A young girl laying on a couch hugging her dog.

Most popular dog breeds that are good for kids

Written by:
December 16, 2020

Most popular dog breeds that are good for kids

Everyone is familiar with the idea that a dog is man's best friend. But that saying is outdated—not just because a dog's affection knows no gender, but because dogs can also be a kid's best buddy. Anyone with a childhood canine can attest to the notion that dogs and kids are meant to be together as naturally as peanut butter and jelly. Who else wants to play, nap, cuddle, and hang out with you just when you need them most? A study released in 2020 in Pediatric Research found that children with dogs have fewer social interaction problems than those who live in a house without pets.

The question isn't whether or not you should get a dog for your family, it is narrowing down the breeds to the ones that are known to be kid friendly. To determine the most popular dog breeds that are good for kids, Stacker consulted the American Kennel Club's dog breed registration 2019 rankings (released in May 2020). The American Kennel Club categorizes 27 breeds as good for kids based on their temperaments and care needs; Stacker ranked these breeds from least to most popular. Breed sizes and life expectancies are also included where available.

While you won't be surprised to find breeds like Newfoundlands (Nana in some versions of "Peter Pan") or collies (Lassie), you will discover a few dog breeds that you may not have ever heard of, like the Bracco Italiano, Beauceron, and keeshond. While some dogs were placed on the list due to their merry dispositions or affinity for playing with children, others made the cut due to their protective nature or gentle spirit. Our team had a great time researching this story knowing that they may help a family find the perfect pet. Fetch your favorite kid and click through the 27 slides. 

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Bokehboo Studios // Shutterstock

#24. Basset fauve de Bretagne (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: Not ranked
- Height: 12.5-15.5 inches
- Weight: 27-35 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12+ years

The basset fauve de Bretagne is a brave and determined dog that makes a great family pet. This smart and energetic dog gets along well with other pets and children. A people-pleasing pet, this small canine is happy hunting rabbits in the yard or watching TV with the family.

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La Su // Shutterstock

#24. Bracco Italiano (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: Not ranked
- Height: 21-27 inches
- Weight: 55-90 pounds
- Life expectancy: 10-14 years

This ancient breed from Italy has a gentle soul that makes for a great family friend. Bred to be a gun dog, the Bracco Italiano is dependable, smart, and compliant, making them easy to train.

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Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH // Shutterstock

#24. Russian tsvetnaya bolonka (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: Not ranked
- Height: 9-10 inches
- Weight: 4.5-11 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-16 years

This sweet and smart dog is a member of the beloved bichon family. This pup will make your family laugh, and is very loyal.

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Liliya Kulianionak // Shutterstock

#24. Spanish mastiff (tie)

- 2019 popularity rank: Not ranked
- Height: Minimum 28-35 inches
- Weight: 140-200 pounds
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years

The Spanish mastiff will make an excellent guard dog for your family. This powerful pooch is an intelligent and affectionate dog that is quite large. This ancient breed was written about by Virgil in 30 A.D.

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Dora Zett // Shutterstock

#23. Cesky terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #185
- Height: 10-13 inches
- Weight: 14-24 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

The Czech Republic's national dog, the Cesky terrier adores playing with children. The family-oriented pup is smart and mellow. Easy to train, they are hard to find in America. Only about 600 Cesky terriers reside in the United States.

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rwtrahul // Shutterstock

#22. Chinook

- 2019 popularity rank: #190
- Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
- Weight: 55-90 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This loyal family pet is patient, intelligent, and adores pleasing people. The Chinook's calm demeanor and special connection with children make them an ideal family pet.

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Lisjatina // Shutterstock

#21. Australian terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #140
- Height: 10-11 inches
- Weight: 15-20 pounds
- Life expectancy: 11-15 years

The lovable and lively Australian terrier is a smart and spirited dog. The diminutive pup makes a great guard dog and is easy to train. The kiddos will delight in watching the Australian terrier dig and chase furry creatures.

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Vera Zinkova // Shutterstock

#20. Beauceron

- 2019 popularity rank: #124
- Height: 25.5-27.5 inches (male), 24-26.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 70-110 pounds
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years

This intelligent and spirited canine is the perfect watchdog to protect and love children. This large breed is a mom's best friend, adored by women for its sensitive and protective nature.

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Cynthia Davison // Shutterstock

#19. Boykin spaniel

- 2019 popularity rank: #100
- Height: 15.5-18 inches (male), 14-16.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 30-40 pounds (male), 25-35 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-15 years

This friendly lovebug is best known for its signature solid-brown coat. Sweet and adoring, the Boykin spaniel is perfectly content to be home with the family. They are also skilled retrievers with origins in the swamps of South Carolina where they are the state's official dog.

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Mary Swift // Shutterstock

#18. Keeshond

- 2019 popularity rank: #95
- Height: 18 inches (male), 17 inches (female)
- Weight: 35-45 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This sturdy spitz dog looks like it is wearing glasses thanks to the signature markings around its eyes. This breed's good-humored nature makes the keeshond a great best friend for children.

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Gonzalo Jara // Shutterstock

#17. English setter

- 2019 popularity rank: #94
- Height: 25-27 inches (male), 23-25 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), 45-55 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12 years

This merry and mellow dog boasts grace and charm. The English setter's history dates back over 400 years to England where they were trained to hunt birds. The breed lives in harmony with both people and dogs, making an ideal family pet.

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Ivanova N // Shutterstock

#16. Border terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #88
- Height: 12-15 inches
- Weight: 13-15.5 pounds (male), 11.5-14 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

The wiry-coated border terrier, hailing from the Scottish-English countryside border, is a perky and popular family pet. This hard-working dog will win the hearts of family members with its lovable and good-tempered personality.

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DragoNika // Shutterstock

#15. Irish setter

- 2019 popularity rank: #77
- Height: 27 inches (male), 25 inches (female)
- Weight: 70 pounds (male), 60 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This active extrovert is best known for its red coat and tall height (over 2 feet). Sweet tempered and playful, the Irish setter is the perfect playmate and pal.

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Olga Murzina // Shutterstock

#14. Cardigan Welsh corgi

- 2019 popularity rank: #68
- Height: 10.5-12.5 inches
- Weight: 30-38 pounds (male), 25-34 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

This smiling and sweet pup is a faithful friend who adores children. Athletic and smart, this medium-sized canine is the oldest of the two Welsh corgi breeds. Easy to train, the Cardigan Welsh corgi loves the outdoors.

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fotorince // Shutterstock

#13. Bull terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #62
- Height: 21-22 inches
- Weight: 50-70 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-13 years

An American favorite, the bull terrier is a devoted dog that will bring laughter and love into a family's home. Be prepared to spend time exercising and training the bull terrier, whose history surprisingly began with blood sports in Britain.

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grejak // Shutterstock

#12. Alaskan malamute

- 2019 popularity rank: #58
- Height: 25 inches (male), 23 inches (female)
- Weight: 85 pounds (male), 75 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-14 years

This strong and sturdy sled dog is a loyal, lovable, and playful pal. A descendant of domesticated wolf dogs that came to North America over 4,000 years ago, the Alaskan malamute is a powerhouse ready to bring love and play into your home.

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bohemama // Shutterstock

#11. Soft-coated wheaten terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #54
- Height: 18-19 inches (male), 17-18 inches (female)
- Weight: 35-40 pounds (male), 30-35 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-14 years

The friendly soft-coated wheaten terrier is a cheerful and devoted dog who is a low shedder. It is one of three terrier breeds hailing from Ireland, along with the Kerry blue and Irish terriers.

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Pandas // Shutterstock

#10. Newfoundland

- 2019 popularity rank: #40
- Height: 28 inches (male), 26 inches (female)
- Weight: 130-150 pounds (male), 100-120 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 9-10 years

It is no wonder "Peter Pan" creator J.M. Barrie chose a Newfoundland as the nursemaid, Nana, in "Peter Pan" (though Nana has also been depicted as a Saint Bernard). This gentle giant is a patient and trustworthy pooch, perfect for the job of watching children. Its hunting and guarding skills earned the Newfie a spot on Lewis and Clark's expedition in 1802.

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nikolkopp // Shutterstock

#9. Weimaraner

- 2019 popularity rank: #36
- Height: 25-27 inches (male), 23-25 inches (female)
- Weight: 70-90 pounds (male), 55-75 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-13 years

Affable and attractive, Weimaraners love to exercise and hang around their humans. They love kids and yearn to be part of the family unit. Grace Kelly and President Eisenhower were proud owners of Weimaraners.

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Rita_Kochmarjova // Shutterstock

#8. Collie

- 2019 popularity rank: #38
- Height: 24-26 inches (male), 22-24 inches (female)
- Weight: 60-75 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 12-14 years

Loyal and sweet dogs, collies are best known for their fondness of children. Queen Victoria adored her collies, but it was author Eric Knight who made an indelible paw print in our hearts with his novel "Lassie-Come Home." This herding dog is athletic and needs lots of exercise.

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Zita Ile // Shutterstock

#7. Bernese mountain dog

- 2019 popularity rank: #22
- Height: 25-27.5 inches (male), 23-26 inches (female)
- Weight: 80-115 pounds (male), 70-95 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 7-10 years

The Bernese mountain dog loves the whole family, especially the kiddos. This powerful and sweet giant is made for the cold weather, as its name would suggest. The ancestors of this affectionate breed were first brought to what is now Switzerland by the ancient Romans, who invaded the region over 2,000 years ago.

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Eve Photography // Shutterstock

#6. Boston terrier

- 2019 popularity rank: #21
- Height: 15-17 inches
- Weight: 10-25 pounds
- Life expectancy: 11-13 years

With the nickname of "The American Gentleman," thanks in part to its quintessential tuxedo jacket, the Boston terrier is known for being kind, curious, and a bit mischievous. This breed is sure to bring cheer to families, little ones included. For nearly a century, the Boston terrier has been the mascot of Boston University.

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Hollysdogs // Shutterstock

#5. Cavalier King Charles spaniel

- 2019 popularity rank: #18
- Height: 12-13 inches
- Weight: 13-18 pounds
- Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Just as the title "King" would suggest, Cavalier King Charles spaniels are known for being regal, elegant, and adaptable. Their ability to adjust to various environments makes them a particularly good fit for growing families and children. The breed gets its name from King Charles II of Britain, who was enamored with the sweet, lovable dogs.

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larstuchel // Shutterstock

#4. Boxer

- 2019 popularity rank: #11
- Height: 23-25 inches (male), 21.5-23.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), 50-65 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years

An athletic and upbeat breed, the boxer makes a great family guardian, and a patient companion of kids. Throughout history, boxers have taken on many different roles including police dog, cattle dog, war dog, and guide dog for the blind.

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kavalenkava // Shutterstock

#3. Beagle

- 2019 popularity rank: #6
- Height: 13 inches & under, 13-15 inches
- Weight: under 20 pounds (13 inches & under), 20-30 pounds (13-15 inches)
- Life expectancy: 10-15 years

The beagle has held the top spot for most popular hound dog in America for quite some time due to their merry, energetic, and friendly demeanor (and not to mention their heart-melting face). Bred to hunt in groups, the beagle loves company—adults and youngsters alike! President Lyndon B. Johnson had three of the dogs, named "Him," "Her," and "Edgar."

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Joop Snijder Photography // Shutterstock

#2. Golden retriever

- 2019 popularity rank: #3
- Height: 23-24 inches (male), 21.5-22.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-75 pounds (male), 55-65 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years

From their golden coats to their loving eyes, golden retrievers are devoted and reliable companions. For children, goldens offer a friendly and playful demeanor along with a gentle, affectionate personality. Their eager-to-please ways means they are very easy to train. The breed is often portrayed in the media as a perfect family dog, from the movie "Air Bud" to the TV show "Full House."

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Rosa Jay // Shutterstock

#1. Labrador retriever

- 2019 popularity rank: #1
- Height: 22.5-24.5 inches (male), 21.5-23.5 inches (female)
- Weight: 65-80 pounds (male), 55-70 pounds (female)
- Life expectancy: 10-12 years

Labrador retrievers are known for being extremely friendly, athletic, playful, and kind. America's most popular dog breed, the Labrador is a traditional water dog hailing from Newfoundland that loves to swim and play with children. Labradors are often chosen as guide and rescue dogs, showing their reliability and devotion.

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