Young families with kids have special needs when it comes to dogs. Here are 10 dog breeds with different sizes, coat types, and temperaments for you to consider.
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Charlie Brown didn't always get everything right, but his choice of dog was pitch-perfect. Snoopy, his loyal beagle, epitomized this medium-size hound's best qualities: loyalty, friendliness, and fun. These solid, sturdy dogs can play rough-and-tumble games in the backyard and then come in for a long, relaxing nap on the couch. Their short hair coat is easy to maintain and comes in a variety of color combinations including red, black, lemon, white, tan, and blue. Beagles are members of the hound family, so they do have a tendency to follow their nose if they come across an interesting scent, but with training early on to follow basic commands, these dogs can be the perfect family dog.
Smart, outgoing, and eager to please, the Labrador retriever is the ideal choice for active families. Its short waterproof coat also gives it a leg up on other breeds when it comes to lake or ocean activities. They do require regular exercise and can become bored and destructive if left alone in the backyard all day. Labradors are a snap to groom and come in three basic colors: black, yellow, and chocolate.
The happy personality of golden retrievers is legendary. These dogs love everyone and are smart enough to master a wide range of tricks and tasks. Originally from Scotland, golden retrievers have taken America by storm and always land in the top 10 list of dog breeds. Like the Labrador, golden retrievers love the water and will become willing swimming partners with your kids. Early obedience training will help channel this breed's intelligence into positive activities.
In the 1960s, few breeds were as popular as the cocker spaniel. Sadly, over time, they fell out of fashion, but they remain a top pick for young families. Available in a variety of coat colors, the happy-go-lucky cocker is the ideal size to pack in the car with a crowd of kids in the backseat. They are a smart, active breed that requires regular exercise and early obedience training. They can easily be taught a variety of tricks, too. Cocker spaniels require regular grooming to keep them looking good.
Tall, elegant, and intelligent, the standard poodle will delight you and your family for many years. Bred originally as a retriever, the standard poodle is actually a rugged breed that revels in outdoor activities. And, because they are so smart, your kids should have no trouble teaching them a variety of fun tricks. What's more, they are large enough to roughhouse with the kids, but their slender build makes them easy to squeeze into your car. Standard poodles come in a variety of colors and shed very little. Standard poodles require regular trips to the groomer.
Although they are small in stature, don't discount the pug as a great companion for an active family. These jaunty little canines have a go-anywhere, do-anything attitude and a cute, pushed-in face with large expressive eyes that endear them to kids everywhere. Available in black and fawn, pugs require almost no grooming except for an occasional brushing to remove loose hair and dirt. Just make sure to keep an eye on them in hot weather because, with their pushed-in noses, they can overheat easier than some other breeds. But, overall, the pug will delight everyone in your family.
Bernese Mountain Dog
There's no mistaking a Bernese mountain dog when you see it coming down the street in its striking tricolor coat. Bred in the Swiss mountains to pull carts, the Bernese mountain dog (affectionately nicknamed the berner) is happy to spend every waking moment with its family. These outgoing dogs are quick studies and are easily trained for any task. Their long, soft coats require regular grooming and they tend to have shorter life spans than other breeds, but every second with a Bernese mountain dog is precious.
Ever since Lassie first appeared on the silver screen, the rough collie has been a popular family dog. Intelligent and handsome, collies are quick learners and active participants in all family activities. Because collies are members of the herding group, they might try moving children and guests around your living room as they would sheep, but with early obedience training, you can easily keep that behavior under control. The most popular coat color is sable and white, but tricolor, merle, and white collies are also available. Regular brushing is a must to keep their long coat free of tangles, but if this seems like too much work, there is also a smooth collie breed.
West Highland White Terrier
By their very nature, terriers are active, rough-and-tumble dogs that revel in any sort of outdoor activity. But, they can also be headstrong, so early obedience training is essential. The West Highland white terrier, commonly called the Westie, is a generally happy, easygoing dog that is as at home on the couch watching cartoons as it is rambling in the woods with its owners. Westies do require regular grooming to keep their wiry coat in top form. Their small size makes them ideal traveling companions that are always glad to go wherever you're going.
If you are looking for a big, huggable family member, you can't go wrong with a Newfoundland. These web-footed water dogs have a natural instinct to watch over family members and have even been known to save people from drowning. They have a thick, waterproof coat that is available in black, brown, gray, and black-and-white (commonly called landseer). Although male Newfoundlands can weigh as much as 150 pounds, they don't take up as much floor space as you think and generally just curl themselves into a big furry ball for a snooze. They do have a thick undercoat that sheds once a year, so regular brushing will help keep your house from becoming a big fur ball.