Best Of The Best Dog Breeds For Families: Top 5 Pups To Bring Home, According To Experts

How do you know what kind of dog you should welcome into your family? Especially with small children, you don’t want to add just any pooch to the mix. To help you find the ideal canine companion, Study Finds set out to make an expert recommendation-based list of the best dog breeds for families.

If you need a science-backed argument to add a dog to your family, here it is: researchers found that young children living with at least one dog at home display far stronger emotional and social development than kids from a dog-free home. This includes being 40 percent less likely to have trouble hanging out with other kids and being 34 percent more likely to be considerate toward others. And that’s just one of the many benefits of dog ownership.

Dogs also can help with keeping everyone happy. A new study in Switzerland shows that seeing, feeling, and touching a dog boosts neurons in the pre-frontal cortex — the area of the brain that helps regulate emotional interactions. Dogs often help people cope with stress and depression, so welcoming a dog into your home could be therapeutic, too.

What makes a dog a good fit for a family? With children, safety comes first. Young children can be unintentionally rough or act in other ways that could be “scary” for dogs, putting them at risk for nips or even bites. A laid-back temperament paired with a gentle personality is therefore essential in a family dog. 

In addition to being safe around kids (and seniors), a good family dog is one that seamlessly meshes with your household. Consider factors such as your living situation and overall activity level when choosing a pup. Be considerate of the dog’s needs as well as yours: Don’t put a collie born to run in the meadows in a tiny city apartment or make a husky bred to pull sleds in the snow sweat by a pool in the desert. And if most members of your family are reserved, don’t get a dog that’s a social butterfly.

With all that in mind, we hope you find our list helpful when looking for a pup. To assist you in finding the best match, StudyFinds sniffed out ten expert websites to build a list of the top five best dog breeds for families. Are you the proud owner of the perfect pooch? Let us know in the comments which breed you recommend for those on the hunt for a new family member!

The List: Best Dog Breeds For Families Most Recommended By Experts

1. Mutt/Rescue

The best family dog is a dog whose personality fits your lifestyle. While the breed can provide a general idea of a dog’s disposition, it’s no guarantee – dogs are, after all, individuals. If you want to make sure your future family member fits right in, consider adopting instead of shopping: “By adopting, you can […] get more behavioral background on the dog. The shelter or rescue workers spend their days caring for the dogs, so they can let you know about the ins and outs of a dog’s personality and habits,” explains PetMD.

“Most shelters arrange ‘meet-and-greet’ times, where you and your child can interact with prospective pets so you can find the right fit for your family,” Reader’s Digest quotes Dr. Janelle Emmett, DVM. “Many shelters also allow you to foster a dog for a day or two, providing an extra layer of comfort, so you don’t have to rely on the love-at-first-sight rush you may feel at a shelter.” Plus, you can still get a purebred dog if you choose to adopt! Multiple rescues specialize in certain breeds – but their price tag is much smaller than a breeder’s.

With mutts, you get the benefit of a larger gene pool, which usually results in fewer health issues and ailments as your pup grows older. And they “often provide the best traits of two (or more!) great breeds in one dog,” PetMD says about its top family dog pick. Please consider saving a life by adopting a rescue mutt. “Talk to your local animal rescue for help finding an adorable mixed-breed dog that would fit with your family and lifestyle,” recommends Good Housekeeping.  

A Pit Bull with its tongue out
A Pit Bull is a popular rescue breed (Photo by Cierra Voelkl on Unsplash)

2. Tie: Golden Retriever/Labrador Retriever

All ten expert websites recommend both breeds for families. No wonder, as they are both famous for their happy disposition and being child friendly. So, another tie it is.

The Labrador Retriever has dominated the most popular dog breed lists in the U.S. since the early nineties. While originally bred as hunting dogs, “Labs are also marvelous family pets — thanks in no small part to their incredibly easy-going personalities. Patient with even the most rambunctious children and large enough not to be easily hurt by rough and tumble play, Labs are well-deserving of their status as one of the best dogs for families,” says Daily Paws. However, they are not a good match for couch potatoes: According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these dogs are “very active; Labs are high-spirited and not afraid to show it.”

The also highly popular golden retriever is “neither aggressive nor timid” but “extremely patient, which makes them a perfect match for kids,” according to PetMD. When considering a golden retriever, keep in mind that like the Labrador retriever, these dogs need plenty of physical and mental exercise! The AKC characterizes them as “intelligent, friendly, and devoted,” as well as “very active.” The breed’s “keen intelligence makes them a delightful family dog, especially if you have older kids. But they’re friendly and gentle enough to get along with anyone,” mentions The Dog People

a sleeping yellow lab puppy
A sleeping yellow Lab puppy (Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash)

3. Beagle

Snoopy’s breed could have been higher on this list based on recommendations alone, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Positively adorable and confirmedly kid appropriate, AKC says these dogs are “merry, friendly, and curious.” “These sweet-tempered fellows always seem to top the list of best dog breeds for families, and it’s no wonder,” writes Petfinder.

“The Beagle’s amiable personality allows this breed to get along with other dogs and to be a wonderful pet,” Petfinder continues. “Beagles are noted for their melodious bay.” Apartment dwellers beware! The AKC drily notes that this breed “likes to be vocal.” If you have lots of close-by neighbors or a cranky landlord, a beagle may not be for you. 

Beagles require lots of exercise. They are a “perfect fit for families with more active lifestyles, […] [being] a well-mannered dog with tons of energy. These hounds are natural born hunters and in top form when they have something to do, so active play with older children is a perfect outlet!” Netflix-and-chill families, maybe look elsewhere. 

A happy Beagle outside
A happy Beagle (Photo by Marliese Streefland on Unsplash)

4. French Bulldog

The current Instagram “It” dog is actually a great family dog. For families without the opportunity (or energy) for long hikes, this breed is a much better match than most breeds on this list. These pups “are easygoing, not terribly athletic; brisk walks will keep them trim,” says the AKC.

The AKC further states these dogs are good with kids and other dogs, and usually don’t bark too much. According to Reader’s Digest, they are “known for their affectionate natures […] [as they] were bred to be companion dogs. One of the best family dogs for apartment dwellers, Frenchies do well in small spaces and love being around kids.”

A word of caution: Being so popular at the moment, Frenchies are often the object of puppy scams, or being bred irresponsibly. Use extra caution and do your background checks before acquiring a French bulldog. And keep in mind that, like all breeds with flat heads, these dogs are are sadly prone to numerous health issues

a French Bulldog puppy closeup
French Bulldog puppy (Photo by Graham Holtshausen on Unsplash)

5. Tie: Irish Setter/Poodle

There are lots of family-friendly breeds to choose from and capping it at five was hard. Irish setters and poodles were both recommended as family dogs on eight out of ten expert websites. They ended up tying — so here they both are! 

Want your family dog to be sweet, yet athletic? The Irish setter may be for you. Best known for their gorgeous red coat, Irish setters are “outgoing, sweet-natured, active, and trainable,” according to the AKCPetfinder describes them as “enthusiastic and even-tempered” – all attributes that make them a great fit for outdoorsy families. These guys (and gals) “get along well with children and other canines, are super smart and easily trainable, and have enough vigor and size to tackle any adventure or activity for as long as you (or your kids) want!” notes Daily Paws.

Poodles and their mixes are popular with allergy sufferers, as they don’t shed much and can be trimmed a lot. But “besides their often-distinctive haircuts, the poodle also happens to be a very smart and gentle dog,” PetMD points out. Another great thing about this breed is that it comes in two sizes: “The Standard Poodle […] is very obedient, smart, playful, and adventurous. Although they are often shy with strangers, they get along great with people and kids that they know. Miniature Poodles, on the other hand, tend to dedicate themselves to one person in particular, but they are good with other pets and kids. They are smart, responsive, obedient, and playful.”

An Irish Setter in a field of flowers
An Irish Setter in a field of flowers (Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash)



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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.


  1. This is YOUR OPINION, WHICH ISN’T MUCH TO ME!!! Have Had Five Breeds of Dogs in My Life/Family and NO PROBLEM AT ALL!! And Trained THEM ALL Either My Husband or Myself!!! And THEY LOVED AND TREATED ME BETTER THEN FAMILY OR FRIENDS!!!

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