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How to Choose the Best Dog Breed for Your Family

Best Family Dog Breeds

A mutt is as good, if not better, than any purebred pup. Plus, by adopting one, you can save a life.
A mutt is as good, if not better, than any purebred pup. Plus, by adopting one, you can save a life.
Photo courtesy Chris Obenschain

Since your kids will undoubtedly be playing with your new canine friend, it's important to choose one that'll not only get along with them, but will also tolerate the inevitable tail pulls, eye pokes and other indignities. The last thing you want is a dog that bites. Many experts insist that highly trainable breeds are smarter, making more appropriate for families [source: Eckstein]. Although it can be difficult to avoid, some experts advise against puppies of any kind if little kids are involved, thanks to young dogs' tendency to bite and scratch [source: Schultz].

When selecting a family dog, it sometimes pays to rely on breed reputation. Certain pups, like Labradors or golden retrievers, come by their good name honestly. Here's a quick rundown of a few popular family breeds and the traits they're known for:


  • Golden retrievers: Intelligent, tolerant and good-natured
  • Labradors: Obedient, loving and energetic
  • Pugs: Friendly, playful and surprisingly tough (even if they do feature a face only an owner could love!)
  • Bassett hounds: Curious, smart and friendly
  • Beagles: Sweet, gentle and calm with kids
  • Shetland sheepdogs (shelties): Intelligent, affectionate, protective and obedient
  • Shih tzus: Spirited and sweet but difficult to housebreak
  • German shepherds: Smart, faithful and protective
  • Poodles: Obedient, energetic and gentle with children

There are countless breeds to choose from, but don't forget about those loveable mutts! If saving a life is high on your priority list, simply visit a local animal shelter or rescue group to find a furry friend. Staff members have usually spent enough time with each pup to know if the dog will thrive in a home with children.

Of course, any discussion about dog breeds begs the age-old question: Are there breeds that families should not consider? Some pet experts insist that each and every breed can be a great addition to your household if cared for appropriately and treated with love. Still, many families choose not to consider breeds that have a reputation for excessive strength and aggressiveness, like Rottweilers, chow chows and, most notoriously, pit bulls. However, plenty of families have raised kids around these breeds with no issues, so it's really a judgment call on the part of the parents.

No matter what breed you select, you must always closely monitor your pet's interaction with children. Dogs are wonderful, but they're still animals, and that's a fact you should never forget.

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More Great Links


  • American Kennel Club. "Homepage." 2011. (Aug. 10, 2011)
  • Animal Planet. "Dog Breed Directory." 2011. (Aug. 10, 2011)
  • ASPCA. "Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting." 2011. (Aug. 10, 2011)
  • Eckstein, Sandy. "The Best Dog Breed for Families and Children." WebMD. 2011. (Aug. 10, 2011)
  • Schultz, Jaque Lynn, C.P.D.T. "Things to Consider Before You Adopt a Dog." Petfinder. 2011. (Aug. 10, 2011)