The 11 Best Large Breed Dogs For Families

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For some of us, family life doesn’t seem complete unless we have a four-legged friend underfoot. Whether it’s playtime, cuddle time or time for that afternoon walk, they lift our spirits with their funny antics and shower us with unconditional love.

Of course, if you’re a giant dog lover with a family, there are essential things to consider before you adopt another member into your pack. Does the breed you like get along with children? Are they easy to train? Does it need lots of space, or can it adapt to apartment life?

Just as no two dog breeds are exactly alike, families also have different personalities. If you’re an active, rowdy bunch, an even-tempered dog with lots of energy may fit into your lifestyle. But if you’re a more lowkey bunch or live in a smaller space, you may want to consider a breed that’s laid back.

Then there’s the hair and grooming. Yes, big furry dogs are fun to hug. But you will need to ask yourself how much time, effort and money you’re willing to spend on keeping their coats in shape.

In other words, choosing a big family dog is a big decision that does require forethought. To make your choice easier, we’ve put together a list of some of the best large family dogs out there.

They range from high-energy to laid back, from short-haired to long-haired, and watchdogs to the best cuddlers. But, they do all have at least one thing in common: they love kids.

So let’s take a look at some of these friendly large dog breeds and the things you should know before welcoming one of these dogs into your home.

Related: How To Pick The Perfect Dog For Your Home [Lifestyle Guide] 

The Rough Collie

American Kennel Club

Height: 22 to 26 inches

Weight: 50 to 70 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming needs: High

Energy level: Medium

Thanks to Hollywood, the Collie’s noble character is the stuff of legends. Not only are these “Lassie” dogs super bright, but they’re also compassionate, loyal and fond of children. You’ll find with gentle training, they usually learn quickly.

And because the Collie was originally bred for herding, they’ll always keep a watchful eye out for their flock and seem to have an almost uncanny ability to know when something is wrong.

Of course, those beautiful coats they flaunt do require regular grooming to keep them in good shape, and they do shed quite a bit. And because Collies develop a very close bond with the family, they don’t like to be alone much.

But if you love to spend time with your family-friendly pets, this super huggable genius who is both playful and gentle makes for a beautiful family member.

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The Newfoundland

American Kennel Club 

Height: 26 to 28 inches

Weight: 100 to 150 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: High

Energy Level: Medium

Newfoundlands may look intimidating, but these sweet-tempered working dogs have gained a reputation for being the best “nanny” because of their patience and watchfulness with kids.

“Newfies,” as they’re often called, were initially used in Newfoundland, Canada, to pull nets for fishermen and haul wood. So it comes as no surprise that they’re usually strong swimmers and love to be given a task to perform.

Of course, with their large size, Newfies may not be the best choice for apartment living. And their shedding and drooling may drive neat freaks crazy. But if you have a larger home and energy for regular grooming, these gentle giants make a sweet-natured and trainable pet.

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The Boxer

American Kennel Club

Height: 21 to 25 inches

Weight: 60 to 70 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: Low

Energy level: High

The muscular and square-headed Boxer may look fierce, but don’t let that fool you. This intelligent and playful breed is very patient and gentle with children. They’re also known to have a clownish personality and lots of energy.

Because of their high-spirits, Boxers need plenty of exercise and love company. With the right amount of activity, the Boxer can even adjust to life in an apartment pretty well.

This breed is known to be both smart, fearless and very loyal to their family. They may be a bit suspicious of strangers initially but usually aren’t aggressive unless they think there’s a threat.

Boxers do shed quite a bit, but grooming is a lot easier because they’re a short-haired breed. However, they can’t be left outdoors for long periods of time. Their short snout doesn’t cool air efficiently, and their short coat means they may feel chilly in winter months.

Even with their idiosyncrasies, Boxers are an excellent choice for an active family and take well to training as long as no harsh methods are used. And don’t worry, your Boxer will make up for his snoring with plenty of affection and his playful antics.

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The Standard Poodle

American Kennel Club

Height: 15-22 inches

Weight: 45-70 pounds

Shedding: Low

Grooming Needs: High

Energy level: High

The Standard Poodle has a reputation for being a bit of a “fancy pants,” but behind the regal air lies a playful and highly intelligent furry friend who loves to be around families. While the Poodle’s miniature and toy version can be high-strung, this larger version of the Poodle has a calmer demeanor.

Though Poodles are very loyal to their families and make great family pets, they may take a little time to warm up to strangers. And they’ll definitely sound a warning bark when someone they don’t know comes around.

Many Poodle enthusiasts are astounded by their almost human-like intelligence. But as with all intelligent dogs, they need mental as well as physical stimulation, or they could become destructive. Poodles are also very attached to their people and don’t like to spend much time alone.

Poodles shed very little, but you will need to get them to the groomer reasonably often, or they can end up with a case of poodle dreadlocks.

Also, be sure to give your Poodle plenty of exercise and the proper training, or he could end up bossing you around. But with obedience training and lots of mental stimulation, you’ll find that this far-from-snobbish dog makes a warm, human companion.

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The English Bulldog

American Kennel Club

Height: 12-15 inches

Weight: 40-50 pounds

Shedding: Medium

Grooming Needs: Low

Energy level: Low

A different take on “large” from other breeds on this list, the low-maintenance Bulldog may fit right into your low-key home. Although short and squat, they can weigh up to 50 pounds and are still considered a medium to large breed.

The Bulldog may look quite menacing, but they are actually bred to be friendly and sweet. And while they’re courageous and protective of their families, they’re generally not looking to pick a fight.

Bulldogs love to be around people and will be content to chillax at your side. Short walks and just a little bit of activity are enough to keep them from getting restless. The challenge may be getting them to exercise at all, but it’s essential to keep them active so they don’t gain weight.

This breed tends to be a bit stubborn and not the quickest of learners. But once bulldogs have the hang of something, it does tend to stick.

The biggest concern with bulldogs is that they can quickly overheat because of their short snout. Be sure not to leave them outdoors for too long. If you are outside with the family in the summer months, a kiddy pool is a great way to help them cool off.

You may also have to put up with a bit of snoring and drool, but with his calm and affectionate demeanor, the Bulldog makes a sweet and loveable pal and family member.

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The Bernese Mountain Dog

American Kennel Club

Height: 23-28 inches

Weight: 70-115 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: Medium

Energy level: High

If you have a rambunctious, active family, the even-tempered Bernese Mountain Dog could be a good fit for you. Both intelligent and friendly, this versatile working dog aims to please and is usually easy to train.

Though these dogs look imposing, they’re not usually aggressive. But they are very loyal and protective of the family.

Bernese Mountains dogs were bred to work and will need at least an hour of exercise a day. They also take well to cart pulling and herding competitions. Without the proper amount of activity and mental stimulation, they can become bored and destructive, so make sure to keep this dog engaged!

Because of their large size and high energy, this breed likes room to move and probably won’t take well to apartment living. Bernese Mountain Dogs also have a double coat and shed quite a bit.

Though not absolutely low maintenance, this Bernese Mountain Dog will repay you with loads of affection and unending loyalty. An excellent pick for families with rowdy kids!

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The Old English Sheep Dog

American Kennel Club

Height: From 21 inches

Weight: 60 -100 pounds

Shedding: Low

Grooming Needs: High

Energy level: High

These loveable furballs are one of the most quintessential family dogs, and for good reason. Intelligent and easy-going, Old English Sheep Dogs love to be with people and can even adapt to apartment life if they get the right amount of exercise.

But yes, they have a lot of hair! Though shedding is minimal, you will need to devote A LOT of time for brushing and will need to make regular visits to the groomer, or your dog could end up as one big lump of matted hair.

Old English Sheep Dogs also don’t like being left in the yard. Being close to people is a must for this affectionate breed, and they can suffer from separation anxiety if you leave them by themselves for too long.

Despite the high maintenance fur, this clownish dog will keep you entertained and loves to complete tasks. Give them plenty of love and exercise, and they will reward you with unconditional love and plenty of laughs.

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The Basset Hound

American Kennel Club

Height: Up to 14inches

Weight: 50 – 65 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: Low

Energy level: Low

The Basset Hound may be low-slung, but at 50 to 65 pounds, he’s a big dog on short legs. And even though he was bred for hunting, he gets along with everyone, including kids and other animals.

Around the house, Bassets are pretty lazy and will quickly adjust to apartment life. But keep in mind that they love to be around people and could take to howling if left alone for too long.

There will definitely be some shedding with a Basset, but grooming is low maintenance because of their short coat. You will have to be prepared for some drooling, however.

When you’re out and about with the Basset, he’ll have plenty of endurance for long walks (which is good because they have hearty appetites). Just be sure to keep them leashed as they’re apt to track scents and can wander off or into traffic if they pick up something interesting.

All in all, this droopy-eared buddy is affectionate and laidback indoors and a good walking companion while outdoors. The best of both worlds!

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The Irish Setter

American Kennel Club

Height: 25 to 27inches

Weight: 60 – 70 pounds

Shedding: Moderate

Grooming Needs: Medium to High

Energy level: High

This rascally redhead of a dog is high-spirited, bright and friendly. Plus, it can fit in best with an active family that has plenty of space.

The Irish Setter is brimming with energy and is up for any adventure. But because of his remarkable enthusiasm for life, he’ll need at least an hour of exercise a day. And while he’s good with kids and other animals, tiny children can get overwhelmed by their bounding nature.

This breed does best in a big yard, but be sure not to leave them alone in it for too long. Setters need to be with their family, and can get destructive if they feel abandoned. Also, keep in mind that his red, silky coat will need daily brushing.

That being said, with the proper exercise and training, this smart and fun-loving pup will keep you entertained and active for years to come.

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The Golden Retriever

American Kennel Club

Height: 21 to 24inches

Weight: 55 – 75 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: High

Energy level: High

No list of family dogs would be complete without the universally adored Golden Retriever. And for a good reason! Besides being intelligent, friendly and even-tempered, they’re also highly trainable and live to please their owners.

It’s no wonder that they make such wonderful service dogs!

As lovable as this beautiful blonde is, nobody’s perfect. Be prepared to live with hair in your house and with some daily brushing to keep those silky locks from getting tangled.

Goldens are also very high energy and highly intelligent. That means they’ll need some strenuous exercise and mental stimulation every day, or they can become restless and destructive. Long walks and runs, agility training and some ball tossing are excellent ways to keep your Golden engaged.

Also, keep in mind that this is a people dog and won’t like to be alone much. But if you’re looking for an energetic, entertaining, and super-smart dog, it’s hard to beat the Golden Retriever.

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The Labrador Retriever

American Kennel Club

Height: 21 to 24inches

Weight: 55 – 80 pounds

Shedding: High

Grooming Needs: Moderate

Energy level: High

Last but certainly not least on our list of the best large family dogs is the Labrador Retriever, the number one breed registered with the American Kennel Club.

These immensely popular dogs are warm, highly intelligent and love people, which is why you’ll so often find them as guide dogs, therapy dogs and even search and rescue dogs.

And while their thick coats do shed quite a bit, they won’t need daily brushing like the Golden Retriever.

Labs are athletic and high-energy dogs and need plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation to keep them on good behavior. And don’t skip the training! As brilliant as they are, Labs still need to learn good manners.

Labs are also known to be chowhounds and adore eating not just their food but “people” food, leftovers found in the garbage and sometimes inanimate objects. A black lab I used to know ate two of my pumpkin cheesecakes in about two minutes when my back was turned. In other words, don’t leave food around!

Also, because of his love of just about everyone, the Lab doesn’t exactly make a good guard dog.

That being said, his sweet demeanor, keen intelligence and unswerving devotion make the Labrador Retriever an almost unbeatable family dog, or as some owners claim, a veritable furry angel.

Family Matters

As you can see, affectionate and kid-friendly dogs come in all kinds of packages. And while most breeds have general personality traits, they can vary somewhat depending on how they are bred, socialized and trained.

Always try to buy from a reputable breeder, and be sure to give your dog proper obedience training and plenty of affection. And if you have children, teaching them how to interact with the new family member is also important.

Again, always consider how a dog will fit into your lifestyle before you commit.

Yes, all dogs need care, but choosing the right breed for you and your family will go a long way in helping you to live happily ever after as a pack.

You might also be interested in: The 13 Best Dog Crates And Why You Need One [Owner’s Guide] 

The 11 Best Large Breed Dogs:

  1. The Rough Collie
  2. The Newfoundland
  3. The Boxer
  4. The Standard Poodle
  5. The English Bulldog
  6. The Bernese Mountain Dog
  7. The Old English Sheep Dog
  8. The Basset Hound
  9. The Irish Setter
  10. The Golden Retriever
  11. The Labrador Retriever

Sherry De Alba

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