10 Top Dog Breeds That Like to Play

Golden retriever puppy holding an orange floating toy in his mouth while he runs in the water.

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If you are thinking about getting a furry friend that will enjoy playtime with you or your children or another fun-loving dog, choose a breed known for having a playful temperament. Of course, every dog is an individual—so a type of breed as a predictor of playfulness is only one part of the equation. Breed type only increases your probability. Nurture your dog to play with you, and it likely will.

Tip

Teach your dog and children how to interact and play appropriately. Little puppies can quickly turn into overly rambunctious and ill-mannered adult dogs without the right direction, socialization, and training. Children should be taught how to properly interact with dogs (whether it's their dog or an encounter with an unknown dog). They need to understand doggy body language and give canines their space when needed.

Breed Characteristics

A playful dog is a dog with tons of energy. If a dog gets plenty of exercise and is well balanced, it's not depressed or anxious; it's exuberant and eager to please you. Dogs at play are usually well trained, good at recall, and easygoing when socializing with other dogs and people.

Here are 10 of the most exuberant dog breeds that make perfect playmate pups.

  • 01 of 10

    Labrador Retriever

    Labrador running with toy
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    Labrador retrievers are large, goofy dogs that love anything to do with playing. They often love a game of fetch and splashing around in the water. The breed is originally from Newfoundland, bred from a water dog, and was eventually brought to England to work as waterfowl retrievers. They were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1917, quickly stealing the hearts of dog lovers across the nation. Labs are known for being sociable and even-tempered and are a top choice for a family pet.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24.5 inches

    Weight: 55 to 80 pounds

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

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 02 of 10

    Boxer

    A boxer dog with a red ball in its mouth.


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    Muscular and athletic, boxers have a storied history as fighting dogs but have also been lauded for their bravery, intelligence, and loyalty. Working as hunting or guarding dogs, these intelligent canines were also used as couriers. Boxers are a widely sought-after family pet. They love to play, especially with their family. Their generally happy disposition and energetic personality make them a good choice for an active home. These rambunctious dogs are not the best suited for a home with infants or toddlers since they can get overexcited sometimes and knock down new walkers.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 55 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: The coat is short; fawn and brindle are the standard colors, while all-white is typically not recognized by many kennel clubs

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 03 of 10

    Golden Retriever

    Two golden retrievers playing together on the beach.

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    No breed probably typifies an American family dog more than a golden retriever. Big, beautiful golden retrievers have long, flowing blonde or honey-colored fur. They are loyal and intelligent but also goofy and lively. Similar to Labs, they enjoy water play, fetch, and accompanying you everywhere. They are great companions for humans of all ages and get along with most other animals.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 21.5 to 24 inches

    Weight: 55 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length double coat in light to dark gold

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 04 of 10

    Pomeranian

    Pomeranian and a person high fiving.


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    This spitz breed is descended from sled dogs in Iceland and Lapland and is distantly related to big Malamutes and Samoyeds. Queen Victoria had Poms in the late 1800s, which helped them gain popularity in Europe and beyond. If you’re considering a small playful dog, put Pomeranians on your shortlist. Poms are fun-loving, affectionate pups in a small, fluffy package, although they can have a stubborn streak.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, double coat that comes in many colors, though the most common are red, orange, cream, sable, black, brown, and blue

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Australian Shepherd

    An Australian shepherd jumping and catching a ring toy in its mouth.

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    Australian shepherds or Aussies are one of the most athletic dog breeds. These dogs love to run, jump, and play whenever they get the chance. They are exceptionally skilled at agility and playing frisbee, but their innate value lies in herding. Aussies were developed in the United States, where ranchers bred them as livestock herders and farmworkers. The medium-sized Aussie also comes in a smaller size—miniature American shepherds. Be prepared to give this dog a lot of physical and mental stimulation; it will need it for a balanced life.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 18 to 23 inches

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium to long coat in blue merle, red merle, black, or red; all colors may have white markings and/or tan (copper) points

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 06 of 10

    English Springer Spaniel

    English Springer Spaniel laying outside with duck toy in mouth.

    Johnny Scriv / Getty Images

    The English springer spaniel first became popular in Europe in the early 1900s, making its way to America a few years later. Year after year, it's listed in the top 30 most popular list in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club. Friendly, fun, and intelligent, the ESS is a well-rounded breed well suited for an active family. They tend to be kid and pet-friendly and extremely affectionate but be prepared for their high energy level. They're also prone to separation anxiety.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 19 to 20 inches

    Weight: 40 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length flat or wavy, glossy topcoat, and a short, profuse and soft undercoat; ears, legs, and chest often have longer feathering; black or liver with white markings, or the opposite; blue or liver roan are also common; tricolor, which includes black, white and liver or tan markings, can sometimes occur

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 07 of 10

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    A brown and white corgi dog jumping in the air to catch a tennis ball.

    Bryan Miguel / Getty Images

    Pembroke Welsh Corgis are a favorite breed of Queen Elizabeth II. Corgis are small, but they don’t act like it. They are short and stout herding dogs with large bunny-like ears and a short and stubby tail. Corgis are intelligent, active, and loyal dogs that make excellent companions and playmates. This breed can be prone to weight gain and consequent back problems. Keep them engaged with lots of games of fetch.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 24 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium length double coat in black and tan, red, sable, or fawn; all colors are typically seen with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 13 years

  • 08 of 10

    Jack Russell Terrier

    A Jack Russell running in a park
    Brighton Dog Photography / Getty Images

    The Jack Russell terrier originated in England in the 1800s in response to a need for a small but feisty hunting dog that was small enough to pursue foxes in the ground. They are popular family dogs loved for their spunky and intelligent personalities and playful disposition. Be aware that they can be rather noisy. They also have a high prey drive and may not be a good match for homes with small furries.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Terrier (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 15 inches

    Weight: 13 to 17 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short coat that can be smooth or rough; white with black, tan, or brown markings

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 18 years

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    French Bulldog

    A black Frenchie running with a yellow ball in its mouth.

    Sean Levett / Getty Images

    The popularity of the French bulldog has exploded in recent years mainly because of their goofy, fun-loving personalities; they're also intensely loyal. They are in the top five most popular dogs in the U.S. Their unique look with erect ears and wrinkly face has captured the hearts of millions. Their flat faces (boxers, too) can make them prone to respiratory issues and easy overheating. Be particularly careful if you are playing with a brachycephalic dog in the yard during the summer.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 11 to 13 inches

    Weight: 19 to 28 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, smooth coat in brindle, fawn, white, or combination of brindle and white or fawn and white

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 10 of 10

    Portuguese Water Dog

    Portuguese Water Dog swimming

     

    Julia Christe / Getty Images

    If you suffer from allergies but can’t resist owning a dog, you may find a furry BFF in the Portuguese water dog. While no dog is truly hypoallergenic, this medium-sized breed with a fluffy coat does not shed significantly, although regular grooming is recommended to prevent mats. Portuguese water dogs are working dogs that are fun-loving and intelligent, which means they make fantastic active family pets. They get along with all ages and love to romp and play.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Weight: 35 to 60 pounds

    Height:: 17 to 23 inches

    Coat and Color: Wavy or tightly curled; black, black and white, and brown, though coat color may also be white or silver-tipped

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Breeds to Avoid

Although some playful dogs are smarties, there are a few brainy dogs that prefer to remain independent and rather not play a game of fetch. Those breeds may include Akitas, Afghan hounds, and Siberian huskies. Their stubborn, independent streaks might affect their potential as future playmates. These dogs are often task-oriented and driven by their job over their playtime.