What might be the best family dog for you, might not be for someone else. There’s a lot to think about before diving into the big responsibility of owning a dog. The first thing you’ll need to do is consider things like:
City Dog/Country Dog
Think about how much exercise your dog will need (breed specific) and how easy that’s going to be to accomplish.
Any dog breed can be a “city dog”. The important thing is that you’re able to find a safe place for him/her to get sufficient exercise. Off-leash dog parks are perfect for well-trained, socialized dogs.
If you live in a city, some other things to consider include:
Will your dog be comfortable inside?
Not all apartments/condos are dog-friendly and if they are, it’s possible there’s a size restriction in place.
City living means access to public transportation without the need for a vehicle. Do you have a vehicle? If not, do you live in walking distance to a veterinary clinic?
If you’re thinking of getting a puppy, you’ll need to be able to get him in for vaccinations, deworming, etc.
Public transportation tends to frown on people bringing dogs a board unless they are certified guide dogs.
Again, any dog can be a “country dog”. Country dogs typically have a back yard or reasonable stretch of land to run on.
Country living has a lot of perks for dogs, and a lot of drawbacks including greater susceptibility for ticks, fleas, worms, and run-ins with wildlife.
Wide Open Spaces
If you live in the country, you might think twice about getting a roamer. Labrador retrievers and hounds of all kinds tend to wander off and get lost. Once their noses become engaged, that’s it.
Any dog breed with the word “hound” in it has a higher chance of running off. Unfortunately, when dogs run off into the woods, they tend to get in trouble with porcupines and other wildlife.
- Golden Retriever
- Cocker Spaniel
- Jack Russell
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Border Collie
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
If you have other pets or livestock, consider getting a dog that doesn’t spook easily. Farm dogs are some of the best family dogs in the world and include:
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Border Collie (except they tend to run away)
- Old English Sheepdog
- Welsh Corgi
- Great Pyrenees
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Miniature Pinscher
7 Best Family Dog Breeds
If you know anything about dogs, it’s safe to say you probably conjure images of golden retrievers and cuddly labrador retrievers at your feet.
They’re great dogs, but there are so many other options that you’ve probably never considered before.
The following is a list of the 15 best family dog breeds that are sure to inspire and surprise you.
# 1: Miniature Pinscher
Surprised? Miniature Pinschers are exciting balls of energy that settle well in the city or on a farm.
Miniature pinschers are friendly with children and strangers, provided they’re given time to socialize as pups.
These dogs shed very little and are considered easy to groom.
The miniature pinscher can live up to 14 years.
When buying a puppy, be sure the breeder can show you health clearances. This means that your dog has been cleared from health issues the breed might otherwise be susceptible to.
Health Issues Include:
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
- Patellar Luxation
The best dog breeds for families are dogs that are smart and easy to train. For your safety and the safety of the dog, it’s important that he/she can respond to basic commands like “sit”, “stay”, and “leave it”.
Miniature Pinschers are given a 3/5 for trainability.
This is where you have to really get honest with who is going to exercise the dog and how much time it’s going to take.
Miniature Pinschers tend to be fantastic escape artists so leaving him/her alone in the backyard to play isn’t the best option.
Miniature Pinschers are active bundles of energy. However, they are small dogs (8 to 10 pounds) and can burn off that energy in relatively small spaces.
Rottweilers have a bad rap for aggressiveness, but when properly socialized and trained, these dogs make fantastic family dogs.
Rottweilers should be introduced to children and other pets right from the start. Once fully vaccinated, socialize rottweilers with other dogs on his own turf and in public.
Socialization cannot be stressed enough when it comes to this breed. You need to be an assertive and confident dog leader with this breed.
Rottweilers are great family dogs but would do best in the country or in a family home as opposed to an apartment or condo.
The overall grooming needs of a rottweiler is fairly low. They have a nice, smooth coat that will shine after brushing. Short-haired breeds like rottweilers are very easy to groom.
Rottweilers tend to drool.
Rottweilers can live up to 11 years or more.
All dog breeds are susceptible to something, whether it’s hip dysplasia, eye problems, or some other condition. This is where good breeding comes into play.
Examples of conditions a rottweiler may experience include:
- Aortic Stenosis
- Hip Dysplasia
- Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis
- Cruciate Ligament Rupture
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Eye problems
Rottweilers need to be trained by someone who is assertive but patient. This dog likes to be the dominant one so it’s important to really step-up and be the leader.
This breed fits in well with an active family. If you’re up for the challenge, these dogs need up to two hours a day whether it’s running with you, swimming, or fetching the ball.
#3: Portuguese Water Dog
Portuguese water dogs are highly intelligent dogs that live happily with families of all sizes.
This working dog is a very happy breed that will attract the attention of strangers every time. If you like an amusing dog, the Portuguese Water Dog is your best bet.
Portuguese water dogs are excellent with children and babies. In fact, these dogs require a lot of time with people to be content.
You’ll want to live near a groomer if you get a Portuguese water dog. These hypoallergenic dogs are perfect if you don’t want a shedding dog. However, they do require frequent grooming to prevent their hair from matting and tangling.
The Portuguese water dog lives on average 10 to 14 years.
Different breeds have different susceptibility to disease and the Water portuguese dog is no exception. Make sure to get your dog from a reputable breeder who can explain the breed-line to you.
Potential problems could include:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Addison’s disease
- Follicular Dysplasia
- Rare genetic disorders
Portuguese water dogs are highly intelligent and fun dogs who love to be trained. As long as your paying attention to him/her, the dog will be happy to do whatever you want.
This dog definitely needs outdoor space to roam. He/she will need a brisk walk an hour a day. If you live near a hiking trail even better.
#4: Canaan Dog
The Canaan dog has a fox-like face and a smart, inquisitive nature. These affectionate dogs are perfect for families living in condos/apartments.
This dog is best socialized around children right from the start. It’s easier to bring a puppy into a home with children than to raise the dog and introduce him/her to children later.
As long as this dog is frequently socialized (exposed to a variety of people and situations), he/she can be a fantastic family dog.
This dog is best suited for assertive dog leaders. He/she can become anxious and reactive as puppies and need a calm and confident leader.
Weekly brushing with a stiff brush will be sufficient. Other than the usual nail trimming and teeth cleaning, this dog has few grooming requirements.
Canaan dogs can live on average between 12 and 15 years.
Canaan dogs have the potential to gain weight because of their low need for exercise. As with other dogs, this breed can be susceptible to the following:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Luxating Patella (knee problems)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Always source the best breeder to limit the risk of rare and genetic disease.
The Canaan dogs are one of the most easiest dogs to train.
This dog breed requires a moderate amount of exercise. All dogs need to have regular walks and play-time to be content.
The Canaan dog is happy to play off his/her energy with a game of catch in the backyard.
#5: American Staffordshire Terrier
The sad thing is that this type of breed is banned in many places around the world.
Other banned dogs in parts of the United States include the Shar Pei, Akita, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Bull Terrier, and the Cane Carso to name a few.
If you’re a supporter of this misunderstood breed, then you probably already know that they make amazing family dogs.
It’s important to remember that ANY dog can be dangerous if it’s sick, afraid, trained to attack, not socialized, mistreated, etc.
Don’t underestimate the lovely nature of the American Staffordshire Terrier as one of the best family dogs you can find.
The sheer strength behind these dogs makes it even more important to be a responsible dog owner. If you are calm and assertive leader, this dog will be the best dog you’ve ever owned.
American Staffordshire Terriers are very loyal and loving dogs.
Years of breeding out the inherent factors that made them prone to aggression are long gone. What’s left is a sturdy but happy medium sized dog.
As a dog owner, it’s important to be the leader and begin training them as pups.
These dogs are very easy to groom. They have very short, shiny fur that only requires an occasional brush.
American Staffordshire Terriers have a general lifespan of 10 to 12 years, although with proper health care, they have been known to live longer.
American Staffordshire Terriers are prone to a few conditions including:
These dogs are highly intelligent and love human companionship. For that reason, they are highly trainable dogs.
They love physical and mental challenges to keep them stimulated.
One aspect of keeping the American Staffordshire Terrier happy is a good exercise routine. These dogs love a good game of fetch where they have plenty of room to run and burn off energy.
These dogs are not necessarily high-energy dogs, but they do need to have their minds and bodies challenged. Unfortunately, a bored dog may run off so it’s important to keep good barriers in place.
#6: Border Terrier
Border Terriers are fantastic family dogs. They are at low risk of disease and, for that reason, they are one of the least expensive dogs to insure.
This is the perfect dog for a family with young children. These dogs (like most terriers!) are energetic and fun to be around.
They will get along well with other animals in the house, but tend to be happier with another dog of the opposite sex.
This dog does not shed and is good for those who suffer from allergies. This is the perfect dog if you don’t want to constantly be sweeping up dog fur.
A professional groomer will be required to keep the dog’s coat short and neat.
The Border Terrier can live between 12 and 15 years.
Border Terriers may have a tendency toward common health issues including:
- Dislocation of the knee (patella luxation)
- Hip Dysplasia
- Pulmonic Stenosis (caused by improper flow of blood through the heart)
- Undescended testicles
The Border Terrier is a friendly, easy-to-train dog. He will be so eager to please that he’ll do whatever you ask of him. This affectionate terrier can also be a little stubborn and/or independent. That just means you shouldn’t assume he’s always going to be 100% behaved.
These dogs have a natural instinct towards hunting and chasing, so it’s important to watch that they don’t run off. Focus particularly on training the dog for recall.
The Border Terrier, like any dog, needs a reasonable amount of exercise every day. This active little dog should have a 1/2 hour to an hour of exercise every day. Leash walking is best.
Other types of activity to keep his mind and body engaged include interactive games like catch, Frisbee, obedience and agility training.
#7: Cardigan Welsh Corgi
This little dog has short legs and a deep chest. They are powerful herding dogs with a remarkable speed that you would not expect. Well-trained Welsh Corgi’s are very good with children.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is perfect for families with children. The dog isn’t so big that he’s overwhelming or so small that he could be in danger from rambunctious children.
These dogs love to play outdoors and would have a ball running around with the kids in the backyard.
Unfortunately, this little dog does shed and will need regular grooming as it goes through two shedding cycles: spring and fall. A metal comb is suggested with medium to widely spaced teeth. If the prospect of grooming becomes too much, a professional groomer is always a good, time-saving choice.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi can live anywhere from 12 to 15 years.
Health issues inherent to the Welsh Corgi including the following:
- Hip Dysplasia
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Eye problems
This dog is a quick learner and excel at obedience training. It’s important to leash train and, as the puppy grows, begin to introduce the crate.
For excellent information on Corgi training, visit
These little dogs do best in the home with the family as opposed to being alone in the yard on a line. A good daily walk will help to keep this little dog happy and healthy. Don’t forget play time! All dogs love that human interaction that comes with a good game of fetch.
Choosing the Best Family Dog Summary
There are so many dogs that the choices can be dizzying. When choosing a family dog it’s vital to assess just how much work you’re willing to do. Some dogs, for example, require more food, more exercise, and more attention overall.
High energy families should look for dogs that do well on hikes, running, travelling, etc.
Some families have children with unique needs, in which case you’re going to want to find a loving, loyal dog that doesn’t require a lot of grooming or one-on-one attention at all times.
It’s not easy to find the best dog for your family, but it’s extremely rewarding when you do.
You’re going to spend good money on whichever dog you choose. After having researched the various health issues he/she may have, it’s important to find a good pet health insurance that will cover those things should they arise.
The only way to narrow down the coverage is to compare insurance companies against each other. Remember that quoted prices may just be general averages and not your actual price.
Contact the insurance company and let them know the type of breed you’re considering. The price of insurance may go up if the breed is predisposed to bigger (and more expensive) health concerns.
Thank you for reading
I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoy the process of narrowing down the perfect dog choice for your family. Taking the time to do the research means having a much richer experience with that new dog in your life.
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