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Ideal family dogs

When you are selecting a breed of dog you want to buy or adopt, it’s important to think of whether they will fit into your family as you expect. By sitting back and thinking a little you might find that actually a boxer dog is more suitable to your needs that a chihuahua or vice-versa. Indeed not every type of dog is suitable for every environment !

Considering your own environment

Step 0 in choosing a dog is to understand why you are getting one, and what type of dog may fit in your environment. Dogs aren’t for everyone, but if you do decide to bring one into your family, it’s certain that they will have a positive effect on your life.

Do you have any other pets ?

If you have dogs, cats or other pets, you should think about whether the animal is likely to get on with the other pets. Generally dogs are social animals, and should get on well together no matter what the circumstance. We recommend that you should at least get a similar dog, in both size and temperament to your other dog. So putting a chihuahua together with a boxer, might work, but picking two similar sized dogs will probably mean that they can more evenly play together. We often get ask about mixing puppies and older dogs, but in our experience this is never a real issue.

Do you have a young family ?

Adding a new dog when you have babies or toddlers can be an extra burden. Adding a dog to your family can teach children about responsibility of taking care of a dog. If you’ve just had a new born we would generally hold off on getting a dog until your child is 3 or 4, when they are then aware that they shouldn’t pulls its tail or put their fingers in its mouth.

Do you live in a city, built up area or the country ?

Some dogs, like greyhounds need an enormous amount of exercise and should only really be kept if you have a large amount of space to give them their own run. Where you live might influence what type of dog you should get. Also consider if you plan to have your dog live indoors or outdoors.

Experience with dogs

Do you already have experience with a certain breed of dogs ? If you already know a certain breed and their temperament suits your needs, we would suggest going with what you know.

Our top 10 dogs for families

We often get asked about what we would recommend for families. While each situation is unique, here are some breeds that we would recommend. In general mid-sized to large dogs are great for families, while smaller dogs are not.

This list is not in any particular order, and note in each case there might other reasons for picking or not picking a certain breed of dog.

  • Beagle – known for their great temperament, especially with kids, these can be a great choice. Do know that they take a lot of work brushing and cleaning.
  • Boxers – female boxers are especially friendly & loyal and a great addition to any family.
  • Bulldog – they aren’t the most energetic of dogs, but they are great with kids. Their easy going demeanour means that they will take most things kids throw at them on the chin.
  • Bull Terrier – very energetic dogs, but don’t require a lot of attention. They can work well if you have a large family, as they don’t mind not being the centre of attention all the time.
  • Collie – who doesn’t like a Lassie ? Collies are pretty aware dogs, and tend to keep an eye on children, sometimes even herding them!  Do note that brushing these dogs can be quite a job at times.
  • Newfoundland – Large & friendly these dogs have very big hearts. These dogs do need a large space to run, or at least long walks most days.
  • Irish Setter – Irelands’ national breed, area great for families with a back garden or more. Do remember that while they are large dogs, their life spans tends to be less of similar sized dogs. Average life span for an Irish setter is about 11-12 years.
  • Poodle – Here we mean the standard poodle, not the miniature or toy breeds. These dogs are very intelligent, don’t require so much so much clean up as they don’t shed.
  • Labrador Retriever – Very smart, and very protective. These dogs are quite gentle and playful.
  • Golden Retriever – These are very patient dogs, and great for families with small children. Do note that their average lifespan is around 10 years.

Last but not least

  • Mutts / Mongrels / Cross breeds – What ever you call them , here you can get the best from 2 or more breeds. Take a visit to the local dogs home, shelter or rescue and see what dogs they have on offer. Generally these dogs are free, or you have to make a smaller donation to the charity.


How much does a dog cost to keep ?

One final note is to remember that dogs do indeed cost money. So how much does it cost to keep a dog? Larger dogs can eat 2 tins of food a day, and this incremental cost ends up at being around €500 / year on dog food alone. Expect to spend a bit more on vets, toys, bedding and special food in the first year of your dogs life. But remember that over 14 years (average age for a mid-sized dog) you will probably end up spending about €4,000 – €6,000 on your dog.

Updated on October 11, 2020
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  1. Hello,
    We are looking for a first time dog. We have two kids aged 9 and 11. We have our heart set on a cocker spaniel but they ahve not being lsted on your list of top 10 family dogs. Is there a reason for this?

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