Best family dog breeds

All kids nag their parents for a puppy at some stage or another. If you’re considering giving in, first keep in mind that some dogs are more suited to family life than others. Some can be simply too boisterous for littlies, less trainable or too much maintenance for family life.

To keep your kids safe, Dr Chris Brown recommends his top 5 family dogs:

Number one family breed: King Charles spaniel

Soft, floppy eared and playful, Chris rates the Cavalier King Charles spaniel as his top dog to have around young children. “They’re fantastic – small, cute, won’t make much noise and don’t worry too much about their place in the pecking order,” he says. Do check that any dog you buy is free of a genetic disease called Syringomyelia – a disorder of the brain and spinal cord, which can cause severe head and neck pain for the dog.

Number two family breed: Cavoodle

A cross between a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a poodle, cavoodles are perfect for families, as they take the intelligence of the poodle and mix it with the easy-going nature of the spaniel. “There are a whole lot of these crosses about, but this dog is the pick of them. They’re smart, relaxed and don’t shed hair.”

Number three family breed: Labrador

While some families might not want a small dog because they can be considered yappy or not masculine enough for some guys, Dr Brown says Labradors are a great big dog to introduce into your family home. “They’re big, but easy-going and are generally pretty easy to train.” He adds that chocolate-coloured Labs can get a bit more distracted – so choose a golden Labrador if training is top of your list.

Number four family breed: Schnauzer

If you’re after a dog that will stand firmly by your child’s side, go for a schnauzer. “You can’t go wrong with a schnauzer – they may bark a bit more than you’d like but they’re very loyal, dependable and will bond strongly with your family. With the moustache, they’ve got a ready-made personality,” says Dr Brown.

Number five family breed: Pug

While Dr Brown rates boxers as great family pets, he recommends going for a smaller version if you have small children, as boxers often bowl over toddlers. “The pug is like a boxer in a smaller body,” he advises. “Pugs can be a bit mad at times, because they have a big personality, but they don’t need much maintenance. They’re lapdogs and like being in the house.”

How to keep your kids safe around dogs

To ensure your dog and children become lifelong friends, make sure you set a few simple house rules when the pet first enters your home:

  • Make it clear to your dog that the kids come first – if you’re holding a baby, they should always come second fiddle.
  • Don’t let dogs into your bedrooms: these areas should be off limits.
  • Take the food bowl away from your new dog – nothing is sacred and they should get used to this from a young age.
  • Put your fingers into a puppy’s mouth: kids have a habit of putting fingers in dogs’ ears and pulling tails, so if it happens from a young age, the dog should be fine with it.


  1. kymmage 30/03/2018 at 11:30 pm

    I had always heard that a boxer makes a good family dog. Though if we were to get a dog it would have to be a small dog. I had also heard that pugs have a few health issues. My youngest daughter is obsessed with us getting a dog and especially would love a pug. I work full time, as does my husband so for now it’s just not a good idea. If one of us was home more often than a dog would be a better fit.

  2. felicity beets 19/03/2018 at 2:48 pm

    some helpful ideas – we had a lab growing up and he was a great family dog – however i also like the smaller dogs – ones that don’t shed hair would also make it easier.

  3. Mands1980 13/03/2018 at 7:51 pm

    We have a Labrador and she is now 12 years old we got her before having children and has been great with them and the kids love to responsibility of feeding her at night and letting her off in the morning to go to the toilet. She has such a great nature and loves people.

  4. MuddledUpMolly 08/03/2018 at 2:32 pm

    I really like the tips for keeping kids safe around pets. One thing that worries me about getting a new pet is how they will react to our very active and ‘loving’ little girl. She is quite full on with our cat and although he has learnt to move away if she’s annoying him, there have been a few tears along the way.

  5. Kjgee 07/03/2018 at 8:25 am

    I can’t wait until we have fully fenced our property and Reno’s have finished so we can get a pet dog. We have always rented so knew it wasn’t the right time to have a dog, now we own our home I’m excited to introduce a pet dog. Growing up we had a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and she was the sweetest dog to have as a pet, lovely friendly personality and great with kids.

  6. Bevik1971 05/03/2018 at 4:28 pm

    We can’t get any pets at the moment as we live right in the middle of town in an apartment, BUT when we move (in the next year or so), we have all decided we want to get a wee chihuahua! 🙂 Super excited about getting a dog as we only had cats as kids

  7. danielle2211 02/03/2018 at 10:26 pm

    Interesting the breeds recommended. We got a puppy last year he’s one now he’s a bit of everything a “good old family mutt” and he’s been really cool with the kids. He went through puppy preschool which I would highly recommend for people getting a pup get those basics right and your away laughing. Dogs are good buddies for kids I love having a dog the house just doesn’t feel right without one.

  8. Misskay80 02/03/2018 at 2:14 pm

    Glad to see a Schnauzer is on the list, one day when my two are a bit older I hope to add one to our wee family 🙂 I have always liked them.

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