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Which Dogs Make the Best Pets? The Top Eight


Nearly 75 million dogs have found a home in the 39 percent of U.S. households that own at least one dog. If you’re thinking of joining this crowd, you’ll be happy to know that owning a pet has been linked to numerous health benefits -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness.

types of dogs

After taking into consideration a dog’s personality, activity needs and your own expectations of owning a pet, only you can determine the best dog for your family.

The tricky part comes in finding the right dog for you, as even though all dogs most certainly evolved from the same relative -- the gray wolf -- they are certainly not all the same.

The dog that will make the best pet for you and your family depends largely on you. Do you have a large space? Time for plenty of exercise? Are you looking for a quiet lap dog or an energetic type to take with you on your morning jog?

As you develop the answer to these types of questions, use a Dog Breed Directory, such as this one from Animal Planet, to find out more about the many different dog personalities out there.

Animal shelters can also help you determine a pet that's right for you (and will often require that large dogs that need to run only be adopted by people with a large, fenced backyard, that puppies and kittens only be adopted by people who will be home to care for them, etc.).

If you, like many families, are simply looking for a dog that will provide excellent companionship, loyalty and love, give the following breeds some consideration.

1. German Shepherd:

These herding dogs were originally used as watchdogs and guard dogs, but they make great dogs for companionship and families as well. They are extremely loyal, intelligent and protective, yet are tolerant of small children. Because they have strong personalities, they do require a strong, assertive owner, along with adequate space to run around (they make great running companions, too).

German Shepherd

2. Labrador Retriever:

Labs are friendly, devoted and obedient. They make excellent family dogs -- they're good with kids and other pets -- are eager to please, and they love to swim and retrieve. Labs are best for active families, as they need daily physical and mental challenges or they can get bored. They also have a strong need to be around their family, and do not do well left alone for long periods. Because labs have so much energy, they may inadvertently knock down a small child.

Labrador Retriever

3. Bichon Frise:

These small, affectionate dogs are lively, easy to train and generally good with children. They are very social and love being with the family. Because of their small size, they only require moderate exercise (such as a vigorous play session), however their coats (thick, curly hair) require professional grooming at least once a month, along with daily brushing to prevent matting.

Bichon Frise

4. Schnauzer:

Schnauzers are bold and lively, with a fun-loving, protective and loyal nature. They will be very devoted to your family and reliable with children, plus they come in three sizes (mini, standard and giant). Because they are clever and somewhat headstrong, they need daily physical and mental exercise to keep them out of trouble.


5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi:

Corgis are quick-witted and active with fun-loving, amiable personalities, They are devoted to family, willing to please and very good with children. Because they were originally bred as herders, they may nip at your heels in play and enjoy a backyard herding session when they can get it.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

6. Poodle:

Poodle’s are extremely intelligent and obedient with playful, energetic personalities. They love to run, swim and retrieve, and are excellent with children. Poodles need a lot of daily interaction including mental and physical exercise, and their coats require regular brushing and/or clipping.

7. Newfoundland:

These dogs are truly gentle giants with sweet temperaments and calm, easygoing personalities. Because of their large size (up to 150 pounds) they need ample room to play both indoors and out, and they also have a tendency to drool.


8. Whippet:

Whippets are devoted and obedient family dogs who love children and are extremely gentle with them. Whippets love to run and play, yet are extremely sensitive physically and mentally. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures or rough, harsh treatment or corrections.


Related Articles

A Very Concise History of Dogs: Is "Man's Best Friend" Our Most Successful Engineering Feat?

The Top 10 Names for Dogs and Cats -- and Some Tips for Naming Pets


The Humane Society of the United States: U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics Top Dog Breeds for Families

Animal Planet: Dog Breed Selector

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