, though, so it’s extremely important that you educate your children on how to properly handle the dog. Like the other flat-faced breeds on the list, responsible breeding practices are essential for ensuring you have a healthy dog.


12. Bichon Frise

bichon frise dog sitting on a wooden surface
Image Credit By: Spill Photography, Shutterstock
Origin: Canary Islands
Lifespan: 14 – 15 years
Height: 5 – 11.5 inches

The Bichon Frise may look like a high-maintenance dog, but this sweet, loving breed is tough and loves to play. They’re a curious breed with a watchful eye, and they’ll definitely alert you when someone’s coming into your house.

Although you can count on routine professional grooming visits, the Bichon is a low-shedding breed. They’re sociable and love to meet new people and animals, making them a good option for multi-pet homes. On top of their lovely personality, these dogs are extremely cute.

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In Conclusion

When it comes to kids and dogs, it’s necessary for the safety and health of both that you teach your children how to properly handle dogs and never leave your children alone with a dog. All dogs can and will bite under certain circumstances, no matter how family-friendly they are. However, this is definitely less likely to happen with the right breed and plenty of training and socialization.


Featured Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

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