Labrador retriever lying on grass with young asian girl sitting offering treat in hand

26 Of The Best Family Dogs And Dog Breeds That Tend To Do Well With Kids

Dogs can be great for kids. In fact, studies have shown that children benefit from pets in lots of ways. They help them develop empathy, responsibility and higher self-esteem. They provide support and comfort, lower stress, boost mood along with other mental health benefits. They help kids become more physically active, develop strong immune systems and reduce the chance of allergies. Children can even improve their cognitive skills and development just by talking to their pet. So, you may be wondering what kind of dog to get when you have kids. Here are 26 of the best family dogs and dog breeds that tend to do well with children.

Note: Many types of dogs can be good with children, especially with training. The following list includes generalizations. It's important to remember that dogs are individuals with unique personalities and thus, one particular dog of a breed may act completely differently than another.

Myths About Breed-Specific Behaviors And Stereotypes

A new study published in Science finds that breed is a poor predictor of a dog's behavior and temperament. They sequenced the DNA of over 2,000 dogs (purebred and mixed-breed) and surveyed the owners about their personalities and behaviors. The results found that behavior and temperament were quite variable among individual dogs, even those of the same breed. 78 breeds were analyzed and the research showed that breed only accounted for 9% of variability in behavior.

Certain behaviors (such as barking and sociability) were more correlated to breed and breed group, especially the behaviors they were bred to do (e.g. herding, retrieving, running, hunting, swimming, etc.). Other behaviors though, like aggression, were least correlated to breed. This suggests that, for example, the assumptions about pit bulls and other misunderstood breeds are just that - assumptions. This also supports the notion that aggression in dogs is more likely from negligent owners, not breed.

So it's important to go through this list with that understanding that every dog is an individual with its own personality and that a particular dog who's breed is on this list may not act the same as another dog of the same breed. This list was created based on general recommendations. It is in alphabetical order and includes the breed's average weight, height and life expectancy:

Basset Hound

Basset Hound dog

Height: 1215 inches (male), 1114 inches (female)

Weight: 55–75 lbs (male) 44–64 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–12 years


beagle dog playing in yard with blonde child

Height: 14–16 inches (male), 13–15 inches (female)

Weight: 22–24 lbs (male), 20–22 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese mountain dog playing outside home with brunette child

Height: 25–28 inches (male), 23–26 inches (female)

Weight: 84–110 lbs (male), 79–110 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 6–8 years

Boston Terrier

Boston terrier dog on leash with boy child riding bike on park pathway

Height: 9–15 inches

Weight: 10 – 25 lbs

Life expectancy: 13–15 years


boxer dog sticking tongue out on couch with baby

Height: 22–25 inches (male), 21–24 inches (female)

Weight: 60–71 lbs (male), 55–64 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–12 years


Brittany dog smiling in backyard

Height: 19–20 inches (male), 18–20 inches (female)

Weight: 30–40 lbs (male), 30–40 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years

Bull Terrier

bull terrier dogs playing in fallen autumn leaves with young girl child during fall

Height: 20–22 inches (male), 18–20 inches (female)

Weight: 55–65 lbs (male), 45–55 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–14 years

Cairn Terrier

cairn terrier dog watching over baby inside home with fireplace

Height: 9–13 inches

Weight: 13–16 lbs

Life expectancy: 12–15 years

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Cane Corso 

cane corso dog sniffing and nuzzling smiling young girl child with smiling grandma watching on couch

Height: 24–28 inches (male), 23–26 inches (female)

Weight: 99–110 lbs (male), 88–99 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–12 years

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier King Charles spaniel dog with young girl playing in autumn fallen leaves during fall

Height: 12–13 inches

Weight: 13–18 lbs

Life expectancy: 9–14 years

Cocker Spaniel

cocker spaniel dog being held by young blond girl child outside

Height: 15–17 inches (male), 14–16 inches (female)

Weight: 29–35 lbs (male), 26–33 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years


baby rough collie being pet by several young girl children in classroom

Height: 22–24 inches (male), 20–22 inches (female)

Weight: 45–65 lbs (male), 40–55 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 14–16 years

English Bulldog

English bulldog playing with young boy wearing vest and jeans in yard

Height: 12–16 inches (male), 12–16 inches (female)

Weight: 51–55 lbs (male), 40–51 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 8 – 10 years

French Bulldog

young brunette boy brushing French bulldog outside during sunset

Height: 11–13

Weight: 16–28 lbs

Life expectancy: 10–14 years

Golden Retriever

smiling golden retriever dog being hugged by young caucasian boy and pet by young asian girl outside

Height: 22–24 inches (male), 20–22 inches (female)

Weight: 65–75 lbs (male), 55–71 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–12 years


young asian girl petting havanese dog sitting together on bench outside

Height: 8–12 inches

Weight: 7–13 lbs

Life expectancy: 13–15 years

Hypoallergenic: Yes

Irish Setter

Irish setter dogs next to owner and stroller at park with children watching kids play

Height: 25–26 inches (male), 22–24 inches (female)

Weight: 60–71 lbs (male), 53–64 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years

Labrador Retreiver

Labrador retriever lying on grass with young asian girl sitting offering treat in hand

Height: 22–24 inches (male), 22–24 inches (female)

Weight: 64–79 lbs (male), 55–71 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 10–12 years


happy Newfoundland dog in snow smiling with tongue sticking out

Height: 27–29 inches (male), 25–27 inches (female)

Weight: 130–150 lbs (male), 99–120 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 8–10 years

Pit Bull Terrier

brindle pit bull terrier dog with red bow collar lying on ground with young blonde little girl child

Height: 18–21 inches (male), 17–20 inches (female)

Weight: 35–60 lbs (male), 30–50 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 8–15 years


small poodle dog miniature or toy with young black girl child and owner on ground outside

Height: 18–24 inches (standard), 11–14 inches (miniature), 9–11 inches (toy)

Weight: 45–70 lbs (standard), 12–20 lbs (miniature), 6–9 lbs (toy)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years


young brunette boy child sitting on ground with arm around pug dog looking out window of home

Height: 12–14 inches (male), 10–12 inches (female)

Weight: 14–20 lbs (male), 14–18 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–15 years

Staffordshire Terrier

Staffordshire terrier dog lying on ground with baby girl sitting in fallen autumn leaves during fall

Height: 18–19 inches (male), 17–18 inches (female)

Weight: 55–70 lbs (male), 40–55 lbs (female)

Life expectancy: 12–16 years

Mutts And Rescues

young brunette girl petting scruffy mixed breed mutt dog outside in grass

Don't overlook mutts and rescues as family pets! There are lots of pros to them. For starters, mutts tend to be healthier so will usually have a longer life expectancy. Also, while they may demonstrate a mix of breed tendencies and characteristics, those instincts may not be as strong as those in purebreds and are thus more manageable or trainable. For instance, our younger dog is a retriever mix (27%) and a natural swimmer but she won't immediately jump in the water just to swim like another retriever might. She needs the motivation of water-friendly ball that she can fetch. In addition, mutts are one of a kind and this can show kids the beauty in being uniquely you and that perfection isn't a requirement for happiness.

Adopting a rescue dog is also a great way to teach kids the importance of second chances and that being unwanted by one person doesn't mean you're undesirable. Children can also learn that there are different kinds of wounds (both physical and emotional) and how to help heal those wounds. They'll learn that compassion and love can help heal, that helping others often helps themselves and that everyone's needs are different. Plus, rescue dogs tend to show appreciation, which can help teach kids several things - the importance of appreciating who and what's around you; that you can bounce back and love again even if you've been hurt; and that adversity can make you stronger. Many shelters and organizations will be able to advise you on which adoptable dogs are good with children too.

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