Medium-size dogs make great family pets! These breeds aren't small enough to be easily hurt by toddlers, and they aren't too big that they'll crowd a small home. Learn about seven popular options.
Bred to herd sheep on the Shetland Islands, the Shetland sheepdog (affectionately called the sheltie) is a hardy, intelligent breed that makes a wonderful family pet. Although the sheltie has rough collie in its background, it is not a bred-down version of Lassie. It’s a separate breed with a thick double coat that could tackle the roughest Shetland winters. Their sweet temperament and small size makes them a good fit for young families. Shelties are active dogs that require daily exercise. They also needs regular brushing to keep their coat in top form. Shelties love challenges and perform well in obedience and other dog sports such agility. This alert breed does have a tendency to bark, so early training and socialization is important. Colors include sable and white, tricolor, and blue merle.
One breed that proves that size doesn't matter when it comes to determination and grit is the Pembroke Welsh corgi. An ancient breed from Wales, the Pembroke corgi was bred to be a herding dog; its short stature kept it from getting kicked in the head by angry cows. These dogs are highly intelligent, loyal, and lots of fun to be around, although they can be a bit headstrong now and then when they want to get their way. Pembroke Welsh corgis make a great family pet in any situation, from family farm to walk-up apartment. Obedience training is recommended to challenge this smart little dog and to socialize it with other dogs, cats, and strangers. They excel in agility competitions and are never happier than when they are with their humans. Pembroke Welsh corgis have a short, dense coat in red, fawn, and black and tan with or without white markings.
Often considered the smartest of all dogs, the border collie is a product of its breeding in the Borders area of Scotland. Generation after generation of dogs were bred to outsmart the sheep on the hills and to listen to commands from their owners who were often over a mile away. Today, the border collie is still a blue-collar breed working on farms around the world, but it also makes an extraordinary pet if you can challenge its brain with things to do. Border collies love dog sports such as agility, flyball, and obedience competitions. They also adore children and will gladly retrieve a tennis ball or flying disc for hours on end. Border collies come in long and short coats and a variety of colors including black and white, tricolor, red and white, blue merle, and sable.
If you are looking for a family dog that loves a good outing but is just as happy to be on the couch staring lovingly into your eyes, consider a cocker spaniel. Cocker spaniels are happy, outgoing characters that love children and fit well in either a large home or apartment. Originally bred to hunt woodcock in England, the cocker spaniel is a responsive dog that is easily trained and excels in obedience class. They have a soft, huggable coat that requires regular grooming to keep it free from mats and tangles. There are also a lot of options when it comes to coat color. Recognized coat colors include black, tricolor, parti-color (two or more solid colors, one of which must be white), and ASCOB (any solid color other than black) that can range from cream to red to tan.
Few dogs are as instantly recognizable as the loveable basset hound. Its low-slung body, long ears, loose skin, and deeply wrinkled face make it the center of attention wherever it goes. Bred in France, the basset was designed to track prey over long distances at a low speed so the hunter could walk alongside. They are extremely friendly dogs and are loyal to their owners, especially children. Bassets hounds often let their nose lead them astray, so be sure your dog is exercised on a leash or in a securely fenced backyard. These easygoing dogs have a short, easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors.
Happiness wrapped in a fur coat: That’s how you could describe the loveable beagle. Developed as a hunting dog in England during the 1800s, the beagle has since spread its charm across the globe. The dogs’ medium size; short, easy-to-maintain coat; and outgoing personality combine to make this breed an ideal pet. Beagles love children and are tough enough to join in any outside game. But, before you bring a beagle into your home, understand that they require daily exercise to keep their minds challenged. And you will need to keep your beagle on a leash or in a fenced backyard to keep them from sniffing their way into trouble. They can also bark or howl when lonely or bored. Beagles come in two heights (13 and 15 inches tall) and a variety of colors including tricolor, red and white, and lemon.
Few breeds elicit as many positive -- and negative -- emotions as the American pit bull terrier. Banned from many cities and municipalities because the breed, when poorly trained or mistreated, can be aggressive, the pit bull is also known for being one of the sweetest dogs around, making it an excellent candidate as a family pet. In fact, a recent study by the American Veterinary Medicine Association found that this breed is not "disproportionately dangerous." Another study found that pit bulls are the second most tolerant breed only after golden retrievers. These dogs can be so reliable that they have been used in search and rescue, police work, and as service dogs. American pit bull terriers are a very active breed and require a lot of exercise on a daily basis. Early obedience training and socialization is essential, as well as spaying and neutering at a young age.