Best dog breeds for families

Choosing a dog for your family is a hugely important decision. How can you pick the best breed to fit with both your loved ones and your lifestyle?

Making the decision to get a dog is hugely exciting for any family. But what’s the best breed of dog for a family to get? The short answer to that question is that there is no single dog breed that is best for families. There can be behaviour problems and health concerns with any breed of dog. Equally, most breeds of dog can thrive in a family setting with proper training and socialisation.

To a certain extent, the breed of dog you choose for your family is likely to depend on your lifestyle and family circumstances. For example, you may not have enough space or time to accommodate a large dog that needs lots of exercise. Also, if you’re already busy looking after young children, you may not want a dog breed that requires daily grooming.

When it comes to choosing a family dog, it is vitally important to pick a puppy from a good breeder. So, do your research carefully and make sure that your breeder is knowledgeable about their breed and prioritises the welfare of their dogs. Make at least two visits to see your puppy with their mother and littermates before you collect them for the final time. Remember, no puppy should leave their mother before the age of 8 weeks as this is a critical time for their development.

Some families may like the idea of getting a rescue dog. Since many rescue dogs have had traumatic experiences, however, rescue centres can be cautious about rehoming them with families that have young children. Often rescue centres will not rehome a dog with a family that has children under eight years old or, in some cases, under 12 or even 16 years old.

Once a family has brought their new pup home, everyone in the household will need to commit to exercise, training and socialisation and make sure that they set sensible, consistent boundaries and limits for their pet. This will help to ensure that their dog grows up to be a happy and confident dog with a solid sense of their place in the family.

While most dog breeds can make great family dogs, here are eight breeds that are considered to be among the best dog breeds for families.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise image

Gentle and playful, the Bichon Frise is a great dog breed for families. Not only can Bichon Frises form strong bonds with children, they can also get along well with other pets. Small in size, this toy breed can be less boisterous in their play than other breeds. They tend to live long lives – up to 15 years or more. Bichon Frises need regular grooming and to be walked for an hour a day.

Border Terrier

Border Terrier image

Border Terriers are brave and fun-loving dogs. They are also easy-going and good with children, which is why they are considered one of the best family dog breeds. They might be small in size, but Border Terriers have bundles of energy – hence they need at least an hour’s exercise a day. It’s also important to groom them regularly. 


Cavapoo image

Thanks to their sweet nature and compact size, Cavapoos are enormously popular family dogs. As they are a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle, they don’t tend to shed large amounts of fur. This makes them a popular choice for allergy sufferers (although no dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic). Cavapoos need an hour of exercise every day. Be aware, however, that some Cavapoos are more ‘flat-faced’ than others, which means they may be susceptible to certain health issues, particularly respiratory conditions.


Cocker Poo image

A loveable and energetic breed, Cockapoos are another ‘poodle cross’ dog breed favoured by families. As a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, they combine the Cocker Spaniel’s outgoing and friendly nature with the Poodle’s curly, low-shedding coat. This makes them the ideal pet for families that have allergy sufferers. Cockapoos need an hour of exercise each day, plus plenty of playtime and mental stimulation on top. So, they’re a great choice if you want a breed that you can train to do tricks!

Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel image

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. Generally speaking, they are affectionate, intelligent and easy to train. Cocker Spaniels need at least an hour of exercise every day, but thanks to their active and excitable personalities, they can often go for much longer. Because of their long-haired, silky coats, they require regular grooming.

Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever image

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dog breeds for good reason. They are friendly, intelligent, loyal and willing to please. Thanks to their sociable nature, they’re likely to get along easily with family members and anyone else who comes to visit. Golden Retrievers are large dogs, however, and need at least two hours of exercise a day. So, they are best suited to families with sufficient time to look after them.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever image

Labrador Retrievers consistently rank among the UK’s most popular dog breeds and they are extremely popular with families. Labradors have patient and loving dispositions, which makes them suited for living with children. They are also easy to train and good at getting on with other pets. Like Golden Retrievers, they are a large dog breed, however, and they also need at least two hours of exercise per day.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier image

Staffordshire Bull Terriers – or ‘Staffies’ as they are affectionately known – are gentle, affectionate dogs that enjoy nothing better than hanging out with their favourite humans. They also have huge amounts of energy, which can mean that they love playing with children. In fact, they’re often known as ‘nanny dogs’. Thanks to their short-haired coats, Staffies are low maintenance compared with other breeds, but they need at least an hour of exercise every day.

Choosing the best breed of dog for your family is just the beginning of a long process of helping your dog to fit in well with your family. To build a happy and fulfilling relationship for many years to come, it’s important to ensure that your dog is well socialised and well trained, and that younger members of your family are encouraged to treat your dog with kindness and respect.

Thinking of getting a dog, but not sure what dog breed would be best for your family? Check out the Petplan Dog Breed Selector.

Back to top