Most articles about the best family dogs in India focus on Indian breeds. That is obviously a great way to choose since these dogs would already have acclimatized themselves over the years. However, in this article, we tried to take an alternative route. Start from the top to see what research indicates (for compatibility with children and intelligence) and then factor in the specificities of Indian weather to reach a conclusion. To achieve this, we asked a non-Indian dog expert to research and conclude which is the best family dog in India.
One thing we took into consideration right from the beginning was:
Indian Climate & Dogs
No matter how good a dog is with children and families, it’s important to consider weather conditions before settling on your choice. If the climate is too hot, the dog might not be happy, routinely sick and fast to get annoyed.
- India is classified as a hot, tropical country.
- Summer temps can reach 45 *C (113 *F) and higher. This is very high for our dog friends with a lot of furs.
Overall, all of the dog breeds listed below can tolerate an Indian climate as long as they are provided enough water and shelter. Of course, some (like the Basenji, born around extreme African temperatures, are better than others!
A side-note on breeding and our philosophy of “Adopt, Don’t Shop”
Many health issues can arise as a result of human breeding, especially when the breeder is unethical and only focused on making money. The breeds below might excite you to search for a breeder but do take a look at your nearby shelters first. You might find a lovely companion there. Further, if you do want to buy, make sure you check the breeder properly. (How to judge a breeder).
And, do understand that even the best dog will get irritable if not taken care of. Most dogs will be generally healthy throughout their lives if fed a healthy diet and offered plenty of exercises.
A Note on Small Breeds
Whether they are great with kids and no matter how socialized they are, smaller dogs, especially toy breeds like Italian Greyhounds and Chihuahuas with their tiny bone structures, are delicate and more easily injured. Because young children tend to want to pick up, hold, and carry around everything, small breeds might not be the best idea for them.
The AKC ranks the Afghan Hound at 92% with children.
Bred for the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, the Afghan hound falls into the ‘sighthound’ group, relying on their eyesight more than most other breeds. These guys are elegance personified, their silky smooth hair and long noses standing out in a crowd right away!
Puppies will love attention and seek affection wherever they can find it. This behavior diminishes with adults; mature Afghan Hounds will seek affection on their own terms. Their longer coats might not suit them well for extreme heat. Because they were bred to tolerate colder, mountainous terrain, and might not be as sociable as other breeds, the Afghan Hound falls lower on our list of best family dogs in India.
- Afghan Hounds are more prone to develop vision problems as they age than other breeds. Despite this, vision loss is common in all dogs as they become older.
Also known as the ‘barkless breed’ because they don’t bark much at all, Basenjis are originally from the warm climates of Africa and so ancient records of their origins don’t exist. In fact, references were found among the remains from Ancient Egypt, over five thousand years ago!
Though they are absolutely perfect for hot, arid climates, Basenjis can be challenging to train for anyone but experienced, educated pet owners. Bred as hunting dogs, Basenjis are prone to run if not leashed.
The AKC gives Basenjis an 83% rating with children and families.
Believe it or not, records of Beagles exist as far back as the Ancient Roman empire! In fact, there was once a line of Beagles so small they weighed about as much as today’s Chihuahuas, called ‘Pocket Beagles’. As the demand for hunting dogs rose and popularity of Pocket Beagles decreased, this line eventually became extinct. Many experts believe Beagles have the third strongest sense of smell in the dog world, right behind Basset Hounds and then the mighty Bloodhound.
Beagles are fantastic family dogs, highly energetic and always ready to play! In fact, a Beagle wouldn’t be completely happy if he isn’t constantly playing. These are great family dogs but are also born and bred trackers and prone to bolt if given the chance.
The AKC ranks Beagles at 99% with children and families.
- Beagles are generally healthy breeds but do sometimes develop back problems, allergies, and epilepsy (rare).
Labradors are extremely popular dog breeds, not only in India but around the world. In fact, the Labrador Retriever is the number one most popular dog breed in America! Labs tend to be extremely playful and energetic, wonderful for kids and absolutely fantastic all around family dogs! These guys are considered among the top ten most intelligent breeds in the world and pick up on training quickly.
Labrador Retrievers are descended from a line of working dogs bred alongside a Canadian fishing community about 400 years ago, and absolutely love the water! Because they were conceived to endure frigid waters, their coats are thick and all but waterproof. Extreme heat might be difficult in a Lab; make sure to provide plenty of water!
The ACK Ranks Labradors at 99% with children.
- Older Labradors are prone to develop arthritic joint issues or hip dysplasia. For this reason, it is especially important to maintain a healthy weight.
Widely believed to be the third most intelligent breed in existence, behind Border Collies then Poodles, German Shepherds are very popular both in India and all over the world! These are fantastic family dogs, and because of their intelligence- highly trainable. They don’t have the same high prey drive as Beagles or Basenjis and aren’t as likely to run out the door if given even the slightest chance.
The AKC ranks German Shepherds at 95% with children.
- German Shepherds sometimes can develop Hip Dysplasia and digestive problems.
So ancient no one knows when this breed began, Pugs are very old Chinese breeds. Long ago, Pugs were given among nobility as gifts. At one time, these little guys were so loved they were considered equals to the emperor’s wives, and even given their own guards!
Pugs are great with children and very popular worldwide. Because they are toy breeds, they aren’t capable of the same activities the other, larger dogs on this list are. Thankfully, Pugs are more durable than most other small breeds.
The AKC gives Pugs a 99% rating with children.
- Pugs sometimes develop skin, breathing, and eye issues.
- Pugs are not good swimmers and should avoid water for risk of drowning.
Conclusion: So which is the best family dog in India?
Labradors and German Shephers are hugely popular in India. They have adjusted well in the climate and with proper exercise are often an excellent family dog.
But our winner is Beagle!
Because of their energy level, constant desire to play, size (30 pounds approx.), short coats and overall intelligence, Beagles are probably the best family dogs in India. Labradors and German Shepherds are more intelligent overall, but also are less tolerant to extreme heat. Though Pugs are also given a 99% rating with children, they are much smaller and more easily injured. Basenjis are by far the best dogs for extreme heat, but not as great with children.
A beagle is the best combination of all the above characteristics and will be a great loving companion for your family.