Best Small and Medium Dog Breeds for Families

best small and medium dog breeds for families
What to look for to get the best small and medium dog breeds for families.

What Types of Dogs Are Good for Families?

Are you in search of a new dog for your family? If you are, the good news is there are plenty of appealing small to medium dog breeds for families to love. 

From Labradoodle to French Bulldog, Greyhound to Australian Shepard – there is a diverse range of family-friendly small and medium dogs to consider! 

Taking some time to consider your family’s habits and preferences can help you choose the right dog for your household. Take a look at some essential factors to consider when selecting a dog to add to your family.

Dogs with an Even Temperament

Looking at your family’s makeup is an excellent place to start when determining what type of dog to get. If you have young children, then you’ll want to know that some dogs have a temperament suited for interacting with young children. These dogs are patient, playful, and tolerant of the running, jumping, and shouting of young children.

One example of a child-friendly dog is a Goldendoodle. Goldendoodles are friendly, smart, and playful, so they’re more than ready to run and play games with young children.

Alternatively, some dog breeds have less patience and want to be talked to and patted gently. Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Pekingese are all excellent examples of small dog breeds for families with only adults or teens in the home.

Dogs That Like to Stay Put

Some dogs are known for their love of wandering. The last thing you want is for your dog to find a way out of your yard only to get lost or hurt. Beagles may be cute, but they are known for hitting the trail to follow a scent wherever it leads. That’s what they were bred to do. 

Some examples of dogs that like to stay around their family include French Bulldogs, pugs, and boxers. These are small to medium dog breeds for families looking for a canine that’s not likely to disappear or runoff during a walk. French Bulldogs are also good with young children.

Dogs That Like to Run and Play

If you have young kids who like spending time outdoors running and playing, a dog that likes to do the same would be a good bet for your family. 

Jack Russell Terriers are known for their spunky personalities and love of playtime. 

Portuguese Water dogs also love to play and run around with kids. Plus, if you live near a pond, a creek, or you have a swimming pool, this dog brings fun along with it! Bernedoodles and Goldendoodles are two medium-sized breeds that also love to swim (even at the beach).

What Traits Cause a Dog to Get Along with Kids?


Patience is a must-have trait for a dog living in a household with young kids. In the course of playing and running around, young kids sometimes fall or step on a dog without meaning to. You want to have a dog in your family with a high level of patience, so it won’t lash out if this happens.


Some dogs have a flexible nature that allows them to live in a busy household with children. Whether the kids are at home from school for the summer or go every day, a dog with a flexible nature won’t become moody or aggressive due to a change in its daily routine. You need a dog that goes with the flow.

A Playful Disposition

There are some dog breeds known for their love of running and playing. Getting a dog with a playful disposition is a smart move if you have young children. A Cockapoo is an example of a small breed of dog with a playful nature.

A High Level of Energy

Most kids like to run around and play with the family dog. That’s why a high level of energy is a positive trait in a dog for a family with kids. Cairn Terriers have a high level of energy, and they like to frolic with young kids in a family. (They do have short legs though, as you will learn in our Short Legged Dog Quiz)

Highly Trainable

Most families enjoy their dog all the more if it’s well-trained. So, it makes sense to choose a highly trainable dog that gets along well with children. A highly trainable dog is focused on you during the training session and picks up lessons quickly. 

If you’re out in the yard and want the dog to move away from a group of boisterous kids, you need to know it will respond to your command. Cockapoos and Goldendoodles are known to be easy to train. Scent hounds like Beagles are highly trainable but can get excited and distracted by smells during training.

mini labradoodle puppy playing outside
A super cute miniature Labradoodle (named Max)

One example of a dog that’s highly trainable (and loves kids) is a Labradoodle. When considering small to medium dog breeds for families with kids, a Labradoodle is a popular choice. This breed is a combination of Labrador Retriever and Poodle. Both of those breeds of dogs are intelligent. This results in a highly trainable and FAMILY FRIENDLY dog.

Labradoodle are highly social and need to live inside. You cannot leave a Labradoodle outside unattended for long periods of time. 

What Type of Personality Should You Look for in a Dog for a Family with Young Kids or Teenagers?

Just like humans, dogs have their own personalities. Of course, there are specific personality traits attributed to different breeds. A family with young kids or teenagers should look for particular characteristics in a dog, so it’s sure to be a welcome addition to the family.


A loyal dog is an excellent addition to a family with young kids, teens, or both. A loyal canine serves as an effective guard dog, it’s not likely to run off while you’re on walks. When looking at medium dog breeds for families, a Collie is a loyal dog that’s also alert and easy to train.


If you had a dog when you were a kid, you would remember how it loved to be petted and talked to. An affectionate dog is a warm presence in any household. There are dog breeds that love nothing more than to be showered with affection, petting, and calming words.

Bulldogs are affectionate with their owners and like to play with young children. A bulldog has a distinctive, playful personality that’s fun to observe.

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It’s a good idea to look for a breed of dog known for being alert and aware of its surroundings. Let’s face it. There are some dog breeds known more for sleeping than being out there playing with the kids. An alert dog is always up for playtime with the kids. It wants to be a part of the fun wherever it’s happening!

Cavapoos are alert and ready to learn the lessons you’re delivering during a training session. A Cavapoo is a combination of a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and a Poodle. This combination has produced an intelligent breed that does well in a busy household.

An Even Temperament

Some breeds of dogs are more sensitive and quicker to anger than others. Naturally, in a family with kids, you want a dog known for having an even temperament. So, you know, for the most part, what sort of behavior to expect from your dog. Some suggestions of small dog breeds for families include Corgis, Boston terriers, and Miniature Schnauzers.

Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Family Dog

Overly Territorial Dogs

Some dogs are more territorial than others. In fact, many are bred to guard large areas of property, homes, or businesses. Consequently, you want to avoid dog breeds that will become agitated with the kids’ movements and adults in a bustling household.

For example, Border Collies pay close attention to what’s happening in their territory. They were bred to herd livestock, so monitoring a piece of land comes naturally to them.  This can lead to instances where the desire to protect their territory results in problem behavior. 

Even highly trainable dogs like the Goldendoodle can have problems with excessive barking. There are many triggers for excessive barking to be considered. Overly territorial mindsets can be one of the major causes of loud and relentless barking.

Older Dogs

Getting a puppy is a good move for a family with young kids or teens. A puppy can absorb obedience training to blend well into a household. Also, training a puppy can help family members bond with their new canine.

When a puppy trusts its family, it learns obedience lessons a lot more quickly than it would if that trust wasn’t there.

Alternatively, an older dog may be stuck in its ways and less open to training. Plus, an older dog may have arthritis or other health issues that make it wary of young, energetic children. However, an older dog is perfect for a household made up of all adults. 

In fact, an older dog can be an affectionate, loyal addition to such a family!

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Top 10 Best Small and Medium Dog Breeds for Families

  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • French Bulldog
  • Labrador
  • Labradoodle
  • Goldendoodle
  • Australian Shepard
  • Cockapoo
  • Greyhound
  • Cavapoo
  • Scottish Terrier

Consider Spending time with any Dog Before Adopting into Your Family

Lastly, visiting for a while with a puppy or dog before making a final decision to bring it into your family is smart. Sitting with the puppy, watching it, playing with it, and petting it can help you get to know the canine’s personality.

Plus, you can see how it interacts with your children. You’ve done your homework on the breed, but meeting a puppy or dog in person can give you the information you need to make the best decision.

More dog breed recommendations