25 Kid-Friendly Dog Breeds That Are Ideal for Your Growing Family

Thinking of adding a puppy to your growing family? Make sure you go with a kid-friendly dog breed. Not all canines are, shall we say, enthusiastic about children. Kid-friendly breeds tend to be active, obedient and affectionate. These animals will thrive on family outings, eagerly learn commands and happily share their space with family members. Avoid breeds known for their stubbornness, independence or aloof personalities, as these breeds may need more space than a kid is willing to give.

How Owning Pets Can Benefit Kids

First and foremost, pet ownership can boost a child’s physical well-being. Studies show that introducing kids to animals early on decreases their chances of having allergies later in life. In fact, pets have been known to boost the entire immune system, making ear infections and respiratory illnesses less likely. Plus, a dog needs to walk and run. Adults and children alike will get outdoors and engage in physical activity more often when there’s a pup who needs to go out.

On the mental health side, dogs can be incredibly comforting presences in a kid’s life. Therapy dogs help people of all ages by soothing anxiety, boosting confidence in those with Autism, providing companionship and so much more. Beyond these specific circumstances, dogs teach children what it means to follow through on responsibilities, respect boundaries and have patience.

How to choose the right breed

Choosing a dog breed for your family is not a task to take lightly. Yes, it’s fun! Yes, it’s exciting! No, you don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. Before you even begin researching breeds (which you absolutely should do), take inventory of your household. A few questions to ask yourselves are:

  • How much indoor space do we have?
  • How much outdoor space do we have?
  • How much of our budget are we willing to dedicate to a dog?
  • How much time are we willing to dedicate to grooming, walking, training and playing with the dog?
  • How much shedding are we willing to put up with?

If your family has decided to adopt a dog from a shelter, these questions get more specific and more important. Shelter dogs—especially older ones who have lived lives before arriving at the shelter—are much less predictable than purebred canines bought from a reputable breeder. Even breeds known for their docile, doting dispositions could have poor reactions to kids if they had a bad experience in a previous home. So, ask as many questions as you can about the dog’s background, breed (if known), observed behavior, health status, vaccination status and adoption history.

Finally, remember every dog is an individual. While most Labrador Retrievers are outgoing, there are exceptions to every rule, and you may come across one who isn’t fond of strangers. Don’t rely solely on breed standards when getting to know your new pet.

20 Dog Breeds That Are Basically Giant Teddy Bears

kid friendly dogs labrador retriever
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1. Labrador Retriever

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 55-80 pounds

Personality: Outgoing, Fun-loving

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Labrador Retrievers are ideal family dogs. They have long been touted as excellent therapy dogs, too, which means they’re smart, obedient and adaptable. Labs are not pets for homebodies. These canines need plenty of outdoor time and fresh ways to exercise, mentally and physically. Include them on family outings and get ready to vacuum up lots of hair (their short coats shed constantly). Labs also gel well with other dogs, in case you want a second (or third).

kid friendly dogs newfoundland
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2. Newfoundland

Height: 26-28 inches

Weight: 100-150 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Loving

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate to High

Life Expectancy: 9-10 years

Newfoundlands are giant dogs (up to 150 pounds!) who are as big as they are chill. They know how to relax and hardly ever bark. Newfies have friendly yet protective personalities, which means they’ll happily greet new people, but will usually put your family first. Prepare yourself for lots of drool and seasonal shedding. (Weekly brushing will help control all that fur.)

kid friendly dogs beagle
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3. Beagle

Height: 10-15 inches

Weight: 15-30 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Doting

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-15 years

Now, if you’re planning on creating a multi-pet household, a beagle is one dog that gets along well with cats. Since they were bred to hunt in packs, companionship comes naturally to them. They’re playful hounds who enjoy having a job to do, which could be simply playing fetch with the kiddos. As long as it’s interactive, your beagle will be as happy as a clam.

kid friendly dogs boxer
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4. Boxer

Height: 21-25 inches

Weight: 50-80 pounds

Personality: Active, Playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Boxers are playful, energetic watchdogs who love kids and social outings. A huge bonus is their short, sleek coat that requires very little maintenance. Their energy is bountiful, so training commands early and using them often is ideal. In fact, get used to the phrase, “Get down,” if you own a boxer. These dogs love being in on the action, which could be overwhelming for very tiny kids.

kid friendly dogs border collie
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5. Border Collie

Height: 18 - 22 inches

Weight: 30 - 55 pounds

Personality: Energetic, Smart

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

As one of the smartest dog breeds out there, the Border Collie is quick to learn commands and eager to prove how well they retain orders. They’re medium-sized and well-suited for family life. Their up-for-anything nature means as long as they get a good mental and physical work out during the day, they’ll be ready to snuggle up with you and fall asleep at night.

kid friendly dogs irish setter
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6. Irish Setter

Height: 25-27 inches

Weight: 60-70 pounds

Personality: Sweet, Social

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Say hello to one of the friendliest, smartest, sweetest, most outgoing dogs you’ll ever meet. Not only is the Irish Setter a gorgeous animal with a long, shiny, rust-colored coat, these dogs practically ooze affection. They love to play but don’t take things too far and enjoy calm, contemplative afternoons. Irish Setters just require some brushing throughout the week to keep their coats pristine.

kid friendly dogs golden retriever
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7. Golden Retriever

Height: 21-24 inches

Weight: 55-75 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Devoted

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

When you look up “family dog” in the dictionary, there might as well be a photo of a Golden Retriever. These dogs are excellent options for first-time dog owners and canine experts alike. Yes, they shed like their lives depend on it, but it’s worth it for a pet who loves unconditionally and knows how to play well with kids and other pets. Training comes easily, too, as they’re intelligent and eager to please.

kid friendly dogs greyhound
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8. Greyhound

Height: 27-30 inches

Weight: 60-70 pounds

Personality: Independent, Gentle

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Greyhounds are gentle creatures for more laid-back broods. These tall, lanky dogs enjoy jaunts around town and a sprint through the park, but when at home they are content to relax amidst any chaos whirling around them. Though Greyhounds enjoy some playtime, they are less eager to engage in games than Goldens or Labs.

kid friendly dogs bulldog
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9. Bulldog

Height: 14 - 15 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Personality: Protective, Sweet

Activity Level: Low to Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 8-10 years

Another dog recommended for first-time dog owners is the Bulldog. These pups are friendly lumps of joy who adore goofing around with kids and parents alike. Bulldogs prefer laid-back playtime to high energy outings, but still require plenty of exercise to keep them physically fit. If you live in a very hot climate, beware their short noses. They can overheat easily.

kid friendly dogs cocker spaniel
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10. Cocker Spaniel

Height: 13-16 inches

Weight: 20-30 pounds

Personality: Sweet, Obedient

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

Cocker Spaniels are sweet-natured, apartment-friendly dogs. They don’t need much space to expel energy and enjoy lackadaisical playtime with kids. Adaptable and outgoing, Cocker Spaniels do require a good daily brushing session to avoid tangles and mats in their soft, silky coats.

kid friendly dogs collie
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11. Collie

Height: 22 - 26 inches

Weight: 50 - 75 pounds

Personality: Devoted, Athletic

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Seasonal

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Collies are graceful, athletic animals who like to be the apple of your eye. They do bark quite a bit, but this makes them good watchdogs. However, too much barking could indicate a bored pup. They are smart and learn commands well. Collies have long, thick double-coats that require some brushing, but no intense grooming requirements beyond that.

kid friendly dogs american staffordshire terrier
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12. American Staffordshire Terrier

Average Height: 17 - 19 inches

Average Weight: 40 - 70 pounds

Personality: Highly Affectionate, Intelligent

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Touted as one of the most compassionate and intelligent breeds, the American Staffordshire Terrier is definitely a good option for first-time dog owners. They also make reliable therapy dogs and companion animals. Incredibly affectionate, AmStaffs are people-oriented, which makes them vigilant watchdogs yet predisposes them to separation anxiety. Grooming is a cinch, though.

kid friendly dogs english springer spaniel
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13. English Springer Spaniel

Height: 19 - 20 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Personality: Dedicated, Friendly

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Don’t confuse the English Springer Spaniel with the Cocker Spaniel! Though similar in appearance, English Springer Spaniels are bigger and more energetic. Bred as hunting dogs, they know how to work hard, play hard and relax hard. However, their high prey drive can send them on a wild goose chase at a moment’s notice, so beware while out on walks.

kid friendly dogs standard schnauzer
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14. Standard Schnauzer

Height: 17 - 20 inches

Weight: 30 - 50 pounds

Personality: Alert, Lively

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 13-16 years

Standard Schnauzers thrive when surrounded by their families (not necessarily other pets, though). Their wiry coats make them hypoallergenic and ideal for households with allergy sufferers. Due to their highly playful nature and intelligence, it’s imperative to incorporate mental exercise into your Schnauzer’s daily routine.

kid friendly dogs welsh springer spaniel
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15. Welsh Springer Spaniel

Height: 17 - 19 inches

Weight: 35 - 55 pounds

Personality: Happy, Dedicated

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Though incredibly affectionate with their own family members, Welsh Springer Spaniels do not trust strangers and aren’t fond of meeting new people. This means that socializing them early as puppies is a must. Beyond this reserved demeanor, these dogs will go to the ends of the earth for you. Energetic and very trainable, a weekly brushing is all Welsh Springer Spaniels need to look their best.

kid friendly dogs working kelpie
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16. Working Kelpie

Height: 15 - 25 inches

Weight: 28 - 60 pounds

Personality: Outgoing, Adaptable

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low to Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Get ready to party if you own a Working Kelpie. Not only are they incredibly energetic canines, they love people and are obsessed with games. This is not a dog for a laid-back household. These smarties need a lot of mental and physical exercise to stay sane and in shape. Yes, they can relax after a hard day of work, but they want to earn it.

kid friendly dogs pembroke welsh corgi
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17. Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Height: 10-12 inches

Weight: 28-30 pounds

Personality: Playful, Affectionate

Activity Level: Moderate

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 12-13 years

Families with senior citizens may want to consider a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. These companion animals dote on their owners and make very alert watchdogs. Their compact size and friendly disposition add to their already adorable features. Just beware: They shed constantly.

kid friendly dogs cardigan welsh corgi
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18. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

Height: 10.5-12.5 inches

Weight: 25-38 pounds

Personality: Adaptable, Sweet

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Cardigan Welsh Corgis are distinguishable from Pembroke Welsh Corgis by their fluffy tails. They don’t shed quite as much, but they are equally as affectionate, adaptable, playful and social as their Pembroke counterparts. Also, corgis have been known to tap into their herding instincts around kids, so get ready to see a lot of running in circles (all in good fun, of course).

kid friendly dogs great pyrenees
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19. Great Pyrenees

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 85-110 pounds

Personality: Calm, Sweet

Activity Level: Low

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Not only is the Great Pyrenees a supremely gentle giant, they have a low prey drive and are relatively calm creatures. These dogs are excellent comfort animals for kids needing a soothing presence in their lives. Yes, they shed profusely. But they make up for it by being absolute sweethearts.

kid friendly dogs leonberger
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20. Leonberger

Height: 25-32 inches

Weight: 90-170 pounds

Personality: Intelligent, Goofy

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

One of the biggest dogs on our list is the Leonberger. These are low energy canines who will never turn down a chance to hang out with family or meet new friends. Though gentle and relaxed, they aren’t meant for small spaces.

kid friendly dogs border terrier
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21. Border Terrier

Height: 12-15 inches

Weight: 11-16 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Adventurous

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Hypoallergenic

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Another hypoallergenic breed for allergy sufferers or folks who just can’t stand a bunch of shedding. There’s a whole lot of affection and adventure stuffed into their small frames and they won’t let you forget it. Perhaps not great with other puppies, they are terrific with small children. Note to owners: These pups love to dig.

kid friendly dogs bernese mountain dog
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22. Bernese Mountain Dog

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Personality: Calm, Friendly

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: High

Life Expectancy: 7-10 years

If you combined lots of fluffy fur, a heart of gold, a calm demeanor and a jovial personality into one, you’d get a Bernese Mountain Dog. These lovers are meant for soothing companionship and will keep any chaotic household grounded.

kid friendly dogs australian terrier
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23. Australian Terrier

Height: 10-11 inches

Weight: 15-20 pounds

Personality: Affectionate, Playful

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Low

Life Expectancy: 11-15 years

Australian dog breeds are known for their intense energy, agility and willingness to work hard to complete a job. The Australian Terrier is no different. Though they may not show their affection outwardly all the time, they happily participate in games, family excursions and anything that involves an adventure. Train commands early (they love to learn) and be sure one command includes “No barking.”

kid friendly dogs alaskan malamute
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24. Alaskan Malamute

Height: 23-25 inches

Weight: 75-85 pounds

Personality: Playful, Obedient

Activity Level: High

Shedding Factor: Moderate

Life Expectancy: 10-14 years

A fluffy dog with a penchant for following directions, the Alaskan Malamute makes a great companion for children. Bred as a sled dog, these animals are loyal beyond belief and make good guard dogs. Malamutes may have protective streaks that make them distrust any stranger they meet, so leash training early is wise.

kid friendly dogs soft coated wheaten terrier
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25. Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier

Height: 17-19 inches

Weight: 30-40 pounds

Personality: Friendly, Loyal

Activity Level: Moderate to High

Shedding Factor: Non-shedding

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Described as deeply devoted, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a people pleaser through and through. They’re fairly high energy with a strong prey drive. A fenced-in yard or dog park is an ideal spot for playtime. Terriers tend to be a bit stubborn when it comes to training, so getting one as a puppy makes establishing healthy boundaries easier.

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Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...