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15+ Best Dogs For Kids And Families

By Kerry
Updated on

A lot of breeds are able to get along with children, and in fact, any dog may have the potential to do so but may require extra training. However, there are, of course, dogs that are more naturally suited to be around children. 

Big dogs in park

When deciding on a dog, it is essential to consider how active your children are in comparison to the breed.

It is also critical to consider their level of boisterousness relative to the size of your kids, small toddlers may be knocked over and hurt by a more boisterous dog unintentionally. 

But we’ve narrowed it down to the 15 best dogs for kids and families. These dogs will make great companions for your children, and you won’t have to worry about them being too rough or aggressive towards your family.

It is essential to note that even though these breeds are generally well suited for family environments, you will never know how the individual dog will be.

When adopting a dog, be sure to find out what their history is before committing. Additionally, children should be taught how to be respectful towards the dog and how to treat them kindly to avoid any unfortunate incidents. 

Best Dog Breeds For Kids And Families

1. Labrador Retriever

Labrador retriever

Labradors are one of the most popular breeds in America, and they are known as “man’s best friend.” They are very intelligent, loyal, loving, and friendly. Labs love to play and are extremely playful.

They also love to swim, so swimming pools are a perfect place for them. Typically, they are loyal family dogs and have a tendency to be loving and boisterous, not aggressive.

They are outgoing and friendly to all who come near them- even strangers. Labradors are placid and loving animals that are at ease with kids. This breed is often used as a guide dog. 

They are a large dog breed and come in a variety of colors. A Labrador’s life expectancy ranges between 10 and 12 years. To keep them healthy and stimulated, a Labrador Retriever will need plenty of exercise.

So it is a good idea to train them to go on walks, take them to parks and pools, or have a backyard for them to play in. 

2. Golden Retriever

Golden retriever

As a breed, golden retrievers are one of the oldest existing breeds originally trained to retrieve birds that were shot during hunting. Their nature is very similar to that of a Labrador, and they are extremely intelligent and loving dogs, just with longer hair. 

They are really easy-going dogs and not aggressive in the slightest. However, they are extremely hyperactive, and so they need to have an outlet for their energy.

This can make them a great companion for kids, as they will always be up for a bit of playtime. They are large, so it is good to keep an eye on them if they are playing with smaller children, as they may unintentionally knock them over. 

They also live for about a decade and make a great addition to the family. 

3. German Shepherd

German shepherd

German Shepherds are often referred to as ‘police dogs’ because they are frequently trained to catch criminals or help with searching for contraband.

This is because they are intelligent, easy to train and they are very protective, and are excellent guard dogs. They are also very agile and fast and are great at herding.

The key to their success as a family dog is training, as their protective nature may be perceived as aggression. They are playful when they are younger and are very loving towards their family, albeit they are wary of strangers. 

Also, they are a large breed and are larger dogs than the retrievers above. Because of their size, they often have health issues, which means that their life expectancy is slightly lower than that of other big dogs. 

4. Boxer


Boxers are an athletic breed of dog. They are medium-sized and have short legs and long bodies. They were originally bred as fighting dogs, but they have a gentle and playful nature which makes them a great friend for any kid. 

If you have children with a bounty of energy, these dogs are a perfect match, as they have endless childlike energy.

They exhibit unique personalities that will entertain you and the rest of your family. They can live up to 12 years and come in a variety of colors and sizes. 

5. English Cocker Spaniel

English cocker spaniel

Spaniels are very energetic and fun-loving dogs. They are very active and need lots of exercise. They are also very intelligent and learn quickly.

English Cocker Spaniels can be taught all kinds of tricks and acts, making them a source of entertainment for your kids. However, they are highly sensitive and require proper socialization. 

They are medium-sized dogs, meaning they are suitable for most house sizes. Cocker Spaniels have a life expectancy of up to 15 years, and in that time you will have an affectionate family dog who will be loved by all. 

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier king charles spaniel

With the perfect combination of a gentle and loving nature and the energy of a live wire, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make for a wonderful addition to a family that has kids.

In fact, they are well known for their fondness for children and are addicted to affection-you can pet them and play with them until you grow blue in the face. 

Even though their long, flowing fur looks like it is something that will have to be managed, the Cavalier’s grooming requirements are minimal and do not shed as much as you may expect them to.

Their life expectancy is approximately 10 years. 

7. Boston Terrier

Boston terrier

The Boston Terrier may look odd and gangly at first glance, but they are very agile dogs and love running.

This makes them ideal for young kids who enjoy running around and playing games. They are extremely affectionate and love to be held and cuddled. They are also very bright and can learn new things fairly fast. 

Likewise, they are small to medium-sized dogs and can live up to 17 years. These dogs are very active and need plenty of exercise. They are very intelligent and learn quickly, but due to their small size, they can become bored if left alone too much. 

8. Poodle


Poodles are one of the most beautiful dog breeds around. They are very affectionate and love to be cuddled! Not only that, but they are very easygoing and get along well with other animals and people. They show patience and gentleness that is second to none.

Known as one of the smartest dog breeds on the planet, poodles are very smart and can learn any command given to them. They also respond very well to training and obedience classes.

These dogs can live up to 18 years, and so can prove to be a lifelong friend to your kids. The larger-sized poodles will work especially well in families with children, as they are a bit more robust and can handle rough play

9. Bichon Frisé

Bichon frisé

As one of the friendliest breeds out there, this fluff ball, known as Bichon Frisé, is a small, happy, playful dog. They are very affectionate and get along well with adults and kids. They are very smart and trainable.

This breed is very energetic and loves to play. However, they do have a limit to the amount of play they can endure, so kids should be taught not to push them too far, or else they may snap. 

Bichons can live up to 15 years and are not only extremely cute and fluffy but make a wonderful addition to any family. 

10. English Bulldog

English bulldog

Bulldogs are large, powerful dogs that are very strong and muscular. They are very loyal, faithful, and brave. They are very protective of their owners and get along well with strangers.

Bulldogs are very obedient and trainable. They are very friendly and social and get along well with all kinds of people.

Bulldogs are very clever and can learn anything you teach them. They are also very gentle and patient. They are also very fast learners and can pick up new skills very quickly. 

Bulldogs can live up to 10 years and are an excellent choice for families who want a bigger dog but don’t want to sacrifice time spent exercising and grooming the dog. 

11. French Bulldog

French bulldog

These little dogs are very cute and attractive. They are very affectionate, kind, and extremely loyal. They are very obedient and get along well with children.

Frenchies are also very intelligent and trainable. French Bulldogs are very gentle and docile. They are also very active and playful. They love to run and jump and play fetch, are very gentle and sweet-natured, and would make perfect pets for children.

Furthermore, they can live up to 12 years and are ideal for families looking for a smaller-sized dog. Be wary of taking them for exercise in warm weather as they are brachycephalic breeds, which means that they will tire out easily from the heat. 

12. Pug


Pugs are small, chubby, snugly dogs. They are adorable and very lovable. They are very playful, energetic, and very smart. Pugs are also very loyal and get along with just about anyone.

Pugs are very tolerant and easygoing. They are great companions and get along well with other animals. They are also very affectionate and would always welcome visitors at home.

Pugs are very smart and trainable and can learn almost anything. They are also very stubborn and independent. They need plenty of attention and training.

Pugs can live up to 15 years and are suitable for families who want a companion animal. They are very healthy and long-lived and are considered to be hypoallergenic, making them a popular choice.

13. Dachshund


Dachshunds are small dogs with long bodies and short legs. They are very quick and agile and love to chase things. They are also very independent and stubborn.

Dachshunds are very devoted and loyal to their owners and would follow them anywhere. They are also very courageous and fearless. Dachshunds are very good guard dogs and are very alert. 

Furthermore, they can have either short hair or longer coats, but they only need minimal grooming. The only downside to this dog is that it is known to have issues with its spine due to the length of its body, which can lower their life expectancy. 

14. Beagle


Since the cartoon Snoopy came to be, the Beagle has become one of the most popular dog breeds in America. It has a friendly temperament and is very affectionate. It loves being around people and gets along well with kids.

Furthermore, it is also very active and requires lots of exercise. Because they were traditionally bred for hunting, this breed is best suited for those who like to walk a lot.

They are also very clever and trainable. They are also very loving and protective and would do anything for their owner. Likewise, they are also very sensitive and would react negatively to loud noises.

They can live up to 15 years and are ideal for active families. 

15. Shetland Sheepdogs

Shetland sheepdogs

The Shetland sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with a thick double coat. They are very strong and sturdy and would make an excellent guard dog.

They are very loyal and protective and would fiercely protect their family. However, they will be better suited with children that are not overly active, despite them being a playful breed. 

Shelties are intelligent and trainable and would respond well to training. They are also very obedient and would listen to commands without question. They are also very gentle and patient. Furthermore, they are also very calm and laid back.

Shelties can live up to 14 years and need training to help them resist their urge to herd the kids like they would sheep. 

Breed Characteristics

As you have gathered from this list, there are many dogs that will do just fine around children. In general, you will need to find a dog that is easy to train and that generally has a more even temperament.

In terms of activity, it would be wise to get a dog whose activity level decreases as they age so that they can be kept in step with the kid’s level of activity.

Ideally, you want a dog that does not exhibit aggressive qualities and one that is comfortable with being tugged on and grabbed. 

As far as the best of the best goes, Golden and Labrador retrievers probably fit the bill quite nicely. They are even-tempered and are loving.

Additionally,  they have a quality called ‘soft mouth,’ which means that they do not bite down hard on anything, which makes them safe to have around even if there is rough play going on. 

Breeds to Avoid

There are some dogs that are just not that suited for being around children. Some of these breeds may be sensitive to noise or too much touch, which can be problematic with children around. 

Some examples of breeds to avoid are chows, huskies, Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Pekingese, or malamutes. 

Final Thoughts

When choosing a dog to adopt for your family, be sure that the dog works well for your lifestyle and does not create more work than necessary. 

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.