10 Best Large Dog Breeds for Families

Yellow labrador retriever laying next to baby

The Spruce / Kristie Lee

There are tons of large, family-friendly dogs in the world, but certain breeds are well-known for their loyal, loving, and gentle demeanors—despite their bigger size. Everyone loves a good cuddle with a giant dog that thinks it's a lap dog, and a calm, patient personality is essential if you have young children.

Here are 10 large, family-friendly dogs to consider if you are looking to round out your family pack.


Every dog is an individual—no matter their breed—and proper training and socialization are required to ensure any dog you bring into your family maintains an even, mild temperament and behavior. Every child should be taught to be respectful around the family dog, giving them the space they need. Even the most patient, tolerant dog can be pushed to their limits by an over-excitable or rough child.

  • 01 of 10

    Labrador Retriever

    A chocolate Labrador Retriever outdoors

    Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty Images 

    From their sweet, loving personalities to their never-ending enthusiasm, there's a lot to love about Labrador retrievers. They consistently rank year after year as the United States' most beloved breed. Labs are known for their intelligence and good temperament. Bred as hunting dogs, they are excellent companions and more straightforward to train than other breeds; hence they work as service dogs for the blind, handicapped assistance, therapy dogs, and search and rescue.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 55 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense double coat in black, chocolate, yellow, or silvery gray

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 02 of 10

    German Shepherd

    A German Shepherd outdoors

    Rebecca Stynes / Getty Images 

    German shepherds have long served as hunting and herding dogs in Germany. Often trained as service dogs, they work with police, search and rescue, and the military because of their intelligence and hardworking attitude. When it comes to picking a dog for the family, this breed is incredibly loyal and loving, making them the perfect choice for an active family.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 26 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 60 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Coarse, medium-length double coat in a variety of colors, including brown, black, fawn, and tan

    Life Expectancy: 7 to 10 years

  • 03 of 10

    Golden Retriever

    Two Golden Retrievers outdoors

    Sharleen Chao / Getty Images

    Golden retrievers are depicted as the quintessential family dog in movies and television from the '90s sitcom "Full House" to the "Air Bud" movie franchise. Goldens are known for their super sweet, loving personalities; patience; and intelligence. Golden retrievers are another top pick for service as search and rescue, therapy, or comfort dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 55 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Silky, medium-length, double coat in yellow, golden, white, cream, and copper

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 04 of 10

    Bernese Mountain Dog

    A Bernese Mountain dog laying on a patio

    Andrew Hingston / Getty Images

    Berners, Bernies, or Bernese mountain dogs, whatever you call them, this Swiss breed would risk life and limb to help rescue people stranded in the Alps. It's incredibly protective—but not aggressive—with people. Despite their large size, they're very gentle (especially with younger kids) and love inclusion in family activities.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 28 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 79 to 110 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick double coat with a longer outer coat and a wooly undercoat in black, rust, and white

    Life Expectancy: 6 to 8 years

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10


    Brown and white boxer

    Ryan Murphy / Getty images

    Despite their tough-guy name, boxers are actually incredibly sweet, attention-loving dogs. Boxers respond extremely well to positive attention but can be a bit excitable—so consider training if you have very young kids or if your boxer tends to jump on people. Boxers often get along very well with children and possess an instinct to protect the family.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 25 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 50 to 80 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short coat in brindle, fawn, and white with a black mask or white markings

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 06 of 10

    Alaskan Malamute

    An Alaskan Malamute outdoors

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    Although they were originally bred to hunt powerful prey, like bears and seals, today's Alaskan Malamutes are fully domesticated, gentle giants that would make an excellent addition to an active family. This breed has a naturally friendly nature that leads them to greet most strangers as friends rather than foes; for this reason, they do not make great guard dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 75 to 100 or more pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick, double coat in many color variations

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 07 of 10


    A Goldendoodle outdoors

    Genevieve Morrison / Getty Images

    If you or a family member suffers from allergies—but your family must have a dog—consider bringing home a goldendoodle. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, goldendoodles come close, thanks to their poodle lineage. This breed is highly intelligent, athletic, lovable, and great with children and other pets.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hybrid

    Height: 13 to 26 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 45 to 100 pounds

    Coat and Color: Shaggy, curly coat in yellow, gold, cream, red, black, brown, white, or gray

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

  • 08 of 10

    Basset Hound

    A Basset Hound outdoors

    Andrea Calzona / Getty Images

    A basset hound may not seem to be a large breed at first glance, but their average weight places them in the ranks of Siberian huskies, golden retrievers, and goldendoodles—to name a few. Although basset hounds can be very stubborn, they're known for their devotion and unending loyalty to their family members. They are affectionate and patient with children and even other pets (as long as the dog has been appropriately socialized). Just be prepared for a little bit of training—these hounds have a mind of their own.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: Less than 15 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, coarse coat in combinations of black, white, brown, tan, and lemon

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Great Dane

    A Great Dane outdoors

    Erin Vey / Getty Images

    Calm, loyal, and clocking in at 200 pounds fully grown, the Great Dane is the gentle giant of the canine world. But don't let their massive stature fool you—these king-sized pooches are calm and only require a few walks per day once they're out of puppyhood. Great Danes love children, although they can knock over a child simply by bumping into one.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 28 to 34 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 100 to 200 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in yellow, fawn, blue, black, or brindle

    Life Expectancy: 6 to 8 years

  • 10 of 10


    Two Rottweilers outdoors

    Tara Gregg / Getty Images

    This breed has a playful and affectionate side. Rottweilers sometimes get a bad rap, but they make excellent family dogs if you have older children—not so much for young kids. Like many breeds, Rotties were initially bred to herd cattle, using their solid and bulky bodies to bump cattle in the right direction. However, they tend to herd children, giving them a nudge, which might knock over a small child. A Rottweiler may also be overly defensive of the kids in its family and intervene when they are rough-housing with other kids. The dog's prey drive may kick in and lead it to chase running children.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 22 to 27 inches at the shoulder

    Weight: 80 to 130 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short double coat in black with tan, rust, or mahogany coloring

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 10 years

Breeds to Avoid

Children must be taught how to act around dogs. However, if your children are harder to tame than dogs, then some breeds to drop from consideration include Akitas, chow chows, and huskies. These dogs likely will not tolerate children who walk all over them, pull their hair, stare them down, run around, or shout and squeal. These spitz breeds are more aloof and independent-minded. Also, some smaller dogs with big personalities that may not want to be tugged and challenged by little humans include Chihuahuas, Pekingese, and shih tzus.