The Best Medium-Sized Dogs for Families

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·10 min read

Congrats! Your kids convinced you to get a puppy (or maybe vice versa?). It’s time to research breeds well-suited for kids, active family life and commands like, “No begging at the table!” The thing is, puppies—like kids—don’t stay puppies forever. You don’t want to find yourself in a Goldilocks-type situation with a dog too big to fit comfortably in your condo or too small to enjoy regular playtime with the fam. Finding a dog that’s just right for your family, both in size and personality, is important to everyone’s happiness. Our advice? Go for a medium-sized breed.

Perhaps the best thing about focusing on medium-sized dogs is that there are so many options. Tons of breeds fall into the “medium” category, which has a fairly broad range. There’s wiggle room for these figures, but generally, dogs weighing between 20 and 65 pounds, and standing between 8 and 27 inches tall are considered medium size.

Questions to ask yourself before bringing home a dog

Beyond the standard pre-dog questions about exercise requirements and potential health issues, think about conditions unique to your family. For instance, consider whether you’re going to want to be able to pick up your dog or not. Will the dog be at eye level to your kids when he’s fully grown? Taller? How hectic are your weeknights? Weekends? Plus, the amount of space you’ve got to offer your dog (inside and out) will also determine the best breed for your situation.

When it comes to temperament, a family dog has to be friendly, obedient and happy around children. Some breeds fulfill these requirements more easily than others, though every dog is different. A bad experience with kiddos in the past could make these relationships tricky for a rescue dog, even if her breed usually likes kids. But for the most part, the medium-sized breeds on this list can’t get enough of family fun time.

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1. Collie

Height: 22 - 26 inches

Weight: 50 - 75 pounds

Collies are notorious for their kid-friendliness and showing affection to children. They learn quickly (a solid combination of intelligence and a desire to please) and love running around with their companions. If they get bored, they tend to bark, so include collies in as many activities as possible.

2. American Staffordshire Terrier

Height: 17 - 19 inches

Weight: 40 - 70 pounds

These pups are so trainable and energetic, Hollywood uses them frequently in films. In a family setting, they’re sure to contribute the same happy-go-lucky personality with a healthy dose of loyalty. If you’re planning on getting more dogs, however, think about a different breed. AmStaffs (as they’re called) tend to get aggressive with other canines. But, boy do they love their people!

3. Boykin Spaniel

Height: 14 - 18 inches

Weight: 25 - 40 pounds

In a more mellow household, the Boykin spaniel will feel right at home. These dogs are sweet-natured and unafraid to show affection. After a healthy run around the block, they’ll happily trot home to sleep or head out for a hike, depending on what their families want.

4. Border Collie

Height: 18 - 22 inches

Weight: 30 - 55 pounds

Yes, getting a dog is a lot like having another kid, but this is especially true of border collies. These pups are balls of energy and need tons of attention (and exercise), so a larger family with active kids may be better suited to meet these needs. Obedience is not a problem for these dogs, which is a good thing, so train commands early.

5. Brittany

Height: 17 - 21 inches

Weight: 30 - 40 pounds

This is a glass-half-full kind of dog. Brittanys are genuinely upbeat animals who were bred to hunt, so are eager for outdoor time. They’re also extraordinarily amicable, which is obvious after one look into their sweet, puppy dog eyes.

6. Bulldog

Height: 14 - 15 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

Bulldogs are thick teddy bears, ready and willing to follow their families anywhere, be it a city apartment or countryside manor. Always up for friendly games and lazy naps, these charming dogs need enough exercise to stay healthy but don’t require intense excursions beyond the dog park.

7. Chow Chow

Height: 17 - 20 inches

Weight: 45 - 70 pounds

For a family with younger kiddos, a less hectic schedule or a city zip code, a Chow Chow could be the perfect match. These lovable lumps have cat-like tendencies and enjoy lounging alongside their favorite humans. They make great watch dogs as they tend not to trust strangers (which also means training early is crucial).

8. Dalmatian

Height: 19 - 24 inches

Weight: 45 - 70 pounds

Dalmatians are strong dogs who aren’t afraid to protect their loved ones. They are instinctively vigilant and affectionate. This pup will be just as happy going for long walks with you and your babies in a stroller as she will be going on more rigorous jogs or hikes. Positive reinforcement works best during training.

9. English Springer Spaniel

Height: 19 - 20 inches

Weight: 40 - 50 pounds

With long, droopy ears and big eyes, these dogs will have you and your family wrapped around their fingers—er, paws. That’s not to say they’re mischievous! These pups genuinely want to spend time with you and will (politely) let you know. They’re smart and love to please, so obedience training is a cinch.

10. Finnish Spitz

Height: 15 - 20 inches

Weight: 20 - 35 pounds

With their pointy ears and orange hue, Finnish Spitz pups look like little foxes! They have as much—if not more—energy, too. They are happy dogs who don’t like to be without their people, but can be wary of strangers, which makes them keen watch dogs. Get ready for plentiful trips to the dog park or playtime in the backyard, as these canines love to run.

11. Pyrenean Shepherd

Height: 15 - 21 inches

Weight: 15 - 30 pounds

This shepherd comes in two varieties: smooth-faced and rough-faced. Both versions are lively and agreeable, ready to learn a new game or follow you wherever you may go. As they’re named after the mountain ranges in which they’ve herded sheep for centuries, don’t leave your Pyrenean Shepherd at home when you’re out at soccer games, family picnics or camping trips. They’re eager for activity!

12. Samoyed

Height: 19 - 24 inches

Weight: 35 - 65 pounds

Just as you’re the alpha dog in your household (aka The Boss), so must you be while training a Samoyed. These lovable, gentle creatures have an independent streak, but have been bred to be unflinchingly loyal to their companions once trained. They’re super social and enjoy meeting new people (and babies).

13. Standard Schnauzer

Height: 17 - 20 inches

Weight: 30 - 50 pounds

“Must love kids” might be the title of every Standard schnauzer’s autobiography. These dogs live for youthful affection and backyard games of tag or fetch. Loyal to the bone and smart as a whip, don’t leave this pup alone in the yard too long, or he’ll take it personally.

14. Vizsla

Height: 21 - 24 inches

Weight: 44 - 60 pounds

A stunning, rust-colored dog, the congenial Vizsla needs lots of brain and body stimulation. Get out and toss a ball around! Teach this dog new tricks! Be sure to train early, as they like learning but can develop bad habits if not taught how to behave ASAP.

15. Welsh Springer Spaniel

Height: 17 - 19 inches

Weight: 35 - 55 pounds

This breed has been around for a long time and couldn’t be happier about it. Give ’em something to chase or a family to entertain, and they’re good to go. Welsh springer spaniels get along with other dogs and people of all ages. They also have waterproof coats, so bonus points if you live in a rainy climate.

16. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Height: 17 - 21 inches

Weight: 35 - 50 pounds

With an almost dignified expression, these dogs are alert, outgoing and ready for whatever the day brings. They’ve got lots of energy and affection to spare. Include kids in training sessions with Tollers, as they tend to try to outwit you, and the more you reward and reinforce their good behavior, the better behaved they’ll be.

17. Australian Kelpie

Height: 17 - 20 inches

Weight: 25 - 46 pounds

Super smart, with a seemingly endless supply of energy, Australian kelpies appreciate having a job to do or orders to follow. On the flip side, they are also game for a nap or relaxing movie night when the family is ready to calm down. Ideally, you’ve got a yard for them to run around in.

18. Barbet

Height: 19 - 25 inches

Weight: 35 - 65 pounds

Talk about a fluffy dog! Barbets have a curly, springy coat perfect for snuggling up against. They are calm for the most part, but make sure they wear themselves out with daily exercise, too. This agreeable breed is a huge fan of water, so if you live near a lake or ocean, consider upping the canine factor on your family trips to the beach (Barbets will feel really left out if you leave them at home).

19. Icelandic Sheepdog

Height: 16 - 18 inches

Weight: 25 - 30 pounds

On the smaller side of the medium-sized dog category sits the cute, curious Icelandic sheepdog. Similar to a Finnish Spitz, these pups have pointy ears and smiling faces. Always up for playtime, these dogs enjoy meeting new friends—both canine and human—so growing families take note.

20. Small Munsterlander Pointer

Height: 20 - 21 inches

Weight: 40 - 60 pounds

Dedicated to her family through thick and thin, the Small Munsterlander Pointer loves socializing and sees herself as a true member of the group. That said, they were bred to hunt and need lots of outdoor time. City living might not be the best environment, though ample jogs outside or dog park playdates could suffice.

21. Working Kelpie

Height: 15 - 25 inches

Weight: 28 - 60 pounds

If you’ve got a wide variety of dispositions in your family already, a working kelpie may be best suited for your crew. These pups know how and when to crank things up and tone things down. Embracing children and other pets comes naturally to these canines, but be sure to give them some mental stimulation in addition to physical exercise.

22. Siberian Husky

Height: 20 - 24 inches

Weight: 30 - 60 pounds

If you’ve always wanted a giant Alaskan malamute but don’t have the space, look no further than the friendly Siberian husky. These dogs are fluffy balls of fun who retain their pack mentality (which means the more the merrier).

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