From soccer practices to dance lessons to school functions to family time, there’s not much free time during a typical day in the life of a busy family. There certainly isn’t much time for taking care of a new pooch.
But don’t worry — there’s a dog breed out there that will be perfectly happy in joining your hectic lifestyle!
Adding any new pup to your family is a big commitment of time and energy; so, before you fall in love with a furry friend, make sure the breed is compatible with your lifestyle.
Your family will need a pooch with the right temperament and energy level, and one that can smoothly transition into your household.
Picking the right dog is a tough choice — it’s easy to be swayed by cute looks or funny personalities, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best match for your family.
In this article we’ll break down some of the top dog breeds to suit your busy family and offer some considerations to keep in mind when picking a pooch.
9 Best Dog Breeds for Busy Families
Let’s talk about some of the best breeds for you and your crew!
1. Border Collie
If your family is in search of a dog with beauty, brains, and the energy to keep up with your favorite activities, then a border collie (or border collie mix) is hands down the right choice.
The poster child of the herding group is also known to be one of the smartest and sweetest breeds, making them a top companion for a family on the go.
Border collies are the perfect size for kids, standing between 18 and 22 inches tall at the shoulder. Born with herding instincts, they are super athletic and always down for a family walk or a car ride.
The best thing about border collies is how easily they can be trained.
While you’ll need to set aside some extra time for grooming, their obedience and willingness to please makes them the perfect breed to jump right into your family’s routine.
These bright pooches are the ideal match for a fast-paced lifestyle — clever, trainable and affectionate, the border collie is a great choice for families on the move!
Be aware that they are best suited for families with older kids, since their herding tendencies can potentially result in nipping at the heels of small kiddos.
Border collies are also a poor choice for couch potato crews, since they are very high energy.
2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Bred for royalty but still humble at heart, the beautiful cavalier King Charles Spaniel still gives off the laid-back prince or princess vibes.
These striking dogs are a great option for a family without a lot of extra time for outdoor doggo recreation.
Besides a weekly grooming session, cavalier King Charles Spaniels are pretty low maintenance pups. Though they still need daily walks to stretch their legs, they don’t require consistent physical exercise and activity to be happy.
They tend to be great with children and love pretty much any person that they meet. They’re a great small dog for kids, weighing in at just
The cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s main goal is to keep their humans happy, so training is a breeze. They don’t like to be alone for long periods of time, but they’re great for families full of homebodies.
3. Golden Retriever
The golden retriever is one of America’s most popular breeds for countless reasons. With a great personality and a healthy dose of athleticism wrapped in a lustrous golden coat, this breed really is the Jack of all trades!
In recent years especially, golden retrievers have been commonly trained for practical work as service dogs, seeing eye dogs, and bomb-sniffers.
Their intelligence and natural obedience makes them dedicated helpers, and that makes them eager to please your family, too.
A golden retriever will dote on your kids keep them busy playing for hours on end. As members of the sporting group, they’re an active breed and they love physical activity.
Note that golden retrievers truly embody the phrase “man’s best friend,” so they don’t like to be left alone for long periods of time. But for families that can offer these pups plenty of attention, they’ll certainly become your family’s best friend, too!
4. Labrador Retriever
Whether you prefer the chocolate, yellow, or black Lab, the breed (and mixes featuring Labs) is another one of the most popular in the United States.
Labs are known for being especially kind and loyal which makes them a perfect family pet for many.
Across the Lab color spectrum, their temperament is consistent: Labs of all colors are lovable goofballs.
They love everyone, canine or human, and their gentle nature makes them great with kids. They tend to be pretty tolerant pooches, making them a perfect first dog for children.
Labs are best known for their love of the great outdoors and physical activity, especially swimming. If you’ve got a swimming pool, your Lab will be in heaven!
The one downside is that they are usually a bit on the larger side compared to other breeds on the list. While they are gentle giants, adults tend to be in the 70 pound range. Their bigger size plus their higher energy levels might be a bit much for smaller kids.
If you’re looking for a pooch with supermodel looks and plenty of personality, the poodle is a perfect option. Though they are a member of the toy group, don’t be fooled — the poodle is more than just a pretty face.
Poodles are bred in a variety of sizes: toy, miniature and standard. You’ve got the option to pick the perfect size for your family and children, as they range from about 9 inches up to 24 inches.
They naturally love people and want to be at your side, so you’ll have the perfect car-ride companion. They’re known for their brilliant minds and their charming personalities, so they’re superb with the kids and simple to train too.
Poodles are also “hypoallergenic,” so they’re an excellent choice for families with allergy sufferers. The downside to that beautiful coat is that it needs beautifying often. You’ll have to find time for regular trips to a professional groomer.
Honestly, is there any breed with a more lovable face than the beagle?
While they can be a bit sassy, they’re usually more sweet than anything else. This handsome hound will keep your family entertained all day, every day.
Beagles love being around people, young and old, so kids are a great match. Their compact size puts them at about eye level to a toddler, making them the perfect height to be your kid’s new best friend.
These hounds love to be outside where they can explore new scents and sniff around for hours. For the outdoor-loving family, these precious pups are a perfect match.
Beagles do tend to require a bit more maintenance in grooming than the average short-haired pup, as well as consistent attention and daily exercise.
They’re also vocal four-footers, who may be irritating for those who prize peace and quiet.
But that lovable face and precious personality will make it worth your while!
7. Boston Terrier
Looking for a fun-sized canine with a larger than life personality? Boston terriers are clever little fellows, known for their smarts and their funny antics.
Boston terriers are super sweet dogs and they simply love being around people. Their small stature, kind disposition, and fun-loving nature make them excellent companions for kids.
While they’ll still require the occasional brushing or bath, their coat requires relatively little maintenance.
Boston Terriers do tend to need a bit more exercise than other pocket-sized pooches, so make sure your family’s schedule will permit daily walks and activity.
They also get bored easily, which can cause them to get into trouble. So, you’ll have to make sure they’re sufficiently distracted during the day with dog toys.
8. English Bulldog
If your family is looking for a low key, docile doggo, look no further than the English bulldog (they’re actually just called “bulldogs” now, but many people are more familiar with their former name).
That precious frowny face will melt your heart, and that sugar-coated persona is simply irresistible.
The wrinkly flab on the outside is a perfect representation of the bulldog’s personality — soft and bit squishy, and overall just plain lovable. Bulldogs are great with kids and love to be around people.
These dogs are also pretty self-sufficient and can handle being left alone while you’re away at work in most cases. Give a bulldog a favorite chew toy, and he can happily occupy himself for hours on end.
If your family is looking for a companion for outdoor adventures, the English bulldog is probably not the best option.
They aren’t the athletic type, and tend to get overheated quickly. Don’t even think about taking them for a swim either, as it’s not a skill that comes naturally to them.
Pugs always seem to be smiling from ear to ear — and you’ll be doing the same when you bring one home. No doubt a pug will keep your busy family grinning with their silly antics and sparkling personalities.
A perfectly sized playmate for kiddos, pugs have been specifically bred to be the perfect human companion. They are born to cuddle, and pretty much just want to be your best friend.
At worst they can be described as clingy, so make sure your family has ample time and affection to devote to your new best friend.
Despite that saccharine smooshy face, they can be a bit headstrong at times. As opposed to other dogs on this list, you might need to devote a little extra time to training.
Also note that when they get bored they tend to get into trouble, so you’ll want to be sure your pug has plenty of puzzle toys to keep him occupied.
Rescue Dogs Are Great Too!
If you’re considering adopting, there are tons of great family-friendly dogs at your local animal shelter as well. Staff can help point you in the direction of dogs that are already known to get along well with kids.
You may have to do several meet-and-greats, but there are plenty of lovely shelter dogs out there who would love to be a part of your family.
If you’re considering adopting an adult dog, make sure to check out our dog adoption guide and scorecard which can help you decide which traits you’re looking for in your dream dog, and will show you how to evaluate dog candidates.
Traits to Look for in a Dog for a Busy Family
Though every dog is different with a unique personality, picking a dog based on their natural disposition is key to finding the perfect match for your family.
Not only does a suitable breed make your life easier, but it means you’ll be giving your new pooch the highest quality of life possible.
Here are a few traits that busy families should look for when deciding on a breed:
Pick a breed that’s great with kids.
Just like some people love kids, some dogs love kids. Others don’t.
That doesn’t mean that dogs that aren’t kid-friendly don’t make great pets, but they obviously aren’t the right choice for a house full of tiny humans. So, picking a breed that is naturally docile is a must.
It’s also a good idea to pick a pooch that’s proportionate in height to your kids, too. Inevitably, dogs get excited and jump, so you won’t want your new pooch knocking over the kids all the time.
Pick a breed that can join in family activities.
Your next dog is going to be a member of your family, so you’ll want to pick a breed that enjoys the types of activities you and your crew enjoy too.
If, for example, your family is the outdoorsy type, you’ll want to pick a dog breed that’s known to love going on hikes or a water-loving dog breed.
Similarly, if your family is more on the low-key side, look for a low-energy couch potato who is content to hang out while the kids watch Netflix.
Pick a breed that can handle alone time (if necessary).
It’s important to consider how much time your pup will have to spend alone when picking a breed.
Simply put, some dogs handle being alone better than others.
Some breeds can busy themselves without the need for constant supervision and can be perfectly happy staying home for a while holding down your couch.
Others can have issues with separation anxiety and might tear your home apart piece by piece if forced to wait at home alone while the fam is out and about.
This isn’t a huge consideration for families with a stay-at-home parent or someone who works from home. Dogs in such families will always have a bit of human companionship.
But, if all of the two-footers in your family walk out the door each morning, you’ll want to pick a dog that can handle this kind of lifestyle.
Pick a breed that is easily (or already) trained.
It’s clear that every puppy will need some basic obedience training, but some breeds tend to pick things up faster than others.
And because your family’s hectic schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for puppy school, you’ll want a dog that can jump right into your lifestyle and doesn’t require you to spend a lot of time training and reinforcing desirable behaviors.
If you’re looking to get a pup, this means aiming for a breed that is food motivated, easy-to-train, and eager to please. However, many busy families may be more inclined to adopt an adult dog who has already been trained.
Adopt an Adult Dog! Adopting an adult dog can be great for busy families since they’ll already have the basics and housetraining down. We recommend aiming for a dog that’s five years or older, when their personality is well established and they’ve begun to calm down past their teenage years.
Pick a breed that is likely to get along with your other pets.
If you already have a dog or cat, it is vital that you select a pooch that will likely get along well with your other pets. You don’t want to bring your new dog home, only to find that he wants to chase the cat around all day.
To an extent, your new dog’s attitude toward other pets will vary based on his individual personality (and vice versa). However, some breeds have notoriously high prey drives (we’re looking at you, huskies), and they’re unlikely to get along harmoniously.
Conversely, many breeds — including Labs and golden retrievers, among others — will often consider your other pets to be family too.
Teach Your Kids How to Engage With Animals (Safely)
When preparing to bring home a new dog, it’s essential that you spend a considerable amount of time educating kids on how to properly handle and engage with animals.
Children are the most common victim of dog bites, largely due to the fact that kids often handle animals roughly and don’t pay much attention to a dog’s body language, missing the tell-tale signs that a dog may be feeling nervous and is ready to bite!
Even if you bring home an easy-going dog who is tolerant of rough handling, all dogs deserve to be treated with respect and allowed autonomy. It’s essential that children learn how to safely interact with dogs and how to respect an animal’s consent.
We’d recommend checking out The Family Dog’s online program.
It’s a unique family-centered program developed by Justine Schuurmans, who is a family-based CPDT–KA certified dog trainer. She’s created a really fun, engaging course designed to teach the entire family (kids, adults, and dogs) how to safely interact through special activities and games.
The course is designed to help teach even young children how to give their pet appropriate affection and how to recognize when a dog needs some space.
Questions to Ask Before Bringing Home a Family Dog
Before you pick a dog that’s right for your family, make sure your family is right for a dog.
Though you might have your heart set on bringing home a furry friend, it’s important to make sure your new dog will have a high quality of life and that you’ll be able to give him the time and attention he deserves.
Ask yourself these questions before you bring home your new pooch:
Does my family have time for a dog?
Some dogs are super low maintenance and don’t require (or want) your constant attention. However, that doesn’t mean you can leave your pooch at home for long hours day after day.
All dogs require some form of daily attention and exercise, as well as regular grooming and vet visits.
Integrating your pooch into your daily life is key to keeping your family and your pup happy — look at your daily schedule and be sure you have the time to provide for all of your four-footer’s needs.
Are the kids ready for a dog?
Your kids’ maturity level is definitely a factor when bringing home a new dog, as even the most docile dogs can turn hostile if pushed a bit too far.
Teach your kids how to properly treat pooches before you add one to your family — this means not pulling their ears or their tail, not sticking their face in the dog’s face, and generally being gentle and respectful.
Any family bringing a new dog into a home with kids should consider getting the “Dog Smart Card Game” from Good Dog in a Box. This fun game is designed to educate kids how to recognize canine body language in order to prevent bites – a valuable tool for any family!
Are allergies going to be an issue?
It’s best to know if allergies are an issue for any family members before bringing home a dog. No amount of allergy medicine can relieve the symptoms for some people, so find out if it’s a problem before getting attached to a new family member.
“Hypoallergenic” dogs are always an option worth exploring for allergy sufferers, and some dog breeds are better for people with allergies than others, but it is important to note that all dogs shed fur and dander. Some just do so much less than others.
Did your busy family’s favorite breed make our list? What tips do you have on how to balance busy family life and good dog ownership? Let us know in the comments below!
January 18, 2022
I agree about this article but I am concerning about Beagle,Bulldog and Border Collie.
Border Collie and Beagle can be tough for families as beginner breeds(I also saw your article about Best and Worst Dog breeds for First-time owners) they can be lot of work. Border collies need lot of mental and physical stimulation or they will became destructive while beagle are affordable but can be stubborn and independent this is why many of those breeds end up in shelters.
Bulldogs are deformed;their unnatural faces and body structure make them caused serious problems. You recommend that dog must be 5 years or older for families;they tend to age faster and die in short-lifespan(8-10 years) and they’re very expensive.Please reconsider this.
January 18, 2022
Hey there, Jaty.
You’re right that some of these breeds aren’t great choices for first-time owners, but that’s not really the target audience — these recommendations are for busy families.
But thanks for sharing your thoughts!