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10 medium-sized dog breeds that are great for families

Looking for a pup that's just the right fit for your household? Read on for a list of medium dogs that make the perfect pets for families.

Nothing too big, nothing too small — so, you’ve decided that a medium-sized pooch may be the perfect fit for your family.

How big are we talking? Medium-sized usually falls somewhere between 30 to 60 pounds. There are many breeds — not to mention mixed breeds — that could bring that extra spark to your home, so it’s wise to start first by doing your research on all the different varieties, and, of course, making sure your entire family is ready for a pet commitment.

“When choosing the right medium-sized breed for your family, you should consider the temperament, activity level and your lifestyle,” says Brandi Hunter, a spokeswoman for the American Kennel Club (AKC). “It is important to consider the care and needs of any breed you select so that you and your new family member can have a long and happy life.”

Read on for an AKC-approved list of medium-sized dogs that are great for families.

1. Basset Hound

Described as sometimes stubborn but always charming, this hound with little legs was originally bred in France and Belgium and revered for their accuracy sniffing out prey during a hunt. Somewhere along the way, people fell for their personalities.

“This breed is known for its easy-going demeanor,” says Hunter. “Basset hounds are gentle and patient which makes them perfect for children and families.”

Considerations: Moderate exercise (and definitely play) is required to keep a basset happy. Their distinct long and heavy ears require a bit of maintenance. Weekly brushing is also necessary.

2. Bulldog

Anybody could pick that face out of a lineup. The bulldog’s unique appearance makes them stand out but their jolly personalities — courageous, loyal and friendly —  draw people to them.

“Bulldogs have a sweet, gentle disposition which makes them love most children,” says Hunter of the breed hailing from England. “They love people and crave a lot of attention from their families.”

Considerations: While they are friendly and playful, bulldogs can also be a bit stubborn and protective of their families. Additionally, they’re prone to gaining weight, so it’s wise to discuss a healthy diet plan with a veterinarian.

3. Collie

Who doesn’t love Lassie? Just like the lovable, hero pup from the legendary TV show, this breed is intelligent and a natural with children. Long before the dog became a scene stealer, though, this herding breed won the heart of Scotland’s Queen Victoria.

“The majestic collie is among one of the world’s most beloved dog breeds,” Hunter says. “As long as they have sufficient companionship and daily activity including socialization, they are wonderfully well-behaved house dogs.”

Considerations: The AKC says these dogs require regular aerobic exercise, like running and playing. When they get bored, you’ll know it — because they’ll bark! The coats of the two varieties of this breed — smooth and rough — require maintenance. For rough collies, a weekly brushing is recommended. For smooth, regular grooming is recommended and an undercoat brushing during shedding periods.

4. Dalmatian

If you’re a parent, a certain animated movie may have compelled you to take a good look at this breed. Described as bright and loyal, these dogs are also recognized as the companions of firefighters but were actually bred to guard horses and coaches, which is likely where their protective instinct originated.

“Dalmatians range from medium to large, [are] built like a sleek athlete and are usually polite with everyone,” Hunter says.

Considerations: These beauties thrive on human companionship.

“If left alone too long, they can become destructive or they will act depressed,” Hunter says. “They love to be with people and will want to be included in all family activities, whether indoor or outdoor.”

5. Poodle

Who are you calling frou-frou? These dogs are so much more than their memorable hair-dos. Poodles, who hail from Germany but are beloved in France, were developed as retrieving water dogs hundreds of years ago. Their fluffy coat served them well, protecting them from elements. They’re known to be extremely smart, active, people-pleasers when trained correctly.

Considerations: Poodles, who need to be kept busy, should be socialized from a young age to build confidence.

6. Siberian Husky

These sled dogs were developed to work in packs — so, how will they fit into yours? Most tend to enjoy family life, get along well with other dogs and need a lot of exercise to be happy. (They’re working dogs, after all.)

“They are known for being trusting of people, even strangers,” Hunter says. “They also are generally described as friendly and gentle but also alert and outgoing, which means most huskies are eager to play with children and are instinctively gentle in doing so.”

Considerations: A dog like this could fit really well into a household that has little time for grooming, as they’re said to be naturally clean with little doggy odor. They only require a few baths a year, although weekly brushings are recommended.

7. Australian Shepherd

These devoted dogs with a sporty streak will want to herd for you, whether it’s dogs, birds or kids! That means they require a family of zero couch potatoes. (Take a long, hard look at your habits, and make sure there’s enough activity for a canine like this.)

They also want to be close to their humans “whether sitting on a foot or leaning against a leg,” Hunter says. “Their strong love of play and gentle nature that prevents their play from ever getting rough makes them excellent with children. They have excellent guarding instincts and a strong sense of loyalty to their families.”

Considerations: Two words: High. Energy. A large fenced-in yard is recommended, and so are hikes. Weekly brushing will keep their coat looking nice.

8. Samoyed

Sammies, as they’re called, sound like the total package: friendly, beautiful, clever and always smiling. These working sled dogs just want to be around people, which is why they’ll fit in well with a family. But leave them alone in the back yard with no humans to hang with and they’ll be miserable, the AKC says, not to mention destructive.

“Samoyeds are a smart, social and mischievous dog who are extremely loyal and seeks approval and attention from its humans,” Hunter says. “If not trained properly, the Samoyed can become demanding, as they always like to have a job to do.”

Considerations: Definitely consider that these pups really need to be an integral part of this family of yours. (Are you ready for that?) They also shed a lot — even more so during what’s called shedding season — so imagine how you might feel about white fluff accumulating in the corners of your home. Daily brushing is recommended.  

9. Whippet

An animal that likes to stretch out and relax for long hours after exercise — that sounds like some cats we know (minus the exercise part). We’re referring to the habits of a Whippet, which looks a bit like a greyhound, only a bit smaller. The AKC says these pups are good for city folk because they rarely bark and are relatively low-maintenance.

“This lovable companion is an athletic breed, capable of great speed, but does not need long periods of exercise,” says Hunter. “They love a fenced-in yard but do well in cozy apartments.”

Considerations: Running is in their DNA, so be prepared for lots of fetch or other forms of play on the regular. Weekly brushing and occasional baths are recommended, as are regular checks of their ears which are infection-prone.

10. Labrador Retriever

We all know these medium-to-large-sized dogs are favorites of families. That’s because they’re known for being friendly, enthusiastic and up for just about anything — swimming, fetch, dress-up, you name it, they’re game! Originating in Newfoundland, Canada, as duck and fish retrievers, they apparently caught the eye of visiting Englishmen, who brought them home and told all their friends. (The AKC says the link to Canadian province of Labrador is fuzzy.)

Considerations: These strong dogs are as loyal as they come, require lots of exercise and benefit from training when they’re young as a way to instill good manners. (Watch or read “Marley & Me,” and you’ll understand why.) Occasional baths and brushing are recommended.