Best dog breeds for families

Getting a dog is an exciting time for you and your family but it’s important to choose your breed carefully. Different breeds have different traits and needs and are prone to different health conditions so it’s important to do your research before deciding which breed is right for you. You should also consider how your lifestyle may suit different breeds for example, a dogs need for exercise and training can differ wildly.

The below are five examples of dog breeds which could make an excellent family pet:

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs due to their playful yet obedient nature and their incredible emotional intelligence. Their general social character means that they love people and won’t struggle to get along with your family or anyone who comes to visit.

However, these large dogs can grow to between 51 and 61 cm and they do need a fair amount of exercise, over 2 hours a day, to ensure they live a healthy, happy life. In fact, while Golden Retrievers normally live for over 10 years, it’s not unknown for healthy golden retrievers to live for as long as 17 years.

Most Golden Retrievers will be content with a few walks each day, allowing them to stretch their legs and get their heart pumping.

Additionally, they enjoy pretty much any kind of physical activity, whether that’s walking, swimming or hiking, making them an excellent companion for a family day trip.

Irish Setter

Irish Setters are another fantastic breed for an active family, they are clever creatures with a love of fun and playing. Just like Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters are quick to get on with both new people and animals, meaning that you shouldn’t have too much trouble when introducing them to new social situations. However, due to their enhanced social nature, they can be known for not taking well to being alone.

Standing tall with an average height between 63 to 68 cm, Irish Setters are historically hunting dogs bred to tackle long distances. With this in mind, they do require a lot of exercise to keep them healthy both physically and mentally. The average life span is also quite high, between 11-15 years. Additionally, their long fur can easily attract debris and their coat should be checked daily and properly brushed weekly.


Collies were traditionally used as herding dogs (around 48 to 56 cm tall), and as such they are quick to learn and extremely smart, not to mention incredibly loyal. They are known to have an excellent ability to notice when something is wrong, as well as a playful and gentle nature. This makes them ideal for families with young children. Although it is worth mentioning, they have been known to be suspicious of strangers, due to their desire to protect the family.

Collies rose to prominence as a breed in no small part thanks to the heroic endeavours of TV and film dog Lassie. However, the boom in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century led to lots of quick breeding and so some Collies may suffer from health problems. On average, a healthy Collie can live between 10-14 years. Always be sure to check your Collie comes from a reputable source.

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels are another good choice when it comes to selecting a family pet, their playful and loving characters ensure that they’re right at home when surrounded by a loving family. Cocker Spaniels typically stand around 38cm to 42cm and have a life expectancy of 12+ years. What’s more is that as they were initially bred as gun dogs, to flush out and retrieve game, they are also highly trainable.

The average Cocker Spaniel needs up to an hour of exercise a day, so if you have a particularly busy schedule that would prevent you from giving a larger dog the exercise it needs, then a Cocker Spaniel may be right for you.

However, while Cocker Spaniels love social interaction, especially from a loving family, they do become very attached to their owners which unfortunately can make them quite prone to separation anxiety. So while they don’t need as much exercise as other breeds, you should still be able to spend plenty of time with them.


Beagles, like other family dogs, are smart, affectionate, and playful and are also quite small (between 34-40cm). If you don’t have the room for a larger dog than a Beagle could be the right animal for you. What’s more, their short coat ensures that keeping them clean and tidy is a relatively straightforward task.

However, just because these dogs are smaller than most, they are still hunting dogs which means they have a lot more energy than people give them credit for. It’s not uncommon to see Beagles with weight problems so you need to ensure they have plenty of exercise, roughly 2+ hours a day, for a healthy lifestyle that can see them living for between 12 and 15 years.

Also, while Beagles are playful and intelligent, they have a tendency to get carried away with playfulness so initially they may need some supervision when playing with small children. Introducing socialising from an early age, combined with puppy training will make sure your puppy is well prepared for happy family life.

Use our puppy training tips as a guide to help lay the foundations for good behaviour. Is your family dog a different breed? Let us know in the comments below.