Many people don’t have the space to bring an extra large dog into their homes. Similarly, there are a lot of people who have active, outdoor lifestyles that they fear a little dog may not be able to keep up with. Meanwhile, some people just want a dog they can curl up with, without feeling like they’re going to crush or be crushed. Enter the medium dog! Generally coming in somewhere between 26 and 60 pounds, most medium-sized dogs are substantial enough to be enthusiastic camping or running partners, without being so large that you need to consider a new vehicle just to lug them around. And no matter what features you’re looking for in a canine companion, there’s a medium dog out there for you.
The vast majority of the dogs that qualify as medium-sized were originally bred as hunters, trackers, and herders. As such, there are many breeds in the category who have coats adapted to plunging through underbrush and through bodies of water without getting caught or holding on to mud and stickers. The German shorthaired pointer serves as a classic example of those traits. With a short, slick coat, these dogs are easy to maintain, quick to clean, and handsome to look at without much effort.
RELATED: 20 Dog Breeds That Don’t Shed (Much)
Caveat: truly hypoallergenic dogs don’t actually exist. Every dog, regardless of coat, is going to produce at least some of the dander and allergens that can affect their human companions. Just getting a short-haired breed won’t always do the trick, either. When it comes to medium dogs, the best options are going to be dogs with coats that keep shedding to a minimum. We’re talking about curly hair, knotted hair, and wire coats. Think poodles and of course, our selection here—the Portuguese water dog. These pups sport a tightly coiled coat that helps to keep dander and dead hair caught inside, where it can be brushed and washed out without worry.
A hound at heart, the Basset hound was made for tracking and hunting. However, unlike most of his cousins, it’s endurance, not speed at which the Basset excels. Intelligent, calm, mild-mannered dogs, Bassets are beloved the world over for their steadfast, calm nature and willingness to be couch potatoes, so long as they can spend time with their human companions.
One of the five most popular breeds in the United States for years now, the Bulldog is prized for his even temper, affable nature, and low maintenance needs. Shorter than many of the other dogs in this category, the Bulldog needs no expansive yard or extended running sessions to stay fit and happy. Some spirited play in the living room or 20 minutes at a dog park will do nicely. Indoors, these guys are more than happy with smaller living arrangements and can be trained to keep barking to a relative minimum.
There are several dog breeds that fit this bill, but when you are making a “best of” list and have to pick between a Drentsche Patrijshond or Lassie? It’s no contest. (Though don’t get us wrong, all dog breeds are beautiful creatures and we love each one!) Incredibly smart, agile, and friendly to a fault, the Collie has been a family favorite for at least the last 70 years, ever since Timmy first fell down a well.
RELATED: 10 Dogs That Make Great Family Pets
Make no mistake: most of the dogs that fit this category are terriers, spaniels, and hounds. Hunting is what they do. And while the Boykin spaniel may be one of the newest kids on the block, he’s quickly found his way into the hearts of hunters the world over. Bred for the swampy woods of North and South Carolina, the Boykin swims like a seal, is easy to train, and instinctively knows how to work from a boat. Combined with their stamina, speed, and keen eyesight, you’ve got yourself a world-class hunter.
A properly brushed and bathed cocker spaniel is a glorious thing. With that satiny, shiny coat that gleams in the light, their pendulum ears and round, loving eyes, there’s just not a lot of dogs that can melt your heart the way a cocker spaniel can. It's a surprise to no one that this breed is often exhibited in dog shows for their beauty and talents, and loved by a variety of celebrities. Lady from the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp was also a cocker spaniel!
It's not just looks that make the cocker spaniel truly great. They also make fantastic family pets with their typically easy-going, affectionate temperament.
One of the hallmarks of dogs in this size range is their ability to keep other, larger animals in line. With the changes to modern farming and ranching, there aren’t a ton of dogs who are still used in a traditional herding capacity anymore, but among those that are, there may be no better example than the Australian cattle dog. These tenacious, intelligent, independent dogs are capable of keeping up with large herds on the move, protecting their charges from predators like coyotes and dingoes, and they can learn tasks well enough to be left on their own for extended periods of time. They require a lot of training as pups and will need plenty of daily exercise, but if you can keep them active and entertained, these dogs are top notch.
RELATED: 15 of the Smartest Dog Breeds
You know what everyone loves? Labs. They’ve been the most popular AKC breed in the US for 30 years and counting. You know what ELSE everyone loves? Poodles. They’re the seventh most popular breed. So it only makes sense that one of the best dogs on this list is a mix between the two! Labradoodles make great pets for families with allergies who still want all the perks of having a calm, lovable dog that's great with kids like the Lab.
The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced "show-low-eats-QUEENT-lee"), is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, with a timeline that can be traced back to the earliest Aztec societies, 3000 years ago. A slender, trim dog, the xolo looks like the kind of animal that ancient people would worship. Their mostly hairless bodies make them good choices for people with dander allergies, though their bare skin will require regular bathing, and sunscreen isn’t a terrible idea when they're outside.
RELATED: What Type of Pet Should You Get?
“Cute” can be subjective. What is not, however, is the visually striking, instantly recognizable appearance of the Dalmatian. Everybody knows these dogs the moment they see them. If you’re looking for a photogenic, popular, conversation-starting dog, look no further than the fireman’s best friend.
These loving, friendly dogs seem to have come straight out of the Central Casting book for “shaggy dog.” There’s something just so stereotypically “right” about seeing these long-haired goofs that makes you feel kind of warm and happy all over. As with almost all long-haired breeds, however, those looks don’t come without a price. If you own a bearded collie, make sure to block out plenty of time in your calendar for brushing and grooming!
Still haven’t found the right breed for you? Check out our full list of medium-sized dog breeds.