Family with a dog
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Top 5 dog breeds that make the perfect family pet

By Nick Whittle Author

Updated on the

Choose a family-friendly dog from one of these four categories: temperament, size, fur-type and energy. But beware: you'll soon realise NO dog fits comfortably into all of these categories!

For instance, one that doesn’t moult (great for allergen-sensitive kids) may also be one that isn’t calm and cuddly. In such cases, a compromise must be sought. For it is true that all healthy and long-lasting relationships rely on finding the ‘happy medium’.

If you are looking for the best family dog you should approach a reputable breeder. This is the first law of dog buying. Reputable breeders have the best interests of litters at heart. They tend not to breed un-selectively just to maximise profit, nor are they strangers to a breed’s quirks and personalities.

Dog shelters too are on the whole run by caring and knowledgeable people although, naturally, shelters cannot guarantee you that you will take home a level-headed and untroubled dog.

The best family-friendly breed

Generally speaking, a breed of dog best orientated towards family life will be the one that is patient, calm, gentle and predictable. Taking a moment to reflect on your own way of living (are you outdoorsy, are you energetic, are you a couch potato?) will help you to choose a dog that engages with you and your family more easily.

The following is a list of the top five dogs that are considered ‘family dog breeds’:

  1. Bulldog
  2. Beagle
  3. Bull Terrier
  4. Collie
  5. Newfoundland

But let's not stop at this point! These five dogs have been listed only according to their general characteristics, and we alluded earlier to the likelihood that not every dog has welcomed traits. Therefore, we have listed other dogs under headings of more specific characteristics in order to help you to make your final choice.


Family dogs: The most hypoallergenic breed

It has often been assumed that dogs that shed their hair (moult) are more likely to cause us an allergic reaction than dogs that don’t. However, it is not so much the moulting hair that is the allergen but the fine particles of dead skin found on the hair. Dogs that do not moult will not have (as much) of this ‘dandruff’.

There are other theories too. Some studies suggest the real culprit is the dog’s saliva. ‘Being allergic to dogs is a matter of having a sensitivity to a protein in their saliva which also exudes through their skin,’ she writes.

The following breeds are considered ‘hypoallergenic’:

  1. Poodle
  2. Bichon Frise
  3. Yorkshire terrier
  4. Maltese
  5. Schnauzer
Finding a family-friendly dog is about making compromises.©Rhone. Unsplash

Family dogs: The most energetic breed

What kind of activities do you and your family enjoy? Are you active? Do your children enjoy the outdoors? If so, one of the top five dogs listed below may be just right. The following breeds are energetic; they enjoy long enduring walks, interaction with humans and mental stimulation.

But they are also known to be mischievous and in need of a great deal of training. Should these traits not match those you have in mind of a family dog you should consider a different breed.

  1. Husky
  2. Weimaraner
  3. Border collie
  4. Springer spaniel

Family dogs: Long-lived breeds

Children invest a great deal of emotion in their pets. Dogs especially are often known as ‘part of the family’ and as such young children who grow up with a puppy often relate to her as a sibling.

For this reason, when you buy a dog from a breeder it is worth remembering that although the dog will not live for ever it should be one that will not die within a handful of years.

Of course there is no guarantee that even a long-lived dog won’t contract a disease and die earlier than expected, but if preventing your family’s premature mourning is an important consideration then you should at least consider one of these top five long-lived breeds.

Most dogs will live for between 9 and 11 years. However, pedigree dogs are more susceptible to terminal illnesses than crossbreeds and bigger dogs live much shorter lives than little dogs.

  1. Yorkshire terrier (13 - 20 years)
  2. Australian Shepherd (12 – 18 years)
  3. Shih Tzu (12 – 16 years)
  4. Maltese (15 years)
  5. Beagle (15 years)
Pugs are very affectionate family dogs.© JC Gellidon. Unsplash

Some breeds of dog are known for particularly short lifespans; their early demise is often associated with their size:

  1. Irish wolfhound (7 years)
  2. Great Dane (6 – 8 years)
  3. Bernese Mountain Dogs (6 – 8 years)
  4. Rottweiler (9 years)
  5. French Bulldog (8 – 10 years)

Family dogs: Cuddliest breed

Some dogs are cuddlier than others. And by cuddly we don’t just mean fun to touch. Dogs that are affectionate, loyal, friendly, and that enjoy physical contact are more suitable for families, especially families with young children.

However, you should be aware that if dogs such as these are not given the attention they so crave they will show their distaste with antisocial behaviour. Dogs that are very ‘clingy’ may also be wary of strangers and be over-protective of their owners.

The top five affectionate dogs are generally considered to be:

  1. Pug
  2. Boxer
  3. Greyhound
  4. Bichon
  5. Mastiff (not a bullmastiff)

A quick recap

It is worthwhile to note that although all of these dogs are intelligent, quick thinking, loyal and have certain characteristics that benefit families, none will respond well to poor training, neglect or lack of attention.

A dog’s behaviour may vary across breeds but her owner’s treatment of her is what truly determines her state of mind and consequently her behaviour. Most dogs are born tolerant and loving, but their tolerance and patience can easily be pushed to a limit.

Check out this list of the 10 best dogs for kids
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