What Are The Best Family Dogs?

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I’m around dogs almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  As a guide dog puppy raiser you take you dog with you just about everywhere you go.  When I’m out and about I usually get many of the same questions like:

  • Is it hard to give your puppy up when it’s time for guide dog college?
  • How long do you keep your puppy?
  • At what age do you bring home your puppy?
  • etc. etc. etc.

However, one question that I used to get regularly came up for the first time in months maybe a year?  That questions was “What are the best family dogs?”  This was even one of my first questions before I picked up Linus over 7 years ago.  I even built a spreadsheet that I shared here over 4 years ago with  a 2 part blog series on what I thought were the best family dogs.

The Best Family Dogs

My original article was more about online research and trying to stoke discussion about everyone’s experiences with different dog breeds.  Thanks to the comment section this post went well beyond my own research and experience as many people shared their favorite dog breeds and also many people expressed their displeasure with certain dog breeds including some that I had on my list.

Reggie Golden Retriever
Reggie The Golden Retriever

Yesterday I spoke candidly with a young lady who was contemplating what dog breed would be best as a family dog.  Here are some of the things I said to her:

  • The breed of dog you get largely depends on you and your family.  What do you prefer in a dog?  What is your families lifestyle?  Do you like to run with your dog?  Do you like a couch potato?  Are you the outdoorsy type?
  • Shelter Dogs Part I – Linus was a shelter dog.  However, I don’t think that shelter dogs are for everyone.  Linus was sick when I picked him up and it took a lot of work to get him healthy again.  I’m not sure everyone wants to nurse a sick do back to health when adopting a puppy.
  • Shelter Dogs Part II – You usually don’t know as much about shelter dogs because you probably won’t get to meet their parents.  Also, there could be some behavior problems that you need to deal with.  A friend of mine rescued a shepherd mix who was a wonderful dog.  However, the minute they left him alone he had severe separation anxiety and even jumped a 6 foot fence to try and escape.
  • Shelter Dogs Part III – I’ve read that as much as 25% of the dogs in shelters are pure bred.
  • Rescue Dogs – I’m a big advocate of going to a dog rescue like Cuddly Canines to rescue your next dog.  I like rescues a little bit more than going to your local animal shelter for a few reasons:
    1. The dogs are usually evaluated in a foster home for a minimum of 2 weeks.  This gives fosters a chance to see what the dogs personality is like before adopting him out.
    2. Most of the vaccinations are already done by the rescue group.
    3. Dogs have already started worming medications and are usually fully dewormed by the time they go home.  You probably don’t want to deal with dog worms they’re gross!
    4. Dogs are already spayed or neutered.  This is nice because you don’t have to worry about another surgery.  You don’t have to worry about your dog wearing the cone of shame.  It’s a lot cheaper to register a fixed dog.
  • If you decide that you want to go to a breeder make sure you find a reputable breeder.

Finally to the moment of truth.  Of course you know my answer is going to be biased seeing that I’m a guide dog puppy raiser and have had Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers living in my house for the past 5 years.  So here we go…my short and easy answer:

My Nomination for the Best Family Dog

Labrador Retriever!

How can all of those folks at the AKC be wrong?  The Labrador Retriever has been the number 1 registered dog through the AKC for over 10 years!

I’ve puppy raised and puppy sat many Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.  I prefer Labs over Goldens and the main reason is because of their coat.  The Golden requires a little more maintenance then a Lab.  I do love the personalities of both the Goldens and Labs I’ve had.

So there you have it.  The Labrador Retriever once again is number 1.  Sorry Linus (Australian Shepherd Mix)…Sorry Apache(Golden Retriever)….Hurray for Stetson (Black Labrador Retreiver)!!!

Tell us what dog breed do you think makes the best family dog?  Let us know…leave us a comment.

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  1. Labrador Retriever is the #1 dog in EU, this breed is excellent. I’m thinking about getting one soon. I’m in love with German Shepherds too this is a really hard decision for me.

    1. @Monica, we love Golden Retrievers too. I was just thinking that I get a lot more complements on how handsome Apache is and I think it’s largely because of his beautiful coat. However, it does require much more maintenance.

  2. I totally agree with you. The lab is such a versatile, eager to please dog that he/she fits into any family situation from couch potatoes to Olympians in training.

    1. @jan, Stetson is my couch potato and Derby was my Olmpian. Derby loved to run and was very athletic. People commented that he looked kind of like a greyhound because he had such long legs and a thinner body. Stetson is the exact opposite of athletic. He loves to lie around the house and when he runs he looks very clumsy. Dublin is somewhere in between and hopefully (fingers crossed) he graduates this month as a guide dog 🙂

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