Top 20 Family Dogs

top 20 family dogs

Our Top 20 Family Dogs article features small dogs and big dogs but the one thing they all have in common is a tendency to enjoy family life. The dog you choose will be your family companion for the next 10-15 years. Therefore, making the right decision is important. 

Many dog breeds make great family dogs, but they all have different grooming, exercise, and training needs. Naturally, making a choice can be bewildering.

In this article, we are enlisting the Top 20 Family Dogs along with their specific needs to help narrow down your choice.

Top 20 Family Dogs

1.   Labrador Retriever

Labrador family dogs

Labrador Retrievers are known for their friendly, loyal, and gentle nature, making them excellent family pets. They are good with children and other pets. They are also easy to train. Labs, as they are fondly known, are the most popular breed in the United States. Their fun, loving temperament puts them in first place for our Top 20 Family Dogs.

Origin -Newfoundland, Canada

Height – 21.5 to 24.5 inches (54.5 to 62 cm)

Weight – 55 to 80 pounds (25 to 36 kg).

Lifespan – 10-12 years

Grooming Needs– Labradors have short, dense double coats that require regular brushing to keep them clean and minimise shedding. They shed massive amounts of hair.

Exercise Needs- Being active and energetic dogs, Labradors need at least an hour or two of daily exercise and playtime to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

2.   Golden Retriever

golden retriever family dogs

Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly, gentle, and affectionate nature. These traits have helped them make it into our Top 20 Family Dogs. They are highly patient and get along well with children and other pets. They are also devoted and loyal to their humans. Goldens are also smart dogs and fairly easy to train.

Origin – Scotland

Height – 21.5 to 24 inches (55 to 61 cm)

Weight – 55 to 75 pounds (25 to 34 kg)

Lifespan – 10-12 years

Grooming Needs – Goldens shed heavily throughout the year. Their dense coat needs plenty of brushing daily to remove mats, tangles, and dead undercoat. If you’re looking for a non-shedding family dog that is half Golden Retriever and half Poodle, consider a Groodle or Goldendoodle.

Exercise Needs – Golden Retrievers are energetic and smart dogs, so exercise is very important for this breed. Without exercise, they can get depressed and destructive. They are also prone to weight gain and need at least 1-2 hours of physical and mental exercise daily. A dog requiring little to no exercise is unlikely to be in a list of Top 20 Family Dogs, these dogs love to join you on your weekend outdoor adventures.

3.   German Shepherd

german shepherd family dogs

German Shepherds are loyal, protective, and devoted to their families. They are the most excellent watchdogs in our list of Top 20 Family Dogs and form strong bonds with children when properly socialised. Germans need a lot of early and consistent obedience training.

Origin – Germany

Height – 22 to 26 inches (55 to 65 cm)

Weight – 50 to 90 pounds (23 to 41 kg)

Lifespan– 9-13 years

Grooming Needs– German Shepherds need plenty of daily brushing to keep their short, dense coats healthy. They are heavy shedders and need slicker brushes and pin brushes to remove the dead undercoat.

Exercise Needs– German Shepherds are highly active and energetic dogs. They need a lot of physical and mental exercise. Without these, they tend to get bored and depressed. It is best to give this working dog a job to do or enrol it in agility, flyball, swimming, or other canine sports.

4.   Beagle

beagle family dogs

Beagles are friendly, curious, and sociable dogs. They are known for their gentle nature and great compatibility with children. Their playful and cheerful nature helps bring joy to the entire household. They can be difficult to train as they tend to explore their environment using their excellent sense of smell which can be distracting for them during training.

Origin– United Kingdom

Height – 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm)

Weight – 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 14 kg)

Lifespan– 12-15 years

Grooming Needs- The Beagle’s short, dense coat sheds moderately throughout the year, and regular brushing can help keep it in check. Beagles need regular ear cleaning since they are prone to ear infections.

Exercise Needs– These intelligent and active dogs need plenty of exercise – at least 45 minutes to an hour to prevent boredom. One of the breeds in our Top 20 Family Dogs that is perfect for active families looking for a small to medium-sized dog.

5.   Standard Poodle

standard poodle family dogs

Standard Poodles are friendly, gentle, and highly trainable dogs. These qualities have earned them a place in our Top 20 Family Dogs. They are excellent family dogs that get along well with children and other pets. They are also known for their superior intelligence, which helps them excel in various activities and training.

Origin– Germany

Height – 22 to 27 inches (56 to 68 cm)

Weight – 45 to 70 pounds (20 to 32 kg)

Lifespan– 12to 15 years

Grooming Needs- Standard Poodles are known for their minimally shedding, hypoallergenic, low-dander coats. They need regular brushing to prevent knots. Poodles also need special haircuts to keep their coats manageable.

Exercise Needs – these active, smart dogs need at least 45-60 minutes of exercise daily to keep them mentally stimulated.

6.   Boston Terrier

top 20 family dog breeds

Boston Terriers are friendly, intelligent, and great with children. They make ideal family pets and bring loyalty and love to their families. In our Top 20 Family Dogs, they are one of the most highly adaptable and can live in various environments.

Origin– United States

Height – 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 cm)

Weight – 12 to 25 pounds (5.4 to 11.3 kg)

Lifespan– 11-13 years

Grooming Needs– Boston Terriers have short, smooth coats that need minimal grooming.

Exercise Needs– Most Boston Terriers need 30-60 minutes of walking every day.

7.   French Bulldog

best family dogs

Frenchies, or French Bulldogs, are smart, loving, and affectionate dogs. They get along well with kids and other pets. Their loving and charming personalities bring a lot of joy and happiness to families.

Origin– France

Height – 11 to 12 inches (28 to 30 cm) 

Weight – 16 to 28 pounds (7.3 to 12.7 kg). 

Lifespan– 10-12 years

Grooming Needs – Frenchies have short coats that require minimal grooming.

Exercise Needs- This brachycephalic dog breed needs at least two to three short (10–15 minute) low-intensity walks each day. Although this breed made our Top 20 Family Dogs, it isn’t suitable for active families, that want a dog that can join them on outdoor adventures, particularly in the heat of Summer.

8.   Pug

top 10 family dogs

Pugs have a playful, affectionate, and sociable nature. This makes them excellent family pets that get along well with children and other animals. They are eager to please and fairly easy to train.

Origin– China

Height – 10 to 13 inches (25 to 33 cm) 

Weight – 14 to 18 pounds (6.4 to 8.2 kg)

Lifespan- 12-15 years

Grooming Needs– Their short, dense coat is easy to maintain, but their skin folds or wrinkles need a lot of maintenance.

Exercise Needs– Pugs have low-to-moderate exercise needs. In fact, being brachycephalic dogs, you should not over-exert your pet. It is also important to exercise your Pug during the cooler parts of the day if you live in a warm climate. Of our Top 20 Family Dogs, this breed is suited to families that are less active and who enjoy spending time reading and watching Netflix.

9.   Bichon Frise

good family dogs

Bichon Frises have a cheerful and affectionate nature that makes them excellent companions for families. They make great pets for children and seniors alike, earning them a place in our Top 20 Family Dogs.

Origin– Mediterranean Region

Height – 9 to 11 inches (23 to 28 cm)

Weight – 12 to 18 pounds (5.4 to 8.2 kg)

Lifespan– 12-15 years

Grooming Needs- Their hypoallergenic, non-shedding coat still needs a lot of brushing, trimming, and grooming to keep it attractive and tangle-free.

Exercise Needs – They have moderate exercise needs.

10.  Dachshund

top 20 family dogs australia

Also known fondly as Dachsies, wiener dogs, or sausage dogs, the Dachshund has earned a reputation as an excellent family pet and companion dog. They are playful, eager to please, and highly trainable.

Origin– Dachsies were first developed in Germany in the 15th Century.

Height – 8 to 9 in. (20 to 23 cm)

Weight – 16 to 32 pounds (7 to 14 kg)

Lifespan– 12-16 years

Grooming Needs – Grooming needs depend on their coat type. Dachshies come in three coat varieties – long-haired, smooth-coated, and wire-haired. Smooth-coated Dachshunds have short, sleek hair and require minimal grooming. Regular brushing to remove loose hair is sufficient. Long-haired and wire-haired Dachshunds, on the other hand, have more demanding grooming needs. 

Exercise Needs – The moderately active dog requires exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily walks and playtime in a secure yard are usually enough to meet your pet’s exercise needs. Dachshunds can be barkers with several behavioural problems if their needs for mental stimulation are ignored. Although they have made our list of Top 20 Family Dogs, small children need to be supervised to ensure the Dachshund’s sensitive back doesn’t get injured.

11.  Border Collie

border collie family dogs

The Border Collie is the most intelligent dog breed known for its ability to grasp various commands with ease. They are also loyal and patient, and they make excellent companions for active families. Border Collies even make outstanding watchdogs and playmates for kids. They are the most intelligent dog in our Top 20 Family Dogs and are perfect for ambitious families that want to do obedience and trick training with their pups.

Origin- Between England and Scotland

Height – 18 to 22 in. (45 to 55 cm)

Weight – 30 to 45 lbs. (13 to 20 kg)

Lifespan– 12-15 years

Grooming Needs- They need regular grooming and daily brushing to keep shedding under control.

Exercise Needs– Border Collies are active and energetic working dogs. They need a job to do; otherwise, they can get bored and destructive. Aim to exercise your Collie for at least an hour each day.

12.  Bernese Mountain Dog

family dogs

Bernese Mountain Dogs are calm, patient, and affectionate dogs. They make excellent family pets. Like all dogs, they need plenty of early socialisation and firm and consistent training. They are extremely large dogs but their soft, calm temperament has earned this cuddly breed a place in our Top 20 Family Dogs.

Origin– Switzerland

Height – 23–27.5 inches (58–70 cm) 

Weight – 75 to 120 pounds (34 to 54 kg)

Lifespan – 8-9 years

Grooming Needs – These moderate shedders need brushing every few weeks and daily grooming in the shedding season.

Exercise Needs – BMDs are energetic dogs and need at least 30-40 minutes of exercise every day.

13.  Boxer

best dog breeds

Boxers are social dogs that love human company. They are affectionate and patient with kids and get along great with them. They are one of the better-known breeds in our Top 20 Family Dogs, but they may not do well in households having small pets.

Origin – Germany

Height – 21 to 25 inches (53 to 63 cm) tall at the shoulder

Weight – 55 and 70 lbs. (25-32 kg)

Lifespan – 10-12 years

Grooming Needs – Boxers have short coats that do not need much grooming other than occasional brushing and monthly baths.

Exercise Needs – These energetic dogs need plenty of exercise daily- at least 45 minutes to an hour.

14.  Shih Tzu

hypoallergenic dogs

The Shih Tzu is a small, loving, smart dog that is easy to train. They were originally bred to be companion dogs and lapdogs. Today, Shih Tzus are known to make excellent family pets.

Origin – Tibet, 1000s of years ago

Height – about 26.7 cm (10 1⁄2 inches)

Weight – 4.5 and 8.6 kg (10-19 lb) 

Lifespan– 10-16 years

Grooming Needs – They need extensive grooming, including trips to the professional groomer for regular trims.

Exercise Needs- These small dogs don’t need much exercise – a walk around the block along with some indoor playtime.

15.  Great Dane

top 15 family dogs

This sweet-natured gentle giant loves humans. It hates being left alone, which makes it a great family companion. Great Danes are also excellent with kids- patient, tolerant, and affectionate. These giant dogs are also natural protectors and guardians, making them one of the Top 20 Family Dogs for large homes and yards.

Origin- Germany

Height – Great Dane is the tallest dog breed in the working dog category. It measures 28 to 32 inches (71 to 81 cm) at the withers.

Weight – 140 – 175 lbs (63.5–79.3 kg)

Lifespan – 7-10 years.

Grooming Needs – brushing a couple of times a week and monthly baths.

Exercise Needs – Great Danes need at least 2 hours of exercise daily.

16.  Greyhound

greyhound family dogs

Greyhounds are calm, gentle, and tolerant of being handled by kids. They do not bark excessively and are fairly easy to train. However, they can be difficult and stubborn at times, and they need consistent patient training. Greyhounds are an increasingly popular option among the Top 20 Family Dogs and rescues such as Greyhounds As Pets is a great place to start your search.

Origin – England

Height – 27 to 30 inches (69 to 76 cm)

Weight – 60 to 70 pounds (27 to 32 kg)

Lifespan– 10-14 years

Grooming Needs– These low-maintenance dogs can be groomed once a month.

Exercise Needs – Greyhounds need at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

17.  English Cocker Spaniel

child-friendly dog breeds

The AKC describes the English Cocker Spaniel as a merry and affectionate family-loving dog whose tail does not stop wagging. However, they do require early socialisation and consistent obedience training to prevent excessive barking and other destructive behaviours.

Origin – United Kingdom

Height – 15-17 inches (38-43 cm)

Weight – 25-35 lb (11-16 kg)

Lifespan – 12-15 years

Grooming Needs – This breed needs regular grooming and brushing to keep its coat in healthy condition. They shed heavily in season, and moderately throughout the year.

Exercise Needs – The energetic English Cocker Spaniel needs to be walked for at least 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. They are one of the more active small breeds in our Top 20 Family Dogs.

18.  Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

best dog breeds for families

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are excellent family dogs. When socialised with children from an early age, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make loyal, loving playmates. They are smart, eager to please, and fairly easy to train.

Their cheerful disposition and cute looks have made Cavalier King Charles Spaniels one of the Top 20 Family Dogs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. 

Origin – United Kingdom

Height – 12 to 13 inches (30-33 cm)

Weight – 13–18 pounds (6–8 kg)

Lifespan– 12-15 years

Grooming Needs – They have high grooming needs and need daily brushing and professional grooming every 6 weeks.

Exercise Needs – Cavaliers do not need much exercise; 20-30 minutes a day is adequate.

19.   Labradoodle

best family dogs that don't shed

This mixed-breed dog is a cross between a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever. It combines many great features of the parent breed – smart, easy to train, and fun with kids and adults. This energetic dog is eager to please, friendly, and affectionate. Labradoodles love being a part of all family activities.

Origin – Australia

Height – Labradoodles come in three sizes. Mini Labradoodles measure between 14 and 16 inches (35 and 42cm), Medium Labradoodles 17 to 20 inches (43cm to 52cm), and Standard Labradoodles between 21 and 24 inches (53 to 63 cm)

Weight – Mini Labradoodles weigh between 7-12 kg or about 15-25 lbs. Medium Labradoodles weigh between 13 and 20 kg (28-44 lbs). Standard Labradoodles weigh between 23-30 kg or 50-65 lbs.

Lifespan – 12-15 years

Grooming Needs – Moderate grooming; they shed minimally. However, you need to brush their curly coats to prevent knots. This breed is one of the Top 20 Family Dogs because of its non-shedding coat and versatile temperament.

Exercise Needs – the energetic Labradoodle needs between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise daily, depending on its size.

20.  Irish Setter

dog breeds

The AKC describes the Irish Setter as a “famously good companion” for families. It is sweet-tempered with the folks and a reliable ball fetcher for the kids. It is also one of the most beautiful dog breeds, known for its flashy red coat.

Irish Setters are eager to please and fairly easy to train. However, they need consistent dog training with fun and games to prevent boredom.

Origin – Ireland

Height – 24 to 28 inches (61 to 71 cm)

Weight – 60 to 70 pounds (27 to 32 kg)

Lifespan – 12-15 years

Grooming Needs – Moderate- They need to be brushed at least three times a week to prevent mats and tangles. You must also bathe your Setter once a month. They tend to shed heavily twice a year and moderately throughout the year.

Exercise Needs – Irish Setters need plenty of exercise – at least 1-2 hours each day.

Conclusion – Top 20 Family Dogs

The Top 20 Family Dogs featured in this article are known for their child-friendly temperaments however it is important to always do your research and due diligence before adding a dog to your home. If looking for a puppy, learn how to find quality puppies for sale and only buy from a reputable breeder who health tests their breeding dogs and raises their puppies in the family home. Make sure you meet at least one of the parents of your puppy to ensure they are of sound temperament and not living in a stressful environment. Puppies raised in puppy farms or under stressful conditions have been shown to develop behaviour problems such as fear and aggression.



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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

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