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

Is Fido barking your name? Man’s best friend can make a great addition to the family, but finding the right pooch for yours may take some research. With close to 200 breeds of dog in the U.S. alone, the options are seemingly endless. Whether you’re purchasing or adopting, there are plenty of potential companions to choose from. The best dog breeds for families are lovable, gentle with kids, and are full of personality.

Generally known for their loyalty, affection and playfulness, dogs make great family pets. And research shows that loving people is in their blood! When choosing the right breed for your family, it’s important to consider the size of your home and/or yard, the kind of activities you enjoy, how active you are, and the “kid-friendliness” of the breed. Other factors you might think about include lifespan, general breed health, and grooming requirements.

Plus, if you are worried about caring for a puppy alongside your little one, research shows they might be more similar than you think. A recent study reveals that puppies are on a level with toddlers when it comes to social intelligence. (At least puppies don’t throw tantrums, right?) And researchers from Oregon State University have found that the way you parent your pup can not only influence their behavior, but also their cognition and problem-solving skills. No pressure, though! Get prepared for your new pet by purchasing the proper gear, puppy-proofing your home, and researching training options. Even if you’re adopting an older pet, it turns out old dogs may just be able to learn new tricks after all, so stock up on treats and give it a go!

Getting a dog can improve your life in more ways than one. Plus, spending time with your pet can help lower your stress levels and boost your mental health. With so many perks, maybe it’s time to find your perfect canine match! Below are the top five best dog breeds for families. Don’t see your pal on the list? Let us know in the comments below which breed is your number-one pick!

a family washing a golden retriever
A family with a Golden Retriever (Photo by CDC on Unsplash)

The List: Best Dog Breeds for Families, According to Canine Experts

1. Labrador Retriever

Is anyone surprised that the Lab comes out on top? “Labrador Retrievers rank as the most popular breed in the United States. And it’s no wonder! Besides fitting into any family dynamic, they also excel at any activity you can think of: hunting, show, dock diving, tracking, and obedience,” raves The Dog People.

adult yellow Labrador retriever
Labrador retriever (Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash)

Labs are perfect for active families. Says PureWow, “Labrador Retrievers are ideal family dogs. … These canines need plenty of outdoor time and fresh ways to exercise, mentally and physically.”

Insider touts their friendly disposition: “They make for excellent family dogs because of their affable personality and willingness to befriend just about any human or dog in the neighborhood.”

And perhaps the most important factor for parents? Labs can be trusted with your kids. “But at the core, the Labrador is a good-natured and kind dog. While their friendliness disqualifies them from being guard dogs, they’ll always treat your kids right,” says The Smart Canine.

2. Golden Retriever

If you’re looking for a calm companion, a Golden Retriever may be the right pick for you. PetMD stresses their patience with children: “Neither aggressive nor timid, the Golden Retriever is extremely patient, which makes them a perfect match for kids.”

Children reading books to dog
Girls reading to their Golden (© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS –

This breed also makes an especially good companion for those with special needs. “Golden retrievers are particularly wonderful companions for children with autism or special needs because they are typically affable, intuitive and have a calming demeanor,” writes Today.

Dogtopia says you’ll get plenty of love and loyalty with this gentle breed. “The golden retriever is one of the most patient, smart, and loyal dog breeds which makes them a perfect fit for families with children. … Children love golden retrievers because of their obedient and affectionate personalities.” 

“They’re very welcoming to strangers (‘Everyone is my friend!’) and this breed is great for an active family—swimming and fetching are two of their favorite things to do,” praises The Pioneer Woman.

3. Beagle

You may not have expected to see this hound among the best breeds for families, but its merry and playful personality sees it recommended again and again. Southern Living says, “They need a lot of exercise, can be trained to perform all sorts of tricks, and are generally incredibly sweet-tempered pals.”

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

Looking for an outdoor companion to go along on family outings? “A perfect fit for families with more active lifestyles, the beagle is 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! If you’re a family of hikerscampers, or hunters — or enjoy agility, flyball, or scent training competitions — this pup’s for you,” says Daily Paws.

“Beagles were meant to hunt in packs, which means they live for companionship and have tons of energy — pretty much all of the time. These curious pups require playtime and a lot of love, but in return you’ll get a loyal and friendly pet,” adds Woman’s Day.

The American Kennel Club notes, “Their compact size, short, easy-to-care-for coat and intelligence make the Beagle an excellent family dog.”

4. Poodle

Don’t let this breed’s fancy reputation deter you. According to Purina, “Many often discount the Poodle due to its fashionable posh pooch stereotype, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Originally bred as working dogs, poodles are super smart, have plenty of energy for playing with children and are also generally kind and well-mannered when provided with enough entertainment.”

black poodle on green grass during daytime
Standard poodle (Photo by Hans Ole Benonisen via Unsplash)

PetMD loves the range of sizes this breed offers, and its hypoallergenic coat. “Poodles are available in both miniature and standard sizes, meaning you can choose the specific Poodle size that best matches your living environment. They’re great for kids with allergies, as they shed very little.”

With the perfect amount of energy for kids, The Spruce Pets writes, “Poodles are extremely smart and have a great temperament. A poodle’s high energy often matches a child’s energy. Poodles are loving, cuddly, gentle, and patient.”

“Interested in a dog that is easy to train, full of personality, and athletic? The Poodle might be the dog for your family! Poodles bond with all family members in the home making them one of the most recommended family breeds. This breed is also incredibly smart, obedient, and playful,” enthuses Dogtopia.

5. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

“Combine the portable size of a toy breed with the verve of a sporting one and you get these adorable and lively companions. These sweet, silky-furred friends get along with just about everybody they come across, including kids and other dogs. The flowing locks and heart-melting expression are just a bonus,” gushes Good Housekeeping.

brown and white long haired small dog on white textile
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Photo by Tracy Anderson on Unsplash)

“The Cavalier King Charles loves companionship, and shows it with an eager-to-please attitude,” adds Petfinder. Plus, HGTV adores their snuggle potential: “They are quick learners and interact well with caregivers, making them delightful household companions. These easygoing dogs love a snuggle, too. Many describe this pint-sized pup as the perfect cuddle buddy.”

Reader’s Digest says this breed is best for a calm lifestyle: “‘The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a wonderful family pet; a gentle, calm dog, who is happy to be combed and brushed,’ says Dr. Emmett on why this pup is one of the best dogs for kids and best family dogs, period. ‘This breed is, however, less enthusiastic about games, such as tug of war, and rough-and-tumble play. King Charles spaniels are a good match for a more urban lifestyle and a sensitive child.’”

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  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!!!

  2. I think newfoundland should be on this list! I had a female and she was great with kids of all ages. They are a great “babysitter” and very loyal. They will easily jump into water to save anyone. Great family dog.

  3. Honestly I think the bullmastiff should be high on the list. I have one he’s 121 pounds. He’s huge but he’s the most gentle dog I’ve ever had. He protects me with his life. He also patrols the yard and keeps other dogs out of the yard to protect the stray cats I take care. He’s very loving and even gentle with the young kittens and children. I rescued him after his owner died. We bonded in the first month.

  4. I have a black lab and she is very protective of me she will not allow anyone to awake me nor come near the bed I’m sleeping in she listens very well but if when walking her she tends to chase other dogs and cats away but at home she is friendly and protective of the cants she knows the cats are not allowed outside if one gets out she will bark and try chasing them back in the house she follows me all over the house and sleeps in my bedroom with me sometimes in the bed and most of the time across my bedroom door I love her she is so much my baby she alerts me when someone is at the door if there is a dog in the yard she barks and scres it away I love my black lab

  5. Newfoundland should not only be on this list, they should be at #1
    There’s a reason they are called “gentle giants”

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