When searching for the right dog to add to your family, your first instinct might be to bring home a tiny little thing that your kids can cradle in their laps. But we're here to remind you that the best dog for you may be a larger breed.
Big dogs like Labrador Retrievers and Saint Bernards can become a child's protector, adventure buddy and best friend. Check out our photo gallery to see nine large breeds that can be good for families.
As the brainiac of the canine kingdom, the Border Collie can never have too many hobbies. She's a breed who lives to work, which means you can even teach her cool tricks to help with household chores! Like many herding breeds, you'll have to make sure she doesn't attempt to herd children and other small animals. It's in her nature, but if you see it happening and can redirect her to a new (and more interesting) activity, the behavior will stop.
Many families may overlook the Standard Poodle because they think of him as a prissy dog, but this breed is smart, active and can be trained to play with kids. Just make sure that everyone in the family is on board with a grooming routine; Poodles need to be clipped every six to eight weeks, plus regular brushing at home.
Affectionately referred to as the "40 mph couch potato," the sleek Greyhound can keep up with even the fastest kids on the school track team. She's a great choice for families looking to adopt a canine, as there are plenty of ex-racing Greyhounds looking for homes. Once she meets her surprisingly low exercise quota, she's content to lounge on the couch with you for the rest of the day. Greyhounds typically weigh 50 to 70 pounds, and sometimes even more, but their gentle demeanor makes them a quiet presence in the home.
Who could ever forget Nana, the enormous Newfoundland nursemaid in Peter Pan? Although fictional, she perfectly exemplifies the giant breed's often gentle demeanor and life-saving instincts. The Newfie is very devoted to and protective of his family, which is why he needs plenty of socialization early in life to make sure he doesn't become too suspicious of new people and situations.
The Briard isn't nearly as popular as some of the other family-friendly breeds on this list, but her devoted fans call her "a heart wrapped in fur." This is a French guard dog who takes her responsibility to her family and home very seriously — and that goes double for children. Proper training and socialization are necessary to keep her protectiveness from crossing the line into aggression.
You probably haven't heard of this ancient Italian hunting breed, but the Spinone Italiano makes a great companion dog for active families, especially ones who enjoy hiking and camping. Spinoni Italiani (that's the plural form) take their sports seriously — whether that's hunting, agility, flyball, rally, obedience or anything else — but with training, can be docile and gentle with children. Just be sure that they're ready for a wet dog beard in their lap!
We couldn't possibly leave out one of the most quintessential canine protectors: the Saint Bernard. This massive dog is known for her history of rescuing stranded travelers in the Swiss Alps. A full-grown Saint Bernard weighs 130 to 180 pounds, big enough that a little supervised roughhousing with the kids isn't going to hurt her. However, that size means she's also able to accidentally topple a toddler, so you'll need to be careful with that. Those who love her can attest that the Saint Bernard's big heart perfectly matches her big size.