What are the best dogs to have as a family pet?
One of the best things about dogs is that every one is different. They have their own personalities, quirks and needs – just like us!
That’s why it’s so important to use your common sense when choosing a new pet to bring into your family home.
Some people ask their friends or relatives for advice, some use past personal experience, but you should really base your decision on your current lifestyle and the lifestyle you think the dog is likely to have – remember, dogs can live for 15 years or more so you have to think about what’s best for the dog in the long term.
What’s your family like?
Firstly, a bit of self-analysis. What are you and your family members going to be like as dog owners? Are you strict about house rules? Are you out of the house all day? Will you have enough time to take your dog out for walks twice a day?
One of the biggest mistakes many families make when searching for the best family dog is choosing the pooch that fits their idealised vision of what their family is, instead of the reality.
Let’s take a look at some of the factors you should take into account before choosing your next family pet:
Breed of the dog
The Kennel Club splits dog breeds into seven main groups – Toy, Utility, Terriers, Hounds, Working, Pastoral and Gundogs.
Each of these categories has different temperaments, as explained on the Blue Cross website.
You might think category with the smallest dogs, Toy, would be the easiest to look after but, as the site explains, just because they’re small, that doesn’t mean they’re not high maintenance!
And Hounds, for example, can be destructive and aloof – maybe not the best choice if you’re looking for a lap dog that wants to be with you 24/7.
Age of the dog
As Blue Cross points out, if this is going to be your first experience of owning a dog, you might not want to plump for a puppy first time round.
That way, you can avoid all the training and chewing nightmares that come bringing up your first pup and just concentrate on enjoying your new pet.
But that doesn’t mean that adult dogs are completely without issue. If they’re older, they may have come from a rescue centre or perhaps another family where bad habits might have been formed.
A dog’s behaviour is usually reflective of its past experiences and treatment so try to be patient and get as much information about the dog’s history as possible.
Size and activity
If you live in a flat or small house, it might be best to think of getting a small or medium-sized dog breed.
Even the most laid-back of hounds can seem like a bull in a china shop when confined to limited space.
Conversely, if you’re the outdoor types and look forward to taking your new dog on lots of long treks, you need a pooch that can at least keep up with you – a cute little toy breed is probably inadvisable (unless you want to be carrying him or her for miles on end).
Just like us, it’s a fact of life that dogs can sometimes fall ill and we have to factor that into our decision when deciding which breed to bring into the household.
Some types of dogs are more prone to health problems than others and it’s worth doing some research on this before falling in love with a new pooch.
The issues might be hereditary or caused through past experiences. That’s why it’s so important to gather as much information about their veterinary history as you can.
For instance, has your dog had all its vaccinations? Has it ever had operations? Is it allergic to certain types of drugs?
There is also the moral issue of whether it’s OK to buy a dog who, genetically, is born to suffer from medical issues related to their physical make-up.
Practically all pedigree breeds come with some disposition to contracting genetic diseases. If you are set on a particular one, there are health screens available for many of them.
As The Telegraph notes, breeds like the French Bulldog have become so fashionable now that intensive breeding is causing new puppies to be born with serious health problems and their exaggerated flat-faced features are causing life-threatening respiratory issues.
Exercise and stimulation
All dogs require time, energy and attention, and some need more than others. If you’re always on the go and don’t have a lot of time to devote to dog-related activities, then an intelligent, active breed is a bad idea.
They require company, exercise and mental stimulation. Without it, they will get bored and find other ways to entertain themselves, usually at the expense of your furniture or book collection.
Try to make an accurate estimate of how much time you plan on spending with your new dog and try to agree on who is going to be responsible for different aspects of his or her care – for example, feeding, grooming and exercise throughout the week.
Dogs were not put on this earth to be the cleanest of animals. For a home pet, the most common cleanliness issues can be:
- Doggy odour
- Extended period needed for housetraining
So, what are the cleanest dog breeds? A lot of prospective dog owners with tidy homes would love to know. Unfortunately, the term ‘clean’ is relative, and can apply to dogs that have little noticeable odour or that groom themselves as if they were cats.
It could also mean dogs with low fur-shedding or even dogs with no coat at all. The list below identifies some a few of the breeds regarded as being the cleanest house pets.
Bedlington’s are renowned for their low-shedding coats – good news if you’ve got someone with allergies in the house. And they’re also known for being easy to train.
If you don’t like smelly dogs, chow chows might be the way to go! These dogs are easily house-trained and generally like to keep their areas very clean. Nevertheless, bear in mind that they do shed at certain times of year.
Greyhounds and whippets
Greyhounds are known for being chilled out and docile around the home. Obviously, they adore running around outside, but when indoors, they are content to store their energy and just laze around with the family.
As long as they get a good dose of daily exercise, Dalmatians are very calm, loving house dogs. They’re don’t mind being left alone as much as some other breeds and they are quite intelligent and easy to train. But do keep in mind despite having a short coat, they do shed a fair amount.
Small and delicate, this breed doesn’t shed that much so they’re really easy to keep clean, and their small size means they’re a good choice if you live in a flat.
Popular crossbreeds like Cockapoos and Labradoodles don’t shed that much, either, which means you won’t be constantly living in a furball.
So, having looked at some important factors related to making your choice, let’s look at a small sample selection of dogs which make good family pets.
They’re sweet, loving and loyal. Although they need intense short periods of exercise, they are quite happy to relax in between. They enjoy being around calm children.
A small but energetic companion, ideal for active families with limited living space. Papillons are known for their intelligence, so dog sports like obedience or agility will go down well. Like many smaller breeds, they are generally good with children, but their size means that rough play could result in nips or bites – understandably, if they feel under threat their behaviour becomes less predictable.
Miniature Poodles are sturdy little dogs that love playtime. They are larger than their Toy Poodle relatives, and are playful and affectionate.
Border Collies are outgoing, people pleasing, and intelligent. They bond closely to the members of their family. Collies are a good choice for families who have lots of time to spend outside with their dogs.
Boxers are medium-to-large dogs with a lovely temperament around children. Active and with endless energy, they’ll play as long as they can get the attention.
The only caveat is that at times, their boisterous play behaviour can alarm smaller children. Boxers need careful training to truly flourish in a family home.
They can also be prone to heart or respiratory problems, so good dog insurance is a must.
These affectionate bird dogs do need professional grooming, but their sweet, playful temperaments makes them well-suited for family life.
These easy-going, affectionate retrievers love spending time with their families and friends. As they require regular exercise and activities, they’re obviously going to be for active families who love the outdoors (couch potatoes need not apply).
This breed also has a lovely, calm and good-natured disposition.
This giant breed has been nicknamed the “nanny dog” based on the reputation it has gained for gentleness and care with little children.
These are excellent family and child-friendly dogs. They love to give pleasure to their owners, and are very affectionate and gentle with adults, children, and other animals.
Like Labradors, they require regular exercise and particularly enjoy a good old-fashioned game of fetch with anyone who will throw the ball, stick, stuffed toy or whatever, basically.
Popular family dog breeds
Labradors and retrievers are some of the most popular breeds in the UK, and for good reason. They’re great with kids and make well-balanced family pets.
If you’re after a more active breed of dog, then gun dogs like pointers and vizslas could be a good choice, but keep in mind they’re high energy and will need plenty of exercise.
Vislas are also known as ‘velcro dogs’ and love being with a companion most of the time – not the breed for you if they’ll be left alone all day.
Lots of families get lured in by the charm and cuteness of Beagles, and whilst they’re great with kids, they do have a naughty side! Bernese Mountain Dogs enjoy being around kids but they are on the larger side so you’ll need to have enough room in your family home.
Cocker Spaniels are also a popular breed in the UK, and they can fit in well to family life – though some can be a little hyperactive if not given the right amount of exercise.
Which dogs have the best temperament?
Some dogs adapt well to new places, while others might be more nervous and follow the pack leader closely before becoming accustomed to their new environment.
Every animal in a breed can vary when it comes to personality – some good and some bad. Additionally, individual dogs, especially rescue dogs, have their own unique life histories.
Of course, when identifying which dog has the best temperament, key questions regarding good character traits in a family dog include (among more):
Is it sturdy?
Children can be a bit rough, so your furry friend needs to be able to keep up with them without getting exhausted or irritable.
Is it intelligent?
Where kids are concerned, pooch needs to know that ‘no’ means no.
Is it friendly and sociable?
These qualities are hard to quantify but what you’re looking for is a breed (or personality) with a warm and open demeanor as opposed to not impatient, nervous, or prone to unpredictable behaviour.
Protecting your dog with dog insurance
Worryingly, recent ABI figures suggest that 84% of cats and 67% of dogs in the UK are not protected by insurance.
The risks can be calculated, in both financial and human terms. For peace of mind and precaution, it’s wise to look at your options for dog insurance.
The list below outlines some of the common areas of coverage, although it is not intended to be all-encompassing.
What does dog insurance cover?
Most generic policies cover:
- Death by accident or illness
- Missing pet cover
- Third-party liability (do only policies)
- Kennel fees
- Euthanasia, cremation and burial
- Dental cover
Your pooch will quickly become a beloved member of your family, so the best thing to do is get a quote for dog insurance with Go Get It. We’ll help you find the best dog insurance options for your budget.