10 of the Easiest Dogs To Add To Your Family

the best family dogs illustration

Treehugger / Ellen Lindner

There are a lot of different kinds of dogs, and some are easier to incorporate into your family than others. Some breeds are easier to train, friendlier, and more playful, while others shed less or like to loaf around. Whatever traits you’re looking for, our mantra is that rescue dogs are the best dogs. Every dog is different, but you may want to look for a pup with some of the DNA of one of these dogs in the mix.

Ready to bring a dog into your life? Here are 10 of the easiest dogs to add to your family.

Millions of pets (including many purebreds) are available to be adopted from shelters. We always recommend adoption as a first choice. If you've decided to buy a pet from a breeder, be sure to choose a responsible breeder, and always avoid puppy mills.

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Labrador Retriever

yellow Labrador retriever sitting in green grass

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There's a reason the Labrador retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the U.S. for more than two dozen years. The breed is "famously friendly" and is good around people and other dogs. With their easygoing personality, Labs tend to bond with all members of the family.

The Labrador retriever temperament is friendly, active, and outgoing. They're playful, energetic, and smart dogs that are also charming and eager to please.

These good-natured and friendly dogs come in three colors: yellow, black, and chocolate. They are sturdy, medium-sized, and relatively easy to train. Labs do have a lot of energy, so they require plenty of exercise and long, daily games of fetch.

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A black standard poodle sitting in grass with its tongue out

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The poodle is intelligent, easy to train, and incredibly athletic. Because they're smart and versatile, they excel in agility, sports, and obedience competitions. The breed comes in three sizes — standard poodle, miniature poodle, and toy poodle — so there's sure to be a model that fits every family. Their popular curly coats come in an assortment of colors including white, black, and apricot.

Poodles have a relatively nonshedding coat, so they are popular with people who suffer from allergies. In fact, they are so popular that the poodle is often crossed with other breeds, resulting in designer hybrids like goldendoodles (golden retriever), Labradoodles (Labrador retriever), schnoodles (schnauzer), sheepadoodles (Old English sheepdog), and whoodles (soft-coated wheaten terrier).

One downside to a nonshedding coat is that poodles usually need grooming and clipping every four to six weeks.

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Golden Retriever

Smiling face of a golden retriever at the beach with the ocean behind it

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Like its relative the Labrador, the golden retriever is also one of the most popular dogs in the U.S. The breed is known for its friendly, happy nature and how quickly and easily it takes to training. That's why golden retrievers often excel as service and guide dogs and perform well in competitive events. Thanks to their playful and energetic nature, they also need daily exercise.

If there's a downside to these good-natured pooches, it's their tendency to shed. The AKC points out that although they shed their thick coat heavily once or twice a year, they continue to lose hair year-round, requiring at least weekly grooming.

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Goldendoodles and Labradoodles

A black labradoodle standing on a path of fallen leaves

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A cross between several of the friendliest dogs on this list, it's not surprising that these doodles would also be popular, easy pets. Goldendoodles are mixes between golden retrievers and poodles, while Labradoodles are crosses between poodles and Labrador retrievers.

Although people with allergies often opt for doodle breeds hoping to get the low-shedding coat of the poodle, genes can be unpredictable. However, overall the doodles tend to have pleasant dispositions as a result of their genetic combinations and make good family dogs. Most need regular clipping and grooming, whether they are allergy-friendly or not.

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Papillon sitting in a grassy field of yellow flowers

Enna8982 / Shutterstock

If you're looking for a pint-size playmate, the papillon dog breed is a happy choice. Unlike some other tiny breeds, they're outgoing and not shy or aggressive. Papillons love kids, so they make great family pets.

Papillons have a reputation for being incredibly easy to train, and they excel in obedience events. They have long, silky coats, but shed very little and don't require frequent grooming. Plus, they have irresistible butterfly ears. 

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A brown and white boxer sitting upright with its paws outstretched on grass

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The boxer is one of the AKC's top picks for first-time dog owners. Boxers are protective and love to be with their people — including children — so they make a great family pet.

Boxers have a happy and playful temperament. They're also athletic and fun with a lot of energy. Proper training and exercise are important to raising a healthy and happy boxer. They particularly enjoy racing around the backyard and playing a lively game of fetch. The other good news? With their slick coats, boxers need very little grooming.

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Bichon Frise

white bichon Frise standing on a grassy field looking up

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These cute little dogs were originally bred to be companions, so it's no wonder they typically love everyone. 

The bichon frise is only somewhat active: It needs an average amount of exercise, but is content to just hang out most of the time. The bichon responds well to training and loves to show off what it has learned. 

One of the most popular things about the bichon frise is the hypoallergenic nature of its curly coat. Because the dog sheds very little, the breed is a popular choice for people with allergies. However, that pretty coat does require some significant care beyond daily brushing. You can learn to do it yourself, but it's probably easiest to take your pup to the groomer every four to six weeks.

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Boston Terrier

brown and white Boston terrier sitting on a small patch of grass and flowers looking up

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These people-oriented pups are friendly and funny, always looking to charm their families. Nicknamed "the American gentleman" for its impeccable manners, the cute Boston terrier is considered relatively laid back and easy to train. 

The Boston's coat is short and smooth, so it doesn't require much grooming. The activity level depends on the individual dog, but many are happy being couch potatoes the majority of the time as long as they're with their people.

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Shih Tzu

A tan and white shih tzu laying in a grassy field with its paws outstretched

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Originally bred to be the companions of Chinese royals, these friendly lap warmers are pint-sized snugglers. They love to be cuddled and would have no problem spending all day just hanging out curled up in a lap.

They're known to be especially good with children and can adapt to pretty much any size environment. They'll wander around a huge backyard, but they are fine with apartment or condo living because they don't require a ton of exercise.

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An alert black, tan, and white beagle standing in a field

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Initially popular as hunting companions, beagles are a loyal and friendly family pet. These compact hounds weigh under 20 pounds and have a smooth coat. Beagles have an agreeable nature, are quite trainable, and respond well to positive reinforcement.

Bred as pack animals, beagles are at their best when they are with their human companions. These dogs have an abundance of energy and require daily exercise and playtime. Due to their instinctive hunting behavior, beagles must always be walked with a leash so they don’t run off to follow an interesting scent.

Why Pets Matter to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.

View Article Sources
  1. Ownby, Dennis, and Christine Cole Johnson. "Recent Understandings Of Pet Allergies". F1000research, vol 5, 2016, p. 108. F1000 Research Ltd, doi:10.12688/f1000research.7044.1