Pet Cover Direct

Family Dogs

Dogs are a great family pet - but with more breeds and variations than any other mammal on earth it is important to choose a breed of dog which is compatible with your family and lifestyle. Not all dogs are ideal for families with young children or those without the time to provde sufficient exercise and activity for the dog.  Here are five breeds that are particularly well-suited to family life.

Newfoundlands

Newfoundlands are known for their size and were originally bred as a working dog in the country from which they take their name. They are particularly strong and have won a reputation for saving people from drowning. You shouldn’t, however, assume that due to their size they are aggressive dogs. They are actually the complete opposite and are one of the most genuine, loving and loyal dogs you could find. They are naturally good in water, due to their muscles and partly webbed feet, and also because of their great strength. They are thought to be one of the strongest breeds with some of their characteristics beating those of the Great Dane.

Newfoundland males can weigh between 130-150 pounds and females are normally between 100-120 pounds, which puts them in the giant weight group. Newfoundlands tend to be black, though some are brown, grey and some even have a black head with a black and white body. Newfoundlands have a thick double-layered coat that is also waterproof and oily. The properties of their coat also helps them when swimming.

Many people will refer to the Newfoundland breed as the ‘gentle giant’ because of its wonderfully kind and caring nature. They are great with other animals and children and are a loving pet that will also act as a watchdog for the family, protecting them from any harm. They are a breed that is pretty easy to train, though like any dog they can sometimes act up, but no-one’s perfect!   

Unfortunately Newfoundlands can suffer from a few health problems. They are prone to an abnormal ball and socket in their hip joint. They can also suffer from genetic problems like Cystinuria, which is when they develop bladder stones. They can also suffer from problems in their leg joints.

Due to their size it is only advisable to get a Newfoundland if you have plenty of room for them, in both your house and your garden. Even as puppies Newfoundlands only stay small for a short time and they need plenty of room to grow and room to exercise. Due to their thick coat, Newfoundlands need grooming at least once a week. You will also find that their fur will shed quite heavily during the spring and summer months. They also drool, like most large dogs, due to the fact they have droopy lips and jowls. Newfoundlands tend to have an average lifespan of between eight and 13 years.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terriers, otherwise known as Staffies, are one of the oldest English breeds of dogs and were originally bred for bull baiting. They are known for their stocky appearance. They have a muscular body which helps to give them a good athletic ability. They have a broad head and a strong jaw. Their front legs are spaced widely apart from one another and they have a short, smooth coat.

Staffies tend to weigh between 24-32 pounds and stand atout 14-16 inches tall at the shoulder. Their coats can be a number of colours like, black, brown, red and fawn, often with white sections too.  Everything about Staffies is very pronounced; they have strong jaw lines which means they don't drool.

Staffies are very intelligent and are known for their courage. However they are also very affectionate dogs as well. They are particularly loving towards children, which makes them ideal as a family pet. They are extremely trustworthy dogs who will do anything for their family.

However in recent years, Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been on the receiving end of negative publicity with stories of attacks by them on adults, children and other dogs. Like most dog breeds, if a Staffie is unsocialised, brutalised and treated with cruelty and a lack of care it can become defensive and difficult. There is also some confusion between Staffies and Pit Bulls which it is now illegal to breed in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act. 

Like all breeds of dogs, Staffies can suffer from genetic diseases. The most common disease that Staffies are known for suffering from is Melanoma - a form of skin cancer. Staffies love lying in the sun on their backs which can add to their risk of suffering skin cancer in later life. 

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of, if not the most, popular breeds of dog in the world today. Labrador Retrievers are popular working dogs who are used by the police and as assistance dogs for those with disabilities. They are very intelligent, loyal, loving and easy to train. 

Labradors are quite a large dog. Females can weigh up to 32kg and males can weigh up to 41kg. They have short fur that sheds about twice a year.

Labradors have strong tails and slightly webbed feet which make them particularly strong swimmers. On the whole Labradors have a fairly muscular appearance.

Originally, Labrador Retrievers were all a butterscotch colour. Over the years their fur has lightened to the yellow/cream colour more commonly seen today. Chocolate Labradors have also become popular since the 20th century. Before this time they weren’t accepted as being part of the Labrador breed. Chocolate Labradors are said to be the result of crossbreeding with Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.  Black Labradors are also registered under the breed, though when the pups are first born they can be all different colours.

They are a very friendly breed and can easily adapt to new jobs as well as living life as a pet. Their name ‘retriever’ comes from one of their original purposes of retrieving game shot by hunters. They still have a tendency to enjoy holding things in their mouths.

They are a dog that enjoys chewing things, but with gentle and consistent training and positive reinforcement you can stop them from destructive chewing around the home. They are a mellow and calm dog and will only really bark at noise that scares them. You will find that until the age of three they can be hyperactive, but this is simply their puppy behaviour that they will grow out of with age. Due to their trusting nature they aren’t a dog that is really used as a guard dog. They will happily get on with strangers as well as other animals.

Labradors do have a large appetite and so it is important that you watch and monitor their food intake as they can easily become overweight which can result in illnesses. Ideally they should have an hourglass waist as well as being fit and light. If they become overweight they are at risk of suffering from joint problems as well as developing diabetes.

Labradors have recently been crossed with Poodles to make ‘Labradoodles’ which have become a popular fashion dog. This was originally done to create a breed for allergy sufferers, as the Poodle has a coat that hardly sheds at all.

Keeshond

Keeshond dogs are well-known for always looking as if they are smiling. They have picked up the nickname of the ‘Smiling Dutchman'. The Keeshond was named after the 18th-century Dutch Patriot, Cornelius de Gyselaer ('Kees' was his nickname), leader of the rebellion against the House of Orange. 'Hond' is the Dutch word for dog.

They are a medium-sized dog with a gorgeous, thick double-layer coat that is normally silver and black. They look similar to Pomeranian dogs, but a bit larger

They tend to reach about 18 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 45 pounds. They have a sturdy build and are described as having a wedge-shaped head with a medium length muzzle and tiny ears. Around their neck their fur forms a thick ruff. Males having a thicker ruff than females. Their tails are short and shouldn’t be that easily noticeable from the rest of their body. They have a specific coloured fur that’s often referred to as 'wolf colour'. It’s a mix of grey, cream and black, with the top coat being tipped with black and the undercoat being silver or cream. Another specific marking about the Keeshond is the dark line from the outer corner of each eye towards the ears.

Keeshonds are very playful dogs with quick reflexes. They are very good at jumping. They are also extremely quick learners, which is an advantage when it comes to training. They are very loving dogs that like to be as close to their owners as possible and get on with other pets as well. They have a distinctive bark and are quick to alert their owner to new people. They are welcoming to guests once they see their owners welcome them.

In general, the Keeshond breed is very healthy. Due to their thick double layered coat Keeshonds do tend to need grooming fairly regularly, it’s recommended to brush them for an hour a week to keep them looking their best.           

Poodles

Poodles are one of the most intelligent of dogs. They were first bred as retrieving gundogs and in modern times they can be very skilful in a number of dog sports such as agility and Heelwork To Music. Poodles are very elegant dogs, which is why they are so popular in the dog show world. 

They have a distinctive curly and dense coat that is normally just one colour and hardly sheds but does need regular grooming. The poodle coat will either fade in colour as they get older or will clear to a lighter shade. Due to their coat being so thin they are good dogs to have if you have allergies to normal dog fur. A Poodle's coat normally only needs cutting every eight weeks. Poodles come in a number of sizes ranging from standard to miniature, medium and toy.

Poodles are very observant dogs, which is why they made particularly good hunting dogs. They also have lots of energy and can get bored easily. They relish attention and enjoy being at the centre of family life. Without sufficient activity they can get into mischief. They are good with children and enjoy playing ball games. The Poodle breeds are all 'people dogs' who are eager to please their owners.

Poodles can be susceptible to a disease called Addison’s disease where their body doesn’t produce enough steroid hormones. This disease can be misdiagnosed as the symptoms are fairly vague. Your vet can administer a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Another common illness is Gastric Dilatation Volvulus where trapped gas gets stuck in their stomachs causing bloating. This is very dangerous for a dog and their survival really depends on you getting them to the vets on time.

There are many breeds that have developed from crossing other breeds with Poodles. Some of these are; Cockapoos - a Poodle crossed with a Cocker Spaniel; a Goldendoodle - a Poodle crossed with a Golden Retriever and the previously mentioned Labradoodle.