Top 10 Big Dog Breeds for Families

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Bigger can be better – especially when it comes to dogs. We’ve come up with our list of top 10 big dog breeds for families so you can see which one fits your lifestyle.

So, you’re thinking it’s time to expand your family and this time the new member is going to have four legs, fur and a tail that wags non-stop. Yes, you’re about to become a pet-parent and at this point you may be thinking that your two-legged offspring are going to be a little too rough-and-tumble for many of those super-cute smaller breeds out there. And perhaps you’re also thinking twice about some of the larger breeds that can seem a bit intimidating – particularly if your kids are young and you’re afraid they may get knocked about by a rambunctious dog that doesn’t know his own strength.

So how do you find that happy medium? That sweet spot of a dog that brings not only durability in size but that all important patience needed for when ultra-exuberant kids enter the mix. Let’s take a look at some of the top 10 large dog breeds that are sturdy enough to withstand all those great big hugs, that will never fail to chase a ball and that are guaranteed to become your kids’ new best friend.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Coming in at around 100 pounds, this handsome Swiss native was originally bred for farm life where he was used to drive cattle, pull carts and protect his family. Flash forward a hundred years or so and this big tri-colored boy with the distinctive “Swiss cross” emblazoned across his chest is the loyal companion dog you always wanted. He’s not only good-natured and super patient regardless of the poking and prodding, but he gets along with kids, other pets and is non-aggressive toward new faces. Which means this happy-go-lucky pooch will happily settle into any environment. While he’s an active dog, he’s not one for long, marathon walks so is easy to keep fit and a dog even an older kid could take for a walk. He’s also an intelligent breed with a goofy, eager-to-please personality that makes him a snap to train and joy to be around. (photo credit: PetrFromMoravia/


While there are many variations on this breed of dog, we’re going to take a look at the iconic “Rough Collie” that you instantly visualize whenever you hear the name Lassie. This native of Scotland was originally bred to herd highland sheep and other livestock close to 150 years ago and while that instinct is still intact and may serve you well when it’s time to round up the kids for dinner, today’s Collie is considered a gentle, loving family member that scores high when it comes to getting along with kids, other animals and new faces. Weighing in at just 70 pounds or so, this super-friendly pooch is slighter than most large dog breeds and is considered to be highly sensitive and intuitive to his family member’s moods; which makes him that special confidante every kid needs. (photo credit: Grisha Bruev/

Standard Poodle

Don’t be fooled by that poufy coat, these dogs are great for families with both young and older kids and can stand up to the most boisterous of play times. Because this handsome pooch is non-shedding clean-up time will be a snap for busy households that don’t have the time to keep pulling out the vacuum. It also makes him an ideal choice for homes with kids (and parents) who suffer from allergies. Weighing in at 60 pounds-ish, this big boy is highly social, active and playful which means he’s happy always happy to catch a tossed ball or Frisbee and because the breed was originally used as a retriever in hunting, they’ll keep bringing that ball back again and again. What kid doesn’t love that? This handsome German native is considered one of the most intelligent breeds around which makes him easy to train and great for first time dog owners. (photo credit: Willee Cole/

German Shepherd Dog

Surprised? Don’t be. This breed is super intelligent, easy to train and loyal – which is why the armed forces and polices services consider him to be a dream dog to partner with. Used as scout or patrol dogs in war zones and to sniff out narcotics and contraband at airports, you just have to know this smart dog needs a job to do in order to feel fulfilled. While he’s happy to settle in with his family after a busy day, he’s not a lap dog, a lazy dog or one that’s content to lay around on the sofa so a family with active, older kids who are ready to keep him engaged and exercised – both on leash and by chasing balls in the yard – is ideal. Bred in Germany at the end of the 19th century for use in herding sheep (hence the name), he’s a larger boy that weighs in at around 90 pounds. While his tendency to shed year-round means he’s unlikely to be the top pick of fussy households, his wonderfully curious nature, loyalty, energetic personality and protective instincts make him a wonderful watchdog and superb family pet. (photo credit: Garry518/

Golden Retriever

What can I say. Gentle, easy-going, loyal and ready to play at the drop of a hat. This quintessential family pet weighs in the 70-pound range and comes in a British, Canadian and American variety. Because he was originally bred to retrieve downed water-fowl, you have to know that he will chase and retrieve a ball till the streetlights come on and it’s time to come in. He gets along well with kids of all ages, other pets and even strangers and because he tends to be on the quieter side, he’s not going to be the up-and-ready type of watchdog that barks at every new face. All you need is a fully fenced yard – given his tendency to pick up a smell and wander off – and a kid/s that are handy with a leash and willing to take this mild-mannered pooch for regular walkies and you’re all set to enjoy this wonderful family pet. (photo credit: Martin Valigursky/

Australian Shepherd

This high-energy family dog was actually developed in the United States in the 19th century to work on ranches. in Western United States and was bred to help out on ranches. This busy boy thrives on human interaction and needs kids who love to play and play and play…. Seriously, he needs at least 1 to 2 combined hours of exercise each day to keep him happy and this can include walks, jogs, a visit to the local off-leash park or a tossed ball or Frisbee that will allow him to show off his spectacular agility talents. He’s a smaller rendition of the typical “large-breed” dog and weighs in at around 50-pounds so a fun size that won’t over-power youngsters. While he’s not known for barking, he is loyal and protective of his family so won’t hesitate to alert his human pack to strangers. (photo credit: DenisNata /

English Bulldog

While he looks like your grumpy Uncle Fred who has no time for kids, this big boy is an excellent family dog that is both gentle and playful. He has an easy-going (yet stubborn) personality that can make training a challenge, but once he decides to take direction, this jowly pooch is highly obedient and listens well. He adores kids and forges strong bonds with them – which makes him the perfect childhood confidante and snuggle buddy after a long day at school. He loves to play, but in moderation and actually has a bit of a lazy streak – in his ideal world, he’d lay on the sofa with his human peeps all day long. Of course, this stocky, 60-pounder’s shorter, easy-care coat makes him popular with parents while his notorious snorting and farting make him a favorite with kids of all ages. (photo credit: Laures/


This flat-faced pooch with the distinctive underbite and clown-like personality is a great fit for families with kids and when he’s been properly socialized, with other pets including dogs and even cats. He was bred in Germany for use as a guard dog at the turn of the 20th century and later brought to America for use as a patrol dog during World War I. Today, this intelligent, spirited pooch brings 65-pounds of enthusiastic playfulness to his family and is highly protective of his human pack – making him a great watchdog that will bark when the situation calls for it. He’s known for his love of kids and need to be busy and when you add to this determination that he is an important part of the family, you have a dog that wants to be involved in all activities and that really doesn’t do well when left on his own for long periods of time. (photo credit: cynoclub/


For those who want a loyal companion dog who is happy to stay close and act as a foot warmer each time you sit down, this gentle giant is the pooch for you. Originally bred in Atlantic Canada to haul fishing lines and later to assist with water rescue, this easy-going pooch tips the scales at well over 100-pounds and brings a quiet, patient strength that is resistant to whatever horseplay the kids can bring. His placid expression, bulky appearance and quiet demeanour bely a super friendly, devoted personality that make this dog a great choice for families willing to do the grooming that a heavy shedder like him brings. In fact, this dog is a great way to teach kids the importance of caring for a pet – he’s high maintenance and ultra patient. It should also come as no surprise that while this big boy is up for activity and playtime, he also enjoys just hanging out with his human pack and chilling on the nearest sofa. (photo credit: dleindec/

Labrador Retriever

This super gentle breed with the sweet nature and easy-going “whatever” personality is perfect when it comes to bringing a new dog into a family with kids of any age. It’s no wonder that for 20+ years he has continued to be the most popular breed in North America (as determined by the American Kennel Club); he just fits in with every household and brings a loving, calm demeanour regardless of how often the kids hug or climb on him. In spite of his almost placid persona, this iconic, 50-pound pooch has an energetic, playful personality and will catch and retrieve a ball for as long as your throwing arm holds out. He’s patient, loyal and often seen as a service dog for differently-abled individuals because of his intelligence and ability to pick up and obey commands quickly – which makes him great for kids who are training their first dog. (photo credit: Madrabothair/

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

More by Mary Simpson