At our local park, you can tell a lot about families by the kinds of dogs they have. Some parents come with their Pugs and French Bulldogs, who trot happily by their side and then lie down patiently by the benches while the kids hit the swings and slides. Then there are the families whose pets are clearly there to fetch Frisbees and tennis balls, join them on jogs, and supervise soccer games. These dog breeds are great for active families, and both pooches and people couldn't be happier.
Just like us, dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and activity levels. Some were originally bred to be companion pets for royalty, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC) such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pekingese, and Shih Tzu. Their job was primarily to sit on laps and provide love and amusement to their regal owners. Others were bred for stamina, obedience, and other qualities that would make them suitable for helping hunters and farmers.
Romper asked Lauren McDevitt, co-founder of Good Dog (a site that matches potential dog owners to breeders and shelters), to weigh in on the breeds most likely to suit a family looking for a dog who can keep up with their on-the-go lifestyle. One of them might turn out to be your new playmate and best friend.
1. Airedale Terrier
"Not only are Airedale Terriers deeply devoted and distinguished, but they are also an intelligent, multi-talented type of terrier that can do almost any job that is asked of them," says McDevitt. Bigger than other terriers, the Airedale is just as energetic and playful as smaller terrier breeds. They're also a great family dog: The Airedale is gentle with kids, yet a good home protector, according to the AKC. Plus, their short wiry coat is a good match for families with allergy issues.
Behind that tough-looking face and muscular body is a loyal and fun-loving companion. "Boxers are smart and agile, making them easy to train," says McDevitt. "They thrive off of vigorous exercise, so they fit in nicely with families that like to stay active through hiking, camping, swimming, etc." She adds that like the Airedale, Boxers are patient with kids, but won't hesitate to stand up to any threats. However, cautioned the AKC, Boxers are sensitive to extremely hot and cold temperatures. Owners have to guard against chills and overheating during playtime, and keep their pet indoors rather than in a doghouse.
3. English Springer Spaniel
This beautiful birding dog is a terrific companion even if you're not into weekend duck hunts. "A playful people-pleaser, this breed is always eager to join in on any family activities— be it swimming, hiking, or playing fetch," says McDevitt. Gentle training early on is crucial to making the Springer a good pet; fortunately, the breed catches on to commands quickly. The AKC added that this may not be the right dog for you if you're away from home a lot. English Springer Spaniels can become anxious and destructive when they're separated from the family they love.
4. German Shorthaired Pointer
Easy to identify with its solid-brown head and spotted body, the German Shorthaired Pointer takes its sporting-dog status seriously. Families who are hardcore about staying active will find that this pointer breed can easily (and happily) keep up with them. "This friendly, enthusiastic, and eager to please breed thrives on constant exercise and mental stimulation," says McDevitt. Swimming, hiking, or playing fetch are among its favorite activities. The AKC noted that the German Shorthaired Pointer also enjoys agility competitions that let it show off its skills.
5. Irish Setter
"Graceful and good-natured, the Irish Setter is known for their ability to get along with everyone," says McDevitt. The AKC summed up the breed's personality as "rambunctious redheads that are big kids at heart." Bred to track down and flush out birds in the field, Irish setters do just as well retrieving tennis balls or joining the family for a swim in the lake. "They're known to live life to the fullest, and enjoy nothing more than being with their family," adds McDevitt.