BREED ALL ABOUT IT! Here is everything you need to know about which dog breed will be the best fit for your family.
Making the decision to expand your family to include a furry friend or two is one of the best decisions any human could make, in my humble opinion, but I know I am slightly biased.
In fact, if it were up to me, I’d be bounding down to the kennels with my own human to pick out a new sibling for myself, but I can admit that I don’t always think about the practicality of these things. Choosing a dog is a huge responsibility, after all, and I’m not even allowed to be left on my own for too long! Especially not if there is tasty food that has been left out….
To help you (and to help argue my case with my human), why don’t we take a look at how to choose the best dog breed for your family, together. There’s lots to learn, so let’s get started!
Table of contents
Breed Characteristics To Consider
Just like humans, us dogs are all different. A lot of this is down to our individual personalities and quirks, but some of it can also be due to what breed of dog we are. So, here are some of the different characteristics that you should consider when choosing a dog breed for you.
Bringing a new furry family member home is a big decision for any human to make, so it’s important to make sure that you find a dog that is going to fit right into your family unit.
One of the most important characteristics to consider in a breed is the size they grow up to be, as certain breeds are more suited to families with young children than others.
For example, small, toy-sized dogs such as Chihuahuas and some terrier breeds are too little for accidental rough play with children and vice versa for small children with big breeds.
Young Children Need Consistent Supervision With Any Dog
Regardless of the breed you end up bringing home, you should always supervise young children when they are around dogs to ensure neither one annoys the other too much.
I’m not just talking about a bit of sibling rivalry! Young humans don’t quite understand that smaller dogs can be fragile and less tolerant to ear-grabbing and tail-pulling, whereas dogs can’t always understand that their small human didn’t mean to hurt them and can retaliate.
As Alia Hoyt puts it, “dogs are wonderful, but they’re still animals, and that’s a fact you should never forget.” So, never leave your young children unsupervised with any dog.
In most cases, when you’re looking for a family dog, you should be thinking about what type of temperament your dog will have and whether this will fit in with your existing family. This is even more important if you are a social bunch of humans or if you have young children.
What is a dog’s temperament, exactly? This is the word you humans use to describe what is essentially a dog’s personality. Some sweet-natured dogs will have a calmer temperament, which can be great around small kids, whereas others will be more energetic and playful.
There is no right or wrong temperament for a dog to have, just like there is no right or wrong for humans, but there is still the “right” temperament for you and your family. As a result, you will need to do plenty of thorough research on what type of temperament different breeds of dogs are known for, as this will then be able to help you find the perfect fit for your family.
Some Breeds are More Comfortable With Children
We might be man’s best friend, but there are definitely certain breeds who are happier to be your children’s best friend than others. Not all breeds have a good reputation for their relationship with younger kids therefore they would not be the best choice for a family dog.
Some of the best dog breeds for kids include the following breeds:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden retriever
- Labrador retriever
- Irish setter
- French bulldog
And many, many others! You should also remember to teach your children how to play appropriately with your family dog. No matter how docile a breed they are, even the best of us dogs can only take so much painful ear pulling and tugging on tails before we snap!
Companionship is a large part of why any human considers adding a furry family member to their brood, but it is important to think about this from more than just your own perspective.
Think about how much time you will be spending at home and choose a dog breed that can typically cope with being left on their own for an amount of time that matches your lifestyle.
For example, if your whole family will be out for the day during the week, you should look for a dog that will not suffer from too much separation anxiety. All dogs experience it to some extent, but breeds that are particularly prone to this issue include border collies, labrador retrievers, German shepherds, toy poodles, and Jack Russel terriers, to name a few.
Unless one of you is able to stay at home with your dog for most of the day, you’ll be better off with a breed like a basset hound, french bulldog, traditional greyhound, or Maltese. Otherwise, your dog may develop behavioral problems as a result of being left alone all day.
Dogs are Pack Animals and Need Company
Just like humans don’t like to feel lonely or neglected by the ones they care about, neither do us dogs. Like I said, you need to give your availability some thought before choosing a dog.
If you have already made up your mind about which breed you want or if your circumstances change after welcoming your new furry friend, you should consider hiring another human who can pop in during the day to check on them, let them out, and take them for a walk.
Size is not the only factor in whether or not a dog will behave well around kids, but it is still a huge factor for you to consider as this will affect how suitable a dog is for you in many ways.
Factors To Consider: Do You Want a Small or a Big Dog? How Much Outside Space Do You Have?
As a general rule, bigger dogs tend to have bigger stores of energy which they need to burn off. Otherwise, we can go a little stir-crazy and this tends to end in damage to your favorite things… So, when looking for a family dog, think about what sort of outside space you have.
Most large dogs will need plenty of play time as well as walking, so a small backyard is not the most suitable for bigger breeds. With that being said, you could probably get away with it if you have enough parks and enclosed outdoor areas where you can take your dog.
Just remember to think about how much you’ll really want to be trekking to the park during the winter when the rainy weather will come before you make your mind up on that one…
Flats and Small Houses are Not Ideal for Most Dogs e.g. Large Dog Breeds
Similarly, big dogs tend to require a reasonable amount of indoor space as well. As much as you want to grow the size of your family, if the size of your house or flat isn’t suitable for a larger breed then it would be irresponsible of you to make them live in cramped conditions.
Besides, you’ll only end up paying for it in furniture replacements if you do. There are some tips for owning a big dog in a small apartment, but most flats and small houses would only be appropriate for smaller breeds who are generally calmer and need limited play space.
It’s not just the space side of things to think about either. I quite like hearing my local dog pals howling their goodnights to each other, but I’m pretty sure your neighbors will not agree. And, you know what they say; the bigger the breed, the bigger the lungs for barking.
Research Where a Breed Originates and the Job it was Bred To Do
If you were to look back at the history of us dogs and how we came to be domesticated (an excellent thing, in my opinion – who doesn’t enjoy having a human to take care of them?) you would notice how a lot of breeds were actually bred specifically for a purpose or job.
We might be pretty far removed from those days, as like I said, the majority of dogs are all domesticated now with a few exceptions such as police dogs or guide dogs, but there are still certain traits that might be more prominent in these breeds as a result of their heritage.
Working dogs, for example, might not cope as well with the hustle and bustle of family life, whereas a vivacious breed like the ever fun-loving dalmatian would prefer this environment.
Training is an essential part of introducing a new furry family member into the mix, but the level of training that is required of you will depend on how much time you can dedicate to it.
If you are a busy family with no time to spend at home helping your new puppy acclimatize to their new home, you may be better off getting an older dog who has already mastered the basics of toilet training, even if they need a bit of help as they get used to their surroundings.
Some Breeds are More Difficult To Train Than Other Breeds
Different breeds are also more likely to take to training than others. If you want to minimize the amount of time you’ll need to spend training your new pooch, pick a breed that has a high level of intelligence as these tend to pick up new tricks and commands much faster.
Breeds that respond particularly well to training includes:
- Irish setter
- Labrador retriever
- German shepherd
- Border collie
With that said, even the easiest dogs to train can only exceed with consistent training, and that part’s on you. Remember to use lots of positive reinforcement and plenty of praise!
Finding the perfect family dog means you’ll need to take in your own energy levels to make sure that they match up with the breed you are considering. You guessed it, exercise is next.
All Dogs Need Exercise
This is a pretty basic and well-known fact, but you’d be surprised at how many humans are surprised when they find out that a short 20-minute walk around the block isn’t enough.
It will depend on the breed you choose, of course, but some dogs need upwards of an hour of exercise every day plus additional mental stimulation through play.
Do You Have Enough Time To Walk a Dog?
If the answer to this is no, then you’ll need to find yourself a dog-walker who can make sure your dog is getting enough exercise in the day. Otherwise, you’ll come home to a torn-up house and a dog that’s so pent up with unused energy that they annoy you all evening!
If You Are an Active Person who Enjoys Walking, You may Consider an Active Dog Breed
On the other hand, active families who love going for long walks and taking day trips to the great outdoors will find that an active dog breed will fit right in with the family fun!
Do You Travel Much as a Family? Will the Dog be Able To Come With You?
Enjoy camping or hiking holidays? Dogs can be the perfect travel companion, but make sure that you will be able to take them with you wherever you’re going. You cannot leave a dog at home whilst away, so if you can’t bring them you’ll need to make alternative arrangements.
Once again circling back to tail- I mean, time-availability! Think about how much time (and resources) you have and whether or not this will cover the requirements of your family dog.
Some Dogs Will Need Frequent Grooming Sessions by Yourself/Professionals
Dogs with longer hair often need much more frequent grooming compared to dogs with short hair. If you love the look of a freshly groomed dog with all of the bows and whistles, you’ll need to leave less of a gap between good grooming sessions to maintain that fluffy coat.
Professional Grooming can be Expensive
If you can barely afford to get your own hair cut each month, you probably shouldn’t choose a breed that requires frequent grooming or you will have to learn how to do it yourself.
Short-haired breeds like beagles require minimal grooming which is easier to maintain. You should think about shedding, as this can lead to more cleaning or worsened allergies.
One of the things that puts a lot of humans off getting a dog is if one or more members of the family are allergic. It’s a fate worse than death, I know, but you can still work around this!
Dogs With Hypoallergenic Fur are Great for Those With Allergies
Although there is no way to guarantee that any dog will be completely allergy friendly, there are certain types of dog breeds that are better suited for families with dog allergies.
To reduce the side effects of allergies, choose a breed that is non-shedding as these are often widely considered to be hypoallergenic dogs due to them losing hair at a reduced rate.
It is also worth spending some time with any dog you are going to get before they come home as this will show you whether or not you are sensitive to allergies around them.
As much as we would all love dogs to live forever, sadly, this isn’t the case.
Some Breeds Live Longer than Others so Consider the Longevity
Smaller breeds usually outlive larger dogs, although this will vary between each individual dog due to a mixture of genetics and their family health e.g an English bulldog has an expected lifespan of 8-10 years compared to the 12-15 years predicted for a bichon frises.
If you are worried about exposing young children in your family to the loss of a beloved pet at an early age, consider the lifespan of a breed before bringing them home to the family.
Research is Key
If you’ve stumbled across my blog, you’re probably already aware that you should be doing some research on different dog breeds and how well they will fit in with the family. Yay! So, this is the part where I talk about how to do said research and be a responsible pet parent.
Buying a Puppy: You Will Need Advice on How To Buy a Puppy Responsibly
The first stop on your journey to bringing a new furry friend home to join the family should be a shelter or rescue group. Some humans are put off by the fact that you don’t always know the history of the dogs, but most are only rehomed due to owner-related issues such as cost, lifestyle changes such as a new baby or divorce, or a limited capacity to care for them well.
Shelters are hugely oversubscribed, so this is the most responsible way to find a puppy. If you give it a chance, you might just find the perfect companion for your family here!
If you have decided not to adopt one of the thousands of dogs who are currently calling a dog shelter or kennels a home, you need to make sure you find a responsible dog breeder.
Avoid puppy mills at all costs – these are famed for their unsuitable breeding conditions and are only interested in the money involved rather than the actual welfare of the puppies. This can often lead to temperament problems that you might not notice at first, or in more serious cases, health conditions that your dog may develop later in life that come with huge costs.
Ask a Family Member or Friend
The best way to know for sure whether the breeder you are considering is reputable and responsible is to ask your friends and other family members who have dogs which breeder they bought their own puppy from. Word of mouth is the best referral source you can find!
You can also join online Facebook groups to get advice from other people who live locally.
Just like with any important decision you have to make, don’t go rushing into it without doing some research, first. If you can arrange to, try and meet the breeder before agreeing to buy a puppy from them. Ask them lots of questions and always ask to see the puppies parents.
Choosing the Right Breeder is Important To Ensure a Happy and Healthy Dog as it Grows Older
Poor breeding can impact on your dog’s health and temperament, like I have already mentioned. Just like your human children, I’m guessing you will want your puppy to grow up to be big and strong without costly health conditions that can affect their quality of life.
Socializing a puppy is extremely important if you would like your pup to grow up to be well-mannered, loyal, and obedient. While most humans assume that training can start after their new puppy comes home, this should actually start from the moment that they are born!
This is because the first one to eight weeks of a puppy’s life are essential when it comes to helping them become familiar with certain sounds, actions, and behaviors so that they are not scared of them later in life. It is therefore important to find a breeder who can help.
Puppy farms, for example, will not be able to provide puppies with the correct socialization skills which, as we have mentioned, can lead to behavioral problems later on in their life.
Getting an Older Dog
Puppies are cute, sure, but they are also a heck of a lot of work. I would know, I was one.
For some families, it might actually be a better idea to consider getting an older dog. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but never has such a phrase been so wrong! Older dogs can still integrate wonderfully into a new family without the hassle of puppy-hood.
With that being said, you will still need to put in a fair amount of training to ensure that an older dog adjusts to their new environment. They may have years of bad habits to unlearn…
If You Adopt an Older Dog, You Will Need To Know About its History and How it Will Adapt to Family Life
Is the dog okay with children, for example? Do they have a history of abuse that could cause them to lash out if they are feeling threatened or backed into a corner in some way?
Asking for a full medical history might seem like it is a bit excessive, but reputable breeders should be able to show you proof of health screenings like OFA and CERF certificates.
Best Dog Breeds for Families
So, to wrap up this article, let’s take a look at some of the best dog breeds for families.
Aww, the loveable labrador retriever, famously friendly and known for their affectionate personalities that make them the perfect fit for many families, hence their popularity!
As the American Kennel Club points out, however, you should not mistake their relaxed, easy going personality for low energy: “The Lab is an enthusiastic athlete that requires lots of exercise, like swimming and marathon games of fetch, to keep physically and mentally fit.”
I’ve never really understood why, but bulldogs get a pretty unfair rep in the human world. It could be due to their stocky build and occasionally-growly faces, but they can also be affectionate, docile, friendly, and most importantly, incredibly loyal. What more could you want in a family dog? They’ll happily and gently play with the kids until they get tired.
This doesn’t usually take long, however, as bulldogs are a sleepier breed and don’t have nearly as much energy as some of the other breeds that I’ve mentioned in this list. Oh, and as a bonus, bulldogs are typically comfortable living in both larger and smaller spaces!
Just like labradors and similar to them in many ways, golden retrievers are another type of dog that made it into the top three of the AKC’s list of the most popular breeds in America.
They embody all the characteristics you could ever want in a family dog: a desire to please their humans, huge stores of affection, a gentle nature with children and other animals… okay, okay, even I get it. Golden retrievers are the golden boys of the dog world, literally.
But who can be mad about that! Just remember that you will need to put in the effort to keep your golden retriever well-exercised. I hope your arms are ready for a game of fetch…
If you are looking for a medium-sized dog, you can’t go far wrong with a beagle. These are a great family dog with their reputation for being kid-friendly and, well, friendly altogether.
Beagles are one of the most popular breeds in the US and these playful companions are relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for thanks to minimal grooming requirements.
They are, however, a fairly active breed with a curiosity that could kill the cat – speaking of cats, you’ll want to keep your beagle away from any or they’ll put their barking skills to use.
Pugs are a great companion for families as, just like their humans, this breed loves sleeping and eating. They love food so much that you’ll need to keep a keen eye on their diets for them (no table scraps allowed!) and give them enough exercise to maintain their health.
As they are a smaller breed, pugs are great if you don’t have the biggest space at home, although they do appreciate a smaller yard to play around in with their younger humans.
I think we can all agree (or in my case, begrudgingly admit) that Irish setters are some of the most beautiful dogs in the world. These showstoppers are gifted with not just looks, but pretty impressive athleticism as well, so an active lifestyle is essential to keep up with them.
If you’re looking for a dog that can do a great job of getting everybody up and going in the morning and you have an expansive supply of tennis balls, an Irish setter is the dog for you.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Brussels Griffons won’t have a lot of energy just because of their smaller size, as this breed is surprisingly active and can border on mischievous. They’re playful but also protective and can bark at the first sign of trouble.
According to Dogtime, they adapt well to apartment living (although your neighbors might not appreciate their frequent danger-warning barks as much as you do…), so as long as you give them an active and fun lifestyle, they will reward you with lots of loyalty and love.
If you think you are ready to take on a big dog, then you might just be ready to bring home a newfoundland. Not only are these gentle giants one of the most loving and affectionate breeds (this alone makes them a great family companion!) but they have even earned the nickname of “nanny dogs” thanks to their sweet nature and how they interact with children.
With that being said, you should still make sure to always keep an eye on young children when they are around dogs as we mentioned earlier, regardless of the dog’s size. Also keep in mind that newfoundlands can require quite a bit of attention in return for their affection.
Another popular dog breed is the French bulldog, although they are also somewhat controversial due to the significant health problems that these flat-faced pups can face.
Unfortunately, frenchies have a higher risk of developing health issues with their eyes, breathing, and their ability to regulate their own temperature. Despite this, they still have wonderfully bright and bubbly personalities with a friendly and loyal temperament.
They are also a great dog for families with a smaller living space or no backyard.
Border Collies are one of the most intelligent breeds out there. Happy-natured and happy to please their humans, these dogs can form an incredible bond with all their family members.
They have energy levels to match their intelligence, so this breed will need to be kept entertained by playing outdoors and going on long walks, therefore they’d be great for an already active family with plenty of free time to spend with their furry family member.
I hope that this article has helped you come to understand just how important it is for you to choose the right breed of dog if you are considering introducing a new fluffy family member.
Just remember that whether you adopt or purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, it is up to you to make sure that you help your new pooch acclimatize to being a part of your family. Try not to get mad if they get things wrong at first, like where to go to the toilet, as it might take some time for them to become familiar with their new family and surroundings.
With enough prior research on different breeds, patience, love, and guidance, your new dog should fit into the family just fine, whatever breed you end up bringing home with you!