Category Archives for Breeds

Banned Dogs In Australia – The Restricted & Illegal Breeds

Banned Dogs In Australia -
 The Illegal & Restricted Breeds

Every dog has the potential to be happy, healthy and well-behaved. It’s what our entire philosophy is about from our canine care articles to our YouTube channel. And yet, it’s sad to say that there are banned dogs in Australia. Today we’ll discuss those illegal dog breeds in detail. We’ll cover each of the breeds, why they are banned and the penalties for owning them.

We don’t agree with banning dog breeds because it’s the product of humans that create dangerous dogs. But keep reading to find out what you need to know about this controversial issue.

Why Are Dog Breeds Banned in Australia? (or anywhere!)

When wolves started to be moulded by humans into domesticated pets, we created a system. A system that we use to optimise almost everything in the natural world for our benefit. We bred dogs to help us toil the fields. We bred dogs to help us travel across icy plains. We bred them to be cute and friendly, as part of the family. Unfortunately, this also led to breeding dogs for more nefarious purposes.

Certain breeds were bred to be fighting dogs for sport. Dogfighting is also known as blood sports in veterinary circles. It’s said to have started as early as the Roman Empire.

“When the Romans invaded Britain in 43 A.D., both sides brought fighting dogs to the battlefield for the seven years of warfare that followed. The Romans may have won the war, but the British dazzled the victors with the ferocity of their dogs, which were far more battle-ready than their Roman counterparts.” - Monica Villavicencio, NPR. (1)

From here, the most aggressive dogs were bred to become more aggressive, settling into distinct breeds. These breeds were then associated with dangerous behaviour for life. Along the centuries, they gained traits that made them more attractive as fighting dogs. Examples include muscular bodies, large teeth and fast actions.

But what does this have to do with banning dogs in Australia?

All countries were affected by dog fighting and it still happens today. It’s long been part of the abuse of animals and is a multi-million dollar sport. There are prize pools of up to $700,000 for certain dog fighting championships in Australia. (2)

The five breeds that we’ll discuss later in the article are the prime candidates for dogfighting. These breeds garnered their reputations and origins in the Roman Empire and have been mired by violence, abuse and misunderstanding ever since.

The laws to protect animals from abuse and ban these dog breeds only came into effect in the 1990s. These breeds are federally banned but each state has a different legislature regarding them too.

The reason they are banned is to prevent their further abuse by humans.

What is a Restricted Dog Breed?

According to Australian law, it is illegal to import any of the dog breeds that we’ll mention in the next section. However, if you already own one, it is permitted under certain strict guidelines.

The guidelines differ from state to state but the overarching definition of restricted dog breeds in Australia is:

“pure or cross-bred:

  • American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers)
  • Perro de Presa Canarios (or Presa Canario)
  • Dogo Argentinos
  • Japanese Tosas
  • Fila Brasileiros.

Restricted breed dogs have not attacked a person or animal or displayed signs of aggression. However, they are considered a higher risk to community safety than other breeds of dogs.” (3)

If you own a restricted dog breed, you will need to declare them as such to the local council. Then you may be subject to the following requirements depending on the state (3):

  1. Obligatory desexing - spaying/neutering to prevent the breeding of the dog
  2. Obligatory microchipping
  3. Formal identification with a red and yellow collar - this is obligatory in some states to be able to identify a restricted breed as registered, checked, desexed, microchipped and formally sanctioned by the local council.
  4. Warning signs must be clearly showcased to let others know that a restricted dog breed is on the premises.
  5. Housing must be secure both indoors and outdoors to prevent escape. Your dog must not be off a lead during walks at any time, under any circumstance.
  6. The dog must be muzzled and leashed when outside their premises.
  7. The council must be notified within 24 hours if:
    • The dog goes missing
    • The dog changes ownership
    • The owner’s address changes
    • The place where the dog is kept changes
    • The municipality of the dog changes as they may be subject to different regulations in different states
  8. Prohibition of selling, giving away or trading the dog except if the owner dies or if the owner gives the dog to the council pound or local animal shelters

5 Dog Breeds Banned In Australia

So what dogs are banned in Australia and why? Below is a little character profile of each dog breed. It’s important to note that crossbred breeds are also prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act. So any mixes of these breeds also need to be declared as restricted dog breeds.

1. Pitbulls

American Pitbull

AKA American Pitbull Terriers are quite famous as seemingly dangerous dogs. But it didn’t start out that way! Originally bred in the US, Pitbulls were farm dogs, helping their owners toil the land because of their stocky stature and strength. Eventually, they were also seen as good “nanny” dogs because they were so friendly and gentle with children. (4)

Yes really! Pitbulls are naturally sweet, loving, gentle dogs with warm dispositions. Their strength made them apt for fighting but it is humans that make them into ferocious killers. That’s not their nature at all.

The strength of Pitbulls makes them good competitors for weight pulling and agility. Their intelligence makes them very obedient dogs too.

It’s incredibly sad that these wonderful traits of the lovely Pitbull Terrier are so often turned against them to become vicious fighters.

Are Pitbulls illegal in Australia? Yes, they are restricted dog breeds. But if they are raised with plenty of love and care, there is no reason to fear them.

2. Perro de Presa Canario

Perro de Presa Canario

AKA Presa Canarios were working dogs too. Their strong stature and independent minds made them prime candidates for herding cattle. They tend to be suspicious with strangers but overall, very doting and calm with family members. They can come across as aloof to other humans outside of the family circle.

They are naturally wary of other dogs but this is likely a symptom of being bred as fighting dogs for so many years. They are protective of their families and are often used as guard dogs.

However, like all dogs, they have the capacity to be calm and playful at home in comfortable, safe surroundings. (5)

AKA Presa Canarios were working dogs too. Their strong stature and independent minds made them prime candidates for herding cattle. They tend to be suspicious with strangers but overall, very doting and calm with family members. They can come across as aloof to other humans outside of the family circleThey are naturally wary of other dogs but this is likely a symptom of being bred as fighting dogs for so many years. They are protective of their families and are often us as guard dogs.However, like all dogs, they have the capacity to be calm and playful at home in comfortable, safe surroundings. (5)3. Japanese Tosa

Japanese Tosa

AKA Tosa Inus are gentle but protective dogs by nature. They need a firm hand to obedience train them correctly as they can be aggressive and wilful without proper guidance. If they are socialised properly, they will still likely be a little cold and aloof with strangers but joyful and warm at home.

They are quite good with children and other pets if socialised well from puppyhood. They are very strong and vocal dogs which is why many find them good guard dogs. Note: when I say good guard dog I mean they provide a good warning system. Not that they will attack strangers, A well adjusted Tosa is quite welcoming or at worst apathetic to strangers. But they have a commanding, deep bark and large stature that deters intruders. Their even temperament means that they are generally calm at home. They just have a natural will to protect and serve their owners. (6)

4. Dogo Argentinos

Dogo Argentinos

Dogo Argentinos, with their characteristic bright white coats and black/pink noses, are adorable, loving pets. It’s such a shame that their breed has been tarnished by abuse in the dogfighting industry.

With a stocky build, the Dogo Argentino was bred as a pack-hunting dog. (7) They are loyal, obedient and extremely affectionate dogs to everyone’s great surprise!

They are very athletic with a muscular build. They tend to be quite tall and fast on their feet.

Powerful, alert, graceful and playful. Dogo Argentinos love kids and other pets alike.

When bred to be fighting dogs, they are extremely menacing and dangerous. When raised to be happy and healthy, they are wonderful family dogs.

5. Fila Brasileiros

Brazilian Mastiff

These mighty Brazilian dogs were bred as game hunters and working dogs before the dogfighting world coopted them.

This breed is similar to the Tosa and Presa Canario in that they need a firm hand when being raised correctly. They need an authoritative pet parent that will shape them into a model canine citizen. (8)

With that guidance, they become great companions. Probably not ideal for children or other small pets. However, they can be devoted, protective, warm members of the household.

Honourable Mentions - Illegal Dog Breeds in Australia

The five breeds above are the main breeds that are banned/restricted in Australia. However, there are a couple of breeds that are worth mentioning as they do have some restrictions around them too.

Cane Corso

Cane Corso Australia laws are somewhat difficult to decipher. They are not technically illegal though they are deemed to be dangerous dogs. The reason they are no longer banned legally is that there are so few of them. They are restricted from being imported into Australia and there are roughly 20 of them left in the whole country.

The truth is (you’ll see the pattern here) they are super lovey-dovey, warm dogs. Highly trainable and obedient, they can be moulded into model citizens or ferocious killers. Therein lies the problem.

Strong and mighty protectors of their families, they are cool and calm on the outside, soft and playful on the inside. (9)


Australia has a strict ban on the importation of breeds that are crossed with wild wolves. (10)

These include:

  • Czechoslovakian wolfdog or Czechoslovakian Vlcak
  • Lupo Italiano or Italian wolfdog
  • Kunming wolfdog or Kunming dog
  • Saarloos wolfdog or Saarloos wolfhound

The reason is that they are not recognised as fully domesticated.

Staffordshire Terriers

Staffordshire Terriers are completely legal in Australia. You’ll know Staffys as the playful, bubbly dogs that most Pitbulls and Dogo Argentinos and Can Corsos never get to become.

Related: The Staffy Breed Profile.

That said, they look very similar to some of the breeds on the banned list. So you may be asked by local council officials to prove the heritage of your dog if they suspect that they are a cross with a restricted breed.

What Are The Consequences of Keeping a Restricted Dog Breed in Australia?

Keeping a restricted dog breed is not an offence in itself. If you fail to register them with the local council and follow the strict laws they set for you, you may face fines or jail time. The punishment varies depending on the state you live in Australia so do consult your local council for the most updated information.

If your dog kills someone, you as the owner can face up to 10 years in prison. If your dog injures or endangers someone’s health, you could face up to 5 years in prison.

If you have been sold a restricted dog breed without your knowledge, you can report the breeder to the local council as an offence. Your purchase of the dog is also eligible for compensation under consumer rights laws in your state.

Final Thoughts: Is it Bad To Ban Dog Breeds?

The “dangerous dog” debate has continued ever since dog banning became a popular practice worldwide in the 1990s and early 2000s. Of course, there are some very high profile cases of these types of breeds making or killing children and adults that have made the issue more pressing.

However, as the advancement of veterinary science continues, the more vets are rallying against dog breed bans in Australia and elsewhere.

"The truth about breed-specific legislation is that it doesn't work, you don't decrease the number. In fact, you send the breeding of that particular breed of dog underground," - RSPCA Victoria president Hugh Wirth ABC News. (11)

As we discussed earlier, dogfighting is still happening in Australia with devastating effects on the dog-owning community. These dogs don«t have a chance to be warm, loving family pets because they are forced underground, doomed to abuse.

On the other hand, many argue that banning these dog breeds allows for greater classification of the breeds and eventual reduction in numbers. There is great debate around that but, for example, Cane Corso are pretty rare in Australia and that is because of years being on the restricted dog breed list. So much so, they aren’t a perceived threat anymore.

You can probably tell this writer’s opinion. I see the good in every dog having reformed a formerly dangerous dog myself. My German Shepherd, Max, was a battered, bruised, aggressive dog after years of neglect. After much rehabilitation, he became a calm, joyful dog that barely raised an eyebrow to strangers. Yes, it was quite aloof to those he didn’t deem part of his “pack” but his calm and gentle nature made him a wonderful member of the family.

It’s not a breed’s fault that humans abuse them. That’s the humble opinion of this writer and the Gentle Dog Trainers team. But we relish debate so let us know what you think in the comments! 


  1. Villavicencio, M. July 19, 2007. “A History of Dogfighting”. NPR. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  2. Coe, C. September 19, 2019. “$700,000 prize pools, 150 illegal syndicates and secret underground networks: Inside Australia's brutal dog fighting rings undeterred by attempts to bring them to justice”. Daily Mail. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  3. “About restricted breed dogs”. Animal Welfare Victoria. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  4. “American Pit Bull Terrier”. DogTime. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  5. “Perro de Presa Canario”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  6. “The Purebred Tosa”. Dog Breed Info. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  7. “Dogo Argentino”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  8. Brown, J. March 10, 2022. “Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff): Breed Profile”. The Spruce Pets. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  9. “Cane Corso”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  10. “Prohibited dog and cat breeds in Australia”. PetTraveller. Retrieved March 16, 2022.
  11. Hall, A. August 14, 2022. “Vets call to end 'dangerous' dog breed bans”. ABC News Australia. Retrieved March 16, 2022.

Biggest Dog Breeds – Suited To Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

The Biggest Dog Breeds Commonly Found In Australia

Do you live in a huge home? Do you enjoy outdoor hobbies? Are you convinced “bigger is better”? Then have a look at the biggest dog breeds.

We’ve made the ultimate guide to massive dog breeds that could fit your lifestyle. Ready for the best of the best?

What is Considered a Big Dog Breed?

“Big”, large or giant dog breeds are relative. According to the American Kennel Club, “big” dog breeds are those that are more than 60 cm tall and weigh more than 45 kgs. As a general rule, females tend to be slightly smaller and weigh less than their male counterparts.

Most large dog breeds are very active because they were initially bred as working dogs. Both due to their size and activity levels, the biggest dog breeds can feel like a lot to handle if you’ve never had a pup before. Training, socialization and consistent mental exercise are essential to keep these dogs happy!

What You Need To Know About Giant Dogs

Dogs are dogs, right? Well… it depends. Of course, all dogs will need a few common basics like food, water, exercise and love. But the specifics can vary a lot according to the breed and your dog’s size! Large dogs especially have a few specific needs that might surprise you if you’ve never had one before. Here’s what you should know about them:

Huge dogs need careful nutrition throughout their life

The largest dog breeds not only need a lot of high-quality food, they also need very specific portions. Because of their genetics, large dogs tend to grow very fast. On the flip side, puppies that grow too tall too fast can develop dangerous lifelong consequences like weaker bones and hyperflexible joints.

These two issues can cause troubles later in life and make you invest a lot in vets and orthopaedic specialists. To counteract this tendency, large-breed puppies have very specific caloric needs and can’t be fed “until they are completely full”.

Large and giant puppy breeds need to be fed a diet high in bioavailable calcium in the correct portion sizes. This means you’ll try to slow down their growth rate to ensure their bones are strong enough to support their adult weight. When in doubt, call your vet!

PRO TIP: Large and giant puppies should be weighed weekly to ensure they are eating enough (but not too much!) according to their size. Change their portions following their growth and use specific puppy food adapted to their adult size. Make sure your scale is big enough to fit them as they grow!

These pups need plenty of space

Are you considering adopting one of these massive dog breeds? Then make sure you have the space for it! Of course, some large dogs can be “lazier” than others, but they all need a minimum of space to not knock down your stuff every time they turn.

PRO TIP: Interested in a large dog breed that can live in an apartment? Here’s our ultimate list

Even if you own a low-energy dog, their stuff will need space as well. Toys, food bowls and beds will take up a lot of room in your home! If you don’t have a fenced-in backyard, you need to plan for daily walks and runs somewhere they can stretch their legs a bit. Consider these factors before adopting one of the dogs on this list!

Biggest size means a bigger cost

Big dogs can be expensive to care for. Before choosing to adopt a giant dog breed, please consider your budget and expenses. Of course, being a dog parent will always involve extra costs, but large-breed dog food, toys, and other supplies are usually more expensive than those for smaller dogs.

Just think about the food: 2kg of expensive dog food will last weeks with a Chihuahua, but a Great Dane will demolish that in a couple of days. In addition, medication for giant dogs is going to be more expensive.

On the other hand, large dogs usually need specific veterinarian equipment. Unfortunately, not all vet clinics—especially in cities—will have the tools to safely handle giant breeds. Many large dog owners need to shop around or travel to a vet who can accommodate their pup for X-rays, surgery, and other “normal” procedures.

Giant breeds have a higher risk for some conditions

As we already mentioned, diet during puppyhood can play a big role in your dog’s future health. But on top of orthopaedic issues, large dog breeds are statistically more likely to have other conditions.

For example, giant breeds are 20x likelier to have osteosarcoma than other pedigree breeds simply because of their size and weight. Issues like hip dysplasia, enlarged heart and other congenital heart diseases are also common because of their size and aren’t related to a specific large breed.

In addition, large dogs with a deep chest like Greyhounds and Great Danes are more likely to suffer from bloat, a life-threatening condition that happens when the stomach fills with air and then twists over itself. In fact, according to research bloat (or gastric dilation-volvulus, A.K.A GDV) is the main cause of death among Great Danes []

PRO TIP: If you adopt a breed that is more prone to bloating, it’s important to keep their meals on a constant schedule. You should also make sure your dog rests for at least 40 minutes after eating before engaging in any type of physical activity.

What Is The Biggest Dog Breed?

According to official records, the largest dog registered was a Great Dane. Different pups have held the title, but the latest one was Freddy with 103.5 cm [2].

Great Danes are generally taller than 70 cm and are one of the oldest dog breeds in existence: they date back to around 3000 BC! This dog was bred by German royalty by crossing Mastiff-type pups with Irish Wolfhounds. The result is a giant pup with imposing looks but a heart of gold.

The Biggest Dog Breeds

Interested in adopting one of these gentle giants? Here are the biggest dog breeds you can choose from:

Great Dane

Big Great Dane

Of course, we couldn’t have a list of massive dogs without counting the Great Dane. As we already mentioned, Great Danes have repeatedly won the Guinness Record as the world largest dog [2]. Males are usually taller than 75 cm to the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller standing at around 72 cm to the shoulder.

These gentle giants were initially created to help in bear and boar hunting. That’s why they have those powerful jaws and can run relatively fast! They were also used as protectors, although we know now this is one of the gentlest breeds there is. Great Danes are very sensitive, so you can’t treat them roughly!

If you’re considering adopting this breed, keep in mind your space. These are large, drooly dogs that can stink up your home: they love sleeping on the couch, will drool all over your furniture and tend to fart A LOT.

Sounds like your cup of tea? Then we recommend adoption. Many Great Danes are abandoned every year by irresponsible owners that didn’t consider the effort involved in owning this breed. We recommend you contact your local shelter or breed-specific rescue to get to know dogs that are up for adoption:

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Sitting Down

Another giant, Irish Wolfhounds are typically very large. They were created to fight wolf populations in 15th-century Ireland, so they can become great watchdogs! These dogs are fiercely independent, so if you’re expecting blind obedience they aren’t the right pick. Wolfhounds don’t do well with harsh corrections, so sticking to positive reinforcement and gentle redirection is the only way to train them.

Although slightly leaner than Great Danes, they are still imposing: they are generally taller than 60 cm to the shoulder and weigh at least 55 kg!

Despite their strong prey drive, this breed does great with both children and other dogs. Because of their size, they need to have an adult handler and be exposed to consistent socialization since puppyhood. This is a loyal breed that is devoted to their pack and won’t hesitate to defend their family.

Interested in an Irish Wolfhound? Then we strongly recommend adopting or fostering. Many of these dogs are surrendered because families aren’t ready for the time and energy commitment this breed needs. Check out your local rescues and breed associations to get to know adoptable pups:

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff

These imposing pups are the epitome of gentle giants. Although they were bred to protect livestock and won’t hesitate to attack if needed, these fierce dogs are intensely loyal to their pack and love a good cuddle.

Tibetan Mastiff are huge dogs with an independent streak. They enjoy spending time with their people and have a strong pack mentality. They are natural protectors with a strong prey drive, so consistent socialization and training are a must throughout their lives. In general, Tibetan Mastiffs do better with larger dogs and older children, mainly because they don’t know their own size and can easily trample little ones.

Despite their imposing looks and fierce character, these dogs are softies. They don’t do well with stern training and need lots of positive reinforcement to be happy. They also need consistent exercise to keep them at a healthy weight and are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia even at a young age.

Are you considering this breed? Then we recommend fostering, especially if you’ve never had a dog before. Tibetan Mastiffs can be great companions but need consistent training and a lot of energy, so fostering can be a great way of trying your hand at dog ownership without the long-term commitment.

Check out these Australian rescue groups to see what dogs are available for fostering:



The Kangal is still very rare, but it’s still one of the largest dog breeds out there. This dog was originally developed in Turkey to help guard and herd sheep. They were created to defend their herd against bears, jackals and wolves, so their protective instincts are very powerful.

Measuring at least 75 cm tall and weighing between 55 and 65 kg, it’s easy to see how these powerful creatures could handle wild predators! While on the job, Kangals are focused and serious. Once they’re relaxed and at home, they’ll enjoy a good cuddle on the couch.

Of course, this breed needs lots of training and exercise if you don’t have a herd of sheep for them to protect. If that’s the case, you’ll have to provide a structured exercise schedule, plenty of training opportunities and challenging mind games to ensure they stay happy and well-behaved.

PRO TIP: Kangals have the strongest bite recorded among dogs! If you’re interested in the breed, reinforcing essential cues like “release” is essential. Only use positive, reward-based training to teach a Kangal any new cue!

The Kangal is very loyal to its own family, including children, but doesn’t tolerate strangers. You should have a strong track record of dog training before attempting to add this pup to the family.

Interested in this breed? While there aren’t any local breed-specific rescues for Kangals in Australia, you might find a similar dog at the RSPCA or other working dog rescues.



Have you ever wanted a real-life teddy bear? The Newfoundland might be the right dog for you! This fluffy pup is known for excelling at rescue missions in difficult terrain and water.

This breed is famous for their courage: brave is their second name! These pups are fiercely devoted to their family and love spending time in water all year round. They have a thick, waterproof coat that makes it possible to take a swim in icy Canadian lakes. Newfoundlands are beautiful dogs, passionate about their family and ready to defend them if needed.

Newfoundland dogs do better in active homes where they can get the exercise, training and attention they need to thrive. Still unsure? We recommend fostering first. That way, you’ll get a real feel of what being a Newfoundland parent is like, without the 10-year commitment. To get to know adoptable pups, check these breed-specific rescue groups in Australia:



This German dog has a size to match his huge heart. Leonberger dogs are mastiff-type pups bred to guard and watch the home of European royals. Afterwards, the breed became a full-blown farm dog to protect livestock. Nowadays, this breed excels at canine sports (including agility) and enjoy playing in water.

Leonbergers are giant dogs that need tons of exercise to stay happy: at least 40 minutes of moderate exercise every day! On the other hand, this breed also needs a generously sized home. According to professional breeders, Leonbergers can become excessively territorial if confined to a small space, which can result in serious troubles down the road.

Interested in this breed? While there are no breed-specific rescues for Leonbergers, the RSPCA might be able to show you Leonbergers in need of a home.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a giant dog breed can feel intimidating, especially if you’ve never owned a pup before! No worries, with the right training and tons of exercise, large dogs can easily adjust to life as pets. The key is staying consistent and sticking to positive reinforcement: it’s the best way to create strong bonds with the newest member of the family!

Have you ever had a giant dog? Do you prefer them to smaller pups? Let us know in the comments below!

Related: Where To Buy A Dog In Australia.


  1. Teng, Kendy T., et al. "Trends in popularity of some morphological traits of purebred dogs in Australia." Canine genetics and epidemiology 3.1 (2016): 1-9.
  2. Thorne, Dan (2021) Freddy, the world’s tallest dog, dies aged 8. Guinness World Records.
  3. Gibbons SE, Macias C, Tonzing MA, Pinchbeck GL, McKee WM. Patellar luxation in 70 large breed dogs. J Small Anim Pract. 2006;47(1):3–9.
  4. Rice, Dan. Big dog breeds. Barron's, 2001.
  5. Messerschmidt DA. The Tibetan Mastiff: canine sentinels of the range. Rangelands Archives. 1983 Aug 1;5(4):172-4.
  6. Turner TC. Irish and Russian Wolfhounds. Art & Life. 1920 Jan 1;11(7):387-91. 1.%09https:/
  7. Rogerson JH. Newfoundland dog: history, care, feeding, standard of perfection, show points.
  8. Yilmaz, O. "Turkish kangal (Karabash) shepherd dog." Impress Printing Comp. Ankara (Turkey) (2007).

Australian Dog Breeds (2022 Breed Profile)

Australian Dog Breeds -
Aussie Canines Bred For The Outback

Are you looking for a new puppy to add to the family?

Then you’re probably wondering about Australian dog breeds: what’s better than looking for local pups? Our team loves Aussie breeds, and there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Here are our absolute favourites!

What Makes Australian Dog Breeds Special?

Sporty, agile and, let’s face it, beautiful to watch, Australian dog breeds stand out from the crowd. Have you ever looked at a dog and just thought: “that’s an Aussie right there!”? We know we have! There’s something distinctive about dog breeds in Australia, mainly because of how these pups were selected.

Even though dog breeding in Australia is more recent than in other parts of the world (like the UK and Europe), the first colonial settlers quickly started developing dogs adapted to our unique land [5]. That’s why many Australian dogs share these characteristics:

  • Hard-working: Dogs in Australia weren’t thought of as companions for the first couple of centuries. In the beginning, people that migrated here needed dogs to work on the land in different capacities. Because of it, all native Australian dogs were initially developed as working dogs to help with cattle, hunting, and guarding.
  • Tough: Australian weather can be extreme, so dogs developed here were bred to handle tough conditions. Aussie pups do better than other breeds in extreme heat and cold, all while keeping activity levels high and excelling at their job [6].
  • Medium to large: Of course, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but most Australian dog breeds aren’t petite. Since these dogs were created to work, their size depended on their job. Herding cattle and helping to hunt is easier with medium to large dogs, so that’s why most of our breeds are that size.
  • Very active: These dogs were initially working aids, so it’s no wonder they have incredibly high energy levels. This is great for life on farms, but it might prove difficult if you plan on getting an Australian breed as a pet. Get ready for tons of walking, running, and playing!
  • Smart and independent: When the first British and Irish settlers starting developing farms in Australia, there was significantly more land than people (or dogs). That’s why Australian dog breeds needed to be smart and work independently: most of the time their handler wasn’t near as they handled cattle! As a result, Australian breeds are quick to make decisions and generally trust their own judgement better. If you want to adopt one of these as a pet, you’ll have to work around this tendency!

Should I Get an Australian Dog Breed?

This is a highly personal question, but as you can see, there are some lifestyle habits that are a must when you adopt an Australian dog.

If you want any of these breeds, it’s important to understand these are working dogs. This means they have very high activity needs and do better with an active family. On the other hand, Australian dog breeds can be difficult to train for newbies because they are smart and independent. If you’ve never trained a dog before, starting your journey with an Aussie might be too hard for you!

Of course, if you’re up for a challenge, these breeds could be a good option. They are loyal, smart and funny, so there will never be a boring moment.

Are Dingoes an Australian Dog Breed?

Dingo on Fraser Island

The Australian Dingo is one of the most ancient dog breeds in the world! In fact, researchers believe this breed is at least 3,000 years old. This is a naturally developed breed, meaning there was almost zero human intervention in their breeding. Because of it, they are quite healthy and don’t have a lot of genetic diseases.

But Australian dingoes aren’t pets. This is important to remember: Dingoes are wildlife and shouldn’t be kept at home! These wild dogs aren’t meant to be part of a human family: they have a very high prey drive, are territorial and can’t be easily domesticated. Depending on your department, there are laws that discourage or even completely prohibit dingo tenancy at home. In most cases, you’ll have to get a license to own a dingo and then comply with local laws regarding having a safe enclosure and enough fenced space.

Overall, we don’t recommend trying to get a dingo as a pet. They should be protected as native wildlife!

  • Did you know? Australian dingoes can do more than bark! In fact, researchers have distinguished 9 different laryngeal sounds and 2 nasal sounds when they communicate with their pack in the wild [1]

Dog Breeds Australia: Our Native Dogs

Australian dog breeds are regulated by the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC). Of course, their list includes breeds from all over the world, including native Australian pups! If you want to check the updated list, check the official site here. Here are some of the most iconic Australian dog breeds you can adopt:

The Australian Kelpie



40 to 50 cm tall


13 to 25 kgs

Life span

10 to 13 years

These popular pups are one of the better-known Australian working dog breeds. Originally developed to her sheep through long distances in uneven terrain, the Kelpie is very athletic and thrives working independently.

Kelpies are known for their very distinctive way of herding: they will jump on sheep’s backs to get from one side to the other! Because they aren’t very heavy, they don’t hurt the sheep and it’s a great way to keep the herd moving.

Related: The Australian Kelpie Breed Profile.

Of course, their impressive athleticism is evident in their looks: these dogs are muscular, tight and compact. If you want to adopt a kelpie, it’s important to consider their exercise needs. Kelpies need at least 1 hour of moderate exercise per day, and weekly high-intensity sessions. These dogs would rather get out and go with you on errands than stay copped up at home. If you have the time to dedicate to consistent training and already live an active lifestyle, this might be the breed for you!

Interested in adopting a Kelpie? We recommend looking into local rescue centres. Kelpies have become more popular but this also means more dogs get abandoned every year. Because they can be hard to train and need tons of exercise, many families give up altogether. Here are a few groups where you can adopt a dog waiting for their forever home:

The Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog


50 to 65 cm tall


13 to 25 kg

Life span

10 to 13 years

Also known as Blue Heeler or Australian Blue Heeler, these energetic pups are also quintessentially Aussie. For those looking for a companion for everyday life, this might be the right choice!

Blue Heelers are working dogs: they are incredibly smart and one of the most loyal dogs out there. They are muscular, compact and incredibly active. Because of their working past, they need at least one hour of moderate exercise per day, on top of some extra mental stimulation. If you fail to provide adequate physical and mental exercise, Cattle dogs will become destructive and sometimes aggressive.

Related: Most Loyal Dog Breeds.

This dog is a good option for families that already live a very active lifestyle and have experience training other dogs. Because this breed has a very strong prey drive, recall training is a must and training sessions will be a lifelong commitment. In a similar fashion to kelpies, cattle dogs have risen in popularity but they are also one of the breeds abandoned most often.

If you’re interested in a Cattle dog, we strongly recommend going the adoption route. Plus, you can always volunteer as a foster family: this way you’ll get a taste of what sharing your life with a Blue Heeler is like, without the 10-year commitment. Here are some rescues that might have your dream dog:

Australian Silky Terrier

Aussie Silky Terrier


20 to 40 cm tall


Around 5 kg.

Life span

13 to 15 years

Surprised to see this toy pup? The Australian Silky Terrier is often known as just Silky Terrier and it was developed here in Australia!

This toy Australian dog breed is closely related to the Yorkshire Terrier, and is a spunky companion for families of all sizes. Developed as a companion, this is not a regular lap dog. Due to their terrier origins, Silky terriers are very active and have a strong prey drive. This means you can’t skip training altogether!

These dogs were occasionally used for hunting, so they need their daily exercise. Luckily, their small size makes it easy to fit enough exercise with a quick sprint around the block once or twice a day. Because of their breeding, these dogs are affectionate and highly trainable. They do well with kids but won’t hesitate to nip if they’re being treated roughly. Overall, these are a great addition to any family!

Australian Staghound

Australian Stag Hound


Around 40 to 50 cm.


Around 25 kg.

Life span

10 to 14 years.

This is a rare Australian dog breed and one that isn’t officially recognised. These hunters are a fairly recent breed (in comparison with others developed in the 19th century) and don’t have a set breed profile.

In general, they have a strong prey drive and were developed to help in different types of hunting, from kangaroos to boars and rabbits. They do better with larger prey because of their size: they are usually medium sized.

Staghounds are the result of crossing Greyhounds and other local working dogs, and because of this, they are usually regarded as a Greyhound variant. These dogs are really active and will need plenty of consistent exercise to stay happy.

There are no breed-specific rescues or associations, so they are pretty rare and you’ll probably only find one mislabeled as a greyhound. If you’re curious, contact any of these rescues:

Tenterfield Terrier

Tenterfield Terriers


20 to 25 cm


Around 7 kg

Life span

13 to 15 years

These rare Australian dogs are only recognised by the ANKC! Nevertheless, we think they are great pups for many people.

Tenterfield's are compact, highly active dogs with the bold personality of other terriers. They are small and can do great in small apartments if you provide enough training and daily exercise. These dogs loosely resemble other small terriers like the Miniature Fox Terriers and other white-and-brown pups. Here is the full breed profile if you’re interested!

Because this is a pretty rare native Australian dog breed, there aren’t any breed-specific rescues or adoption centres. Nevertheless, we recommend adopting instead of buying. Dogs are a big commitment and even when they are small, they have exercise and training needs that you’ll need to fulfil. Meeting dogs before adopting and volunteering as a foster is a great way to test the waters and see if it’s for you! Here are a few rescues you can check:

Bull Arab

Bull Arab Pig Dog


50+ cm


32 to 42 kg

Life span

12 to 15 years

This is probably one of the rarest Australian dog breeds on the list. The Bull Arab is pretty uncommon, mainly because they were developed as a specialised Australian hunting dog breed. They were selected to hunt wild pigs and can actually smell one from up to 6 kilometres away!

Bull Arabs were developed in the 70s to track wild pigs, and have the strength necessary to help with hunting. Initially bred by mixing Bull terriers, pointers and Greyhounds, these are medium-to-large and have an athletic build.

These dogs aren’t officially recognised by any club, but some breeders want them to become a legal breed. There’s been some push back because there have been scandals about Bull Arabs being “aggressive”. These claims are unfounded: according to statistics there isn’t a higher incidence of aggression among Bull Arabs than any other breed [4], and the accidents with livestock that have happened were due to neglect on the owners (fail to train and to secure the dogs).

In general, these dogs are like any other working breed: they need consistent training, daily exercise, and plenty of mental stimulation. If you’re interested in this breed, get in touch with your local RSPCA. They’ll probably know how to get in touch with a breeder or a pup looking for a forever home.

Common Mistakes About Australian Dog Breeds

Many breeds often associated with Australia are actually from somewhere else entirely! That’s why you won’t see them in today’s list. Here are some common breeds you might think are from Australia, but were developed elsewhere:

The Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherds are in fact not Australian at all. This might be weird, considering they are registered with the country’s name! These dogs were developed in the United States in California ranches [3].

Aussie Shepherds were bred as an all-in-one working dog to handle livestock, and their name came because they initially only herded Australian sheep! Of course, this isn’t the case nowadays, and they’ve become a popular breed in Australia as well.

The Border Collie

The quintessential Australian dog breed… or is it? Regardless of what it looks like, Border collies aren’t Australian!

Border Collies originated in the Anglo-Scottish border in the UK, hence their name! These dogs are very similar to traditional English collies and were bred as versatile working dogs to herd livestock and help on the farm.

However, their association with Australia runs deep, and collies were first introduced to these lands in 1858. Since then, they’ve become one of the most popular working dog breeds and has become pretty much a national breed. Because they are so widely used to herd livestock and help with farm life, Australia is also considered the country of development of the Border Collie [2].

Final Thoughts

Most dog breeds in Australia were developed as working dogs, so it’s no wonder they are all very active and smart. If you’re interested in one of them, you’ll probably have to invest daily time in walks, training and mental work. If you’re up for a challenge, any of these amazing breeds can make a great family dog!

Do you have a favourite Australian dog breed? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Déaux ÉC, et al. Dingo (Canis lupus dingo) acoustic repertoire: form and contexts. Behaviour. 2013 Jan 1:75-101.
  2. Dogs NSW. Border Collie.
  3. Swan RA. Origin of the Australian shepherd dog (German collie). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 1980 Jan 1;176(2):92-3.
  4. The Courier Mail. Mackay locals just as likely to be attacked by a Jack Russel.
  5. Shariflou MR, et al. A genealogical survey of Australian registered dog breeds.
  6. King T, et al. Describing the ideal Australian companion dog. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2009 Aug 1;120(1-2):84-93.

The Most Affectionate Dog Breeds (2022 Breed Profiles)

Affectionate Dog Breeds Australia -
The Cuddliest Canines

What does your ideal dog look like? Is he cuddly and happy to see you even when you’re less-than-thrilled with your day? Sorry to break it to you, but some dogs are nothing like that!

No worries, if you’re looking for the most affectionate dog breeds to adopt, we’ve got you. Our dog experts have gathered their favourite, most cuddly dogs for you to choose from!

Are All Dogs Affectionate?

Not really. Like people, some dogs are loving and will gladly show you how important you are for them, and others… aren’t. The stereotype of people-pleasing golden retriever is just that, a stereotype! I know I’ve known my fair share of aloof dogs.

So how to choose an affectionate dog? Every dog is a distinct individual, but breeds have personality traits that will give you a better idea of their adult behaviour, meaning it’s a good idea to choose one that’s predisposed to affectionate traits.

There isn’t a simple answer to explain why dogs are affectionate, and why some dogs love cuddling more than others. While some breeds, like the Chow-chow, don’t like cuddles at all, others need physical contact to thrive. But disliking cuddles doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love you! Some breeds are just more affectionate than others: their loyalty to you is still unparalleled!

How To Choose A Cuddly Dog

So you’ve decided you want an affectionate dog to be the next addition to the family. That’s great news! It means you’ll have a cuddly partner to snuggle on the couch with. Here’s what to look out for when you’re meeting potential candidates:

  • Choose an adult dog: Adult dogs have well-established personalities, so you’ll be 100% sure of their affection levels before adopting them! While puppies might be cuter, they can and will change as they grow. In fact, I’ve known of many affectionate puppies that grew up to be independent adult dogs that enjoyed their own company better. By adopting an adult dog you’ll be able to see their personality before making a decade-long commitment.

PRO TIP: Nervous about adopting an older dog? Go to your local RSPCA and try volunteering. You can take care of rescued dogs, or even become a foster family! It will give you a chance of interacting with pups without the pressure of adoption, and you can have a better feel to know whether an adult dog is right for you.

  • Ask their previous handlers: This is the easiest way to ensure you’re adopting an affectionate dog! Just ask the people that are in charge of taking care of them whether or not they are cuddly or not. Of course, this is even easier if you’re considering adopting from a rescue centre or your local RSPCA. They will have first-hand experience interacting with your future pup and will know if they love a hug.

PRO TIP: Are you considering getting a young puppy? Then asking their handler about their personality won’t work. But you can ask about the parent’s personality! Talk to your breeder or the owner of the mother and ask about her personality. While there’s some degree of variability even among litter mates, you can have a better idea of your puppy’s future personality by knowing that of their parents.

  • Set your expectations: Being “affectionate” can look very different for very different people. DO you expect a dog to spend hours cuddling on the couch with you? Do you want a pup that’s always ready for a walk and some playtime? Or are you looking for a smart pup that goes with you on your day-to-day? Whatever affection means to you, make a list of what you’re expecting. Then choose a pup based on that. Some affectionate dog breeds can be very clingy, while others love their time with you but can handle being alone. It’s important to make sure you know what you want!
  • Choose a smaller dog: This is a generalisation, and of course you can find small and aloof dogs. However, small dog breeds were generally selected to be companion dogs. This means only the cuddliest, most affectionate of them were bred. As a result, it’s more common to find cuddly dogs among smaller breeds than among larger ones. You should still ask the previous handler or breeder to make sure they are affectionate though!

PRO TIPS: How To Make A Dog More Affectionate

What can you do if your dog doesn’t seem interested in showing affection?

Dogs have distinct personalities. This means that there are core traits that won’t change, regardless of what you do. Plus, you can’t ever force a dog to show affection they don’t feel: that won’t work either. Nevertheless, you can train, socialise and reinforce positive traits to make your dog the cuddliest version of themselves.

  • Reinforce bonds: A dog will only be affectionate if they love you. And, while this seems obvious, you need to interact with your dog to make a bond with them! Of course, a newly adopted dog won’t necessarily feel attached to you in less than 24 hours. To make the bonds with your dog stronger, it’s important to create positive interactions filled with love, praise and patience.
  • Plan some training sessions: This works in two ways. First, you’ll spend more time interacting with your dog, which will strengthen your bonds. Second, it will mentally stimulate your pup. A mentally tired dog is much more likely to want to snuggle in the couch!
  • Make sure you offer enough exercise: Is your dog too active to be cuddly? Then you’re probably not giving them enough playtime. Make sure you’re scheduling a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, plus training sessions, to keep them occupied and healthy.
  • Only use positive reinforcement: This might sound obvious, but your dog won’t trust you if you yell, hit or scare them. Make sure all your interactions with your dog (and whenever your dog is in the room) are positive, calm and convey affection. This way, they’ll instinctively know you’re trustworthy and they can love on you.

The Most Affectionate Small Dog Breeds

Since many cuddly dogs are small and toy breeds, we’ve dedicated a whole category to them! No worries, we’ll also cover the most affectionate large dog breeds below. In the meantime, here are some of the most loving dogs with a small frame:


Chihuahua Puppy

Of course, we couldn’t make a list of the most cuddle dog breeds without mentioning the popular Chihuahua. These small dogs are also smart as a whip and have the biggest personality you’ll find. These tiny dogs are very strong-minded and want to take charge if you don’t train them well.

Chihuahuas are great for people looking for some sass in-between snuggling. These pups will give you a run for your money and they demand consistent training and socialisation to be happy.

In general, this breed is better for households with calm older adults and teenagers. Young children can unknowingly hurt chihuahuas, and these dogs can get snippy if they are handled roughly. Chihuahuas generally choose a special “person” in the household to whom they get attached and they’ll be especially cuddly with them.

On the flip side, their strong devotion and loyalty can make them overprotective, noisy and reserved around strangers. It’s important to provide ample socialisation to ensure your chihuahua stays well-behaved. Although they are small, this breed needs consistent exercise to stay happy and a daily walk is a must.

Despite their amazing character, Chihuahuas are commonly abandoned by irresponsible owners. Adopting a rescue pup is a great way to add a Chi to your family while giving a second chance to a pup waiting at the pound! Here are some Australian rescue groups that will probably help you:



Have you ever heard about the Cavoodle? This is one of the most popular designer dogs, and according experts, it’s currently the favourite dog in Aussie households. The Cavoodle is the mix between a purebred Poodle and a purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

They are very affectionate, gentle and good with kids of all ages, Cavoodles have increased in popularity in the last 10 years and also make our list of the best family dogs. Of course, since they are a crossbreed, their exact size and personality can vary greatly. In general, Cavoodles are small to medium dogs, weighing between 5 and 12 kgs.

Related: Cavoodle Dog Breed Profile.

Merging the personality of a Poodle and a Cavalier, this crossbreed is smart, playful and eager to please. They are very easy to train and make great pets for first-time owners. On the flip side, they tend to be very vocal, so if you dislike constant barking, this isn’t the breed for you!

Do you want to add a Cavoodle to your family? Then we recommend adoption. While there are no Cavoodle-specific rescue groups, their increasing popularity also means they are abandoned more often. Try these poodle rescue and ask if they have any Cavoodle pups waiting for a home, surely they’ll be able to help:


Funny pug puppy sittng

Funny and unique, Pugs are playful by nature and also make our list of best dogs for first time owners. This breed was created by Chinese royalty, which explains their distinctive appearance! For centuries Pugs have been bred as lapdogs, so it’s no wonder they are so loving towards their family!

These dogs are pretty adaptable and fit well with young families and elderly people alike. Because they are a brachycephalic breed they are relatively inactive and can’t be left unattended in the heat. Heat exhaustion is a real threat with this breed, so they aren’t the right choice if you want a sporty companion to go on jogs with. Pugs love to snuggle with their people, play tricks and make you laugh. They also have a mischievous streak, and they tend to get in trouble a lot, so you’ll need to be patient and have a sense of humour!

We recommend adoption instead of buying! Check out some local rescues here:

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terrier

Although terriers aren’t known for being the most loving breed, Jack Russels are very affectionate. This is a very active breed that loves their daily walks and to be petted. Attention-seeking, playful and smart, Jack Russels are compact and muscular.

This breed has a lively spirit and, like all terriers, enjoy being outdoors. Nevertheless, after a day of playing and hard work, the Jack Russell will happily cuddle with you on the couch.

It’s important to note this breed has a very strong prey drive. This means they need socialisation from a very young age to make sure they respond well to recall. They also need consistent exercise, so moderate intensity walks once or twice a day are a must. If you can’t commit to that kind of physical activity, it’s best if you choose another breed!



Elegant and poised, the Papillon is a beautiful dog to look at, and great a companion at the same time! This breed was selected to be a dedicated lap dog, so snuggling up with their loved ones is their favourite thing to do. They remain curious and playful well into their adult years, making them great for families with school-age children.

Due to their small size, Papillons do well in apartments and homes without a lot of backyard, although they still need at least a daily walk. These energetic dogs can get destructive if you don’t provide them with enough exercise, so make sure to take them on walks to burn off some playful energy!

The Most Loving Medium & Large Dog Breeds

Small pups aren’t the only cuddly dogs! Some medium and large can be very affectionate towards their people. If you’d rather have a larger dog, here are some of your options:

English Bulldog

English Bulldog

Despite their serious looks, the English bulldog is a sweetie waiting for cuddles. Even though in the eighteenth century this breed was originally bred to fight other animals, nothing could be farther from the current English bulldog.

Related: Low Energy Dogs.

These gentle pups love their people fiercely, and can even withstand grabby children! English bulldogs love to snuggle on the couch and their naturally sweet character makes them relatively easy to train. These dogs are people pleasers with a funny streak, so you’ll have a lot of fun training them and playing.

Labrador & Golden Retriever

Lab & Golden

Of course, we couldn’t make a list with the most affectionate dog breeds without mentioning the ever-popular Labrador and Golden Retriever. These are two different breeds, but since they share many similar traits we decided to count them as one.

Both Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers have been considered the pinnacle of family dogs for decades and are great breeds for first time owners. Their gentle nature and sweet disposition make them great with kids. While they are very active, they’ll gladly join you for a lazy afternoon of cuddles… after going on their daily walk of course! This is one of those breeds that, if you offer enough exercise, will enjoy being couch potatoes while at home.

Want to add either of these breeds to your family? Then adopting is the way to go. Here are some local rescues that can help:

Border Collie

border collie

The smartest of dogs, Border Collies have been one of the most popular breeds in Australia for decades. These dogs are muscular, highly energetic and love having work to do. Due to their herding traits, Border Collies are independent workers that form strong bonds with their handler and top our list of the most loyal dog breeds. On the flip side, they do need a lot of consistent exercise if you plan on keeping one as a pet.

Despite their active nature, Border Collies can be real love-bugs if given the chance. Of course, this only happens when they want to rest after a long work day! You will need to provide at least one hour of moderate physical exercise, as well as weekly training sessions, to make sure your Border Collie stays challenged.

Related: Border Collie Breed Profile.

Once you’ve made them part of an active lifestyle, Border Collies love to goof around, receive pets and snuggle in front of the TV!

Interested in this breed? Try contacting one of these rescue groups. They’ll surely have many pups waiting for a home like yours!

Mixed-Breed Dogs

Mix breed dog

Cross-breed, mixed-breed or mutts, these can be one of the cuddliest dogs ever. In general, it’s fair to say rescue dogs or dogs adopted from the streets are loving and loyal to their people. These dogs are proof that a pup’s character is mostly a result of their training and socialisation, not their breed!

After being trained, socialised and educated, a mixed-breed dog of any size can be as cuddly as the fanciest lap dog. Luckily, more and more Aussie households are considering the possibility of adopting from rescue centres. This is a great way to find a new life companion, while also giving a second chance to one of the thousands of dogs abandoned every year in the country.

If you’re interested, contact your local RSPCA, the South Australian Humane Society, or other community dog rescue group for more information.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the most loving dog breeds, try meeting one of the ones above! All these dogs will be more than happy to play, cuddle and receive all the pets you’ll want to give them.

What traits are you looking for in a dog? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Holmes, B. (2017). Not just a hound dog. New Scientist, 233(3117), 38-41.
  2. Persson, M. E., et al. (2018). Sociality genes are associated with human-directed social behaviour in golden and Labrador retriever dogs. PeerJ, 6, e5889.
  3. Friedrich, J., et al. (2019). The interaction between behavioural traits and demographic and management factors in German Shepherd dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 211, 67-76.

The Best Guard Dogs Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

The Best Guard Dogs -
Breeds Found In Australia

Are you looking for a dog that will help keep you and your loved ones safe? Then a guard dog might be for you!

Our experts put together our ultimate best guard dogs list so you can choose among the best of the best. Ready to pick your next best friend?

What Is A Guard Dog? Watch Dogs vs Guard Dogs

So, you want a dog to protect your home? You might be looking for the most protective dog breeds… but do you want a guard dog or a watch dog? While these terms are often used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing.

According to vet Adrienne Farricelli, watchdogs are those that will raise alarm, but won’t defend the property. This is where barking dogs fall! With many breeds, a dog will bark whenever they see something unusual, but won’t necessarily go above letting you know.

PRO TIP: Don’t confuse an alarm dog with hyper-vigilance. A watchdog should easily differentiate between “normal” activity and sounds, and unusual. In contrast, hyper-vigilance usually comes from a place of fear and lack of socialisation. These are the dogs that will bark at anything and everything!

Simply put, watchdogs will bark loudly if they feel something isn’t right. Because of it, watchdogs come in all sizes. Small pups like Chihuahuas and Terriers make great watchdogs once properly socialised. Some breeds are awful watchdogs, like Golden Retrievers. These pups will happily greet burglars and friends alike!

On the other hand, guard dogs can also bark loudly, but they also can attack and restrain people or other animals. Most of the time, guard dogs will try barking first, and then move into action if that doesn’t work.

What Are The Best Guard Dogs Like?

Once you’re sure you want a guard dog, it’s time to choose the perfect pup! Of course, not all breeds or all dogs will make a good guard dog. Some pups are way too friendly to be guardians! Here are some of the traits you should look out for in a guard dog:

  • Strong: Regardless of their actual size, a proper guard dog should be able to manage a threat and have an imposing look. Most of the time, the presence of a large, powerful dog is enough to deter human intruders.

PRO TIP: Remember that guard dogs shouldn’t be left to defend property or people by themselves. Ideally, their human will come promptly once they’ve given the alarm.

  • Even-tempered: This means choosing a dog that is generally well-balanced, neither too fearful nor too excitable. Dogs that rush to welcome friends and strangers alike won’t fit the bill here! In the same vein, a dog that isn’t at all interested in who comes and goes won’t make a good guard dog either.
  • Eager to please: This means your ideal guard dog should feel motivated by your praise. Being eager to please makes a puppy much easier to train, and reinforcing desirable behaviour is a breeze.

Keep in mind that while some breeds are more likely to be better guard dogs than others, there is no “natural” guard dog. A proper guard dog will need training from early puppyhood, and positive reinforcement is essential to help them understand what you need.

Plus, you cannot ignore “regular” training either. Making sure they understand cues, follow directions, and recognise you as “their people” is essential. You’ll only be able to reach this level of connection through consistent interactions, positive exchanges and praise.

In most cases, you’ll have to invest in professional training to raise a good guard dog on top of consistent at-home training. In fact, this is what we recommend! Even though you can work on many basic cues at home, a professional trainer will be able to hone in on the abilities you and your dog need to become a great team.

The Best Guard Dog Breeds

German Shepherd

German Shepherd dog sitting




Up to 45 kilos


Up to 60 cm


Between 10 and 14 years

We couldn’t have a list of the best guard dogs for families without mentioning the German Shepherd! This incredibly popular breed has become a favourite police dog for a reason. They are strong, powerful pups that can easily be trained to protect.

This dog is very smart and thrives on having a job. Because of it, they are easily trained if you use positive reinforcement methods. In general, you could train these dogs to do anything you’d like: guide, assist people, do police/military work, herd, or guard your home.

Of course, this dog isn’t fit for everyone. They are very high energy and can’t stand boredom. These pups were bred to work, so as their owner you need to provide spaces where they can use their brains and bodies.

PRO TIP: German Shepherds don’t like to stay at home alone for long periods of time. They might become destructive or anxious! If you plan on leaving your dog by themselves for hours on end, this might not be the breed for you.

Sounds like your cup of tea? We recommend talking to the German Shepherd Rescue Alliance and the German Shepherd Rescue Victoria Association to see the available pups. Surely, you’ll find the right dog!

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terrier sitting




Between 12 and 25 kilos.


Up to 30 cm in height.


12 to 14 years

Enthusiastic and full of life, this energetic pup is great with children. If you’re looking for the best family guard dogs, this might be the right fit!

The Staffie is smart as a whip and thoroughly loves his people. This breed, like other pit bull-type dogs, were called “nanny dogs” because they form strong attachments with kids. In fact, Staffies tend to take on themselves to look out for the kids in their lives.

Related: Staffy Breed Profile.

Their loyalty towards kids and their family at large shines through when it comes to protecting their people. Staffies used to have a reputation as aggressive dogs, only because they tend to be very protective. However, these trends also mean the breed needs extensive socialisation early on and throughout their lives. This will make sure they get along well with other dogs and people.

Of course, they’ll need an adult handler that can provide the structured training and exercise schedule they need to stay healthy and happy.

PRO TIP: Staffies do better when they are the only dogs in the home, or there are other dogs they grow up with. If you plan on growing your family with a new pup after your Staffie is an adult, make it a gradual process.

Want to adopt this cuddly breed? We recommend getting in touch with local Australian rescue groups. They always have pups looking for a forever home!

Doberman Pinscher

Doberman Pinscher




Up to 50 kilos (males) or 45 kilos (female)


Between 40 and 55 cm tall


12 to 14 years

These dogs have been long considered one of the most protective dog breeds. This pup is the epitome of a gentle giant… at least with those he loves!

Doberman Pinschers are very affectionate with their families and are great with young kids. In fact, they can be very patient with the little ones! On the flip side, they aren’t very warm with other dogs and need to be properly socialised to avoid troubles later. Dobermans are naturally great at recognising unusual behaviour and make great guardians.

They can be mouthy, and their fearlessness means they don’t back down from a challenge. To avoid problems, consistent training and positive reinforcement is essential. Dobermans tend to be always vigilant of their surroundings, and their muscular build has made them a favourite security dog. With proper training, these pups will do their job like no other!

Interested? Check out these Doberman rescue groups in Australia. They always have pups looking for a new home:

Blue Heelers/Cattle Dogs

4 blue heeler dogs


Herding group


15 to 20 kilos


Up to 40 cm tall.


12 to 15 years.

While these pups are renowned for their herding abilities, they also make surprisingly great guard dogs! Due to their dedication to their family and strong sense of responsibility, some people consider them amazing guardians.

This breed, also known as Australian Cattle Dog, is naturally wary of strangers. They’d rather stay away from the action to survey their kingdom and spend a lot of mental energy scoping out possible threats.

These natural inclinations were initially selected to make them the great herding dogs they are today. But if you reinforce these traits and provide structured training, a Blue Heeler can easily transition into a loyal guard dog.

Keep in mind these pups weren’t made to sit still, so proper exercise sessions and training are essential to keep them healthy and happy.

As a result of their rising popularity, Blue Heelers are nowadays one of the breeds most often surrendered to pounds and rescue groups. We highly recommend checking these local associations before even considering buying a puppy. You’ll find dogs of all ages looking for a forever home:




Working group


Between 35 and 60 kilos.


Between 60 and 65 cm

Rottweilers might be the quintessential guard dog, with their large size and imposing allure. The good thing is that these pups are softies with the ones they love.

Rotties are mastiff-type dogs. This is evident in their bone structure: they have heavy bones and a massive jaw. In fact, up until the nineteenth century this breed was used as a herding dog and to pull carts of butchered meat from the store to the market.

This massive dog is calm and courageous, and while they stay alert, will generally be self-assured and confident. Rottweilers aren’t usually overtly friendly and tend to stay on the aloof side. They don’t take easily to strangers and new people need to gain their confidence slowly. In contrast, those that know Rotties understand they are fiercely loyal. This breed has an innate desire to protect their own and because of it, they make amazing guardians!

Despite their sweet nature, these dogs are often surrendered to pounds or just abandoned! We recommend you check these local rescues before considering buying. Rescues always have lovely pups in need of their forever home:

Chow Chow

Chow-chow Dog


Non-sporting group


Between 25 and 35 kgs.


30 to 45 cm tall


8 to 12 years

These teddy-bear-looking pups can be anything but sweet! Chow Chows are the epitome of antisocial dogs. They don’t like to mingle or meet new friends and can be outright aggressive with other dogs.

This breed was created to be a dedicated herding dog and as guardians for families. They are fiercely loyal to their people and because of it, early socialisation is essential. Getting them used to other dogs and new people will ensure they stay amicable even with strangers.

Due to these traits, chow chows aren’t the best option for first time owners. These pups need consistency, patience and creativity. If you’ve never trained a pup before, they can be very challenging and end up overpowering you.

Unfortunately, there are no breed-specific rescue groups for Chow chows in Australia. However, you can always ask your local RSPCA to check if they know of any chowies in need of a home.

Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees


Working group


40 to 50 kilos and even more


Between 50 and 60 cm.


10 to 12 years

These are some of the most popular guard dogs for families, and for good reason! These well-rounded herding dogs were bred to survey land and take care of livestock. This selection has made them fearless, independent, loyal and strong-willed.

Great Pyrenees are rising in popularity because of their looks. These are fluffy, majestic beasts that come in different tons of white and cream. Despite the breeds soft look, they aren’t for everyone!

Great Pyrenees are quiet, calm, and composed. They tend to be independent thinkers and training can be a challenge, even for experienced dog owners! These dogs are fiercely protective of what’s “theirs”, so you might see contradicting behaviours. This might show by being patient with family kids while not tolerating others or protecting the family’s pets and aggressively scaring off those they don’t know.

This breed was specifically raised to make decisions on their own while guarding livestock. This means they have an innate confidence and the belief they have the ultimate decision. While even-tempered, they aren’t the playful type: they’d rather be serious and calm. If you’re looking for blind acceptance and eagerness to please, Great Pyrenees isn’t the right choice.

Pyrenees need a strong fence to prevent wandering during their daily patrols, consistent exercise to prevent boredom, and daily brushing to manage their shedding.

But if you want a large dog that will calmly guard you and your home, go on patrols, and happily survey the kids, this could be the dog for you. If you’re interested, check out your local rescue centre. While there are no breed-specific rescues for the Great Pyrenees in Australia, their rising popularity means more of them end up abandoned in shelters.

Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard


Working group.


60 to 80 kilos.


Around 60 cm tall.


8 to 10 years.

Want a fluffy and soft family guard dog? Then the Saint Bernard might be for you! This breed was selected to work in European mountains, so they have a thick fur that can withstand the elements.

These massive dogs are imposing just by looking at them, and most intruders will feel less-than-inclined to break into your home at their sight. They have a huge head, dark eyes and a smart expression that has made them a family favourite.

On the flip side, they tend to slobber everywhere and need plenty of space inside the home, so be mindful before choosing this breed. While not exactly playful, Saint Bernard’s have the patience of a saint (ha) with his family’s children and will be a great reading and cuddling companion.

PRO TIP: Saint Bernard’s don’t do well in heat. Remember this breed was selected to do well in the Swiss Alps! This won’t be your next jogging companion: they get heat exhaustion easily.

Giant Schnauzer

Giant Schnauzer


Working groups


30 to 40 years


60 to 70 cm to the shoulder


10 to 12 years

Know the Miniature Schnauzer? Picture it 3 times the size and you’ve got the Giant version. This German-native farm dog doesn’t have much more in common with their smaller counterparts than their looks.

They are hard workers with strong herding, guarding and working instincts. This makes them an active, high-energy breed with an even temper. They make great guardians for homes and families!

On the flip side, we wouldn’t recommend them for first time owners. They have very high exercise needs and only thrive when they are mentally stimulated. If you don’t plan to offer them structured playtime, consistent training, and lots of socialisation, they will become bored. This can lead to destructive, anxious and in some cases aggressive behaviour.

Des the Schnauzer sound like your cup of tea? Then check out Schnauzer Rescue of Victoria and the Schnauzer Rescue of NSW, both ran by their local Schnauzer Clubs.

Final Thoughts

The best guard dog for families is the one that fits your own needs! Remember that this is a partnership, and just picking a specific breed won’t mean you’ll have a great guard dog. You’ll have to invest time in their training, in strengthening your bond and making sure they are healthy and happy.

Related: Dogs Banned In Australia.

But if you’re ready to put in the work, you might end up with the best companion and guardian you could ask for. If you’re wondering where to start and you’ve never owned a pup, check out our best dogs for first time owners list!


1. AKC. German shepherd . Available here

2. AKC. Staffordshire bull terrier. Available here.

3. AKC. Doberman . Available here

4. AKC. Great Pyrenees. Available here

5. AKC. Saint Bernard. Available here

6. AKC. 9 things to know about Rottweilers. Available here

7. AKC. Chow chow time. Available here

Best Dogs For First Time Owners Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

The Best Dogs For First Time Owners Australia

Do you think you’re ready for your first dog? Congratulations! As dog lovers ourselves, we know this is one of the most exciting moments of your life. But now you need to set yourself up for success: choosing the right pup is key!

Training and raising a new dog go beyond teaching them to “sit” or “stay”, and it can be overwhelming. No worries, we’ve got the best dog for first time owners that make the whole process easier.

Are you interested in any of these breeds?

What Are Good First Dogs Like?

If you’ve never owned a dog, choosing your new best friend can feel overwhelming. After all, we’ve all heard those horror stories of very difficult pups, traumatic training lessons and biting.

While these cases do exist, they are mostly caused by irresponsible dog ownership. The fact that you’re here, looking for more information before committing to a specific breed, is proof you want to do better!

Remember that having a dog is like having a young kid. You are responsible for providing guidance, a safe space and keeping them healthy. However, even if you can give your new pup all that, sometimes good intentions aren’t enough. This is where choosing the right breed comes in!

As a first time dog owner, you’ll face many new experiences and challenges. So, a “good first dog” will naturally have fewer challenging traits. Here’s what to look out for:

  • People-pleasing: Some dogs are more inclined to please their humans than others. Those that are more independent have strong personalities and can be great dogs, but first-time owners might find them too challenging. It’s easier to train a pup that wants to do as you say, instead of trying to convince them.
  • Laidback and forgiving: This one goes hand in hand with the one above. Some dogs are way too smart and the first time you slip up on their training will reinforce unwanted behaviours. Of course, this can be corrected but you’ll need to invest more time into it. In contrast, laid back dogs won’t learn unwanted behaviours at the first try and you can feel better if you ever slip up. Just get back on track as soon as possible!
  • Playfulness: Dogs that love to play and enjoy spending time with their people are significantly easier to train. Since they feel rewarded easily through praise and play, you’ll have an easy time reinforcing good behaviours.
  • Energy levels adapted to your lifestyle: Not every dog fits every lifestyle. If you love being outdoors, spend 2+ hours a day in nature and want an adventurous buddy, you don’t want a brachycephalic breed that cannot be outside in the summer. On the other hand, if you’d rather spend your evenings on the couch and your idea of a workout is a brief run to the grocery store in the corner, a very active breed isn’t for you. Save yourself the headache and choose a dog that has naturally the same inclinations as you! That way, you won’t be forced to overhaul your lifestyle on top of training and living with a new pet.
  • Choose disposition over smarts: Most pups are pretty smart. They love to watch and understand the world around them! But very smart dogs also tend to be independent. Since they can “figure things out on their own”, they want to solve problems on their own terms. Sharing your life with this kind of dog can be very rewarding, but they are notoriously difficult to train and might even need to be bribed. Sometimes you won’t ever be truly sure they’ll follow orders, even after years of training. Plus, fiercely independent dogs need life-long training and positive reinforcement, so you’ll need to be on top of their sessions for as long as they live. As a first-time owner, this is probably too much for you! In general, we don’t recommend working breeds for most first-time owners, including the Australian Kelpie, Blue Heelers and Airedale Terriers.

    Related: Most Affectionate Dog Breeds.

Pro Tips For First Time Dog Owners

  • Let them stay with mom for longer. It’s common knowledge that puppies need to stay with their mum for at least 8 weeks. However, it’s also common to see pups being separated at 6 weeks, or unethical breeders that consider the 8-week mark as optional. Staying with their mum and siblings helps your puppy socialise, ensures they are properly nourished (because of lactation) and forms their personality. 

The ideal minimum time that the puppy should be able to separate from its mother is 8 weeks. Still, many ethologists also claim that the puppy should be with its mother until 12 weeks of age.” – Hospital Veterinaries Gloriès

This means taking a puppy too soon might have life-long repercussions on their social skills, ability to relate to other dogs and general behaviour.

  • Remember dogs go through puberty! Dogs, like people, are mammals. And just like human teenagers, they go through a difficult period while they are young. For puppies, this stage usually coincides with teething, so you’ll encounter double the trouble. Dogs going through puberty will start exhibiting some sexual behaviours (like humping furniture or people), might be more rambunctious than usual and could be more challenging to train. We recommend spaying or neutering to avoid these behaviours and using positive reinforcement to encourage good manners.
  • All dogs need training. This might sound too basic, but many owners think that only because a dog is small, they can forgo training. Nothing farther from the truth! That’s why it’s so common to see nippy chihuahuas, barking poodles and generally destructive pups. Don’t let that be you! Positive reinforcement training is the best way to ensure your dog is healthy, happy and stable. We recommend trying clicker training, which is just pressing a clicker to signal good behaviour, then offering a treat. Eventually, your dog will associate the good behaviour with treats and they’ll repeat it often.
  • Use a buddy. Dogs learn better when they have someone to mimic. That’s why it might feel easier to train a dog once you have one or more already trained in the house! If you’re a first-time dog owner but know people with a well-behaved dog, try to set up playdates where you use cues on both dogs. Your puppy will understand what you’re asking faster. Keep in mind the buddy system also works to mimic bad behaviour, so choose your buddy carefully!

The Best Dogs For First Time Owners

Considering everything we’ve outlined above, now comes the fun part! Our experts have reviewed the best dogs for first time owners: these pups are easy to train, want to please and don’t have a strong independent streak.

We’ve selected a variety of sizes and energy needs so you’ll probably find the right fit! Here is our ultimate list:

The Poodle

Two poodles

These friendly pups are easy to train and great for those without a lot of dog experience. Due to their hunting and retrieving background, this active breed loves to play and enjoys pleasing their owners. In general, they only need training to be fun and positive, and they’ll love every second of it!

As family dogs, poodles are also a favourite. They are great with kids and will love to play ball for hours on end. Jogging, running and long walks are great as part of their daily exercise, but what they love best is getting in the water and going for a swim! On the flip side, because of their curly coat, this breed needs consistent grooming once a month.

If you can provide the exercise and upkeep they need, a Poodle can be a great option for a dog newbie! As always, we recommend trying to find a rescue pup. This breed is very popular but abandonment rates are also high, so many dogs are waiting for their forever homes at rescues:

The Staffy

staffordshire bull terrier

Also known as Staffies, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a favourite as a first-time dog. These gentle giants were bred as “nanny dogs”, and are great with kids. After being properly socialised, these pups are calm, loving and fun, while also being fiercely protective of their people.

Related: The Staffy Breed Profile.

While they are natural people-pleasers, they also have a strong prey drive. This means you’ll have to work extra hard on their recall, and provide consistent training throughout their life. Staffies also need daily moderate exercise consisting of at least 40 minutes, but they’ll take whatever you can offer: throwing the ball, going for a jog or running by your bike will all be welcome.

Since this breed needs consistent exercise and company to be happy, we recommend fostering first. That way, you’ll be sure it’s the right fit before committing to taking care of a dog for 10+ years. Here are some local rescues that are always in need of foster families:

The Labrador

Labrador Retriever

This is a first-time favourite for a reason! Labs are very well mannered, love people and retain that happy puppy-like behaviour well into their adult years. Because of their playfulness, many first-time owners choose them for their family.

Labs are devoted to their family and get along well with other dogs and other pets once they are properly socialised. On the flip side, this is a very active breed that needs at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise to stay happy.

Ideally, you’ll also provide more intensive exercise on the weekends. This breed thrives on attention and they don’t like being left alone for hours on end, so plan to include them in your daily activities!

The Golden Retriever

golden retriever

Of course, we couldn’t make this list without mentioning the all-time favourite Golden Retriever. This breed has been at the top of popularity lists for decades because of their sweet disposition and patience with grabby hands. On the flip side, they are very active and need daily exercise to stay happy. Be ready to go on 40-minute walks at the very minimum, and if possible also include some extra movement on the weekends.

Golden Retrievers are generally easy to train and love to please their owners, and this is one of the easiest dogs to own. With some food and praise, they’ll learn cues quickly and you can also try to teach them more complex sequences for agility training.

If you’re interested in adopting a Golden, check out breed-specific rescues. They always have pups waiting for their forever home and you’ll be able to find the right fit in no time:

The Pug

Pug dog

Interested in a loving, snuggly buddy? Then the Pug might be a good fit to be your first dog. This companion dog was selected centuries ago to be a companion, so their main goal in life is pleasing their people. They have a very mild temper and are pretty outgoing, perfect for social people looking for a bud.

On the flip side, Pugs are really sensitive and won’t do well with harsh training methods. Gentle correction and positive reinforcement is the best way to train them. Since Pugs loathe being alone, they are a great fit for people that work from home, retired people and families that plan on involving their dog in their everyday life.

Keep in mind this breed is prone to obesity and they overheat easily under stress, so exercise needs to be consistent but mild. Check out some local rescues here:

The Border Collie

Border Collie

When it comes to good first-time dogs, Border Collies are definitely pushing the boundaries. But if they naturally fit in with your current lifestyle, they are very easy to train despite their strong prey drive.

Border Collies are working dogs that have adapted very well to pet life. They are considered the smartest breed in the world, and because of it, they shine during training lessons. This breed needs a lot of exercise, and we recommend at least 2 short daily sessions plus training to keep them happy. If you fail to provide enough exercise, Border Collies will get restless, destructive and their prey drive will be out of control. Not good!

Related: The Border Collie Breed Profile.

If you are a naturally active person and plan to take your dog with you on daily errands, then this breed might be a good fit. We recommend trying to foster a Border Collie puppy before fully committing, to make sure you’re in tune with the breed’s needs. To find fostering opportunities, get in contact with local rescue centres:

Final Thoughts

Having a dog is a big responsibility, and you need to carefully consider its consequences. The expenses, the time invested and the patience needed to raise a well-adjusted, healthy dog isn’t something to ignore. If you’re unsure, fostering pups in need is the best option! It will give you a trial run and show you whether or not you’re ready for dog ownership. Living with a foster pup helps your local rescues but also gives you the skills to raise a dog yourself.

Finally, we recommend adjusting your expectations even after fostering. If you’ve never had a dog, you’re bound to mess up. You’ll make mistakes. They’ll misbehave. You’ll lose your patience. You might even choose the wrong breed altogether!

The important thing is staying on track. Remember why you wanted a dog in the first place. Give yourself and your dog some grace. Love them! Soon enough you’ll find your groove and you won’t remember the hard times.

  1. Zahradka, J., Importance of Dog Morphology in apparent Behaviour and Trainability: Examining how Morphological Differences in Dog Breeds can affect Perception of their Trainability.
  2. Tonoike, A., Nagasawa, M., Mogi, K., Serpell, J. A., & Ohtsuki, H. (2015). Comparison of owner-reported behavioural characteristics among genetically clustered breeds of dogs (Canis familiaris). Scientific Reports, 5(117710).
  3. Miklósi, Á., 2018. A Directory of Dog Breeds. In The Dog (pp. 173-214). Princeton University Press.
  4. Serpell, J.A. and Duffy, D.L., 2014. Dog breeds and their behavior. In Domestic dog cognition and behavior (pp. 31-57). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  5. Taylor, R., 2017. How does temperament and breed influence learned aversion training in domestic dogs (Doctoral dissertation, Murdoch University).
  6. Helton, W.S., 2010. Does perceived trainability of dog (Canis lupus familiaris) breeds reflect differences in learning or differences in physical ability?. Behavioural processes, 83(3), pp.315-323.
  7. Hall, N.J., Glenn, K., Smith, D.W. and Wynne, C.D., 2015. Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 129(3), p.237.

The Kelpie X Labrador (2022 Breed Profile)

The Kelpie X Labrador Mix Breed Profile

Vital Stats




40 to 55 cm


Up to 35 kgs


10 to 14 years

Are you looking for an active, friendly dog to go on adventures with? Then the Kelpie x Labrador mix might be the right choice.

Our experts have reviewed everything you need to know about this lively crossbreed to help you make the right decision for you and your lifestyle. Here are the basics!

History of the Australian Kelpie and the Labrador Retriever

Before diving into the unusual kelpie x Labrador crossbreed, it’s important to know a bit more about its parent breeds. Here’s what you should know about these two popular dogs:

The Kelpie is one of the few authentically Australian dog breeds. This hardy pup came to be in the nineteenth century, amid the colonisation of Australian lands. At the time, the new farmers needed a hardy shepherd dog that could handle the harsh Australian weather with ease.

Related: The Australian Kelpie Breed Profile.

Since most of these first settlers were originally from the United Kingdom, they started breeding English Collies locally and selected based on their work ethic, intelligence and energy. The result was the Australian Kelpie as we know it today: an enthusiastic and tireless working dog that can endure hours running under the harsh sun and can single-handedly control large herds of cattle. Because they are easily trainable, smart and love to work, since the 1800s Kelpies have been the backbone of the herding industry and some people say their work is worth 3 to 4 human shepherds per day. Nowadays, the kelpie is considered one of the most efficient working dogs and they are bred mostly for working purposes. Their popularity as house pets is on the rise, but because of their very specific needs, they aren’t the ideal dog for most people.

On the flip side, we have the Labrador Retriever. This popular dog has been a family favourite for decades, and with good reason. This Canadian gun-dog was developed to retrieve prey from icy waters and have strong hunting and chasing abilities. They are very smart and enjoy pleasing their owner, so they excel at obedience and field and need plenty of outdoor exercise to be happy. This is a sporting dog through and through and they are generally well-behaved, patient and active.

Considering its two parent breeds, it’s evident the Labrador Kelpie cross is an active, smart pup that loves its people. Here’s what you should know about them!

The Labrador Kelpie Cross

Lab X Kelpie

Temperament and personality

Child & Dog friendliness

Exercise needs

Intelligence and trainability


Health issues

Apartment friendly

Temperament and personality 4/5

Due to its heritage, the Kelpie x Labrador crossbreed is enthusiastic and hardworking. This mix enjoys being active and spending time with its people outside. In general, and after being properly socialised, this breed is even-tempered and friendly with those they already know. However, the specific character of your puppy will depend on which side of its heritage is more dominant.

If they tend to be more like the Kelpie side, your new pup will be eager to learn and have a job. They are devoted to their main handler and don’t do well with re-homing. In general, the intense drive in Kelpies can make the Kelpie cross Lab difficult to handle in a home setting. These pups are extremely smart and need consistent mental stimulation, preferably offered by a job. In a home, it’s very common to not have the opportunity to develop these traits. As a result, a kelpie cross puppy might become destructive, unruly and sometimes aggressive.

On the flip side, if your crossbreed pup leans more to the Lab in them, they’ll be significantly calmer. While Labs are also working dogs, they adapt more easily to pet life, and will be content watching the kids and going on a couple of long walks per day. Labs are very smart, but they tend to do well with fetch and retrieve games to stimulate their mind, while kelpies loathe the repetitiveness and fetch might put their prey instinct into overdrive.

Labradors enjoy meeting new people and do well with other pets of all sizes. Most of the time, a Lab will be comfortable in new settings, and they don’t mind being in a busy room since they love being social. In contrast, Kelpies tend to prefer smaller gatherings and feel easily overwhelmed in new environments. This is a herding breed, meaning they have the need to oversee any new space, and this might not be possible every time. An overwhelmed Kelpie mix can get antsy and could have a harder time following orders. If your puppy leans more on their Kelpie side, don’t expect them to be a social butterfly and make sure to provide a quiet space for them to retire. Most kelpie mixes would rather stay on the outskirts of the action and oversee the activities from afar.

The issue with crossbreeds like the Kelpie cross Labrador is that you won’t ever be sure whether your puppy will lean more to the Lab or the Kelpie side. Considering these two dogs have significant personality differences when it comes to sociability and meeting new people, it’s a gamble if you have a strong preference with either trait.

On the other hand, Labs and Kelpies have different ways of showing affection towards their owners. Labradors tend to be very outwardly happy dogs, wagging their tails, jumping and showing excitement. In contrast, Kelpies tend to be more reserved. While Kelpies fiercely love their owners, they show that affection by staying by your side, looking at you intensely and trying to follow commands. They’ll also try to find “work” to do, even if you haven’t given a specific cue, but they generally won’t jump to greet you or come lick you for cuddles.

Because your mixed puppy can grow up to be either very friendly or more aloof, we’re giving this breed 4 out of 5 stars. You won’t know which side your mixed pup follows until they are older!

Child & Dog friendliness 3/5

Both the Labrador and the Australian Kelpie are good with kids and other pets, but they need different approaches when it comes to their socialisation.

Related: Best Dog Breeds For Children.

Of course, any puppy including the Lab Kelpie mix will need consistent socialisation from day one. Socialisation is an ongoing process that allows your dog to feel comfortable in new situations and don’t react out of fear of the unknown. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association:

“Socialisation should begin during the "sensitive period" which is between 3 and 14 weeks of age for puppies, and 3 and 9 weeks of age for kittens.” – AVMA [1]

You can also socialise older cats and dogs, but the process will be lengthier, and they might already have some learned behaviours you’ll need to deal with. Labs are one of the easiest breeds to socialise since they are naturally more people-inclined and enjoy meeting new friends. They also do good meeting other dogs and pets and tend to have a playful behaviour even towards those they don’t know.

On the flip side, Australian Kelpies are naturally more reserved and need thorough socialisation to avoid unwanted behaviours. In Kelpies and their mixes, socialisation has two main goals: making them understand meeting new people can be a positive experience and curbing their strong prey drive. The latter is especially important for those kelpie mixes that will live in a home environment and not work every day to satisfy those natural instincts.

Socialising your Kelpie mix involves exposing them to positive experiences with new people, animals and environments. To do this, you’ll praise and reward calm, relaxed behaviour and gradually expose them to more challenging situations, ideally while your pup is still young. If they aren’t properly socialised, they’ll tend to react poorly and, in the case of Kelpies, their prey drive will still be strong. This means your kelpie mix will chase and herd anything that moves, including children, cars, people and other pets.

In contrast, if your lab kelpie mix is socialised, they’ll enjoy spending time with new people and you’ll be able to handle their prey drive with consistent exercise.

Because of these issues, we’re giving this crossbreed 3 out 5 in this category.

Exercise needs 5/5

Considering its two parent breeds are very active, it’s not a surprise that the Lab Kelpie mix has very high exercise needs. Remember the Kelpie was bred to handle the harsh Australian heat while herding cattle, so their weather tolerance is very high, and they need at least an hour of moderate exercise every day.

If you intend to adopt a Kelpie x Labrador puppy, keep in mind they’ll need a consistent exercise schedule of at least one long session a day, plus training time. This is non-negotiable and if you fail to provide enough physical stimulation, your puppy could become destructive and sometimes aggressive.

Related: Low Energy Dog Breeds.

Because of their strong chasing and herding instinct, this dog will need a fenced-in yard on top of their daily walk. The fence will keep them contained and ensure they stay safe without chasing after the first moving target they see.

PRO TIP: Walking aimlessly isn’t enough physical exercise for a Kelpie mix. Try to work on a few training exercises on the walk to keep your dog’s mind stimulated or consider enrolling in agility training to spice up their workout schedule every once in a while.

If you are very active and are looking for an energetic companion to take on runs, go hiking and workout with, this might be the crossbreed for you! We’re giving this pup 5 out of 5 in this category.

Intelligence and trainability 4/5

Of course, it’s no surprise that this active crossbreed is smart as a whip. This might not always translate into easily trainable, especially if your puppy turns out to be more like a Kelpie than a Lab.

Labradors are easy-to-train dogs that aim to please, so lessons are usually fun for them and even first-time owners will do well. On the other hand, Kelpies are incredibly smart but also very independent. This means they’d rather do things on their own terms, and they get bored easily. As soon as they understand what’s needed, they’ll figure out a way to do it on their own and they loathe repetition.

If you’ve never trained a dog before, we recommend taking your Kelpie x Lab cross to a few training lessons so the both of you get an understanding of how training works. Positive reinforcement through praise and food is key to get good results with any Kelpie or its mixes, so bring lots of delicious treats to motivate your dog.

All in all, this crossbreed will generally be easy to train but they might have a hard time with repetition, “boring” tasks and working on recall. Because of these issues, we’re giving this mix 4 out of 5.

Grooming 5/5

This is one category where this crossbreed shines. Because of the coat type of both parents, your Kelpie x Lab will most likely have short to very short hair, with an undercoat. This means that while they will shed, especially in spring, they don’t need major grooming to stay healthy.

In general, your puppy will do well with a thorough brushing a couple of times a week, and maybe more often once shedding season starts. On top of that, taking care to brush their teeth and clip their nails is all you’ll have to do.

Considering the easy grooming schedule, we’re giving this pup 5 out of 5 in this category.

Health issues 4/5

The Labrador cross Kelpie is generally a healthy crossbreed and has a lifespan of around 11 to 12 years. Because the kelpie is a working dog, these dogs are very strong and don’t usually have any genetic conditions to be aware of.

On the flip side, Labradors have been heavily crossbred, and they are more prone to certain issues. These include elbow and hip dysplasia, seizures/epilepsy, obesity and cancer [2]. If you’re getting a puppy from a breeder, make sure both parents have been screened for joint issues, since patella luxation and hip dysplasia have a strong genetic component.

Considering these issues, we’re taking off one star in this category.

Apartment friendly 1/5

Are Kelpie crosses apartment friendly? We don’t think it’s a great match. These dogs are very active and will get destructive if you don’t provide them with at least one to two hours of moderate exercise every day. Plus, Kelpies tend to get overwhelmed easily, this is heightened in small spaces as there’s not a lot of room to get away.

Related: Best Apartment Dogs.

A fenced yard will give an active dog like the Kelpie Lab mix a bit more space to burn off some energy, chase squirrels and avoid boredom. In contrast, living in an apartment means you are the only source of entertainment and will have to focus on providing a consistent exercise schedule.

If you are active yourself and plan to bring your Kelpie mix with you, then apartment living is possible if a bit tight. In all other cases, we recommend getting a bigger place before adopting this active dog.

Because of this, we’re giving this mix 1 out of 5 stars in this category.

Adopting a Kelpie x Labrador Puppy

Are you interested in this fluffy crossbreed? This is a rare mix, and most puppies happen by accident. There are no registered breeders, and this specific cross will be very difficult to find. Of course, you might get lucky contacting your local rescue centre to check if a litter was recently surrendered.

You might also want to contact breed-specific clubs that might know about accidental litters coming soon. Here are a few useful links you might want to check:

Your best bet might be asking at your local rescue centre or RSPCA. Kelpies and Kelpie mixes are one of the most surrendered breeds in Australia. Most families don’t fully understand the type of commitment they need and are quickly overwhelmed by their behaviour and exercise needs, so Kelpies are very common in rescue centres.

Check these out, they might know of a Kelpie Lab mix waiting for you!

Final Thoughts

This rare crossbreed might be challenging for most owners, but it could be the right fit for you! If you enjoy a challenge, have experience training other dogs and love being active, the Lab Kelpie cross might be your ideal pup. Have you ever encountered this crossbreed?

Let us know in the comments below!

Related: The Staffy X Kelpie Breed Profile.
Related: The Border Collie X Kelpie Breed Profile.

  1. AVMA. Socialization of Dogs and Cats.
  2. PDSA. Labrador Retriever.

Best Apartment Dogs Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

Best Apartment Dogs Australia - Breeds Better Suited To Small Spaces

Can you adopt a puppy if you live in a small space? Yes! You only need to find the right fit. To help you make up your mind and chose a dog adapted to your lifestyle, our experts found the best apartment dogs.

These furry pups can live in close quarters and without a lot of space, but will still enjoy your company brighten up your day and ask for cuddles!

Can Dogs Live In Apartments?

Of course! However, choosing the right breed is key to ensure your pup stays healthy and happy even if they don’t have a lot of space to run around.

The main issue with apartment dogs is the lack of backyard space. A backyard will offer your dog the opportunity to entertain themselves in-between actual walks, so they are less likely to get bored and develop unwanted behaviours. Keep in mind that some breeds need the extra space, and not all dogs are fit for apartment living!

Traits Of Apartment-friendly Dogs. What To Look Out For Before Adopting

While this is a very flexible category, the best apartment dogs share a few common traits. Regardless of the breed, look out for these characteristics if you want to find the right fit for your smaller space:

Look for patient breeds

Good apartment dogs tend to not react to common noises like keys, strangers going in and out, and general neighbour noises. This constant contact with new experiences can be good: it can make it easier to socialise and your pup will probably make a lot of new friends! However, if you don’t provide guidance and positive training, it can also be very difficult. Have you ever heard of dogs that will bark all day long, even after years of listening to the same neighbours, keys and noises? Well, you don’t want to be their owner.

These highly reactive dogs act like that because their owners didn’t take the time to train them, and these behaviours aren’t something that will go away on its own. With this, we mean that choosing a naturally patient dog will make apartment living easier, but you also need to put in the work to desensitise your pup and get them used to the hustle and bustle of apartment living.

It’s important to remember that barking is a key part of your dog’s communications strategies, and vocalisations are the most normal thing in the world. As an owner, you can somewhat prevent excessive barking through consistent positive reinforcement training, proper physical and mental exercise.

PRO TIP: Use a clicker to help apartment-train your dog. Through the clicker, you’ll be reinforcing ‘good behaviour’ i.e., staying calm in front of strange noises, and helping them overcome excessive sensitivity to noise and new experiences.

A friendly personality

Apartment dogs will need to be friendly even towards strangers, since running into new people and pets is common when living in an apartment. In general, it’s important to choose a dog that will enjoy, or at least be neutral about meeting new people.

The dogs that do best in apartment environments are those that love constant interaction. Remember that even waiting for the lift or taking the stairs will involve other people. In this case, early socialisation is key to guarantee peace with your neighbours and their pets.

Remember that, as their owner, it’s your responsibility to guarantee everyone’s safety when it comes to your dog interacting with others. This means making sure your pup isn’t anxious about meeting new people, and ensuring they are not a threat in any way to your neighbours as well.

Small doesn’t mean apartment friendly

The size of the best dog breeds for apartments doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. In fact, we wouldn’t put it as the first thing to consider when choosing a pup!

We recommend focusing on their exercise and activity needs. Don’t be fooled by a dog’s size! Their activity level and daily exercise needs aren’t necessarily correlated to their adult size: some large dogs do best with shorter spurts of activity, while smaller dogs like terriers have never-ending energy that will be hard to burn inside an apartment. Of course, choosing a specific breed doesn’t guarantee anything: puppies take up to 2 years to fully develop into adults. Unfortunately, it will only be at that point that their personality will truly come out. This means that a pup can start out mellow and become very active, or the other way around.

PRO TIP: Ask for your pup’s parents and get a feel of their behaviour. In general, this can be a good way to understand how your puppy might behave down the road.

If you’re unsure, look into fostering and adopting a dog from a rescue group. Fostering will give you the chance to really experience what it is to live with that particular dog, and adult pups tend to have a more established character. The volunteers at your local RSPCA will be able to help and recommend the best match for your needs.

Consider your dog’s grooming and shedding needs

When people think about which dog to choose for an apartment, most of them think about the lack of a backyard and the dog’s energy level. However, there are more things to consider beyond a pup’s activity needs before bringing them into an apartment. Their natural shedding and grooming schedule can also be more difficult in close quarters. Just think about it like this: the smaller the space, the more dog hair you’ll have to deal with. In fact, we’d argue that since apartment dogs will stay inside all day long, it’s impossible to completely get rid of all the dog hair. This is very different to larger homes where dogs will spend a majority of their time outside!

There are some measures you can put in place to prevent excessive hair on your furniture. First, get into a consistent grooming and brushing routine. This will help get rid of excess hair and keep the fur from getting into your couch in the first place. Then, increase the brushing frequency in spring and autumn, when your dog sheds the most. Finally, choose a dog that sheds less either because they have a curly coat that ‘traps’ the hair or because they don’t have a double coat. We’ve mentioned some of these breeds in our roundup below.

Apartment living doesn’t mean staying alone all day

There is some confusion around dogs that are good for apartments, because unaware owners think that because they do good in small spaces, they can stay alone every day for hours without repercussions.

We firmly believe dogs involve a time commitment that is immoral to ignore. Dogs are social creatures, and it’s not fair to them to be left alone all day and limit their outdoor time on top of it. When pups have a backyard, you can get away with a bit more alone time since your dog will have more stuff to focus on, like wildlife, passing cars and other people. Of course, you’ll also have to provide interaction daily.

However, with dogs that live in apartments, you are their only source of mental stimulation. This means that you need to invest the time to take them out on walks, cuddle, play and just be present with them. Evidently, you can work out of your home, but spending time and effort to interact with your pup after-hours is non-negotiable, even better if it’s outdoors.

If you don’t think you have the mental energy to ensure your pup isn’t abandoned to their own devices for hours on end, maybe reconsider getting a dog altogether. Adopting is a big responsibility!

The Best Dogs For Apartments

Ok, now you know what to look out for and understand what you need from your future pup. It’s time for the fun part! Here are some of our favourite breeds that can be great apartment dogs.

Italian greyhound


These miniature hounds are great dogs for small apartments. Due to their short coat and gentle nature, many people love them as companions. These are lap dogs through and through, so they love spending time with their family, cuddling on the couch and sneaking the covers.

On the flip side, this beautiful breed is prone to brittle bones and can be difficult to train, especially if you’ve had no experience. They are very active, agile, and can be somewhat escapists, particularly if they see something they’d like to catch. Because of their thin, break-prone legs and strong prey drive, they shouldn’t be in a home with rambunctious kids or large dogs. They do need to go on daily walks and run free in fenced-in spaces.

Italian greyhounds do better in a house with adults that have ample time to dedicate to cuddles, leash-only walks and have a ton of patience to potty train. Look out for rescues! Because this breed lives a long time (up to 18 years) and have a hard time with potty training, abandonment and surrendering are very common. Interested in the breed?

Check out Iggy Rescue, they are a small rescue dedicated to fostering and protecting Italian greyhounds all over Australia.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier

This is another beloved breed that has been considered one of the best for apartments. They have great personalities, and their size makes them a great choice for small living spaces.

On the flip side, Boston terriers are very active because of their terrier heritage. The same traits that make them goofy and jokesters, also mean they need consistent outdoor exercise and structured playtime. All official sources, including the Boston Terrier Club, consider this breed moderate to highly active, so you’ll have to provide daily walks and mental stimulation to keep them from getting bored.

If you have young kids or older adults in your home, a Boston Terrier might be a good choice. These are affectionate pups that shed very little and aren’t great barkers. They are also smart, so training them isn’t too difficult even for first-time dog handlers.

One thing to keep in mind is this is classified as a brachycephalic breed. This means their snout is flat, which makes them prone to breathing issues. Because of their flat nose, they also tend to overheat, and you need to be very careful about overexerting them in heavy workouts or in the summer heat in general. They might also snore a bit, and you might have trouble flying with them because of airline restrictions.

In general, we’d recommend this breed if you love walks in the park and want a fun, loving puppy!

Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear

Have you ever heard of this fluffy breed? While they are still rare, their popularity is on the rise. The Coton de Tulear is as soft as cotton, hence its name. Because it was bred to be a lap dog, they are dedicated little guys that love spending time with their people. Luckily, because they barely get to be 20 cm tall, it’s easy to bring them with you every day!

Personality-wise, the Coton is mellow and loving. They are very friendly with people and other pets and enjoy meeting new friends everywhere they go. In general, they are great for people of all ages, from young kids to older adults. They have moderate energy needs, and we should only warn you about their grooming. This is a long-haired breed so brushing at least three times a week is essential, as well as consistent dental care. If you’d rather have less dog hair on your furniture, you might consider getting your dog a ‘puppy cut’, which will involve clipping their hair down to 2-3 cm. on the flip side, if you do choose to go for a puppy cut, you’ll need to take your Coton to the groomer every two weeks to ensure their length stays the same.

Overall, this little dog is great for apartments because of its small size, gentle disposition and moderate activity needs.



Of course, we couldn’t go over the best small apartment dogs without mentioning the popular chihuahua. This well-known breed has been touted to be perfect for small living spaces, but there are a few considerations you need to remember before adopting.

First, chihuahuas aren’t a ‘lazy’ breed and they are pretty active throughout the day. In general, their spunkiness only mellows out after 7 to 8 years, when they’ll gladly nap in the sun over chasing neighbours or birds. Second, they need consistent training and socialisation to ensure they get along with strangers and new people. Chihuahuas tend to be very territorial and don’t mind barking to let everyone know they are displeased. They can also get nippy and bite if they feel attacked or are trying to ‘educate’ a child with grabby hands. It’s on you to correct this behaviour! Of course, you can redirect this behaviour through positive reinforcement techniques, but understand that you’ll have to put in the work and the time.

Chihuahuas are great watchdogs, even if they’ll only alert you to any danger. On the other hand, they live for very long with proper care, so you might be sharing your life for 15+ years with your little chi! In general, you’ll have to offer moderate walks at least every other day, and enough playtime to get tired. This breed would much rather spend their time with you, so they aren’t fit to be left alone for hours on end and are best for retirees or those that work from home.

Unfortunately, the popularity of chihuahuas has also made them one of the most abandoned breeds. We recommend looking into adoption since you’ll probably find pups of all ages looking for a loving home. Plus, adopting through puppy fostering is a great way to understand a dog’s personality and know if they fit with your lifestyle.

If you’re interested, here are some local chihuahua rescue groups around Australia:

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu

Because it was bred to be a lap dog, the Shih Tzu is one of the best dog breeds for apartments. This Chinese dog has a cheerful, loving character and enjoys being around its people. They also have bold personalities, which can make living together lots of fun, but training could be challenging.

With this breed, a bit of bribing and a treat at the right time can make the world of difference, so don’t underestimate the power of a delicious snack! In general, you’ll have to do some convincing but when they decide you are ‘their person’, they’ll try to make you happy.

Shih tzus are great with people and dogs of all ages. Once properly socialised, they can tolerate kids but do better in a home with calm children or just adults. Their grooming needs are significant, especially if you plan to let them grow their hair. Daily brushing is essential to avoid knots, and bath time can be long since it means conditioning, detangling and then drying their coat.

Energy-wise, these little guys only need moderate exercise and do better with a fast walk around the block every day.

Australian Terrier

Australian Terrier

The Aussie Terrier is a very high energy working dog that, because of its size and low shedding, could work as a medium sized apartment dog. In general, we don’t recommend working breeds for small spaces, but with the right family, the Australian terrier could be a good fit.

These are active dogs that need consistent activity outside of the home. If you don’t provide that, they might start showing other behaviours like destroying the home, nipping and anxiety. On the flip side, if you love the outdoors and want a companion for your adventures, this might be the right fit. Whether you jog, hike, or just enjoy walking every day, the Australian terrier will be happy to go with you.

This breed is very loyal and will generally get close to one person in the family. They don’t like spending lots of time alone so they are a better fit for people that stay at home or can bring their dog with them



Want a large apartment dog? Then the quiet Basenji might be a good fit. This rare breed has a unique larynx shape that makes it very difficult to bark. On the flip side, they do make a very distinct noise that sounds like a growl, and they are enjoying expressing themselves like that constantly. Either way, it’s more difficult for your neighbours to hear through the wall so it could be a good option for small apartment living. ´

Basenjis are smart and devoted to their owners. Training is straightforward, but you need to use consistency and positive reinforcement because this breed is pretty sensitive towards harsh words or mistreats. Basenjis also shed very little, and their coats are very short and shiny. This means dog hair on the couch will be minimal!

This breed is very active, so don’t choose it if you don’t like spending at least one hour outdoors every day. If they don’t exercise enough, they can become destructive and sometimes aggressive. Basenjis have a bold personality and like to let you know their thoughts on what’s happening. They are very communicative and expressive, so are great for people that love interacting with their animals. If you like independent pets, this might be the right fit. Once properly socialised, Basenjis tend to become rather cat-like and aren’t overly devoted to their people, even if they like spending time in the same room.

What Is The Right Apartment Dog For You?

Hopefully, we’ve made clear that the best apartment dog is the one that fits your current lifestyle. Regardless of their size, if you’re very active yourself having an active dog might not be an issue. On the flip side, if you don’t have time to dedicate to training, it might not be the right move to adopt a pup.

If you’re sure getting a dog is in your future, then we hope this list helped you make up your mind!

Did you find the right pup for you? Let us know!

  1. Pongrácz, P., et al., 2010. Barking in family dogs: an ethological approach. The Veterinary Journal, 183(2), pp.141-147.
  2. Cross, N.J., et al, 2009. Risk factors for nuisance barking in dogs. Australian veterinary journal, 87(10).
  3. Siniscalchi, et al., 2018. Communication in dogs. Animals, 8(8),.
  4. Paladini, A., 2020. The bark and its meanings in inter and intra-specific language. Dog behavior, 6(1).  
  5. Molnár, C., et al., 2008. Classification of dog barks: a machine learning approach. Animal Cognition, 11(3), pp.389-400.

Best Family Dogs Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

The Best Family Dog Breeds Commonly Found In Australia

Are you looking for the best family dog breed for your home? No worries, we’ve got you covered.

 We’ve gathered the best dog breeds for families with all the info you need to make up your mind. Your next puppy is waiting for you!

Families with their dogs.

What Is A Good Family Dog?

Before diving into the best family dog breeds, it’s important to understand what we’re talking about. ‘Good family dogs’ can be a very broad term, and it’s easy to get confused. What does it mean when a dog is good for families?

Of course, the answer will depend on your specific situation and your family. Your family might include kids, older adults, teenagers, or even other pets. It could also be a mix of any of these elements! Whatever your household looks like, a good family dog -for you- is the one that will fit into your home’s dynamic. Because of it, this isn’t a blanket term that means the same thing for everyone!

When looking for the best dog breed for families, here’s what you should consider depending on your situation:

  • Do you have children? – of course, adult supervision is a must if you’re bringing a dog into your home. As the guardian of both dog and child, it’s your responsibility to make sure they get along well, respect each other and stay safe. However, generally speaking, younger kids will need a more patient family dog that isn’t likely to snap at them even if they tug their ears or tail.

    Related: Best Dogs For Children.

  • Do you have older adults? – this consideration is similar to the one above. Generally speaking, older adults can’t deal with very rambunctious dogs. A pup that likes to run around the home and isn’t mindful of their surroundings might make someone with limited mobility fall down. Very large dogs in small spaces might also be an issue, as they might inadvertently step on someone’s toes or just hit someone with their wagging tail.
  • What is your lifestyle? – this has to do with how much attention and energy you can offer your new pup. If you’re busy with young kids and work, you’ll probably do better with an older dog that doesn’t need endless playtime or walks. If you love enjoying nature with family, choose a breed that wants physical activity.
  • Do you have space? – of course, this will narrow down your options, particularly if you live in a small space or your household is very crowded. Some dog breeds need a private space where they can get away from the noise and the hustle of everyday life. Some dogs want to stay with you at all times and might make your living quarters feel cramped. Larger dog breeds need bigger beds, but also space to run around and play. Toy-size breeds can be happy just running around your home. Consider these issues before choosing a dog breed for your family.
  • What’s your schedule like? – all dogs need lifelong training, but this is especially critical when they first enter your home. However, some breeds need a little more work during training, and this implies more hours dedicating to sessions and positive reinforcement.

Based on these considerations, you’ll have to make a list on what you need from your family dog. Make sure to note down your expectations regarding exercise needs, patience, energy level and size. Then, use that list to figure out your options or, even better, visit your local rescue centre to see if they have pups that fit your needs.

How To Find A Dog That’s Good For Families

Now that you have a better idea of what would make a dog good for your specific family situation, how do you find your ideal pup? At this point you have two options: find a responsible dog breeder or adopt a pup.

For first-time owners, we recommend visiting your local rescue centre before considering buying a purebred puppy.

Rescue and adoption centres are great to find family dogs because people there have first-hand knowledge of their dog’s personality. This is very different from adopting a newborn puppy, where your only indication of possible behaviours is the parent’s personality. If you get an older puppy (older than 6 months) they will already show their main personality traits, and you’ll have a better idea of their activity level, patience and overall character.

Related: Most Affectionate Dog Breeds.

Another benefit of adopting through a rescue centre is that many times dogs found here have been fostered. This means they already know how to live in a home setting, and their foster family will have even more knowledge to share about their personality.

What to do if you want a dog with a clear breed? Then check out any local breed rescue. In Australia, there are plenty of breed-specific rescues dedicated to helping specific breeds and their crosses, mainly because of their local popularity. Unfortunately, the most sought-after a dog breed is, the higher their abandonment rate is as well. If you’re interested in any of the family dog breeds we mention in this article, we’ve already linked some local breed rescues you can contact. They’ll probably have some pups waiting for a home just like yours?

Finally, it’s important to consider dog adoption will give these pups a new chance at life that most of them have never been offered. Rescued pups were generally abandoned at some point, taken out of dangerous situations or just plain rejected by their previous family. Most adopted dogs are thrilled to share their lives with you and will be a great companion for years to come.

The Best Family Dog Breeds in Australia

Considering that ‘family dog’ can be a generalisation, how did we come up with this list? We based it off of Pet Insurance Australia’s list of most popular dog breeds in Australia. Using their popularity with the breeds’ general personality, we cleaned up the list and came up with the best dog breeds for Aussie families. Do any of these sound like a good fit for your home?


Cavoodle running

What you should know



Coat length

medium to long

Energy level


Great with littles



easy to train

This is the moniker for dogs that are born from crossing a poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are small, fluffy and very loving. Plus, they thoroughly enjoy spending the evening on their people’s lap.

The Cavoodle has achieved the title of most popular dog in Australia! This shows that more and more people are leaning towards the so-called ‘designer breeds’, or dogs that come from crossing two pure breeds. This practice has been frowned upon, mainly because the rise in popularity also means there are more irresponsible breeders that bring puppies into the world, without a care for health and safety concerns.

PRO TIP: A word of caution about Cavoodle puppies in Australia

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are very popular, but careless breeding through the decades has made this one of the most disease-prone dog breeds. In-breeding practices and unethical breeding have reinforced several inherited health conditions that are prevalent among purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and their crosses.

These issues are very serious and many of them are life-threatening and shorten their lifespan. In fact, more than 1 out of every 2 of these pups will have heart murmurs by age 5, and the percentage increases the older they get. This is something to consider before adopting any Cavalier King Charles puppies or a crossbreed, including Cavoodles. If you want to know more, check out the Cavalier Health site.

Cavoodles are great little pups for first-time owners since they are eager to please and enjoy praise, and because of this, many people think of them as the best dog for young families. They are very high energy, but because of their size, it’s easy for them to burn off lots of steam just running around the house and barking. Keep in mind they can become bothersome barkers if not properly trained, so thorough socialization to get them used to regular outdoor noises is essential.

Related: Complete Cavoodle Breed Profile.

In general, these pups are fairly adaptable and will gladly go on long walks with you as well as snuggle up for a movie marathon. Of course, they still need consistent walks, obedience training and dedication, but in general, it’s easy to get the hang of their care even if you don’t have much dog experience.

While some people think this crossbreed doesn’t shed, this isn’t true. Both the poodle and the cavalier shed, and depending on the curliness of your pup’s coat, you’ll have more or less shedding to clean up. Daily brushing and weekly grooming sessions are a must to keep this little one happy.



What you should know



Coat length


Energy level


Great with littles



Easy for first-time owners. Loves to please

Looking for a small family dog? Then the spunky Maltese might be the right choice for you. This fluffy pup has a lively personality and enough brains to outsmart you. Due to its impressive looks and mellow character, Maltese and their crosses are a family favourite across Australia.

The good-looking Maltese has more to offer than its stunning looks. These small pups enjoy being part of everyday family dynamics and will do well in both small condos and sprawling homes. Thanks to their size, this breed only needs short walks to get their exercise needs in, but they can also get used to going on long walks or jogs with you.

On the other hand, because they are dedicated companions it’s very common for them to have separation anxiety, especially because people tend to skip training small dogs. To counteract this, you must focus on socialization and training to ensure your Maltese pup grows to be a balanced adult dog.

Maltese are great for first-time dog owners because of their people-pleasing personality and cuddly ways. However, their grooming might be too involved for many. Their naturally long coat reaches the floor and even though they don’t have an undercoat, daily brushing is essential to keep their skin healthy.

Because grooming their long hair can be very time-consuming, many families choose to clip their coat short into a ‘puppy cut’. This has the advantage of needing significantly less grooming, but you’ll need to make appointments at least twice a month to keep their hair short.


Black Labrador

What you should know


medium to large

Coat length


Energy level


Great with littles




One of the classic family dogs, Labrador retrievers are popular for good reason. Their patience with grabby hands, happy personality and size has made this breed a family favourite for decades. Thanks to their sport ability, this is a very active dog that needs consistent exercise to be happy, but they also love a good snuggle on the couch!

If you love the outdoors, Labrador retrievers might be a great option for you. Good-natured and hard-working, these popular dogs are one of the world’s most popular breeds. Since they are so smart and generally sweet, they are easy to train and have been used as assistance, rescue and police dogs.

For first-time owners, Labradors are a great breed to learn training basics. They are pretty smart, love people and will be happy to please you as soon as they understand what’s asked of them. Keep in mind this is an active breed that loves to eat, so a consistent exercise schedule of at least 40 minutes a day is essential to avoid obesity.

If you intend to adopt a Labrador, you’ll need to find a good breeder or just adopt from a rescue. Because of their popularity, they are prone to inherited health issues that can be very painful like hip dysplasia. Ask your breeder for updated health screens for both parents and, if possible, your puppy.

In general, we recommend going the adoption route since so many Labradors are abandoned every year. Plus, retired Labradors often find themselves in need of a home even after years of training as therapy dogs, police dogs or eyesight dogs. Here’s a list of some Australian Labrador rescue groups where you can ask about adoptable pups:

Golden Retriever

Golden retriever

What you should know


medium to large

Coat length

medium to large

Energy level


Great with littles




Of course, we couldn’t make a list on the top family dogs without mentioning the Golden Retriever. This is a classic family dog breed for a reason: they are smart, even-tempered and enjoy spending time with the little ones.

This is a friendly breed that’s eager to please and enjoys spending time with their loved ones. Many first-time dog owners choose Golden Retrievers because their smarts mean training is relatively easy. Plus, if you have littles that want to partake in the puppy’s education, Goldens are a good option.

One of the main benefits of this breed is that they stay puppy-like throughout their adult years. In general, most Goldens are thrilled to share their life with you, cuddle on the couch and run errands. This breed loves their people, and they don’t do well when left at home all day. If you have a very busy life and your dog will stay alone for hours on end, reconsider getting a Golden. Of course, considering this is a large dog they do need consistent exercise. This means daily walks and a fenced-in yard are a must.

Keep in mind this is a long-haired dog and they shed significantly. Schedule daily brushing sessions and bi-monthly grooming to keep on top of the excess hair! On top of brushing, keeping your Golden Retriever healthy also involves consistent vet check-ups. Due to poor breeding practices, this breed is prone to several health issues like hip dysplasia, and cancer is also fairly common. Avoid any scares with regular visits to the doctor to make sure everything is working properly.

If a Golden Retriever seems like the right choice for your family, consider adoption. This is a very common breed in rescues, because many families buy irresponsibly and don’t fully understand the time commitment involved in dog ownership. Here’s a small list of rescues focused on rehoming Golden Retrievers. They have pups of all ages waiting for their forever home!

Border Collie

Border collie with a stick

Looking for a smart-as-a-whip, energetic family dog? Then the border collie could be the right choice. This is a family favourite because of their loving nature and amazing brains. Border collies are affectionate, but not every household will be the right fit. Here are the basics:

What you should know



Coat length

medium length

Energy level

very high

Great with littles

yes, but an adult needs to be the main handler. High prey drive around moving targets, including infants.


easy but needs variety. Does best when challenged.

Border collies, when properly socialized, are loving with their family and wary of strangers. This is a working dog, so their activity needs are very high and you’ll need to supply the physical and mental stimulation they need to thrive. On the flip side, if you cannot provide this kind of consistent stimulation, border collies tend to become hyperactive, destructive, nippy and in some cases, aggressive.

Due to their working dog background, border collies are extremely attached to their owners even if they’d rather do things their way most of the time. But if you provide consistent exercise, they’ll be more likely to want to listen to your cues.

Related: Complete Border Collie Breed Profile.

However, because of their independent streak training can be hard even if they quickly grasp new cues. Border collies get bored really fast, and if they lose interest, they won’t listen to you anymore. Avoid any issues by providing challenging training sessions that they actually need to focus on to understand, coupled with a consistent exercise regime. Border collies excel at agility, scent work and tricks, so the world is your oyster!

If you’re interested in this breed, we recommend you get in touch with a local rescue. They’ll have first-hand knowledge of adoptable border collies and will have plenty of advice for new owners:

French Bulldog

Running French Bulldog

What you should know



Coat length


Energy level


Great with littles




If you’re looking for small family dogs for apartment living, a French bulldog might be the right choice. Small and easy to care for, Frenchies are some of Australia’s favourite family dog breeds because they are perfect for small living spaces. These funny pups shed minimally, love to cuddle and don’t need more than a short walk around the block to be happy. Is this the breed for you?

Funny and kind, French bulldogs are great for families looking for a pup. They are playful, loyal, smart and generally patient with grabby hands. Plus, since they have a flat snout, their exercise needs to be carefully monitored to avoid breathing issues. Because of it, French bulldogs need minimal daily exercise and will have to stay thin through their diet.

Another great thing about this breed is that they aren’t big barkers. Unlike other small family dogs, Frenchies are generally quiet and will only make noise if something is out of the ordinary. Of course, you’ll still have to socialize them to be well-adjusted pups, but overall, they are mellow little folks.

We highly recommend adopting instead of buying, since that way you’ll avoid getting a puppy mill dog that hasn’t been screened for any health issues, and you give a second chance to a pup that would otherwise be discarded. Here are some breed-specific French bulldog rescues in Australia where you can ask for adoptable pups:


Australian Kelpie

What you should know



Coat length


Energy level

very high

Great with littles

under adult supervision and after being properly socialized. High prey drive.


need some convincing. Focus on positive reinforcement and consistent exercise.

The Australian kelpie and their crosses are some of the most popular family dogs in the country. Their athletic looks, bold personality and hardworking character have helped them rise in popularity over the years.

However, this working dog isn’t the right fit for every household and is currently one of the dog breeds most frequently abandoned in Australia. Want to know if you should bring a kelpie into your home?

These hardworking herding dogs were specifically created to handle the rough Australian heat. They have endless energy that lets them run around in scorching temperatures, herd cattle, jump and keep an eye out for predators. Because of this, kelpies loathe staying at home. This breed thrives with daily activity, even better if they get to go with you on your daily errands.

Related: Complete Australian Kelpie Breed Profile.

Kelpies need consistent physical and mental stimulation to be happy. If left unattended, kelpies will become destructive and difficult to handle. Their strong prey drive also means they’ll chase after everything that moves, including running infants, cars, bikes and joggers. Avoid nipping and chasing by providing thorough socialization since puppyhood, and consistent exercise throughout their life. Training this breed can be difficult, since they need some convincing, usually in the form of plenty of treats. Plus, kelpies are very independent and smart, so whenever they get bored, they’ll stop paying attention to your cues.

In general, adopting a kelpie means using one to two hours per day to training and exercise, plus grooming and bonding time. If you’re very busy and cannot provide this dedicated time, then choose another breed. Countless kelpies are abandoned each year because families didn’t truly understand their needs, or just had too much to handle with young kids and a new pup.

While kelpies are good with the littles, an adult or experienced teen will have to be their main handler. Running, screaming kiddos can trigger their prey drive, so an adult will have to oversee these interactions to avoid issues like herding and nipping.

Because of these issues, we don’t recommend kelpies for first-time dog owners. But if you’re ready for a challenge, look into adopting a kelpie! Here are a few local rescues that can help you find your new best friend:

Final Thoughts

Did any of the pups in this list catch your eye? We hope our roundup of the best family dogs can help make up your mind. Let us know what’s your favourite family dog down below!

Best Dogs For Kids Australia (2022 Breed Profile)

The Best Dogs For Kids -
Breeds Common To Australia

Do you want your kids to have a best friend? Are your little ones just begging for a new puppy? If you think a new dog is in your future, it’s time to pick the right breed!

No worries, there’s no need to interview all your friends to know which dog to choose.

We’ve gathered the best dogs for kids in Australia, so you have in-depth knowledge of your options. Ready to bring the newest family member home?

Should You Get Your Kids A Dog?

Most children would love to have a puppy, and they will generally beg their parents relentlessly. However, adopting a dog for your kids is a big responsibility, and the entire household has to be on the same page about what it takes.

There are many benefits to adopting a puppy when children are young. For one, children who grow up with dogs tend to be statistically more responsible, caring and mindful of other’s needs [1]. Plus, taking care of their own dog will teach your kid compassion, consistency and help them establish a routine of their own. And having a happy dog running around the house will improve everyone’s mood.

However, owning a dog needs to be carefully supervised by a parent. Young kids will need reminding of what needs to be done, and children of all ages need to be held accountable. Plus, an adult will have to teach kids how to take care of their new puppy and lend a hand if they ask for help.

Deciding to get your kids a dog is a big thing, and it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Here are a few things you need to consider:

  • Your kid’s age. Young kids can love on dogs and play with them, but they won’t be able to take on their training or handling. Plus, the younger the kid the more there needs to be supervision when they interact with the puppy. This means that you as their guardian will be in charge of the bulk of training, playing and grooming. On the flip side, older children or teens might be better equipped to take on a heavier load when it comes to caring for their dog.
  • Your current lifestyle. Different households have different schedules, so choose a dog that will have similar needs to what your current lifestyle looks like. So, for example, if you have young kids that don’t sleep through the night and don’t have time to go on daily hour-long walks, an active breed is not for you. If on the flip side, you’re active people that go on camping trips every week, a larger, energetic pup could fit well.
  • Everyone’s expectations. Talk with everyone in the household and see what they expect from the new dog. Maybe you want a pup to go on runs with, or your partner wants a couch potato to Netflix and chill. Or maybe your kid wants to train the new dog on agility courses, or would just like a pup to go to the park and chill with friends. Or your kid is too young and a larger dog around them would make you uncomfortable. Whatever that is, discuss it. Then, make a list and sleep on it. Revisit the list constantly to see what’s ‘essential’ and what isn’t that necessary.

What Traits Make Dogs Good For Kids?

Hopefully by now you understand that the best dog for children is the one that fits into your needs and expectations as a household. This means there is no one-size-fits-all child friendly dog breed or a specific character trait that guarantees a dog will be the right choice for every kid.

There are, however, a few basic traits that most guardians look for when picking their kid’s first dog:

  • Patience. Kids, especially younger ones, can be oblivious to their own strength and movements. Children with dogs tend to grab them too forcefully, accidentally hit them or step on them, and just be too rough with them. Child-friendly dog breeds are better than others at tolerating these behaviors, while certain dogs will gently nip grabby hands to redirect them. If you’d rather avoid nipping, choose a patient breed.
  • Playfulness. Most kids will want to play with their furry companion, but some dogs just don’t love that. Certain breeds don’t have the energy to do it! Some dogs, like the Pekingese for example, will rather stay on the couch and supervise everything from above.
  • Gentleness. A large dog can knock down a small child by accident. This is in fact more common than you’d think, and chances increase the larger the dog. So Great Danes, for example, can easily tumble a toddler just with their wagging tail! If you have young kids, maybe go for medium-sized dogs that are more mindful of their own bodies.

Kid Friendly Dogs: What You Need To Know Before Adopting A Dog For Your Child

Before going to a breeder and getting a puppy, it’s important to consider a few basics to check your expectations.

No dog breed comes with a no-bite guarantee

Dogs use their teeth to communicate with their surroundings, and all dog breeds have the potential to bite. If you don’t take the time to properly care, socialise and train your dog, you won’t be able to control whether or not your child gets bitten.

On the other hand, happy, well-adjusted dogs usually won’t bite regardless of their breed, even if teased. So, while some breeds are generally more patient than others, tending to your dog’s needs and ensuring all interactions with kids are positive will greatly lower your chances of accidents happening.

Remember, if your dog and your child have a negative interaction, it’s ultimately your responsibility as their guardian. You need to oversee their relationship at all times, especially if your child and/or dog are young and still learning the ropes.

Even the best dog breeds for children need adult training

Whenever you are getting a new puppy or adopting a shelter dog, you need to do your homework. Before committing to dog adoption, you should ask yourself how much time you can dedicate to training, walking the dog and spending time with them. These tasks need to be carried out by an adult, or a responsible older teen.

On the other hand, there are some costs that you, as the parent, will have to cover even if the main handler is a teen. Vaccinations, desexing, and pet insurance are all regular expenses that you need to consider before adopting a puppy. Don’t pick a dog because they are cute! Remember that a dog is a decade-long commitment at the very least, and be prepared to financially provide for them.

PRO TIP: If you’ve never owned a dog but want to get one for your kids, consider fostering first. Fostering rescue puppies gives you the chance to see how would life be like with a dog, without taking a 10-year responsibility towards a living being. Fostering puppies will show you and the rest of the household what it takes to train and care for a dog, and you’ll see if the kids will help with the workload.

Do your research on dog behaviour

This is especially useful if you’ve never had a dog before, or if you’re nervous about possible nipping or biting with your kids.

First of all, not all teeth-showing is considered aggressive. Learn how to interpret a dog’s physical cues to detect when they are stressed, defensive or scared. This will give you the tools needed to deal with these emotions when they appear on your own dog.

PRO TIP: There are breed differences when it comes to aggressiveness. In this study, researchers found there are 3 dog aggression types: towards other dogs, towards strangers, and towards household members. Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers showed the most serious aggression in all categories.

On the other hand, Australian Cattle Dogs showed it toward strangers, while American Cocker Spaniels and Beagles were statistically more aggressive toward owners. Finally, the study found that Golden/Labradors Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Brittany Spaniels, Greyhounds and Whippets were the friendliest toward both humans and dogs.

A dog’s age and sex can affect their behaviour

It’s common knowledge among dog behaviouralists that hormones can really change a dog’s personality. This is especially noticeable among young male dogs, that have way more energy and aggressive tendencies before being desexed.

This means that, on top of choosing child friendly dog breeds, you need to take care and desex your pup to lower any chances of aggression. In general, the younger the dog the higher the chances of them showing negative behaviours toward kids. This is caused by pent-up energy when you aren’t providing enough physical and mental stimulation. If you cannot provide ample exercise time for your dog to burn enough energy, consider getting an older dog or middle-aged adult that will be happier with a less active lifestyle.

Provide enough exercise

This ties in with the last point. A bored dog will have higher chances of getting aggressive, just because they have pent-up energy they aren’t burning. In fact, an Australian study about distress and feed-related aggression in dogs showed that dogs that consistently engaged in game-playing with their owners had a lower probability of aggressiveness.

If your dog is getting restless or destructive at home, don’t wait for it to become an aggression problem. Up their outdoor time, engage in mind games and provide challenging training to keep them busy and tired.

Choose soft-mouth dogs

Some breeds have been selected to have a ‘soft mouth’ or bite inhibition. This means they were selected generation after generation to be dogs that have a hard time biting down on stuff.

 Retriever dogs, like golden, Labradors and spaniels, were bred to have a soft mouth to retrieve animals during a chase. This doesn’t mean they’ll never bite a human, but it does make it less likely and, in the event, they do, they have significantly less jaw strength than mastiff-type dogs like bull terriers.

The Best Dogs For Kids

Now that you know what you need to consider before getting a dog for your little ones, it’s time for the fun part! Here are our top recommendations with the best dogs for toddlers and kids of all ages.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Puppy

The breed is friendly, patient, and trainable. Labs have lots of energy so are great for older toddlers. However, they are also happy to sit quietly and relax and will be more of a couch potato the older they get. The breed is extremely intelligent and versatile, and their training is relatively easy even if you and your kids are first-time dog owners.

Plus, if you love the outdoors, Labrador retrievers and goldens are great since they thoroughly enjoy spending time in nature and in the water. The average life expectancy of these gentle giants is between 10 and 12 years

Australian Shepherd (Aussies)

Little boy giving an Australian Shepherd a treat.

This breed is loyal, intelligent and boisterous. Despite its name, this popular breed originated in the United States. Aussies love home life, but their energetic nature can be too much for young children under 5. They are not very tolerant of smaller pets, because they have a strong prey drive, herding instinct and love to chase.

On the flip side, they love other dogs and are the happiest in a multi-dog household. Aussies need tons of activity to stay happy, as well as consistent mental stimulation in the form of challenging training and games.

This is a good breed for active people that have the time to properly socialize and train their new pup.

Miniature Fox Terrier (Mini Foxie)

Mini Fox Terrier

In Australia, this breed was developing as a mouser. As a result, this dog is small but agile, fast, and fun-spirited. It closely resembles the American toy fox terrier, the Jack Russell, or rat terrier, but this breed is not recognised by any kennel clubs.

They are very healthy and can live up to 18 years. Because of their terrier side, they have great personalities and do well with both children and older adults.


Young girl about to be licked by a pug dog.

This breed is originally from China, where they developed their flat noses. Bred to be a lap dog, pugs are even-tempered, charming, mischievous and loving. Keep in mind they might develop health issues due to poor breathing, and they cannot engage in heavy exercise because they risk overheating easily.

Considering their minimal exercise needs and cuddly nature, this sweet pup is great for small kids and will be part of the home for around 14 years.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffies)

Young boy and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier hugging.

Staffies have a reputation as sweet-natured, people-oriented pets, being a patient nanny dog for kids. In fact, because of their stocky build and friendly demeanour, this is one of the best dog breeds for young children. They are very patient with grabby hands, and rarely bite even when handled poorly. Staffies know how to recognise children and have the patience of a monk when it comes to their antics.

Related: Complete Staffy Breed Profile.

However, to make sure they get along with other dogs and pets, socialisation is key. Staffies can become very protective, meaning thorough exposure to different people, pets and environments since early puppyhood is a must. They also need daily structured playtime to burn off energy, as well as consistent training to ensure a good recall.

German Shepherd

little girl hugging a German Shepherd puppy.

German Shepherds are large working dogs originally developed for herding sheep. Nowadays, this breed is a favourite for households looking for a guard dog that love and protect their pack. These pups are extremely loyal and easy to train, but do get bored easily and can make up their own ‘jobs’ to pass the time. Because of it, consistent outdoor exercise in all weather is a must to keep them happy.

Keep in mind German Shepherd puppies are renowned for their savage teething, where they chew up furniture, shoes and destroy everything around them. Get ready and buy plenty of chewable toys to redirect that behaviour through positive reinforcement.

Australian Cattle Dog

Australian Cattle Dog

Bit controversial right? Hear me out.

Like Aussies, this athletic breed isn't for new owners or those with a sedentary lifestyle. Due to their amazing intelligence, loyalty, and eagerness to please, they are highly trainable.  However, this breed has very high exercise needs and get bored easily. They require constant attention and a consistent exercise schedule to stay happy.

Related: Most Loyal Dog Breeds Australia.

Keep in mind they love being outside and will thrive with outdoor activities such as frisbee, agility and flyball. If you have young children, an adult will have to be the main handler and your Cattle Dog will need to have a place to get away from the kid noises. Their herding nature might make it more difficult to live with running, screaming kids, but with proper, patient socialisation and enough exercise, it can be done.

Mixed-Breed Dogs

Three mix breed dogs

Of course, we couldn’t end this roundup of great dogs for kids without mentioning the mixed breed pups. These are the ones that are most frequently found in pounds and rescues, waiting for their forever home.

Generally speaking, mixed-breed dogs tend to be physically healthier than pure-breed ones, and are very loving. Plus, adopting a rescue dog can be a highly fulfilling experience for your children, since they’ll understand the importance of lending a hand, giving second chances and sharing life with one of the most loyal pups you’ll find.

Final Thoughts

Adopting a dog, even if it’s for your children, is a very big commitment. It’s important to remember that you are as responsible for your child’s safety not your dog, so keeping them both healthy and happy it’s your job.

Pets, like kids, need a ton of love, time and attention, and everyone in the household needs to be ready to fulfil those needs. But if you’ve carefully considered your options, are ready to provide enough training and outdoor activity, you’ll have a lot of fun with your kids and your new pup.

As always, we recommend adopting instead of buying from a breeder. For one, adoption prevents feeding into the dangerous puppy mill cycle where many dogs are bred irresponsibly every year. And on the other hand, rescuing a dog from a life in the pound or even death row can be a valuable lesson for kids. Check out these rescues to see if there are any adoptable pups ready for a meet and greet:

  1. Crowell-Davis S. L. (2008). Aggressive dogs: assessment and treatment considerations. Compendium (Yardley, PA), 30(5), 274–280. Available here.
  2. Wallis, L. J., Szabó, D., & Kubinyi, E. (2020). Cross-Sectional Age Differences in Canine Personality Traits; Influence of Breed, Sex, Previous Trauma, and Dog Obedience Tasks. Frontiers in veterinary science, 6, 493.
  3. Duffy, D. L., Hsu, Y., & Serpell, J. A. (2008). Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 114(3-4), 441-460.
  4. McGreevy, P. D., & Masters, A. M. (2008). Risk factors for separation-related distress and feed-related aggression in dogs: additional findings from a survey of Australian dog owners. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 109(2-4), 320-328.
  5. Michigan state university. The benefits of a family pet.