Some people prefer small dogs, while others prefer big dogs. But like Goldilocks, sometimes you’ll find your best fit in the middle. Mid-size dog breeds are as energetic as small dogs and just as loving as big dogs.
Medium-size dogs typically weigh 30 to 70 pounds. They vary in activity level, temperament, and trainability.
There are definite advantages to choosing a mid-size dog. They don’t eat as much as big dogs and aren’t as fragile as small dogs. And they make great companions for active families.
But before you choose a dog, make sure you do your homework first. You can start by considering this list of popular, fun-loving, mid-size dog breeds.
American Staffordshire Terrier
Height: 17 to 19 inches
Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years
If you want a larger option of medium-sized dogs, consider getting an American Staffordshire Terrier. This breed is commonly known as Am Staff and is a popular mid-size dog because of its friendly nature.
This breed might look intimidating due to its broad head and muscular body, but it’s highly energetic and affectionate. Am Staffs, known for their courage, were first used for dog fighting.
American Staffordshire has existed since the 19th century in England. This breed is created by mixing terriers and bulldogs as these breeds consist of desirable attributes of energetic and agile dogs.
The dogs have short, smooth coats, requiring regular brushing. Am Staffs are moderate to low shedders, but they don’t have a high shedding season because they have a single coat. The dogs need regular baths every four to six weeks to keep their coats and skin healthy.
If you take your Am Staff on regular walks, they will naturally wear down their nails. However, you may still need to trim them occasionally.
Common Am Staff health problems include atopic dermatitis, hip dysplasia, and hypothyroidism.
The American Staffordshire is intensely loyal and easy to train. Be warned, however, that they can be aggressive with other dogs.
Australian Cattle Dog
Height: 17 to 20 inches
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years
The Australian Cattle Dog is known for its intelligence and high energy level. If you get this dog breed, realize they are alert and curious.
Farmers brought the dogs from England to Australia in the 19th century because they could handle Australia’s harsh weather.
Originally farm dogs, the breed now is a family dog that loves its people. Their nature also makes them known as “shadow dogs” because they can be clingy.
If you plan to get this breed, be prepared to give plenty of physical and mental exercise. Avoid leaving an Australian Cattle dog alone for extended periods. The dogs need daily exercise and regular family interaction to avoid becoming anxious and potentially destructive.
Because the breed has a double coat, it sheds more. Daily brushing will help you keep that under control. You may also need to occasionally trim the hair on your dog’s paws and nails every four to six weeks.
This breed can develop deafness, progressive retinal atrophy, and canine hip dysplasia. Because the dogs are active, they need high-protein, calorie-dense food.
Overall, Australian Cattle Dogs are intelligent and curious. But they can show aggression towards strangers.
Height: 18 to 23 inches
Weight: 35 to 70 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
Australian Shepherds are brilliant, energetic dogs that need attention, space, and daily exercise. If the dogs don’t get enough play and exercise, all that excess energy can cause them to get bored or even become anxious or destructive.
They learn quickly and are easy to train, but you need to start training early because they can be stubborn.
The dogs tend to be protective of their people and property and bark about what they think is suspicious activity. The good news is they aren’t obsessive barkers.
Australian Shepherds have double coats with medium-length hair that is curly or wavy. They shed a lot, so be prepared to brush your dog daily to help remove loose hair.
This breed is typically healthy but is more prone to epilepsy than other breeds. They also suffer vision problems, and puppies born with two copies of the merle gene have a higher risk of being blind or deaf.
Height: Up to 15 inches
Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
Life expectancy: 12 to 13 years
If you want a unique-looking dog, consider getting a Basset Hound. This mid-size dog breed has short legs and big, floppy ears.
Basset Hounds are highly loyal and devoted. They are inquisitive and follow their noses, even if it gets them in trouble. If you have a Basset, you’ll need to keep your trash out of reach.
This breed originally came from Belgium and France. It was bred as human hunting partner because their noses make them great navigators.
Basset Hounds are heavy shredders that need daily brushing to remove loose hair.
Although this breed is not highly active, it requires regular exercise to stay in shape. Other health problems include glaucoma, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, bleeding disorders, and luxating patella. Those long ears also trap moisture making the breed prone to ear infections.
Height: 20 to 22 inches
Weight: 45 to 55 pounds
Coat: Shaggy double coat
Life expectancy: 12 to 14 years
The Bearded Collie is an outgoing and clever dog breed that is smaller than it appears. They look like a smaller version of an Old English Sheepdog.
With their long, heavy coats, the dogs love to be outside no matter the weather. They make an ideal choice for families that love spending time outside.
The dogs are affectionate and kid-friendly but also high energy and need a lot of exercise. You’ll need to start training early because Bearded Collies can be willful and stubborn.
Their long, thick coats require a pin or bristle brush to keep their hair free from tangles and snarls.
Bearded collies are prone to developing hip dysplasia, allergies, and hypothyroidism.
Height: 13 to 15 inches
Weight: 20 to 30 pounds
Coat: Silky double coat
Life expectancy: 10 to 14 years
The Cocker Spaniel is perhaps best known as Lady from “Lady and the Tramp.” The dogs are known for their long, silky ears and soft, flowing coats.
The dogs are energetic and love brisk walks and playtime with their families. Once bred to be hunting dogs, Cocker Spaniels are now more likely to compete in obedience or agility contests.
These social dogs don’t like to be left alone and, if they are, tend to become anxious and develop problem behaviors, including chewing, digging, and excessive barking.
Cocker Spaniels are intelligent and easy to train. They make great companions for other dogs and children.
The dogs are prone to developing glaucoma, retinal atrophy, and cataracts. If you don’t keep your Cocker active, they can gain weight and develop hypothyroidism. The breed also is prone to developing hip dysplasia and knee dislocation, which can lead to joint pain and arthritis.
Their long, double coat requires regular grooming. Even if you take your Cocker Spaniel to the groomer every four to six weeks, you’ll still need to brush your dog’s coat daily. Because the dogs are more likely to develop eye problems, you’ll need to clean the area near their eyes. Those long ears also trap moisture making the dogs more likely to develop ear infections, so plan to check your dog’s ears weekly and clean them as needed.
Although high maintenance, Cocker Spaniels are happy, friendly dogs who make great companions.
Height: 21 to 24 inches
Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
Coat: Double coat
Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years
Typically ranked third on the American Kennel Club’s annual list of most popular dog breeds, the Golden Retriever is an intelligent, loyal, and eager-to-please companion.
Goldens are active dogs that need lots of exercise.
If they aren’t active, the dogs tend to gain weight. The dogs also are prone to developing cancer, heart problems, hypothyroidism, epilepsy, skin allergies, and hip dysplasia.
Because they are companion animals, the dogs also need to spend lots of time with their families. If they don’t, they develop separation anxiety.
Goldens shed and need daily brushing to remove loose hair and prevent mattes and tangles from forming.
Because the dogs are intelligent and easy to train, they often work as service dogs.
That also makes this medium-sized dog breed ideal for first-time dog owners. Start training and socializing your Golden early to help them become happy confident dogs.
Bottom line: Should you get a mid-sized dog?
Many argue that mid-sized dog breeds (30 lb dog or more) are the best because they are neither fragile nor intimidating. They are full of energy and love.
They make great pets, so consider adding one to your family today.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: were Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ firstname.lastname@example.org.