The 10 Best Family Dog Breeds That are Good With Kids

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: June 17, 2022
Image Credit Lenkadan/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:
  • The all around best dog breed for a family are Labrador retrievers. They have great personalities, enjoy outdoor and indoor activities, and are easy to care for.
  • Beagles are great mid-sized dogs for energetic families, and love attention. They tend to bark a lot, which can be a benefit if you live in a rural area.
  • If you’re looking for a large dog, the American Kennel Club hails the Bernese mountain dog as good-natured, calm, strong, and extra gentle with children. They love to make people happy and can work hard.

What makes for a good family dog? Ideally, the candidate should be affectionate, gentle, and able to live comfortably in your space. Limited barking and shedding are other qualities to consider when picking a pup.

Which breeds fit the bill? Let’s dive into our pool of the best family dogs.

Best Family Dogs: Labrador Retrievers

Labrador retrievers are everything we all strive to be: adaptable, confident, patient, hard-working, and kind. They also love to hold things — yet they’re so gentle they can transport eggs in their mouths without breaking them!

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On the dog fancier circuit, Labrador retrievers are widely considered the best dog for families with children. They’re always ready to play, aren’t too aggressive, and are easily groomable. Also, Labradors build close bonds with kids.

Labrador retrievers are also great dogs for adventure outings. They enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and camping, and they are big fans of water. If you have a backyard pool, the lab will most likely be in it swimming around with your kids. And they are also very adaptable in varied situations.

Read more about Labrador retrievers, which are the most common guide dog breed, here.

A chocolate lab, a yellow lab, and a black lab laying in the grass with their tongues out.
Labrador retrievers are considered the best dog for families with children because they’re always ready to play, aren’t too aggressive, and are easily groomable.

Rosa Jay/Shutterstock.com

Best Family Dogs: Boston Terrier

Playful and loyal, Boston terriers easily land on our best family dogs list. These high-energy bundles of muscle love to prance around with their pals and get along well with other four-legged members of the family — especially if they’re introduced when the Boston terrier is a puppy!

But beware! On rare occasions, Boston terriers get tetchy and display mildly aggressive behavior if they think one of their family members is in some way threatened.

Children over eight years old do best with Boston terriers. By that age, they understand that pets aren’t toys and can energetically play with their canine buddies without getting out of control.

Read more about Boston terriers, the state dog of Massachusetts, here.

A Boston Terrier mid-leap with an orange and pink tennis ball in its mouth.
The Boston Terrier is a high-energy breed who gets along well with other four-legged members of the family.

rebeccaashworth/Shutterstock.com

Best Family Dogs: Beagle

Beagles are great dogs for active, energetic families! These spirited, medium-sized canines are always game for play. Plus, they relish attention and crave cuddles.

Curiosity rules the beagle brain, and they love nothing more than following a scent — a trait from their days as fancy hunting hounds. On the downside, beagles are big barkers; it’s how they alerted their gunmen of nearby prey. But some families, especially ones in rural areas, often value dogs who speak up when someone pops on the property.

Beagles living in close-knit communities can be trained to curtail their cries if they receive training early on.

Read more about beagles, Snoopy’s breed, here.

Oldest Dog: Butch, the Oldest Beagle
Beagles are both good family dogs and good watch dogs.

Best Family Dogs: Newfoundlands

Is there anything more endearing than a big, gentle, family-oriented dog? That’s why Newfoundlands — the large dogs with angelic souls — make our list of the best family dogs.

These gentle giants are all about you and the kids. They become so attached that many suffer from separation anxiety if they’re parted from their humans for extended periods. Some folks consider them “nanny dogs,” but experts caution against leaving them alone with babies. “Newfies” can be very playful and accidentally get too rowdy.

Another thing: Newfoundlands are one of the more expensive dogs to care for because of extra grooming needs — plus, their pet insurance can be pricey. If your budget is tight, consider a lower-maintenance breed, like the French bulldog.

Read more about Newfoundlands, who love water and hail from Switzerland, here.

Newfoundlands are very good with children and are often referred to as “nanny dogs.”

Peter Ludes / Creative Commons

Best Family Dogs: French Bulldog

French bulldogs are tiny, stocky, bullets of love. Bred as companion dogs, they savor time with their human families and do everything in their power to please us. Kids love them because they’re teeny, fun, and cuddly.

Since they’re not big on barking and don’t need tons of exercise, French bulldogs do well living in apartments and condos. Plus, they’re flat faces don’t lend themselves well to oodles of outdoor time.

A short-hair breed, French bulldogs don’t shed much — which is a boon for hypoallergenic households.

Read more about French bulldogs, who can’t swim, here.

French Bulldog (Canis familiaris) - standing against white background
French bulldogs are good apartment dogs because they don’t bark a lot, and they’re low-energy.

Vivienstock/Shutterstock.com

Best Family Dogs: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are beauties! Their long, silken fur, floppy ears, and adorable faces are irresistible! Considered the perfect lapdog and affectionately called “a love sponge,” Cavalier King Charles spaniels are patient and excessively friendly — sometimes to a fault.

Cavaliers also get along famously with other family pets, but they may run into trouble at the dog park because they think every dog is friendly like them!

Naturally gentle dogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels are a super fit for young families.

Read more about Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who were given their name by King Charles II, here.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Canis familiaris) - puppy jumping
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are patient and friendly, making them excellent pets for kids.

otsphoto/Shutterstock.com

The Best Family Dogs: Category Awards

Now let’s get specific. What is the best hypoallergenic family dog? How about a large pup that’s great with kids? Or the best medium sized family dog? Below, we award superlatives in four categories: best medium sized family dog, best large family dog, best family dog that doesn’t shed, and best small family dog.

Best Medium Sized Family Dog: Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are the gold-standard family dog. In part because of their lustrous flaxen coats, but also because they’re devoted additions to families of all sizes — even cozy families of one!

Bred for companionship and helpfulness, golden retrievers are intelligent, loyal, and jolly. They’re also gorgeous and easy to train. The Peter Pans of Dogdom, golden retrievers often maintain their playful puppy personalities well into adulthood.

Read more about golden retrievers, who need lots of exercise, here.

Golden Retriever (Canis familiaris)
The Golden Retriever were bred for companionship and helpfulness, making them intelligent, loyal, and happy.

Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Best Large Family Dog: Bernese Mountain Dog

Do you appreciate giant dogs that are gentle with the newborn? If so, then Bernese mountain dogs may be the right fit for you and the kids. Described by the American Kennel Club as good-natured, calm, strong, and extra gentle with children, Bernese mountain dogs are the Santa Clauses of the canine world. They love to make people happy and can work hard, which is why they’re our pick for the best large family dog.

Be aware that like most large, long-haired breeds, Bernese mountain dogs shed frequently, and their grooming costs are more than an average-sized hound.

Read more about Bernese mountain dogs, who are incredibly strong but exceptionally gentle, here.

A Bernese Mountain dog sitting in a field of dandelions.
The Bernese Mountain dog is great with babies and love to make people happy.

Eve Photography/Shutterstock.com

Best Family Dog that Doesn’t Shed: Labradoodle

They look like stuffed animals and cannot be more friendly. A mix between poodles and Labrador retrievers, labradoodles are extremely intelligent, intuitive, and love mental stimulation. They’re wonderful for active families and can tirelessly play with young kids — who are just as curious as they are!

Beyond having people-like personalities, labradoodles also have a practical trait that makes them excellent family pets: they’re hypoallergenic hounds, making the breed the best family dog that doesn’t shed.

Read more about labradoodles, who are super easy to train, here.

A labradoodle sitting on a rocky beach near a body of water.
A mix between a poodle and a Labrador retriever, the labradoodle is an active breed that doesn’t shed.

Jennifer McCallum/Shutterstock.com

Best Small Family Dog: Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire bull terriers were bred for the ring. However, over centuries, those fighting instincts have eroded, and dog fanciers now put Staffordshires on “best family pups” lists and place them in the “nanny dog” class.

SBTs are small and don’t shed or bark frequently — but Staffordshire bull terriers are mimics. So if you already have a howling hound at home, a “staffy” may choose to join in — and it won’t be melodic.

Read more about Staffordshire bull terriers, who are always up for fun but quickly become overheated, here.

Good luck finding a pup that fits in perfectly with you and the kids! We hope our list of best family dogs has helped! To read more about other animals, head to our animal blog.

Staffordshire bull terrier puppy in leaves
The Staffordshire bull terrier is small and doesn’t shed or bark frequently.

Aneta Jungerova/Shutterstock.com

Summary of the 10 Best Family Dog Breeds Good With Kids

RankDog BreedCategory
1Labrador RetrieverBest
2Boston TerrierBest
3BeagleBest
4NewfoundlandBest
5French Bull DogBest
6Cavalier King Charles SpanielBest
7Golden RetrieverBest medium sized family dog
8Bernese Mountain DogBest large family dog
9LabradoodleBest family dog that doesn’t shed
10 Staffordshire Bull TerrierBest small family dog

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