If you're lucky enough to have a dog then you know what a benefit they are to a healthy family dynamic. They provide an endless fountain of love and affection, entertainment and exercise, and can also teach myriad lessons about responsibility to the young child who almost assuredly spearheaded the notion regarding getting a family pet. While all dogs are amazing, there are certain breeds that are more patient with young kids or playful for the older ones.
There is no such thing as a bad dog, but there are certain breeds (particularly working breeds) that can't help their nature. They need a job or they'll do their best to find a hobby, and you're probably not going to enjoy the hobby that they pick. Of course, any dog can be exactly what you need with proper training. They want to please! The best dog breeds for kids and families is an important factor to consider, so let's jump right into it!
Labrador Retriever / Golden Retriever
There is not a person on the planet who doesn't love these retrievers. They are the most popular dog in many countries for good reason. They generally have a very sweet and outgoing personality. Nothing makes them happier than having their head in your lap for some quality petting time. Except maybe some outside playtime with the kids! They are obedient, playful, and exceptionally intelligent. They have a tendency to chew but can be trained about what is acceptable to chew on in relatively short order. Keep in mind that long-haired varieties tend to shed a lot.
There is a poodle for every size! Standard poodles are over 15 inches at the shoulder. Minis are from 15-10 inches, and the toy poodle is under 10 inches. The main draw for the poodle aside from their elegant looks and cleverness is the fact that they are hypoallergenic and rarely shed. They are a retrieving water dog similar to the labrador/golden, but I'd rank them higher on the activity scale. Poodles need exercise, and they also don't tolerate being alone so make sure someone is at home!
There are 15 officially recognized types of spaniel but I have to play favorites and choose the cocker spaniel as my undisputed favorite. At one point growing up we were caring for 12 of these little beauties. Some were bottled lightning while others were floppy perpetual hibernators. The breed as a whole is quite energetic and are the smallest sporting dog. They were bred to flush game from bushes and fetch it. Do not get cockers if you keep birds. They will get to them, and it's not pretty. While they aren't as energetic as other sporting dogs, like most pooches they do require regular exercise. Their coat also requires more maintenance than the other breeds on this list. Brush them daily if possible.
There is also a 'designer breed' (that is, not an officially AKC recognized breed) cocker spaniel and poodle hybrid known as the cockapoo. Despite the terrible name it's the best of both worlds in a sweet, adorable little package.
Probably the most low-maintenance family dog, basset hounds are great for kids. They like nothing more than flopping down at your feet for a nap and they'll truly tolerate almost anything. Basset hounds are extremely independent dogs which turns out to be a double-edged sword. They aren't as easy to train, or even very eager to please like the other entries but they also won't end up under your feet at every opportunity. This doesn't mean they aren't friendly but they do mind their own. You will need to coerce them into exercise because their lazy disposition leaves them prone to weight problems.
The wolfhound is massive. The largest of any AKC recognized breed. Combine large British dogs with Middle-Eastern hounds and you get the Irish Wolfhound! The Irish countryside around the 15th century was heavily populated with wolves, but these proud hounds managed to hunt the wolf population almost to extinction. That tale belies their true nature. Irish Wolfhounds are calm, intelligent, and observant.
They can detect your emotions before you do! They are patient with kids and make a great dog for families, but they are stronger than they realize and their size means that they will need to be supervised. Nobody (kid or adult) wants to be standing in the path of a galloping Irish Wolfhound. As they grow older they will mellow out pretty significantly so adoption is a great idea!
Frenchies are the result of English bulldogs meeting French pugs and terriers. They are bulldogs first and foremost, which means they can be very stubborn. If they don't want to do something then it isn't going to happen. This can make training (particularly housetraining) a real challenge. They are companion dogs as well, which means they shouldn't be left alone or outside. French bulldogs do well even in small apartments and don't require a ton of room. You will need to socialize your Frenchie, as the territorial bulldog side of this pooch can make them territorial if they are not properly trained.
You can shape any dog to be a great family pet. Some will take more work than others in different ways and it's great to know the origins and tendencies of whichever dog you decide will make the best companion. Don't shy away from mutts either though. Some of the best dogs I've ever had have been mixed breeds. Prepping your home for a dog or puppy is extremely important. Did you know that dogs have a sense of smell that is more than 1000 times stronger than humans?
This means that after a long walk your feet might be smelly to your human companions, but your pup will get an overwhelming face full. Spritz a bit of grape scented foot deodorizer or bubblegum scented shoe deodorizer and ensure that those strange scents are vaporized. Get those cords up off the floor and secure the trashcan with a lid to the best of your ability. Puppies are a wonderful addition to a family, but they'll need some help from you to keep themselves out of trouble!