10 Dog Breeds That Make Great Family Pets (UK Edition)

A family standing around their golden retriever

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Whether you’re seeking a canine companion to match the energy of an active household or a laid-back lazy dog for cozy mornings, we’ve compiled a list of the UKs 10 beloved family friendly dog breeds.

Choosing the right breed to match your lifestyle is important. Some dogs require naturally a more active lifestyle whereas other breeds require more mental stimulation. We’ve carefully selected breeds that are known for their compatibility with family life. So, let’s dive in and discover the ideal furry companion for your family.

What should I look out for when choosing a breed?

Choosing a breed is one of the most important steps families go through before buying a dog. When I’m recommending dogs to friends or families I like to break it down into 6 main considerations:

  • Size/space
  • Activity level/needs
  • Your schedule
  • Behaviour
  • Upkeep (shedding, grooming etc.)

Size – The size of the dog is important, and can be dependent on your living situation. Some smaller breeds are great for apartments. Whereas larger dogs may require large green open spaces. So you wouldn’t get a Rottweiler if your apartment is only 550 Square Meters (50m2).

Activity needs – Along with size, activity level is an important factor when choosing a breed. Some dogs just naturally require a more active lifestyle including walks more than once a day. Retrievers, Spaniels and German Shepherds are known for their demand for exercise and stimulation.

Your schedule – Dogs are hard work. There’s no doubt about that. But some breeds require more attention than others. For example, Cavalier Spaniels don’t do well being left alone and require more mental stimulation. Whereas Greyhounds are find it easier to relax alone and when you’re not home they spend most of the day napping.

Behaviour – Dogs are all different. Some dogs naturally are more laid back than others. Some breeds have a tendency to be more aggressive and some more relaxed. Finding a balance is important. The behaviour and characteristics of a breed ties into your schedule, the more time you devote into your dog, the more you can mold their behaviour.

Upkeep – Usually larger breeds cost more money. Whilst all dogs require grooming, vet care and food, some larger breeds need extra food, extra vet care and are susceptible to certain health conditions. Choosing a breed which you can look after both financially and with your time is important for your dogs life.

Which breeds make good family pets?

Whether you’re looking for a breed that’s great with children, an athletic outdoor canine ready for adventures or a trusty companion for a pensioner, here are some of the best dog breeds for families.

1. Labrador Retriever

A Labrador resting his face looking into the distance

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To kick things off, this list wouldn’t be complete without the most popular dog in the UK. Labradors are often considered an excellent choice for families due to their friendly and gentle temperament. They have a natural affinity for people and are known for their ability to communicate with humans, especially through the use of their facial expressions.

Labradors typically get along well with children and are patient and tolerant, making them great companions for young ones. Their kind and gentle nature ensures that they can handle the sometimes unpredictable behavior of kids, although supervision may still be needed with younger children.

Labradors are intelligent and trainable, which further enhances their suitability for families. They are quick learners and eager to please, no wonder they are a UK favourite!

Related: Do Labradors Have Eyebrows?

2. French Bulldog

A French Bulldog being photographed climbing a tree

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French Bulldogs known for being pretty laid back and relaxed. Their friendly and affectionate nature makes them wonderful family pets and they enjoy spending time with humans and their owners. Frenchies are quick to form bonds and are often loyal and devoted, which creates a strong sense of companionship within the family.

French Bulldogs have a reputation for being excellent with children. They are generally patient and gentle, making them well-suited for families with younger kids. French Bulldogs have a playful and affectionate nature that matches well with the energy and curiosity of children. Additionally, they tend to be tolerant of children’s behaviors and can adapt to their playfulness without getting overly excited or aggressive. Although all dogs should be supervised around small children, Frenchies do cope well with young kids!

Related: French Bulldog: Which Breed Is Most Compatible?

3. English Bulldog

English Bulldog sitting outside in the garden

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Much like French Bulldogs and Pugs, English Bulldogs are an excellent choice for families due to their gentle and affectionate nature. They form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their loyalty and devotion. With their patient and tolerant attitude, they make great companions for children and can easily adapt to the family’s activities and routines. English Bulldogs are also known for their adaptability and low exercise requirements, making them suitable for families with lower activity levels. Their friendly and sociable nature allows them to get along well with other pets.

English Bulldogs are also known for their friendly and sociable nature. They typically get along well with other pets and can easily integrate into a multi-pet household. Their amiable and non-aggressive temperament makes them suitable for families that already have other animals, providing a harmonious environment for everyone.

Related: English Bulldog: Which Breed Is Most Compatible?

4. Pug

A pug jumping over a spot of water on the beach

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Despite being great family dogs, the number of registered Pugs has dropped drastically since 2017. But I think Pugs are a great choice for families due to their friendly and affectionate behaviour, and like Bulldogs, form fast relationships with their owners. Pugs are a playful and sociable breed, making them great companions for children.

However, Pugs, due to their breathing conditions, have a low exercise requirement which makes them well suited for families with varying activity levels or limited outdoor space. While they enjoy short walks and playtime, they do not demand extensive physical exercise like Retrievers, Boxers or German Shepherds. Pugs are generally content with indoor activities and are happy to be a part of the family’s daily routines. Their small size is another advantage for families, Pugs require fairly small amount of food and don’t have to be groomed so often.

5. German Shepherd

A German Shepherd protection dog scanning the area for threats

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German Shepherds are known for being excellent family dogs due to their remarkable combination of intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. Firstly, their high level of intelligence makes them highly trainable and adaptable to various family dynamics. They are quick learners and can easily pick up commands and tasks, which makes them suitable for families with children.

German Shepherds are often used as working dogs (thanks to their intelligence) in fields such as search and rescue, police work, and therapy assistance, showcasing their remarkable intelligence and ability to handle complex tasks. This intelligence allows them to understand and respond well to family members, making them great companions for both adults and children.

German Shepherds are renowned for their loyalty and protective instincts, which naturally extend to their families. This protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs, as they will alert their families to any potential threats. Their loyalty and guard dog characteristics create a sense of security and companionship within the family, making them ideal for families looking for a reliable and trustworthy companion.

6. Rottweiler

A Rottweiler going on a walk

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Despite their aggressive misconceptions, Rottweilers are often considered excellent family dogs due to their protective nature, loyalty, and calm demeanor.

Rottweilers have a natural strong protective instinct towards their families. They are known for their natural guarding abilities (whilst looking scary) and will instinctively protect their loved ones if they sense any potential threats. This protective nature can provide a sense of security for the entire family, especially when it comes to safeguarding children. Rottweilers are generally watchful and alert, making them excellent watchdogs, and their presence alone can act as a deterrent to intruders.

Rottweilers are highly loyal and devoted to their families. Despite their large size, Rottweilers are often described as gentle giants and can be quite patient and tolerant, making them suitable for families with children.

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel slightly tilting his head at the camera

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King Charles Cavalier Spaniels are often considered excellent family dogs due to their affectionate nature and compatibility with children. King Charles Cavaliers are known for their affectionate and loving personalities. They are a cheerful and playful breed with lots of energy. They thrive on human companionship and are eager to please their owners. King Charles Cavaliers are typically patient and gentle with kids, making them an ideal choice for families looking for a dog that can form a close bond with children and provide them with a loving and loyal companion.

Secondly, King Charles Cavaliers are generally friendly and sociable, making them easy to integrate into family life. But Cavaliers don’t do well alone and much prefer company of their owners, unlike Labradors they aren’t great at amusing themselves. But they tend to get along well with other pets and are often good with strangers.

That being said, I have never met a Cavalier which was afraid of people, this is helped by their friendly nature and ability to adapt to different social environments, whether it’s family gatherings, outings, or meeting new people. King Charles Cavaliers have a natural desire to be part of the family and enjoy participating in family activities, which can create a strong sense of unity and companionship within the household.

8. Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever sat on a chair in the garden

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Also one of my favourite breeds, the Golden Retrievers are widely recognised as one of the best family dogs due to their friendly nature, gentle temperament, and exceptional patience.

Golden Retrievers are known for their friendly and outgoing personalities. They are typically very sociable and get along well with people of all ages, including children. Their friendly nature allows them to easily adapt to various family dynamics and interact positively with family members, friends, and even strangers. Golden Retrievers often have a natural affinity for children and are known for their patience and tolerance, making them an excellent choice for families with young kids.

Similarly to Labradors, Golden Retrievers have a gentle and calm temperament that makes them ideal companions for families. They are typically very even-tempered and rarely show aggression. Golden Retrievers are renowned for their patience and adaptability, which enables them to handle the energy and playfulness of children without getting overwhelmed. They often excel at being gentle and tolerant, which is particularly important when integrating them into a family environment. Additionally, Golden Retrievers are known for their loyalty and devotion to their families, forming strong bonds and providing a sense of love and companionship to everyone in the household.

9. Poodle

A Poodle running in the garden

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Much like other pups on this list, Poodles are known for their intelligence, versatility, friendly nature, and their curly hair of course!

Poodles are one of the most intelligent dog breeds, making them easy to train and quick learners. This intelligence enables them to understand and follow commands, making them well-behaved and obedient family pets.

Poodles are generally known for their friendly and sociable personalities. Poodles tend to be patient and gentle, which makes them great companions for kids. They are also generally friendly towards strangers and other animals when properly socialised. Their friendly and adaptable nature allows them to integrate well into family life. Plus, they can thrive in various environments, whether you have a busy house or quiet home.

10. Boxer

A Boxer looking out on a lake

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Despite their looks, Boxers are widely regarded as excellent family dogs, and are one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK. Research from RVC has suggested one in every 100 dogs in England and Wales are Boxers. Due to their playful, energetic nature, as well as their loyalty and protective instincts, it’s quite easy to see why the Boxer breed is so popular.

Much like the other dogs on this list, Boxers are known for energetic and playful personalities. They thrive on physical activities and enjoy playing games with their owners and especially children. They are always ready for a game of fetch, a run in the park, or any other activity that allows them to burn off their energy which makes them a good choice for active families.

Boxers take the jobs of family guardians and are incredibly loyal and protective of their families. They form strong attachments to their owners and are known to be highly devoted. While they are generally friendly and approachable, their protective nature can provide a sense of security to their families. It has been said that Boxers can excel in protection work and have a long history with guarding and supporting their owners.

Olivia Williams

Olivia Williams is a keen writer and has spent 6+ years writing professional, research-based content. Specialising in everything home related, whether that’s smart home products or pet goodies, she has an extensive knowledge on home appliances, dogs and safety products with a lot of reviewing experience. Before joining ThirtyBlue Media, she wrote content for her own website. 

8 thoughts on “10 Dog Breeds That Make Great Family Pets (UK Edition)”

  1. It’s a shame the Greyhound isn’t on this list, I’ve had mine for just over a year now and she fits perfectly into the family!

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