How to Choose Family-Friendly Dog Breeds

Golden retrievers are one common family-friendly dog breed.
golden retriever 7 mois image by Albéric BENAZETH from

Your family has decided that it is time for an addition … a new dog! It is an exciting yet important decision to make; what type or breed of dog is best to bring into the family? You have to make sure the dog fits with your family’s needs and desires, and that the dog is a welcome and loving companion to each individual. There are a few steps you must consider before jumping into the car and taking home the first cute dog that jumps into your lap.

Step 1

Analyze your family dynamics and what kind of home situation you are in. You want your new dog to fit in with the family, so you need to work out what type of family environment you have. Many families have children who are begging for a dog as a pet. Will the children help take care of the dog? Are the children young? Young children will tend to tug and jump and pull on a new dog. Does your family have an energetic or low-key lifestyle? Do you have the ability to provide needed exercise for your new dog? Determine the amount of living space you have for the dog. Consider all these notions when choosing your new pet.

Step 2

Determine what type of dog your family wants or can provide for. Decide if you want a mixed-breed dog or a purebred dog. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Purebred dogs have known histories, so you can easily predict their sizes and personalities. However, personalities of mixed-breed dogs can be predictable as well if you know the dog’s parental lines. Mixed-breed dogs are often unique, and they tend to have fewer genetic defects than purebred dogs. Decide what personality you want in a dog so you are able to choose a breed or mixed-breed dog that matches such a temperament as one you prefer.

Step 3

Research the different breeds of dogs and what types of temperaments they are generally known for. One website, the American Kennel Club's (, lists every dog breed and many of their characteristics, including temperament, exercise requirements and grooming needs. Narrow the breed types that fit with your family, and talk to your veterinarian about common breeds that are considered family-friendly. According to WebMD Pets, breeds that are highly trainable, affectionate and eager to please -- such as the sporting breeds -- tend to make good family companions. However, any breed, if socialized properly, can make a fine addition to a family.

Step 4

Visit local animal shelters or a local breeder. Shelters commonly house both mixed-breed and purebred dogs, and you may find the type of dog you are looking for there, one who is also looking for a home. Meet with the particular dog you are interested in and spend time with him. Play with him and make sure all family members are able to interact with him. Consider the dog’s characteristics, like age or shyness, and watch the dog's interaction with children. Take time to make a careful choice in your new family member to ensure your dog becomes a wonderful companion for many years to come.


  • Be mindful of your children when you are around an unfamiliar dog. Dogs may become frightened and snap or bite as a defense measure. Always have an adult around when introducing new dogs to family members.



About the Author

Sarah Quinlan has experience writing for various websites on science, biology, veterinary science, health and medicine. For over seven years she has worked as a scientist in various biological fields where she has written and contributed to multiple manuscripts that have been published in scientific journals. Quinlan holds a bachelor's degree in zoology and a master's degree in forensic biology/chemistry.

Photo Credits

  • golden retriever 7 mois image by Albéric BENAZETH from