Out and About with your Dog

Best Family Dog

All the breeds listed below have a good track record with families although none of them could probably be described as the best family dog.

The best family dog all depends on what size dog you want; how much time you have to exercise your prospective pet; whether you also need a guard dog, and so on.


Children and dogs can be ideal playmates but there should be some ground rules in place.


These should include no teasing, leaving the dog when it is sleeping or eating, and taking a shared responsibility for the dog's welfare.


Retriever with child
As adults, it is up to us to teach children how to look after our pets.

Time and Commitment
If you are thinking about buying a dog, please make sure you have the time for one. Remember that dogs need companionship and exercise as well as nutritious food and somewhere to lay their head. It is not enough to go all weak at the knees when you see the puppy pictures. Dogs grow up, pee on your carpet, vomit on your rug, have issues - but they are also fantastic! So please go in with your eyes open.

Rescue Dog
If you are thinking of a rescue dog, it is not inconceivable that they may have had bad experiences in families and with children. This may mean that a breed like a Westie for example, ordinarily one of the best family dogs, will be scared or defensive around children. Make sure you know about the dog’s background and tell the rescue centre your circumstances. They will know their dogs and be able to suggest one that will be a possible fit for your family.

Visit our page Adopting A Shelter Dog for a U.S. database of dogs waiting to be adopted.

We also have a page devoted to the Most Popular Dog Breed.

Some suggestions
Here are some suggestions of breeds that could make the best family dog depending on your personal circumstances. They are listed in order of size, smallest first! Remember there are many other breeds and cross-breeds to check out depending on your particular needs.

The suggestions for exercise are for adult dogs - please ask for advice if you have a puppy. Some breeds that will grow into large dogs (such as Golden Retrievers) should not be over-exercised as puppies - damage can easily be done to their young joints. Please ask your vet if you are not sure.

Border Terrier
Border Terrier

  • Size: small

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 100 - 120 minutes per day. Borders need plenty of exercise and have great stamina for long walks.












    Lhasa Apso
    Lhasa Apso
  • Size: small

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 20 minutes or more a day. They are content to have several short walks a day and to play in the house.








  • Cocker Spaniel
    Cocker Spaniel
  • Size: small

  • Energy Level: medium

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 40-60 minutes per day. They are Gundogs so do love to run off lead and they enjoy playing in water.










  • Westie
    West Highland Terrier (Westie)
  • Size: small

  • Energy Level: medium

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 60 - 80 minutes per day. Westies are energetic little dogs who love digging and playing ball.
  • They will guard their families.







  • Beagle
    Beagle
  • Size: small

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 60 - 80 minutes per day. Beagles can be hard to train since they have such strong hunting instincts. You will need to be patient and firm.







    Staffy
    Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Size: medium

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: around two hours a day. Staffies do not like being left alone and without adequate exercise they can become destructive. They thrive on human companionship.

  • They also make good guard dogs.







  • Labrador
    Labrador Retriever (most popular dog breed in the UK and the USA (based on Kennel Club registrations in both countries)
  • Size: medium

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: over two hours a day if possible. Labs are part of the Gundog group and need plenty of exercise. They will not be happy left alone for long periods.











  • Golden Retriever
    Golden Retriever
  • Size: medium

  • Energy Level: medium

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 80 - 100 minutes per day. Golden Retrievers need regular outdoor exercise and are happiest out in the field.

  • They enjoy being part of a calm family unit and adore children.







  • Springer Spaniel
    English Springer Spaniel
  • Size: medium

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: over two hours a day. Another member of the Gundogs group, Springers love the outdoors and have lots of energy. They need plenty of exercise and training so make sure you have the time for them!






  • Boxer dog
    Boxer
  • Size: medium

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: over two hours a day. They need plenty of exercise and training and love charging around off lead.

  • Boxers do not like to be left on their own for too long. They love human company.

  • They also make good guard dogs.





  • Greyhound
    Greyhound
  • Size: large

  • Energy Level: low

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: 40 - 60 minutes a day. Greyhounds, although athletic, do not need copious amounts of exercise.

  • These dogs are sight hounds and are inclined to chase if they see something move. Keep them on the lead if in doubt.









  • Weimaraner
    Weimaraner
  • Size: large

  • Energy Level: high

  • Suggestion for daily exercise: over two hours a day. They need plenty of exercise and will be unhappy and destructive if they don’t receive it.

  • Weimaraners do not like to be left on their own for too long. They love human company.

  • They make good guard dogs.


  • Visit About Small Dog Breeds, for more information about their health, exercise, grooming requirements and more.

    If you're still not sure which dog is the right one for you, you may wish to visit the site 'Golden Retriever Magic' and take the Dog Breed Selector Quiz. This opens in a new window.

    Thank you to all the owners of these dogs for letting me photograph your pets. We've met all of them on various dog walks in Sussex.



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