Most popular dog breeds that are good for families
It’s easy to see why people say dogs are man’s best friend, but they can also completely transform family dynamics. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know that each member of your family develops their own special relationship with the pet and in return receives unconditional love. Many of us probably consider them additional members of our families.
Dogs have a way of lightening the mood with their antics and presence. Often, they are simply great company. But also, kids learn responsibility through feeding, walking, and helping to care for them, and skilled watchdogs even create an extra layer of security to make you feel safer at home.
All dogs aren’t created equal, though; some are better suited for children than others. Stacker compiled its list using data from the American Kennel Club’s Best Family Dogs list, and considered and ranked breeds that were in the top 193 most popular breeds in America in 2019 (data released 2020). In addition, criteria such as friendliness, trainability, temperament toward other dogs, gentleness with children, and, of course, cuteness were other factors considered.
So which breed is right for your family? The age of your children plays just as much a role as your living space. City dwellers often opt for small- or medium-sized breeds like pugs or French bulldogs so they can easily navigate their apartment complexes and crowded sidewalks. But suburban families can make room for labradors and retrievers with plenty of backyard and park space.
And maybe it isn’t size that affects your family’s decision but cleanup: Do you mind if your dog is long- or short-haired? Shaggy or often shedding? Do your kids make enough of a mess—or do they have an allergy?
Maybe more importantly for working parents is how much—or little—responsibility your children will take in caring for a breed that needs more attention vs. one that is more autonomous. Luckily this list should provide some insight into these decisions.
Here are the 37 best breeds to welcome into your home and make a part of the family.
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#37. Cesky terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #188 (of 193)
The Czech Republic’s national dog is a fusion of a Scottish terrier and a Sealyham terrier and ready to play with the kids and go on long walks with the parents. An ideal family dog, the Cesky terrier is a tad bit mellower than a typical terrier. With only 600 residing in the United States, you will be lucky to find one of these gems.
- 2019 popularity rank: #184 (of 193)
The official state dog of New Hampshire, the Chinook is a hardworking and patient people pleaser. Smart and devoted to their families, Chinooks adore children. Along with a penchant for pulling sleds, they also tug at heartstrings with their lovable personalities.
#35. Bergamasco sheepdog
- 2019 popularity rank: #180 (of 193)
The massive mane on a Bergamasco sheepdog is a marvel. These dogs are chill, ideal for kids, and low maintenance. Don’t look for these sociable canines to start fights with others on the trail, but they are smart enough to protect you when needed. The good news, too, is that you only have to bathe them one to three times a year, according to the Bergamasco Sheepdog Club of America.
#34. Bedlington terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #151 (of 193)
This lamb lookalike is an energetic and fun-loving friend who will be loved by the entire family. The non-shedding Bedlington terrier is ideal for families with allergies. A charming and graceful pet, the breed is an alert watchdog as well as a cozy friend to cuddle.
#33. Black and tan coonhound
- 2019 popularity rank: #141 (of 193)
The honey of a hound is sweet and sociable, keen to enjoy adventure or relaxation. Beware, as a sudden appearance by a squirrel will ignite its prey instinct.
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#32. Bearded collie
- 2019 popularity rank: #136 (of 193)
Friendly, fun-loving bearded collies will always be ready to play, no matter the weather. They are so friendly they may not do much for scaring away burglars, but they have a mighty bark. Bearded collies have a reputation for "herding" children to safety.
#31. Icelandic sheepdog
- 2019 popularity rank: #132 (of 193)
For loyalty, the Icelandic sheepdog is likely to be your kids’ best friend. They are known for the tail-wagging greeting that is hard to resist and they’ll help get your kids from behind their computer screens, as Icelandic sheepdogs are energetic and crave outdoor fun.
#30. American Eskimo dog
- 2019 popularity rank: #120 (of 193)
The American Eskimo dog will kill you with cuteness: They have a sweet face and an angelic white, fluffy coat. They love to be smack dab in the middle of family activities. Eskies, as they are nicknamed, are so friendly they likely will be pals with the household cat. They’re also entertaining; some owners of these pets will tell you their dog "talks" to them.
#29. Gordon setter
- 2019 popularity rank: #113 (of 193)
The Gordon setter is an affectionate and athletic dog who exhibits confidence and sweetness. Bred to chase birds over 200 years ago, today you will find the Gordon setter happily romping a field or snuggling next to his family.
- 2019 popularity rank: #105 (of 193)
You may recall seeing the grand borzoi in Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Tolstoy was a fan of the large and elegant canine that can run between 35–40 miles per hour. An affectionate family dog, the borzoi can be a bit stubborn and challenging to train, but the loyal and calm hound is well worth the effort.
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#27. English setter
- 2019 popularity rank: #98 (of 193)
The amiable English setter is a charming and handsome hound the whole family will enjoy. The medium-sized dog plays well with both people and dogs, and their strength and stamina is balanced with a sweet personality.
#26. Boykin spaniel
- 2019 popularity rank: #89 (of 193)
South Carolina’s official dog is a soulful and sweet spaniel who will seamlessly weave into your family’s home and heart. The medium-sized dog is smart, friendly and lovable, and loves fields and lakes.
- 2019 popularity rank: #88 (of 193)
The sturdy spitz is an energetic extrovert whose plumed tail wags to the many friends he meets along his journey. The thickly coated Keeshond looks like he is wearing glasses and is both perky and personable.
#24. American Staffordshire terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #85 (of 193)
The American Staffordshire terrier is the breed of dog you may recall from watching Pete the Pup in the "Our Gang” comedies. While AmStaffs—as they can be known—are gentle with children, they can show their swagger with other dogs. You must do some training to keep him or her a member of the well-behaved club.
#23. Border terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #84 (of 193)
The Border terrier is a feisty working dog that will win over families with its affectionate and good-natured temperament. The long-legged terrier loves the outdoors and requires an abundance of exercise. The wiry-coated canine scores bonus points for being trainable, though classes are recommended.
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#22. Irish setter
- 2019 popularity rank: #79 (of 193)
The graceful gundog is the ideal family pet, sweet-natured and outgoing with a big heart and a bounty of energy for play. Standing 2 feet tall with a rich red coat, the Irish setter is eager to please their family and quite trainable.
#21. Cardigan Welsh corgi
- 2019 popularity rank: #66 (of 193)
The Cardigan Welsh corgi is an affectionate and loyal companion that can both move cattle and melt hearts. The breed is known as great watchdogs. Be sure to watch their weight, as they have a tendency to pack on the pounds.
#20. Alaskan Malamute
- 2019 popularity rank: #64 (of 193)
You want to get it right with an Alaskan Malamute from the outset. From the early days of puppydom, lay down the law to make it clear you’re the boss. Otherwise, the dog may think he or she can run the house. These dogs can be tough to fence in, as they are excellent diggers and climbers. Gain their respect and you’ve got an ideal family pet.
#19. Airedale terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #60 (of 193)
This dog is known as the "king of terriers" because it is the largest. The breed is friendly, calm, and aims to please, according to the Airedale Terrier Club of America. The organization recommends you enroll your dog in "puppy or kindergarten classes." The Airedale is a sweetie pie at heart, but don’t mistake him or her for a wimp: They will bark for just cause.
- 2019 popularity rank: #51 (of 193)
These wrinkly-faced hounds are great for families that can handle a dog weighing over 100 pounds. Bloodhounds love the company of children and other dogs. The independent and inquisitive dogs require obedience training and a crew that doesn’t mind a lot of drooling and sniffing.
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#17. Bichon frise
- 2019 popularity rank: #43 (of 193)
The merry Bichon frise brings round-the-clock joy to her family, happy to delight an audience with charm or lounge on a lap. Smart and sturdy, this powder puff is brimming with personality. Bichons are a great choice for families with allergies as they are hypoallergenic.
#16. Rhodesian ridgeback
- 2019 popularity rank: #42 (of 193)
If you’re not up for an independent dog who wants what he or she wants, forget about a Rhodesian ridgeback. These dogs hail from South Africa and chase lions, making them great companions for active families. According to Animal Planet, they can give a horse a run for its money for 30 miles. Word is, they’re also immune to bug bites.
- 2019 popularity rank: #40 (of 193)
The Newfoundland is so big it’s reminiscent of a bear. But this gentle giant is beloved and called a "nanny dog" because it will watch children better than some babysitters. They are known for being calm, patient, and good not only with children but other animals and strangers. Newfies aren’t big on barking, but they will do so when it’s called for. They also love swimming. One thing to note: They can be challenging to train.
- 2019 popularity rank: #38 (of 193)
Collies are the classic family dog. They like being outside but are happier, still, inside, snuggling near the family. Collies are loyal and protective of their owners. Remember how many times Lassie saved the day in the small farming community where she lived?
- 2019 popularity rank: #31 (of 193)
Pugs are beloved for an expressive face that gets right to your heart. They are affectionate and love kids and other dogs. Pugs are peaceable, laid back, and typically don’t go overboard with barking and chewing. They do, however, snore.
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#12. Cocker spaniel
- 2019 popularity rank: #28 (of 193)
There is a reason why this sporty spaniel soars to the top of the popularity list. The gentle and merry dog is a great playmate and simple to train. Toss a ball, go for a walk, and just enjoy this playful pup. Be sure to brush him daily!
- 2019 popularity rank: #26 (of 193)
Families with lots of energy who love the outdoors are a great match for the spirited Brittany. The energetic gundog delights in a variety of games. Smart and simple to groom, the Brittany breed is keen to be trained.
#10. Bernese mountain dog
- 2019 popularity rank: #23 (of 193)
Bernese Mountain dogs can be sedate, but with a little nudging they’re down for play. They are friendly and amenable to training. Understand that with the dog’s size and energy, they could challenge you at times to keep up. Their loud bark makes them ideal watchdogs.
#9. Boston terrier
- 2019 popularity rank: #21 (of 193)
City-dwelling families in search of a pet will find the perfect companion in the Boston terrier. The friendly and fun-loving dog loves to stroll city streets and go for walks in the park. Nicknamed “The Great American Gentleman,” the Boston terrier appropriately dons a tuxedo jacket and jolly disposition.
#8. Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- 2019 popularity rank: #16 (of 193)
The Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a fabulous fusion of a toy breed and a sporty spaniel. The gentle and regal pup adores children and other dogs. Be sure to brush this breed regularly while he is languishing on your lap.
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#7. Siberian husky
- 2019 popularity rank: #15 (of 193)
The social and athletic Siberian Husky is a pack animal who loves to run and be part of the family. His thick double coat needs weekly brushing, however his self-cleaning tendencies make bathing a biannual event. Be prepared to give your Siberian husky lots of exercise.
- 2019 popularity rank: #14 (of 193)
Boxers are great dogs for families with older children who are willing to commit to daily exercise with the playful pup who needs to be leashed. The loyal and affectionate powerhouse is a great watchdog. His short hair requires little grooming.
- 2019 popularity rank: #7 (of 193)
Beagles are one of the most-favored hounds among American pet owners, according to the American Kennel Club. Those loving eyes suck you right in and the dogs are cuddly and loving. They are ideal for families as they are high energy and entertaining, and they like to play. Be sure you and your family have time to show your beagle the attention he or she craves and needs.
- 2019 popularity rank: #5 (of 193)
Bulldogs have a face like none other. Your stocky pal will keep you guessing with his or her inquisitive looks. Bulldogs are docile, but keep them moving because they love to eat. Don’t disturb them at mealtime; you might hear barking if you do.
#3. French bulldog
- 2019 popularity rank: #4 (of 193)
Maybe it’s the large bat ears or the face of a deep-thinking old man, but French bulldogs are among the most popular small-breed dogs in the world, according to the American Kennel Club. These dogs are fond of other dogs, so be prepared for the flirting and clowning around they will do with their furry friends. Don’t be jealous because they’ll shower you with affection, too. In fact, be ready to have an additional shadow as they love to follow you around.
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#2. Golden retriever
- 2019 popularity rank: #3 (of 193)
One of the country’s most popular breeds, the golden retriever is a loyal family pet that loves to play and enjoy family exercise as well as couch time. The outgoing dog is eager to please his family. Be ready to brush your heavy-shedding love bug.
#1. Labrador retriever
- 2019 popularity rank: #1 (of 193)
Whether you choose a yellow, black, or chocolate lab, your family will find forever joy with America’s top dog. Attributes include an abundance of love, energy, and spirit. While your lab will only need an occasional bath, it does require daily exercise.
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