Good Family Dogs

No breed is a “good family dog” unless the following are done:

  • Get a dog from a reputable breeder or rescue
  • Socialise your puppy early & this does not mean “socialising with other dogs” – please read the “puppy socialisation classes” section under Dog Behaviour.
  • Train your puppy using positive reinforcement (treats/toys/praise etc) from an early age so he learns what to do & understands your language!
  • Learn about your breed or cross breed – understand his needs and language!
  • Never leave young children unsupervised with any dog, accidents can happen easily.
  • Teach your children how to behave with a dog and when its resting/sleeping to leave it alone – reward young children for getting it right.

Basset Hound

This breed is sweet, gentle, peaceful dog that fits in well to family life. Needs an owner that is consistent as can sometimes seem a bit stubborn, but with good positive reward based training they can do well. They have a deep musical bark. With proper training, they are obedient, but when they pick up an interesting smell, it’s sometimes hard to get their attention, as they like to follow their noses and may not even hear you calling them back. Happy by the fireside or on a country walk, he is a dog capable of hunting his natural prey, the hare, persistently at a relatively slow pace over prodigious distances. Be careful not to over feed.

Size: Medium

Height: Males 12 – 15 inches – Females 11 – 14 inches

Weight: Males 50 – 65 pounds – Females 45 – 60 pounds

Coat care: The smooth, shorthaired coat is easy to groom. Wipe under the ears every week. This breed is a constant shedder.


One of the most popular Hounds he still retains his natural hunting instinct. Their noses guide them through life, and they’re never happier than when following an interesting scent. The Beagle originally was bred as a scenthound to track small game, mostly rabbits and hare. They aren’t yappy dogs, but they do have three distinct vocalizations — a bark/growl, a baying howl, and a half-baying howl. Beagles have approximately 220 million scent receptors compared to the paltry 5 million or so in people, which makes them very good at picking up scents and they are always sniffing some scent out during walks. Gentle affecionate dogs that require daily physical and mental exercise. If left alone and not exercised can become destructive. Needs early sociaising and training positively.

Size: Small

Height: 13 inches to 15 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 18 and 30 pounds.

Coat care: Beagles shed, but because their hair is short, it isn’t too noticeable. Brush at least once a week. Since Beagles are drop-eared dogs, air doesn’t circulate well inside their ears and they can get infections. Check their ears at least every two weeks for signs of infection or waxy buildup. Check them also if you notice your Beagle shaking his head a lot or scratching at his ears. Never allow water or oils to enter his ears.

Bernese Mountain Dogs

A working bred used as a draught dog, and also employed in herding sheep and cattle. Wonderful temperament he is known for being loyal, affectionate, eager to please, and intelligent. He’s easy to train, if you allow him time to analyze what you want him to do. Most of all, he has a happy-go-lucky attitude about life. He does well with children of all ages and with adults. Needs daily exercise both physically and mentally along with early socialising and positive training. Despite his beauty and excellent temperament — or perhaps because of these qualities — Berners are struggling to survive today. The breed has a small gene pool, which has resulted in numerous health problems related to inbreeding. As more people find out about the breed, many dogs with health problems are being bred with little or no regard to the effect this has on the breed as a whole. Those considering a Bernese Mountain Dog must be very careful to buy a puppy only from a reputable breeder.

Size: Large

Height: 1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: 70 to 115 pounds

Coat care: He sheds moderately all year and heavily in the spring and Autumn. Brushing several times a week helps reduce the amount of hair around the house and keeps the coat clean and tangle-free

Boston Terrier

Maybe a small breed, but not a lap dog. The Boston Terrier is gentle, alert, very intelligent, well-mannered and enthusiastic. Without the proper amount of mental and physical exercise it can become rambunctious and a bit high strung. Loves playing ball games and running around, but not a very high energy dog breed. Quite a sensitive dog so not ideal for families with small children. If socialised as a puppy gets on well with other dogs and other animals. Can have health problems due to unnaturally short face that have breathing difficulties when stressed by exertion in hot or cold weather and can overheat if they are pushed too hard. They may also snore or drool. Can be prone to eye problems. Only get through a reputable breeder.

Size: Small

Height: 15 – 17 inches

Weight: 10 – 25 pounds

Coat care: Coat is easy to groom, average shedder but does not have a strong dog odour. Wipe the face with a damp cloth every day and clean the prominent eyes carefully.

Curly-Coated Retriever

Created to retrieve game from land or water, today he does well in dog sports as field trials, agility, obedience, and flyball and has been successful as a therapy dog, drug detection dog, and search and rescue dog. An active and intelligent dog, loyal to his family but can be aloof with strangers so early socialising as a puppy is a must, along with reward based training. They do very well with children as long as you lay down some ground rules for dog and child. No ear pulling, tail pulling or biting allowed! For the safety of both, never leave small children unsupervised with any dog.
Like all retrievers, Curlies are mouthy and love to chew, nip, and carry objects. Be prepared for this trait, and work with it by providing your Curly with toys he’s allowed to chew, praising him when you see him chewing them. For an active family he is ideal.

Size: Medium to Large

Height: 1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: 65 to 100 pounds

Coat care: A Curly-Coated Retriever has a relatively easy-care coat and usually sheds only twice a year, although the amount of shedding varies among individual dogs

Golden Retriever

A very popular breed that has made good assistance dogs, therapy, drug sniffer as well as hunting, tracking and field sports. Intelligent, sociable & loyal along with quite a high energy. Slow to mature so often acts like hie is still a puppy to about 4-5 years of age. Needs a job to do (as do all working breeds) so physical & mental exercise is important for this breed. A good family dog and loves water and playing retrieve games. Agility, flyball and obedience are other outlets this breed would enjoy. Only get from good reputable breeder that tests for Hip Dyplasia.

Size: Medium/large gun dog

Height: Males are 23 to 24 inches tall – Females are generally 21.5 to 22.5 inches tall

Weight: Males 65 to 75 pounds – Females 55 to 65 pounds

Coat care: Golden Retrievers have a dense, water-repellent outer coat with a thick undercoat. Some coats are wavy, some are straight. Golden Retrievers shed moderately in the winter and summer, and heavily in the spring and fall. If you live with a Golden, you’ll need to adapt to a certain amount of dog hair in your house and on your clothes. Daily brushing is advised.

Irish Wolfhound

The irish Wolfhound hunted large game such as deer, boar, and wolves. Today this adaptable dog is a family companion who also competes in obedience, tracking, and lure coursing. He’s a gentle giant who gets along with everyone, including children, other dogs, and sometimes even cat, but can have a high prey drive as most dogs that hunted need to have that attribute, so care needs to be done when introducing small animals. Daily walks, but not miles a day and positive training. Can have health problems so make sure you get from a reputable breeder only. Intelligent and gentle they make good family dogs.

Size: Large

Height: Males usually average 34 to 35 inches – females 32 to 34 inches

Weight: Males 140 to 180 pounds – Females 115 to 140 pounds.

Coat care: Irish Wolfhounds shed consistently throughout the year. Brush weekly.


Boxers can make good family pets providing you exercise them properly, as they can be very high energy and powerful, so could knock a small child over easily. They are an intelligent dog that is very loyal to his family. Training with positive methods, using food & toys has the best results, if harsh methods are used this breed can shut down. Their short nose doesn’t cool hot air efficiently in the summer, and their short coat doesn’t keep them warm in the winter, so if its hot be careful about exercising too much. Boxers aren’t the breed for everyone, but if you like a big dog who likes to cuddle, don’t mind a little drool between friends, want a dog that will delight you with his clownish antics and yet be gentle with your children, and most of all, if you are prepared to keep your Boxer physically and mentally stimulated, the Boxer just might be the right dog for you! White Boxers can be deaf – always go to a reputable breeder that tests for problems.

Size: medium to large

Height: Males typically stand 22.5 to 25 inches tall at the shoulder – Females typically stand 21 to 23.5 inches at the shoulder

Weight: Males about 70 pounds – Females about 60 pounds.

Coat care: Minimal grooming needed. But do shed coat.


This is a big dog! He’s considered the largest breed in the world and can weigh 220 pounds or more. But his temperament is usually docile, a gentle giant that can be gentle to children and sturdy enough to handle a few hugs (always supervise children with dogs), but due to size may not be ideal for young children or older senior people. They need daily exercise, but they can overheat easily so care must be taken in hot weather. He adores being with his family and does not do well if being left too long, can then become destructive. Mental stimulation and training along with adequate socialising is important whilst a puppy. Mastiffs drool and are prone to gassiness, but other than that they are fairly clean. If their drool would bother you in any way, this may not be a breed for you.

Size: Large

Height: Male Mastiff is 30 inches at the shoulder; for females, it’s 27.5 inches.

Weight: ranges from 130 pounds to 220 pounds or more.

Coat Care: Mastiffs have an easy-care coat, but they shed heavily.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

This breed is very over looked and has received unfair reports. If brought from a repurtable breeder that tests for defects, then socialised and training positively from the start, this breed is great for families. They can play rough and do so with their littermates from early on, so when they meet other dogs they naturally want to play, but because they play rough (not nasty!) it often gets them into trouble with another dog who does not wish to play like that. This often leads to defensive aggression as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is perplexed that other dogs do not seem to want to play with him, but instead snap at him! So many dogs of this breed end up in rescue. If the owners had taught them a solid recall (come when called) even around other dogs, they could stop this and teach the Staffie to play a little more gently and socialise it well. But as a behaviourist of over 30 years I have hardly ever been called out to this breed having aggression to humans, they love us! A muscular breed that is sensitive & loving companion. Expect to give this athletic and energetic dog a vigorous walk every day, as well as plenty of attention during downtime. He dislikes being left to his own devices

Size: Medium

Height: 4 to 16 inches at the shoulder, with males being taller

Weight: males 28 to 38 pounds; females, 24 to 34 pounds.

Old English Sheepdog

Friendly and gentle, this breed loves and is good with children and is very much part of the family. Loyal, protective and intelligent, it makes a fine family companion. Often has a high herding instinct, so teach it to love playing and herding toys otherwise it may go “self employed” and herd you. Needs a fair amount of exercise, an intelligent breed that grows from a cute puppy to a very large dog, so training positively is a must along with socialising whilst young as can be protective. You can’t talk about the OES without talking about hair, a lot of hair. This coat needs more care than most. It’s long and prone to matting if not regularly brushed. Many owners clip the hair short — but if he is to be a show dog, the OES cannot be trimmed short. Expect three to four hours of grooming per week — perhaps more — plus monthly visits to a grooming salon. Not surprisingly, a common reason that OES owners surrender their dogs to rescue organizations is because of the time and cost of caring for the coat. Anyone considering this breed must think long and hard about grooming and related care.

Size: Large

Height: Males stand 22 inches tall – Females 21 inches tall

Weight: Males 80 to 100 pounds – Females 60 to 85 pounds

Coat care: Lots!

Dogue de Bordeaux

Loyal, self-assured, and territorial, the Dogue de Bordeaux requires lots of training and socialization from a very young age. A devoted and affectionate family dog, he has a reputation for being sweet and docile, but he can also be stubborn and arrogant. Patient, consistent training is a must, as is early and extensive socialization to prevent aggression toward other animals and unwarranted aggression toward strangers. Loyal, self-assured, and territorial, he’s a superb guard dog who’s also capable of competing in many sports and activities, including carting, obedience, therapy work, tracking, and search and rescue. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work. Due to size and strength older children would be better for this breed.

Size: Large

Height: 1 foot, 11 inches to 2 feet, 3 inches tall at the shoulder

Weight: Starts at 100 pounds

Coat care: Very little is needed. This breed is an average shedder. Does drool a lot.


A large strong breed but naturally gentle and friendly. Fans of this breed say the Newfoundland really is a natural-born babysitter. Needs exercise and mental stimulation. can get heat stroke if its very hot, so make sure you have a cool area indoors. He loves being with his family and wont tolerate being left alone for long periods. Like all breeds he needs some positive training and early socialisation. This breed loves water and swimming, has webbed feet for that purpose. Drools a lot.

Size: Giant

Height: Males stand 28 inches tall – Females 26 inches tall

Weight: Males 130 to 150 pounds – Females 100 to 120 pounds.

Coat care: The Newfoundland has a flat, water-resistant double coat. The outer coat is coarse and long, and the undercoat is soft and dense. Shedding is moderate, and the bulk of it occurs primarily in the spring and Autumn. Many owners opt to hire a professional groomer to groom their Newfoundland because it’s a daunting task. Regardless, you still need to brush regularly.