Best Family Dog Breeds – The Ulitmate Overview

Best family dogs come in many sizes, shapes, and personalities.  Choosing your family dog is a very personal journey.  Are you a very active family? Do you have young children? Are you away from home for many hours at a time? All of these issues plus many more need to be taken into account when choosing a family dog.

With respect to choosing the best of breed or category, we’ll leave that to the kennel clubs.  But if there was a breed that many would consider being the “poster family dog” it would have to be the Golden Retriever Breed.

This breed is incredibly beautiful and wonderfully affectionate.  It is a medium-sized breed that had been developed primarily as a hunting dog.  Because of their intelligence, they typically are easier to train and therefore are very obedient.  This has led to their use as service dogs, in law enforcement, as guide dogs, and in search and rescue. The breed tends to need lots of space and if you can provide regular access to water you will have a very happy companion.  It’s this love of the outdoors that makes the Golden Retrievers a wonderful family dog breed.  They are willing participants in any family outings such as walking, hiking, or camping trips.

Because of their constant need for affection, this breed does not like to spend much time alone so having children in the family can be a real plus.  Their nature is to be very forgiving and somewhat protective making them a perfect fit for children.  Keep in mind that young children should not be left alone with any dog regardless of demeanour since any breed will be defensive if they sense harm or danger.   Plus, given their size, small children could be innocently bumped or knocked over.

Barking is generally not a problem with these retrievers.  The exceptions are 1) if the dog is bored it will tend to be vocal.  Regular exercise and outdoor activities should alleviate this behaviour. 2) their propensity to be watchful dogs makes them aware of strangers and may bark in response.

There are three types of Golden Retrievers:

1. British Type – shorter legs, the muzzle is shorter and wider, shorter tail and generally heavier set, colours are shades of gold or cream.

2. American Type – tends to be less heavy and longer, the coat is water repellent and thicker, colour is gold.

3. Canadian Type – coat is thinner than the American type and the colour is gold but darker.

The breed lives approximately 11 to 12 years and with annual vet checks should be healthy and well adjusted.  They are known to have hip dysplasia so be cautious when assessing a puppy at the time of purchase.  Also, be careful with their diets since weight problems can be seen in the breed.  An average of 4 cups of quality dog food per day will help to control this tendency.

These retrievers shed most months of the year so regular, weekly grooming sessions are recommended.  During those specific times when you notice increased shedding, daily brushing may be needed.  Given the nature of this dog, they love these sessions and are great bonding experiences.

If you are looking for one of the best family dogs available, the Golden Retrievers may be the breed for you.


The best family dogs tend to have similar characteristics. It is true that one of the great variables in choosing a family dog is, in effect, the type of family you have. That said, let’s take a look at what traits, generally, we would consider desirable.

Families are typically busy, noisy places so we need to ensure that our dog is socially adaptable. Keep in mind that your pet will encounter people and other dogs that may not be familiar with. So, although a shy dog may accept the immediate family there may be some difficulty when it comes to accepting playmates or friends of the family and their pets. The best family dogs usually are used to being handled daily and are comfortable with their surroundings. When selecting a puppy look for one that exudes calmness and seems relaxed. One test to determine this is to cradle a puppy upside down just as you would with an infant. Some struggle is normal in this situation but the puppy should calm itself after a short time.

Look for a dog that is tolerant to noise and won’t startle. This is particularly desirable if you have children of any age really. If your dog reacts to most child-related noises or crashes it will become very unsettled and edgy. You can easily test for this in a puppy by dropping some kitchen utensils, or a set of keys nearby. What you are looking for is a dog that doesn’t notice the event or if so, will recover to investigate what happened. Anything more than this reaction probably isn’t going to be a good candidate for you.

Best family dogs should be sensitive to touch, tolerant of distractions, and slightly submissive. A great way to test for this is to hold the dog’s paw, grasp the area between the toes and apply pressure. What kind of response do you get? Does it overreact, become very verbal or even begin to bite? Some of this may be acceptable if the dog quickly recovers, relaxes, and may even begin to lick. This is the preferable reaction.

Lastly, the best family dogs are not very territorial. Those that are can be a problem for you. We want a dog that understands its position in the “family pack”. That well-being, food, care, and even entertainment are derived from this territory owned by the pack. An alpha orientation is not consistent with the kind of dog you want.

Let’s take a look at some of the breeds that are generally considered great family dogs:

  • Newfoundland: This is a large, sweet dog. They are known for their patience and the need for weekly bushings. Provide them with daily walks and lots of room for them to spread out.
  • Papillon: Small, wonderful companions that are perfect for urban families. They are very smart, like to enjoy themselves, and always looking to please their masters. They are somewhat delicate so be careful with them around small or less disciplined children.
  • Golden Retriever: These dogs are medium to large size dogs. Great family dogs, patient, calm, easy to train, and so on. Loved by all. By the way, not necessarily a great protector though.
  • Pug: “a face only a mother could love?” Maybe that’s what makes them adorable. They are calm and have a wonderful temperament. They are well built and can hold up to the demands of small children.
  • Labrador Retriever: These are hard-working and enthusiastic companions. They tend to be needy but that’s what children are for. They simply can’t love you too much. Likes the outdoors.
  • Dachshund: Yup! The “hot dog” dog. They love their masters and love for their masters to love them. Shedding is not an issue with them. They have very short hair, therefore, are low maintenance.
  • Basset Hound: Not a bundle of energy, this breed would much rather spend its days on the front porch. It doesn’t need much exercise so watch its diet to control weight.
  • Beagle: This is a great breed for the larger family since their need for attention is over the top. Just can’t find a dog that’s more adorable. They can be slow to train. Not the most intelligent breed, but who cares!

Well, there you have it. The best family dogs are wonderful friends, loyal to the family, calm and stable canines. Do your research, test your puppy choices and get ready to share your life with a very good friend.


Recent studies indicate that smart dog breeds are no longer in the eye of the beholder. In the past, many owners would determine how smart their dog was by how well they completed a task or obeyed a command. Hey! Who is going to own up to having a dumb dog?

Breeds developed hundreds of years ago primarily emphasized sight and smell. They tend to score “less intelligent” on dog IQ tests. They tend to rely more on instinct. Let’s face it, it’s not their fault. But, dogs bred in more recent times, tend to score much higher on IQ tests. Some suggest that the reason for this is that these breeds have been trained to be more responsive to humans and their needs.

So, what makes smart dog breeds?

It seems that even the average dog has the smarts of a 2-year-old human. The Alpha in the pack, is a little higher. It can be trained to respond to basic commands such as sit and stay. Depending on what it was bred for, it may exhibit traits that on the surface suggest the dog is a bit of a dull lamp. But that’s not fair. Hunters, herders, and retrievers, for example, may reflect behaviour that looks distracted but in effect, they are quite focused on the task at hand.

According to neuropsychologist Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, the smarter dogs didn’t need a command repeated more than 5 times for it to absorb its meaning and obey. In fact, these dogs obeyed the command 95% of the time or more.

Now, let’s take a look at which smart dog breeds bring home the A+ report cards:

  • Border Collie:  No surprise here. Everybody knows that this breed is the Einstein of the dog world. Ever watch this collie work its magic on a herd of sheep?
  • Poodle:  Although, to some, cut to look dumb, this is one of the most intelligent dogs you could own. Something you may not know about this breed is that they were bred to be a retriever.
  • German Shepherd: This breed is most known for its involvement in law enforcement and the military. They are also fantastic family dogs, great with kids, and very loyal.
  • Golden Retriever:  Beautiful and intelligent! Just not fair. A hunter by breed, they are wonderful companions and have found effective roles as rescuers and guide dogs.
  • Doberman Pinscher:  A great protector although somewhat intimidating. Can be very large and fast. Also used in law enforcement. They are one of the most common breeds.
  • Shetland Sheepdog: This is a herding dog. Duh! A smaller version of the Collie. It’s a long-haired working dog. They are verbal, excitable, and very energetic.
  • Labrador Retriever:  This breed was originally bred to retrieve fishing nets and has somewhat unique webbed paws. They are very loving, playful, and gentle dogs.
  • Papillon:  The breed was named because of its butterfly look. They are very alert dogs. It has the ability to learn very quickly. Great companions and wonderful family dogs.
  • Rottweiler:  This is a powerful breed that dates back to the Roman Empire. Primarily herding and stock protection dog who loves to work. Owners consider them incredible companions.
  • Australian Cattle Dog:  Herding dog that loves to work. It is muscular but compact and can be very agile. It is very smart but can be independent in temperament.

Well, there you have it. The top smart dog breeds. We should keep in mind, that being a smart dog doesn’t inherently mean that it’s a good companion or a family protector. Yes, they may quickly learn and understand a command, but not necessarily obey it.

Smart dog breeds still require effective training, a loving home environment, and healthful care.

Many of the native Japanese dog breeds severely declined during World War II but the situation has significantly improved since.  This is mostly due to the efforts of dog lovers, breeders and various protective groups and societies who have laboured to protect these breeds while encouraging an effective breeding climate.

Most of the breeds are actually very similar looking but differ mostly in size and temperament.  They are basically in the same classification, with numerous sub-groups – large, medium and small.  Their faces are very wedge-shaped fronting a square body.  The ears tend to be upright and “perky” with the tail following suit.

It should not surprise you that many of the traits of these dogs reflect the Japanese fascination with the mystic.  Their spirits tend towards dignity, bravery, loyalty and calmness.  These dogs can be very playful yet restrained again, Japanese traits that could be applied to their owners as well.

Originally, these dogs were bred for hunting.  As such, can be quite brave and ferocious if necessary.

These are pack dogs and develop personality issues if continually separated from family or group.  In fact, partly due to this, they are best reared indoors.

Not all breeds are native to Japan.  The Japanese Spitz, Chin, and Terrier are not considered to be native dogs.

In general, if looking for a loyal, family-friendly dog the Japanese dog breeds should seriously be considered.

If you live in a big city like most of us do, you probably live in an apartment or a small home, so space is at a premium. This, in addition to your urban lifestyle, can affect your choice of a pet. Most of us choose small dog breeds.

Small dog breeds are often viewed as the cute little fella tucked inside the movie star’s “over the shoulder” purse as an accessory or comfortably nestled in your daughter’s lap on the couch. Who hasn’t noticed the guy, the size of a linebacker, walking his dog, the size of a football, at the end of a leash?  The truth is that these little characters have a real place in the canine universe.  They are labelled as “toys” and “miniature” but those monikers do not reflect the very real function they have in our lives.

Let’s take a look at their function.

Many of us live in urban communities where living space is at a premium.  Low-maintenance animals are a plus.  Smaller-sized animals are much easier to transport.  Dogs, admittedly, are not the only pets that would address these needs but frankly, dogs are the only animal that provides you with companionship, loyalty, love, and protection.

Small dogs are typically less than 22 lbs. and smaller than 16 inches although there are some exceptions.

Most are protective and therefore somewhat vocal which can be an issue in small apartments. On the other hand, this trait can actually be a plus for someone living on their own.  It’s very hard to sneak up on a small vigilant dog.  Their size makes them easily transportable and downright cuddly.  Maintaining a small dog with respect to veterinarian expenses isn’t much less expensive than any other breed.  Obviously, their food intake is less than most of their larger cousins.

Small dog breeds generally require less exercise although if you watch a smaller breed walk down the street their feet are moving so quickly that it doesn’t take much of a walk to give them a good workout.  That said, you should not assume that small breeds need less exercise, some require as much exercise as much larger dogs.  Do your research!  A classic example of this is terriers who are always looking for ways to release their pent-up energy.  Remember, the goal is to keep your dog healthy physically and emotionally, and exercise is an important component.

Although small in stature, most of these dogs are big in personality.  They range from the superstar to the athlete or the nerd to the comedian.  Find the breed that best matches your personality and you are on your way to a wonderful relationship.

Small dog breeds are definitely a real alternative for those owners who live in smaller abodes or who are looking for an easily transportable friend.


AKC dog breeds (which stands for American Kennel Club) are listed in the AKC’s registry of pure blood pedigrees in the United States of America.

For those of us familiar with all things canine, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is very familiar.  The American Kennel Club, founded in 1884, maintains a non-profit registry of purebred dog pedigrees and is the largest purebred registry worldwide.  It also sanctions purebred dog show events throughout the country.  Of particular note is the annual, high-profile Westminster Kennel Club dog show, held in New York and predates all of the most prominent dog shows in the country.  The AKC has over 5,000 members, affiliates, and licensees.  The focus of the organization is to advocate responsible dog ownership, the rights of owners, and the health of their charges.  Interesting enough, the AKC is not a member of the World Canine Organization, a point that is not well known.

You might think that the AKC dog breeds list would be similar to those of other sanctioning bodies around the world, but that is not true.  It’s not clearly known why this is the case although some have conjectured that the AKC does so purposely to control the numbers of breeds represented at its national dog shows.

What is required of a dog owner to register a purebred dog with the AKC?

Although somewhat more lenient than some registries, the AKC requires the following:

  • dog’s parents must be registered with the AKC
  • they must be the same breed
  • the dog’s litter must be registered as well

If the parents are purebreds but not registered or the litter is not registered, the dog may still be registered but will require extensive registry research by the AKC to approve such an exception.  Once its eligibility is established, the dog may be registered as a purebred.

Not commonly known, is that mixed-bred dogs may participate/compete in the AKC Agility, Obedience, and Rally events.  They are known as Canine Partners.  To apply for the designation, one must go to the AKC website and enrol online.

You might think that AKC dog breeds might be most represented by American breeds but, actually, that is not the case.  A Canadian breed is the most common, followed by a British breed.

Two of the most famous AKC dog breeds are the Labrador Retriever and the Yorkshire Terrier.

  • Labrador Retriever: Very popular breed well known amongst dog lovers for their intelligence, playfulness, and wonderful temperament.  By their nature, they are great swimmers,  water-loving and perfect companions for bird hunters.  They are wonderful with children and families as well as the less familiar they may meet.
  • Yorkshire Terrier: A beautiful dog, small in size but confident and well mannered.  Fairly easy to train due to their intelligence.  They are very popular with city dwellers because of their size and need for modest exercise.  Very recognizable and make excellent buddies.

Recently, the most popular AKC dog breeds were listed in the following order:

  1.     Labrador Retriever
  2.     German Shepherd
  3.     Yorkshire Terrier
  4.     Beagle
  5.     Golden Retriever
  6.     Bulldog
  7.     Boxer
  8.     Dachshund
  9.     Poodle
  10.     Shih Tzu