Is your family looking for an adorable doggy addition?
Whether your kids are nagging you around the clock or you just want a faithful companion, we’ve got a list of dogs that’ll suit your lifestyle.
Hold up! Before you scroll through our list of best family dogs in Australia, it’s wise to consider the following when choosing a furry friend:
- home set-up. If you live in a small apartment or have a small backyard, then a dog that needs to run will be couped up. Match the dog’s size and personality to your environment;
- maintenance. Do you have the time to brush, wash and trim your pooch? If not, then perhaps look for a short-haired, low maintenance type of dog;
- allergies. All dogs have hair; however, some are less hypoallergenic than others. If your family is susceptible to allergies, then look for a dog who doesn’t shed a lot of hair;
- barking and mischief. Do you live near others or have people in the home sensitive to loud noises? If so, then it’s wise to choose a less ‘yappy’ dog;
- exercise requirements. Are you a fitness fanatic or couch potato? The type of dog you choose should match your habits; otherwise, one of you is going to be unhappy;
- personality. Do you want an energetic dog or a cool, calm and collected customer? It’s wise to match your dog’s personality to your family’s;
- trainability. Some dogs are more trainable than others; consider this when choosing your new furry friend; and
- costs. Do you have the financial means to cover the costs of keeping a dog? Costs include food, bedding, accessories, vet bills, pet insurance and potentially fencing.
- pre-disposition to disease. Every type of dog breed typically has their own pre-disposition to disease and illness. To which, a comprehensive insurance policy would assist in treatment and vet bills.
Have you ticked off the above? Great! Now you’re ready to make an informed decision.
Nine of the best family dogs for your children and lifestyle
1. King Charles Cavalier
Size: Small (five to eight kilograms)
Lifespan: 9-14 years.
Background: A part of the spaniel breed from the UK, King Charles Cavaliers were bred as companion dogs from toy spaniels. Their most distinctive feature is their long floppy ears.
Personality traits: Affectionate, sociable and playful.
Maintenance: King Charles Cavalier has a silky coat of moderate to long length that requires weekly brushing. They’re quite an adaptable dog that can exercise a lot or chill out around the house.
- Friendly and sociable companion
- Good for younger children
- Adaptable; can sit on the couch all day or exercise intensely
- Not a good guard dog
- Prone to separation anxiety
- Require regular maintenance
Fun fact: King Charles II gave them their name. Apparently, he was fond of the breed and had many following his heels throughout the day.1
2. Australian Silky Terrier
Size: Small (four to seven kilograms).
Lifespan: 12-15 years.
Background: The Australian Silky Terrier descends from the Australian Terrier and The Yorkshire Terrier. This breed of dog was historically used for hunting rodents and snakes – so it’s quite curious.
Personality traits: Friendly, curious and joyful.
Maintenance: A small dog that’s highly sociable, the Silky Terrier prefers to live indoors with its human companions. The Silky Terrier’s coat is prone to tangles and matting and needs regular brushing.
- Small and compact companion for the kids
- Happy and energetic
- A great dog for apartment living
- Requires regular grooming and haircuts
- Not the best exercise partner or watchdog
Fun fact: Australian Silky Terriers are highly intelligent and trainable. They also have human-like hair.
3. Fox terrier
Size: Small (six to nine kilograms).
Lifespan: 12-15 years.
Background: Originally from the UK, these playful pooches were bred as hunting dogs. Fox terriers have won more Westminster ‘Best in Show’ titles than any other breed of dog.2 The Scottish Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier are similar breeds.
Personality traits: Energetic, playful and friendly.
Maintenance: There are two breeds – the wire-haired and the smooth-haired Fox Terrier. However, most Fox Terriers have a smooth, dense and short-haired coat that sheds minimal hair. Fox Terriers have bundles of energy and require daily exercise.
- Excellent watchdog
- Willing exercise partner
- Low maintenance
- Need obedience training – or hide your shoes
- Can be a ‘yappy’ dog and bark a lot
- Fearless, often too brave for their own good
Fun fact: English naturalist, Charles Darwin once owned a Fox Terrier.
Size: Small (10-13kg).
Lifespan: 12-14 years old.
Background: The Beagle is an old breed of hound (1,000 years old) from the UK. Their traditional breeding centred around hunting hare and other small animals. The Beagle is also known for its tremendous sense of smell and is an extremely popular pet dog in the US.3
Personality traits: Energetic, friendly and curious.
Maintenance: The Beagle is a short-haired dog that requires minimal maintenance. Beagles need daily exercise due to their inquisitive nature and boundless energy reserves.
- Low maintenance grooming
- Great with the kids
- Energetic and playful
- Monitor diet as they’re prone to obesity
- Can be stubborn when on the scent of something
- Not the best apartment dogs as they can bark frequently
Fun fact: Snoopy (a character from the Charlie Brown comic) is considered the world’s most famous Beagle. Beagle also means ‘loudmouth’ in French.
5. Australian Kelpie
Size: Medium-sized (14-20kg).
Lifespan: 12-15 years.
Background: The Australian Kelpie is a traditional farming dog for the family living on the land. Exported from Scotland in the 1870s, the Kelpie was bred to muster livestock like sheep. The Border Collie and Australian Cattle Dog are similar breeds. Contrary to rumours, the Kelpie has no dingo ancestry.
Personality traits: Hard-working, friendly and intelligent.
Maintenance: For a short-haired dog, Kelpie’s shed quite a lot of hair. However, they are low maintenance overall.
- Loyal and dependable
- Have utility for farmers
- Friendly with kids
- Need exercise and stimulation
- Prone to shed a lot of hair
- A working dog not commonly kept as a pure pet
Fun fact: The Kelpie’s ‘double-coat’ is weather resistant.
6. Australian Bulldog
Size: Medium-sized (23-35kg).
Background: A relative of the British Bulldog, the Australian Bulldog is generally larger, healthier and bred to handle Australian weather conditions. The Australian Bulldog was bred with mostly Boxers and Bull Terriers.
Personality traits: Easy-going, friendly and affectionate.
Maintenance: The Australian Bulldog has a short coat with a smooth texture – an occasional brush will help them shed less hair. However, Bulldogs aren’t notorious shedders.
- Sweet-natured with children
- Minimal need for exercise
- Makes a great mascot
- Slightly shorter lifespan than most dogs
- Doesn’t like water and can overheat in hot weather
- Can be gruesome-looking
Fun fact: As its name suggests, the Bulldog was originally bred to fight and bait bulls.
7. Australian Labradoodle
Size: Small to large (sizes vary).
Lifespan: 12-16 years.
Background: As the name suggests, this dog is a cross between the Labrador Retriever and Poodle. First bred in Australia in the 1980s, the Labradoodle is extremely popular as a service dog and house companion.
Personality traits: Affectionate, friendly and playful.
Maintenance: Australian Labradoodles have fleece coats with either straight or wavy hair. Their coat can become dirty and matted, so regular grooming, bathing and trimming are recommended.
- Relatively easy to train
- Low tendency to bark
- Family-friendly (often used as therapy dogs)
- Can have health troubles, especially with their eyes and hip dysplasia
- Not a very good guard dog because of friendly nature
- Can be high maintenance with grooming requirements
Fun fact: The Labradoodle is a crossbreed (or a hybrid) and doesn’t have status as a ‘true breed’.
8. German Shepherd
Size: Large (25-40kg).
Lifespan: Nine to 13 years.
Background: Bred in Germany in the 1800s for hunting, guarding and herding, the German Shepherd is commonly thought as a ‘guard dog’ or ‘police dog’. World War I introduced these dogs to the rest of the world.
Personality traits: Obedient, confident and watchful.
Maintenance: German Shepherds come in two types; one is short-haired, the other long-haired. Both types will benefit from a daily brush and do shed quite a lot of hair. German Shepherds need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Great watchdog
- Very friendly and good with kids
- Loyal companions
- Require daily exercise and grooming
- Can be destructive if bored and left alone
- Not suitable as an apartment dog
Fun fact: German Shepherd’s make great actors, with ‘Rin-Tin-Tin’ appearing in 27 films – he even has a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’.
9. Labrador Retriever
Size: Large (25-36kg).
Lifespan: 10-14 years.
Background: Labradors could be the most popular pet dog in the world. Originally from Newfoundland, the Labrador is not only a wonderful family pet but also a loyal helper of the visually impaired. Labs traditionally come in three colours – yellow, black and chocolate.
Personality traits: Friendly, affectionate and loyal.
Maintenance: The Golden Retriever requires a weekly brush (they shed a moderate amount of hair) and monthly wash for their glossy coat. They also have plenty of energy, so a daily walk, run or swim is mandatory.
- Sweet-natured with people and kids
- Traditionally thought of as one of the best family dogs in Australia
- Highly intelligent
- Require regular maintenance and daily exercise
- Susceptible to health issues including arthritis
- Shed a lot of hair
Fun fact: Bred initially as a fishing dog, the Labrador Retriever has a waterproof coat.
Great Dane. A large and tall dog originating from Germany.
Whippet. A descendant from the Greyhound.
Bernese Mountain Dog. A working farm dog from Switzerland.
Basset Hound. A pleasant-natured short-legged small-sized hound.
Pomeranian. A small dog classed as a toy dog breed.
Chihuahua. One of the smallest breeds of dog, named after a Mexican state.
What’s your favourite breed of dog? Perhaps we’ve missed a type that you grew up with or admire. The fact is: all dogs are unique and magical.
What happens if your family’s dog gets injured or falls ill?
Getting a new dog is an exciting time, but it’s also a lot of responsibility. And there’s a lot to think about; food, bedding, accessories, fencing – and dog insurance.
If you want some of the vet bills covered, then it’ll pay to compare dog insurance. Use our free online comparison tool to compare options in a convenient side-by-side view.
Just enter your details and preferences, then make an informed decision based on the inclusions and your budget. Discover why it pays to compare!