11 Favorite Dog Breeds for Families

Favorite Dog Breeds for Families |Updated 04-07-2024

Finding a child-friendly breed of dog that also meets all your other criteria, such as size requirements, activity level, and coat type, can be a challenge.

Luckily, there are breeds of all different classes, sizes, and styles that can make great family pets. When shopping for a puppy, make sure you look for reputable breeders.

Puppies for sale from breeders are less likely to suffer health and personality problems and are more likely to live long, happy lives.

A French bulldog puppy is being held by a small boyFrench Bulldog Puppy

11 Favorite Dog Breeds for Families

Labrador Retriever

A Chocolate Labrador Retriever is running through a shallow body of waterLabrador Retriever

The Labrador retriever is the most common and popular dog in the United States and very likely this is the breed that comes to mind when you think of a family dog.

The lab is popular for good reason as it is playful, energetic, loyal, and easy to train. Labrador retrievers usually love children and are open and welcoming to strangers as well as people they know.

They easily assimilate into busy family life, and while they do require a lot of exercise and attention, they don't commonly suffer from separation anxiety in situations when they are left alone.

Unfortunately, the laboratory retriever’s popularity has contributed to a high number of backyard breeders, and this has caused the quality of the breed to decline.

Irresponsible and uneducated breeders do not put the effort into finding ideal parents or the best representations of the breed to carry on the desired traits, so some strains of this breed have started showing problems.

Growing numbers of labs show unusual aggressiveness, timidness, and less intelligence. This means that if you choose to buy a Labrador retriever for a family pet it is especially important to find a reputable breeder who understands how to choose breeding stock carefully.

Golden Retriever

A young golden retriever dog is walking along a wooded pathGolden Retriever

The golden retriever is another one of the most popular family dogs in the country. Like the Labrador retriever, the golden retriever was bred to be a hunting dog. Retrievers are used to retrieve (bring back) waterfowl after it has been shot.

This is why these breeds of dogs usually love playing fetch and being in the water. Golden retrievers are similar to Labrador retrievers in many ways.

They're outgoing, friendly, loyal, and highly trainable. Golden retrievers usually enjoy playing with children and are welcoming to visitors.


A large newfoundland dog is sitting next to a young toddler in a wooded areaNewfoundland

The Newfoundland dog breed comes from Canada, where they were used on ships and became well-known for their ability to rescue men that had fallen into the water.

Newfoundlands are very large and weigh over 100 lb. They are usually calm, friendly, and loyal and while they still need daily walks they don't require as much exercise as many of the breeds on this list.

Newfoundlands might not be the best dogs for apartments because they are so big. However, they also tend to be very calm they may actually enjoy apartment life more than other more active breeds.

Irish Setter

An adult Irish Setter is resting in a grassy area filled with Autumn leavesIrish Terrier

Irish setters are friendly and outgoing, and the perfect playful friend for children. They are large and energetic dogs with beautiful flowing red coats.

These hunting dogs were developed as “setters” which crouch and freeze when they scent game. They are active and prefer to have a lot of exercise.


A young leashed beagle is taking a walk with two peopleBeagle

Beagles are small, stocky scent hounds with adorable, floppy ears and big noses. They are loyal and affectionate but can be independent when needed.

This makes them good for households where family members are often away from home. Beagles are very friendly and enjoy children, new people, and other dogs. They also have short coats and are easy to care for.

Since they are hounds, beagles do tend to be loud and bark a lot, which might make them difficult to keep in apartments and other shared housing.

They are also harder to train than some dogs, so if having an obedient dog is important to you, consider your training skills before getting one.


Cardigan-Welsh-Corgi600.jpgCardigan Welsh Corgi

Welsh Corgis are classified as herding dogs, although modern members of this breed are much more likely to be lying on their owner’s couch than chasing sheep around a pen.

Corgis are small, stocky, short-haired dogs that are cheerful and friendly. They can also be a bit stubborn, so you will need patience to train them.

However, as herding dogs, they are very intelligent and loyal and will make great family companions.

They don’t like being left alone for long periods of time, however, so make sure that you won’t be leaving them for hours every day and train them to be comfortable staying in a crate while you are gone.

Read more about the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

Read more about the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

pembroke-welsh-corgi640.jpgPembroke Welsh Corgi

Shih Tzu

shih-tzu-grass.jpgShih Tzu

Shih Tzu have long silky hair and are extremely adorable. Their good looks are indicative of their history in ancient China as companions of the royal family.

Shih Tzu are small dogs, weighing between 9 to 16 pounds when they are fully grown. Despite their small size, they have big personalities and can be very affectionate and loyal companions.

Shih Tzus are intelligent and enjoy exercising and playing with other dogs and their human companions. They do poorly in isolation and need a lot of love and attention to stay happy.

Therefore, they are perfect for families with children who can provide plenty of interaction and care. Shih Tzus do not have many genetic health issues but they can experience eye anomalies such as cataracts and improperly closing eyelids.

Hair over the face should be trimmed or tied back in a topknot to prevent eye irritation. Be sure to groom your Shih Tzu regularly as they tend to shed a lot.

The short muzzles and thick fur of Shih Tzus make them poor swimmers and heat intolerant so give your little friend plenty of indoor time during the warmer months.

Bichon Frise

bichon-frise640.jpgBichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is famous for their beautiful white coats and flowing curly hair. In the 13th century, they were greatly loved by European nobles in Spain, Italy, and France. Bichons are absolutely lovable and look like fluffy little balls of cotton.

But they also have the brains to go with that irresistibly cute exterior. Bichons are alert, curious, intelligent, and can have great charm and personality.

They are easy to train and love to perform tricks for their owners for treats and praise. These little dogs love nothing more than being near their master.

They are known for being very playful and energetic and they make a great companion for children and elderly individuals. Bichons are great watchdogs due to their protective nature, but they generally get along with other dogs and people.

Due to their undercoat catching their shed hair, the Bichon is regarded as relatively hypoallergenic. That said, you should brush your Bichon daily or every two days to prevent mats in their coat.

You should also take your Bichon to the groomer every six to eight weeks for a bath and haircut to keep them looking their best.

Yorkshire Terrier

yorkshire-terrier544.jpgYorkshire Terrier

The Yorkie is a very distinctive little dog that is full of energy and personality. They stay small for all their lives and are perfect for apartments and small houses.

That said, Yorkshire Terriers have occasional short bursts of energy, so they enjoy a good run in the park or a good game of fetch with their owner. Yorkies love being around people and are very loyal to their families.

They consider themselves the center of attention and will follow you everywhere. They are very social animals and like to have the companionship of their own kind and other pets in the house.

However, can be jealous at times and will need attention and reassurance. Yorkies have a naturally soft and silky coat that is hypoallergenic and very easy to care for.

They don't shed very much at all but they should be brushed daily if their coats are kept long. To avoid irritation to your Yorkie's eyes, you should trim the fur on the upper part of their faces or tie it up in a topknot.

Yorkshire Terriers are generally healthy dogs and rarely have any major health problems. But they are prone to obesity and dental problems, which can be prevented with a good diet and regular exercise.

French Bulldog

french-bulldog-spring-break4.jpgFrench Bulldog

French bulldogs can make fun and affectionate pets and usually get along well with children. They enjoy training because they like spending time with their owners, but they can be stubborn.

They have short hair, which doesn't require much grooming, but their wrinkles can require care to keep them clean.

French bulldogs are small and have low exercise requirements, making them perfect apartment dwellers and companions for busy families that may not have time for long daily walks.

They require some daily exercise, though, as they sometimes have tendencies toward being overweight.  This breed does require the use of a harness when walking.

Read more about the French Bulldog Breed Profile



This short, stocky, and adorable dog with the characteristic squashed face is an ancient breed from China. Pugs tend to be playful and friendly and have a lot of energy.

They suffer in the heat and can get tired easily due to their shortened faces, so be careful when exercising outside. These dogs are very outgoing and love to be the center of attention.

They are adaptable and able to live in most households and situations, from large rural homes to apartments. They don’t like being alone all day and can suffer from separation anxiety, which is important to keep in mind if you have long working hours.

Read more about the Pug Dog Breed Profile

Last Words

There are many dogs that are very family friendly including all those we've mentioned here. You will find great dogs in all groupings including toys, herding, hounds, and working breeds.

Some require more grooming than others and some need a bit more training.  But to be family favorites, these dogs all have a few things in common. 

The best family dogs are those that are friendly towards all members of the family especially those dogs that love children. 

They are patient, gentle, alert, and respond quickly to the lead of humans, even the smallest humans.  They are playful and adapt quickly to all types of living situations including city life and rural environments. 

Favorite Dog Breeds for Families
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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, beagles, English bulldogs, carin terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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