Introducing a new dog to the family can be a very daunting experience, especially if you have never had a dog before or even worse, if you still haven't got over the loss of your previous companion.
Dogs are a strange addition, one minute you love seeing them bounce across the room to you when you've arrived home from work and the next, well, you consider locking them outside after you discover they have chewed furniture or dug holes into your carpet.
BUT - we love them. Once you have a dog in your life, you'll never want anything else other than a four legged friend.
We have summarised the top 10 dog breeds that any family should consider getting if they are on the lookout for a new addition.
1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Combine the portable size of a toy breed with the verve of a sporting one and you get these adorable and lively companions. Cavaliers get along with just about everybody they come across, including kids and other dogs. (The silky-soft fur and heart-melting expression is just a bonus.)
2. Bernese Mountain Dog
For families that like to think big, consider a gentle giant like the Bernese Mountain Dog. They can top 100 pounds, but underneath all that fluff is a sweet, warmhearted pet known for its gentle nature with children.
3. Labrador Retriever
They've remained the most popular dog breed for decades for a reason. Labs love kids, adults, other pets, and just everyone in general. Their sweet demeanour makes them instant BFFs with whomever they meet, but don't underestimate their high energy levels. This exuberant breed needs serious exercise every day, and they can grow up to 80 pounds.
4. Golden Retriever
Another all-American favorite, Golden Retrievers live up to their status as a great family dog. They're quick learners that require lots of physical activity: running, swimming, fetching, and plenty of playing. In return, they'll give you joyful companionship with plenty of silliness thrown in for good measure.
Cute? Check. Friendly? Check? Totally lovable? Check and check. Beagles absolutely thrive on companionship; long days alone won't work for these pack animals. Those pleading expressions can hide another potential challenge: The hounds can become daring escape artists if they come across a captivating scent.
6. Irish Setter
Just imagine walking one of these beauties around the neighborhood. Irish Setters are total showstoppers, but as a member of the sporting group, gifted athletes in their own right. An active lifestyle (and an endless supply of tennis balls) is a must. This is a work-out partner that'll motivate everyone in the family to get moving.
7. Bichon Frise
Before you lump them in with other small white dog breeds, know that Bichons "operate under the assumption that there are no strangers, just friends they haven't met yet," according to the AKC. Their amiable attitude comes with another bonus: a low-shedding coat that makes this playful fluffball all the more perfect for a fun-loving household.
If you love a sporting dog but want something a little different than the standard Lab or Golden Retriever, consider the Vizla. It's a born-and-bred pointer that thrives on thorough exercise but displays a sensitive, affectionate nature when not it's not "working." This is a dog that will form a close-knit bond; "alone time" is not a Vizla's vocabulary.
9. French Bulldog
No backyard, no problem — city dwellers adore these quiet and low-maintenance pups. Their trademark "bat ears" and smaller stature physically distinguish them from their larger bulldog cousins. The prototypical Frenchie exhibits an alert, playful attitude married with easy-going adaptability.
10. German Shepherd