23 Best House Dogs for Your Lifestyle and Home

By Richard Gray

I spent a lot of time doing research both online and by seeking expert opinion to find the best house dogs for you.

In my online research I found that many articles lacked clear information in key areas.

Each breed is broken down into five key areas

 I set out in this post to clarify this by organizing my recommendations.

I broke down each of the breeds into the following:

  • Friendliness with family and children 
  • Exercise needs
  • Training
  • Grooming and shedding
  • Bark level

Here are the 23 best house dog selections.

Smaller Dogs

Poodle
Pug
Maltese
Labradoodle
Shih Tzu
Havanese
Basenji
Yorkshire Terrier
ChiHuaHua
Miniature Schnauzer
Greyhound
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Bichon Frise
Dachshund
French Bulldog

Larger Dogs

Labrador Retriever
Boxer
German Shepherd
Golden Retriever
Bulldog
Collie
Mastiff
Irish Setter

Keep reading to find the best breed for you!

Best House Dogs: Smaller Dogs

Poodle

A poodle is smart, energetic and easy to train.

This is a smart, loving, dog that comes in a small and medium size. They like children and other dogs. They are energetic and enjoy playing games like fetch around the house. 

They are happy inside but they do need a good walk or exercise activity. They can be prone to barking and jumping if they are not walked. 

They like to please and they are easy to train with fun training routines.

Their coat sheds only a small amount, which makes them suited to people with allergies. They do need brushing and grooming often or their coat will become knotted.

 Poodles don’t bark without reason but they have a reputation as yappy dogs. An option is specific bark training.

Pug

The pug is affectionate, and tolerant and suits apartments.

This affectionate breed is a great family dog. They are highly tolerant of young kids and will amuse you and them endlessly. They can be prone to overeating and weight gain, so watch your pug’s diet.

They don’t bark a lot and need little exercise, which makes them suitable for apartment life. 

They love to please their owners and are therefore easy to train. Be careful to use a pleasant tone of voice as they can be hurt by harsh words.  They shed a small amount and don’t need bathing often.

 They bark rarely and have a low volume bark.

Maltese

Maltese are small and gentle but can be stubborn.

Another small, gentle, easy going breed. They are good with small children but should be supervised. They need attention and do like company in the home.

 They don’t require a lot of exercise but they will enjoy a short walk or a regular run around in the yard. 

Training can be a challenge because they can be strong-willed and stubborn. Maltese react well to positive training methods. 

Again, they shed very little but because of their coat, need regular brushing.

 Like the poodle, Maltese can be frequent barkers, but training them out of the habit can be done. [1]

Labradoodle

Energetic, and affectionate with children

A cross between a Labrador retriever and poodle, this is an active, clever and friendly breed. They are affectionate with children and they will be a loyal friend to them.

 The level of exercise needed depends on the mix level of the labrador or poodle in your Labradoodle! On the whole, they are energetic and need plenty of daily exercise. 

They train well but do need training or they will become disobedient.

 Like the poodle they won’t shed much or have a high odor. You should clip their coats every two or three months to avoid tangles.

 They are medium level barkers.

Shih Tzu

This affectionate and independent breed can be difficult to train.

This friendly and affectionate dog has an independent personality. If they are raised with young children they are generally good with them.

 They very much enjoy the indoors, so exercise isn’t top of their needs. A short daily walk and some playtime will be enough.

Their independent nature can mean they are difficult to train.

This toy breed is not prone to shedding, which is happy news for allergy sufferers. They have two coats of hair (an undercoat and top coat), so a good regular brushing is a requirement. 

Shih Tzus can bark a lot. A good idea is to train them out of it with a reward system. Use the command ‘Quiet!’ and when he stops barking, reward him with a treat!

Havanese

Moderate exercise needs, loves the family, trains well

These lively bundles of fun are adaptable and a dream with kids. They love the family set up. They are happy in a house or apartment but do not like to be left on their own for hours.

They have moderate exercise needs, but be careful not to overdo the exercise. They are eager-to-please and will react well to training as long as you don’t scold them.  

Grooming wise they can be a challenge. Brush him daily to get rid of tangles. They shed rarely and it is claimed they are hypoallergenic. [2]

 Their bark level is low.

Basenji

An intelligent, minimal shedding dog that barks rarely

Basenji originate from central Africa. They are unique because they make a yodeling howling sound and bark rarely. They are not known to be especially good with children, only if they have been raised with them.

They do have a tendency to get bored and need a good walk once a day to burn off that energy. 

They are intelligent dogs that can be difficult to train. Training sessions should be short and positive, or they will be bored. You may need to spend time on consistent instruction.  

They are a minimal shedding pooch without any odor. Light grooming is only needed for their hypoallergenic coat.

 Basenji bark rarely.

Yorkshire Terrier

A popular, low-shedding house dog, better with older children

The affectionate Yorkie is a very popular breed in the United States.They are great house dogs, but they are not ideal as pets for young children. They respond more to older children who know how to take care of dogs. 

They are fun and enjoy being around you in the home, though they also enjoy short walks

They are best trained using frequent praise and the reward of a treat rather than harsh commands.

They are low shedding dogs so are great for the allergy sufferers. 

Yorkies are a vocal breed and will bark a lot unless trained out of the habit at an early age.

ChiHuaHua

Ideal for an apartment and senior owners

Loyal to their owner, this small breed is a popular house dog. They are ideal for apartment living due to their small size and love of the indoors. They are a good match for the senior owner. They are not really suited to young children unless they have grown up with them.

They don’t crave too much exercise and are happy to be around your home.

 They are intelligent and have an independent spirit, which can make them a handful to train. 

ChiHuaHuas have two coat varieties and different grooming needs. The short coat variety will need only occasional brushing. The long haired variation will need weekly brushing to rid him of hair tangles. 

They have a surprisingly loud bark and a high bark level. Training can help.

Miniature Schnauzer

A good family dog that loves company, and sheds little

A very affectionate breed that is good with families and around children. 

They love to play and exercise for at least an hour per day. This intelligent, playful dog craves company in the home. They need to be mentally stimulated to drain their boundless energy. 

They learn fast and train well, but keep the training fun or they’ll lose interest. 

They shed minimally, which makes them a good choice for allergy sufferers. Their wiry coat needs grooming about once a week.

 Bark level: high

Greyhound

Calm and gentle loves to run, but loves the comfort of home too!

The greyhound is a gentle dog and great for families. 

They do need regular exercise as they love to run, but they will then enjoy the comforts of home. They need to wear a coat outdoors in a cold climate.

They are a calm breed that is easy to train. 

They are very clean, with a sleek coat that sheds very little. Only occasional grooming is necessary and they have little or no odor. 

Barking level wise, this dog is very quiet.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Great with family children and suited to an apartment

This lovable breed loves to be around people and is a great apartment dog. They are intelligent and affectionate and they are great with the family children. 

They require only light exercise. They do like to be included in your activities and could become stressed if neglected for long periods.

They are people pleasers and train well. 

Their coat is lustrous and does need weekly brushing and occasional trimming. They shed a little in the spring and fall. 

They bark rarely but may do so if left alone.

Bichon Frise

Great with kids and family, happy indoors but like a short walk

This bundle of fun is great with kids and family. 

They will play happily indoors but they also like to have a small walk outside. Beware, they are surprisingly fast! 

They generally train well. 

They are also great for allergy sufferers because of their low shedding. Daily brushing is a great idea and it’s best to clip them monthly.

 Their bark level is low though they will bark for attention, especially if left on their own.

Dachshund

The energetic dachshund enjoys the family but barks often

These energetic dogs love the indoors and enjoy the closeness of the family. If treated well, they are good with children. 

They are energetic and a 20-40 minute walk a day is recommended. 

They can be difficult to train and have a habit of digging. They bark with a strong, low hound sound. 

There are three varieties of dachshund coats: short haired, long haired and wire haired. The short haired and long haired dachshund is a moderate shedder. The long haired can get tangles in his coat so regular brushing is necessary. The wire haired dachshund sheds more.

They bark loudly and often.

French Bulldog

A popular small dog with city folk. They need little exercise

The ‘Frenchie’ is a popular small dog for city-dwellers. They are alert, playful and have an even disposition. They resemble a bulldog but with large pointed bat ears. This affectionate, adaptable breed is happy with families and children. 

They don’t need a lot of exercise, so a short daily walk should suffice. Your Frenchie doesn’t enjoy hot and humid conditions. [3]

 Training can be difficult as they can be stubborn and making a game of training is advisable. 

They shed only a little and a weekly brush is all that’s needed. Do clip their nails as long nails can cause them pain. 

Their bark level is low.

Best House Dogs: Larger Dogs

Labrador Retriever

A popular, affectionate family dog that’s easy to train

A popular and affectionate breed and a great family dog. They are friendly, patient and protective of children.

 They do like some time in the day for play and an hour or so for exercise. Without this, they can become excitable and a bit destructive. 

Labs are easily trainable and like the comfort of home.

Their shed level is quite high and weekly brushing is needed. They can omit a doggy smell. 

They have a medium bark level.

Boxer

High tolerance and energy, barks little but needs a good walk

This scrunchy-faced pooch is an ideal family companion. Boundlessly patient, he will be affectionate and loyal. He loves to play with kids and has high tolerance and energy levels. He will be protective of you and your family. 

They need a good walk every day to burn off energy. Make sure he’s on a lead. He can be aggressive towards other dogs unless he has grown up with them.

Boxers are intelligent so your dog will pick up on your training quickly. He also has an independent streak which can make him intolerant of repetition.  

His coat is short, silky and shiny and he requires brushing only once or twice a week. Boxers are moderate to high shedders.

Most boxers have a low bark level.

German Shepherd

Needs space to run, easily trained, can bark a lot

The German Shepard is intelligent, loyal and protective. This hugely popular breed is great with children and the family. Although they are okay in apartments, they need space to run and play.

 Exercise is a must, so if you’re not prepared for long walks this breed is not for you.

 They are easily trained and will take it as their duty to protect your home. 

They have a thick double coat, so regular brushing is necessary. They also shed a lot. 

They can be wary of strangers and can bark a lot.

 Golden Retriever

Active and obedient, need plenty of exercise

Golden Retrievers are a devoted, eager-to-please breed. They are friendly, great with kids and other dogs. 

They are energetic and active. Make sure they get plenty of exercise every day, or they can be prone to naughty behavior.

 The Golden Retriever is obedient by nature and intelligent. This combination makes them easy to train. 

They shed seasonally and need regular brushing, once a day during shedding. 

They bark only when necessary.

Bulldog

Calm and friendly they shed seasonally and bark little

These wrinkly canines are a wonderful companion for children. They adapt well to the city or country and enjoy family life. They are loyal to their owners and calm and friendly. 

Their energy levels are not very high and they won’t be hassling you for long walks. They do enjoy a trip out and a run around!

 Their demeanor means they can be trained easily.

They shed seasonally and need only weekly brushing. 

They are quiet dogs and bark rarely.

Collie

Very trainable and vocal, need exercise and company

This beautiful breed is intelligent, lively and eager to please. They are good around children.

They have high energy and will need daily exercise to burn this off. After this, they will be happy lounging in your home. They do need attention and can become naughty if they don’t get it. They do not like being left alone.

 They are very trainable.

 Collies have a long beautiful coat that does require time to groom. They shed seasonally. 

They are vocal and like to bark.

Mastiff

Huge, gentle, and loyal to you and your kids

This huge cuddly pal will love your couch and you equally. He’s a loyal, brave addition to the family who’ll love your kids and always be gentle.

 He won’t require that much exercise for such a large dog (American Kennel Club recommends 1-2 mile walks a day). Beware, he may flop down if tired or feeling overheated! 

Training should be made fun, as he can get bored. Make eye contact with him and speak in a gentle tone. 

Grooming should be easy, he sheds only twice a year and a weekly brushing should be enough. 

The mastiff does not bark much, except for a reason. On the downside, they drool a lot and they are loud snorers!

 Irish Setter

Outstanding with kids, loves to bark and needs plenty of exercise

Included in this list has to be the family-loving Irish Setter. You will find him a sweet-natured dog who is great with family and outstanding with children. They love playtime and will play ball all day long with the kids.

 Exercise is a must. The play sessions will help, but they really need a long daily walk. 

He’ll train well in fun reward based training sessions. He’s a happy dog and won’t respond to stern corrections. 

His luxurious red coat needs brushing twice a week. Use a longer comb brush to unknot any tangles. They shed only a little. They do have an oily coat and this can make for a strong body odor.

They have a high bark level and like to join in your conversations! They have a loud bark. 

What to do next?

Be sure to consider carefully before deciding on your breed. While this is by no means a complete list, these choices were made considering friendliness, exercise level, training, grooming, and noise level. Some breeds didn’t make the selection because they were too problematic in these areas.

FAQs

What breed of dog is best for home defense?

The top three dogs for home defense are: Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher and American Bull Terrier.

What is the safest family dog?

If your looking for a safe, playful and protective family dog Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Irish Setters are a good choice. Less active that love to lounge, but are full of love for the family are pugs, Brussels Griffons and French Bulldogs.

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