Family is what makes a home, well, home. But sometimes, you need a canine companion by your side to make it feel complete.
Bringing a dog into the family comes with plenty of benefits. They can teach your kids to be respectful, responsible and cooperative. They can also be a great excuse to get outside for daily walks. Either way, dogs can provide us with a whole new perspective on life and give us a reason to smile.
If you’re looking at getting one for you and your family, you may want to do your homework first. Like humans, dogs can have their own distinct personalities. And sometimes, those personalities don’t mesh well if you or your furry friend have different expectations.
Families can train dogs to be well-mannered. But their biological instincts and what they were bred to do can still play a huge role in how the dog behaves. No dog is born mean or aggressive, but some may resort to their assertive or guarding tendencies at times. Some need more exercise and a lot of space to run around. However, some breeds can enjoy a more sedentary lifestyle.
Because of this, you’ll also want to make sure your dog fits your lifestyle. On top of lifestyle, can you afford to take good care of your pup? Much like children, dogs can be expensive when you factor in food, vet care, toys, leashes and other items.
Do you and your family enjoy outdoor activities? You may want a dog that’s more energetic, playful and active. If your family is not especially active, consider a dog that is content being more sedentary. Many dogs are relinquished and euthanized every year due to behavioral problems. Those problems often stem from the family and the canine not being a good match for one another.
If you have kids, their age can be a factor in the type of dog you get. Suppose they’re teens or early adolescents; a more playful and rambunctious pup may be a better fit for them. On the other hand, if you have young infants or toddlers, you may want a dog that’s a bit quieter and gentler.
Want a family-friendly dog? Consider these breeds
Finding and picking the right dog can be overwhelming. However, you don’t need to worry, as these feelings are completely normal. Fortunately, the American Kennel Club lists the best dogs for families. No matter what you’re looking for, there are plenty of options available. Here are a few of their top picks from largest to smallest:
Newfoundlands are big, fluffy and can weigh up to 150 pounds. Despite their size, they’re very sweet and friendly. Newfoundlands are a unique breed and often get the nickname “nanny dog” because of their patient and watchful demeanor, great qualities to have in a pet if you have young kids. On top of that, they’re also known to be excellent swimmers.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Big and bulky easily describe Bernese Mountain Dogs. They weigh an average of 100 pounds, but like Newfoundlands, they’re gentle giants. They’re also strong, intelligent and agile. Initially used by the Roman Empire to conquer Switzerland thousands of years ago, these dogs know how to survive and thrive in the cold. If they can plow through the Swiss Alps, a walk during a Minnesota winter is nothing to them.
Does your family like to spend lots of time together?
Alaskan Malamutes may be the dog for you. These pups are very pack oriented and want to do everything they can to care for their owners. If you’re having a rough day, their generally happy demeanor can put you at ease. Plus, their big and warm coat of fur makes it easy to take them outside when it’s frigid.
A long-time favorite of countless American families, it’s hard to go wrong with a Golden Retriever. These breeds are known to be friendly, easy to train and all-around good pups. Their silliness and curiosity can entertain both you and your family for a long time. And if you’re a family of hunters, this dog can be a great partner and companion during open season. They’re excellent at retrieving waterfowl like ducks and other upland game birds because their bite is soft enough to carry the bird, but hard enough to damage it.
[Read Golden Retriever: Your guide to their traits, history and care]
Labradors have been popular for decades. There’s a good reason for it too: they’re one of the most sweet and caring breeds out there. They’re also the life of the party. It doesn’t matter if it’s a daily walk or a family gathering, everyone is their best friend. If your family is looking for a friendly and energetic playmate who requires daily physical exercise, a Labrador may be the dog for you.
Vizslas are lively and thrive on continuous energy, making them great for active families. These dogs are extremely loyal to their owners and hardly bark. Like Golden Retrievers, these dogs also make fantastic hunting partners. However, they often don’t like to be left alone, so you’ll want to make sure someone can be around for them when necessary.
Smaller dogs can sometimes get a bad reputation. But a dog’s size doesn’t always determine its level of compassion. Beagles may be short, but the love and respect they give to their owners is larger than life. These dogs don’t like to be left alone and if they smell something that sparks their curiosity, their nose guides their decision-making.
Do you and your family live in the heart of the city? If that’s the case, you may not have a lot of backyard space, which can be problematic for some dogs. However, that’s not an issue for French Bulldogs. Don’t even have a backyard? Not a problem! French Bulldogs are smaller and quiet. They are also pretty low maintenance and don’t need to run around much.
For Bichons, the term “stranger danger” doesn’t exist. They’re friendly to anyone who gives them love and attention. Bichons are also great for you or a family member with pet allergies. They don’t shed quite as much as other dogs, so you’ll rarely find clumps of hair around the house.
Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Like Bichons, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers don’t shed much and love to play whenever they can. At the same time, they’re always down to curl up in front of the TV with you after a long day. Despite not shedding as much, these dogs can have a very thick coat of fur. The best part about their fur is that it’s very wavy and soft, which makes petting them so enjoyable.
Cocker Spaniels give you a look that can make your heart melt. As one of the smallest dog breeds out there, they’re a big bundle of joy. On top of that, their soft fur will make you want to pet them the moment they walk in the room. If you have small kids, these dogs can be both snuggly and playful.
Mixed-breeds can be family-friendly too
Even though they weren’t on the American Kennel Club’s list, mixed-breed dogs can be just as loveable. Whether or not they’re a mix of breeds found on this list, you can be just as happy with them if they’re the right fit.
Give your new pup the nutrients they deserve
Once you decide on a dog, there’s a lot to consider. You’ll need to train them, help them adapt to your home and get lots of new toys for them to play with. You’ll also want to keep them on a proper diet to ensure a happy and wholesome life. At NutriSource, we make high-quality dog food with ingredients and supplements that promote long-lasting health for your pup. We make the best food to ensure many years with your new family member. Our foods support the immune system to help boost your pet’s natural defenses against aging, allergies and disease.
You can find our products at your local independent pet retailer.