The Best Small Breed Dogs for Kids: Top Family-Friendly Picks

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Best Small Breed Dogs For Kids
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Selecting the ideal small dog breed for children involves more than succumbing to the charms of a tiny furry friend. It’s about finding a companion that is not only affectionate but also patient and resilient enough to handle the energetic and sometimes unpredictable nature of kids. Small breed dogs can provide the perfect balance for a family, offering the lovable qualities of a pet without requiring the space demands of their larger counterparts.

These petite pooches often possess a friendly demeanor, making them fantastic family additions. Additionally, due to their smaller size, they are less intimidating for children and easier to manage during training sessions. However, it’s crucial to recognize that despite their size, small dogs still require proper care, training, and socialization to thrive in a family environment.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing a small dog for children demands careful consideration of the breed’s temperament and energy levels.
  • Small breed dogs can be great family pets, offering affection and companionship in a manageable size.
  • Proper care, consistent training, and early socialization are key to integrating a small dog successfully into your family life.

Benefits of Small Breed Dogs for Families

When considering a family dog, small breed dogs may be especially suitable for households with limited space. Small dog breeds, by nature, often require less room and can comfortably live in smaller living quarters, such as apartments or modest-sized homes. This adaptability ensures that you don’t need a sprawling backyard to have a happy, healthy pet.

Your children can benefit from the intelligent dogs among the smaller breeds. These clever canines can be quick to learn and respond to training, which can make for an engaging and educational experience for kids learning about responsibility and pet care.

Despite their size, many of these dogs are quite active, which can be great for keeping your family engaged. With a small, active dog, you can look forward to play sessions, walks, and activities that help keep everyone, including your four-legged friend, physically healthy.

These breeds are also well-regarded as good companions, given their propensity for strong bonds with their humans. When you bring a small breed dog into your home, you’re not just getting a pet; you’re gaining a new member of the family. This makes small dogs excellent companions for your children, often growing up with them and providing a source of comfort and friendship.

Additionally, due to their size, handling a small dog is generally easier for children. It allows them to learn pet care in a way that’s manageable. It also can instill a sense of confidence as they become capable caretakers of their little friend.

In terms of healthcare, small breeds typically incur less expense in medication dosage and preventive treatments due to their size. This practical advantage can make pet ownership slightly more affordable in the long run.

By welcoming a small breed dog into your family, you’re opening the door to an enriching experience that offers practical benefits while also nurturing your family’s emotional well-being.

Considerations Before Choosing a Small Dog

Selecting a small dog as a family pet requires thoughtful consideration to ensure a good fit with your children’s needs and lifestyle. Pay attention to space needs, time commitment, breed temperament, and maintenance to make a well-informed decision.

Space Requirements

Your living space can greatly influence your choice of small dog breeds. For instance, an apartment may be suitable for breeds that require less exercise and are more adaptable to small environments.

  • Ample space: If your home has ample space indoors and out, size may not be as restrictive.
  • Limited space: For smaller apartments, choose breeds with lower exercise needs.

Time and Commitment

Owning a small dog demands time and patience, particularly when it involves kids. Consider the following:

  • Training: Commit to regular training sessions to ensure your small dog is well-behaved and socialized.
  • Daily routine: Factor in daily walks, playtime, and companionship.

Temperament and Behavior

A child-friendly temperament is crucial in a family dog. Look for small dog breeds known for being:

  • Non-aggressive: Gentle and patient with children.
  • Tolerant: Able to manage the loud and unpredictable behavior of kids.
  • Anxiety levels: Some breeds are prone to anxiety which can be challenging around children.

Health and Grooming Needs

Healthcare and grooming are important factors in your level of responsibility. Some key points include:

  • Grooming: Small dogs often require regular grooming for coat health and comfort.
  • Health: Enquire with the breeder about any breed-specific health concerns.

Top Small Dog Breeds for Children

When selecting a small dog breed for your family, it’s important to consider temperament, energy levels, and maintenance to ensure a good match with your children.


Your family will find the Beagle to be a friendly and curious companion. This breed is known for being good with kids and has a fairly even temperament, but it requires regular exercise to manage its energy.


The Pug is an adaptable and sociable breed that makes a great addition to families with children. Pugs are sturdy, enjoy playtime, and due to their compact size, they fit well in smaller living spaces.


With a calm demeanor, Bulldogs are dependable and comfortable with kids. Their gentle and protective nature makes them excellent family pets, although they do require attention to grooming due to their facial folds.

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a fluffy, affectionate breed. They are good companions that require regular grooming to maintain their hypoallergenic coat.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a true family dog, known for its gentle and affectionate temperament. They are good companions who appreciate being close to their human family members.

French Bulldog

French Bulldogs thrive in an apartment setting due to their low exercise needs and are heavily reliant on socialization. They are great family dogs that form strong bonds with kids.

Cocker Spaniel

Your family may appreciate the Cocker Spaniel for its balanced energy. They are social, love playtime, and good companions, but they have significant grooming needs.

Border Terrier

For active families, the Border Terrier is a match with its lively and affectionate nature. They are energetic small dogs that require regular exercise.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu loves companionship and is a good family dog. While they are friendly and relatively low-energy, grooming is a high priority to keep their long, flowing coat in top condition.

Australian Terrier

The Australian Terrier is a small, confident dog, often keen on chasing vermin due to its prey drive. It can be a good fit for your kids as they are active and enjoy being part of family activities.

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier is an animated and sturdy breed that tends to be good around children. This breed is active and requires some outdoor time to expend its energy.


Havanese dogs are affectionate and thrive as part of the family dynamic. Quick to learn and eager to please, they’re ideal family dogs that enjoy attention from children.


Recognized for their intelligence, Papillons are great with older kids who can appreciate an active, playful, yet small-sized dog. They are not only good companions but also quick learners.


Though tiny, Chihuahuas can be big in personality and fit well in families with older kids who understand their fragile nature.


The Maltese is gentle and often considered hypoallergenic, making it a suitable option as a family pup, especially in households where allergies may be a concern.

Boston Terrier

Charming and affectionate, Boston Terriers are known as excellent family pets for their adaptability and friendly temperament.

Other Noteworthy Breeds

Several other small breeds also suit family life with kids, such as the Dachshund, American Eskimo Dog, Rat Terrier, Bolognese, Biewer Terrier, German Spitz, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Pumi. These breeds may also possess characteristics that make them good companions for children, like being energetic, intelligent, and family-oriented. Norwegian Lundehund stands out for its unique ability to climb and hunt in steep places; they are curious and playful dogs that fit well into an active family life.

Training and Socializing Small Dogs

Proper training and socialization of small breed dogs are crucial for shaping their temperament and manners, ensuring that they become well-adjusted pets. You need patience and consistency to achieve the best outcomes.

Basic Training Fundamentals

When training your small dog, focus on the fundamentals from the start. Consistency is key; always use the same commands for each action you want your dog to learn. Small dogs can have short attention spans, so keep training sessions short and engaging—about 5 to 15 minutes long. You can start with the basics such as:

  • Sit: Guide your dog into a sitting position, say “sit,” and reward them when they comply.
  • Stay: Ask your dog to stay in a spot, reward them for staying even just for a few seconds, and gradually increase the duration.
  • Come: Call their name followed by “come” and reward them when they come to you.

Use positive reinforcement such as treats and praise to encourage desired behaviors. Avoid punishing your small dog as this can lead to fear and aggression.

Socialization Techniques

Early socialization ensures that small dogs learn to interact confidently with different people, environments, and other animals. Practice controlled introductions by:

  1. Exposing your dog to various scenarios: Bring your dog to different places like parks, stores, and friends’ houses to encounter various stimuli.
  2. Meeting new people and pets: Allow your dog to meet diverse people and friendly pets, but always ensure that these interactions are positive.

A good practice is to have a treat handy during these interactions. Reward your dog for calm and friendly behavior to reinforce good manners.

Remember, socialization is a gradual process, and you should never force your dog into uncomfortable situations. Observe their body language and respond accordingly, easing into new experiences at a pace that suits them.

By incorporating these training and socialization techniques into your routine, you can help your small dog develop into a well-behaved and adaptable companion.

Integrating a Small Dog into Your Family

When you introduce a small dog into your home, you embark on a journey that requires patience, commitment, and understanding. It’s a process that benefits greatly from a structured approach.

Prepare Your Environment:

  • Create a safe space where your new pet can retreat to when overwhelmed.
  • Remove hazards that might pose a risk to a curious pup.

Establish Rules:

  • Decide on the rules for your dog and ensure all family members are consistent in enforcing them.
  • Discuss responsibilities like feeding, walking, and grooming, so everyone knows their role.


  • Begin with basic commands like sit, stay, and come.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior.
  • Remember, short, frequent training sessions suit a small dog’s attention span.

Building a Bond:

  • Encourage gentle playtime to foster a bond between the dog and your children.
  • Teach your kids how to interact safely and respectfully with the dog to build a strong, loving relationship.

Health and Well-Being:

  • Establish a routine for veterinary care, including vaccinations and check-ups.
  • Opt for high-quality food appropriate for the breed and size of your dog.

By nurturing a caring and consistent environment, you’ll help your small breed dog settle into being a cherished family dog. It’s a loving commitment that teaches valuable lessons in responsibility and creates a harmonious family dynamic.

Dog Care Basics for Children

When selecting a small breed dog for your child, understanding basic care requirements is essential. Grooming plays a vital role in the well-being of your furry friend. Teach your kids to regularly brush the dog’s coat to avoid matting, especially for breeds with longer hair. Depending on the breed, nail trimming and ear cleaning might also be necessary.

Responsibility is a significant concept for children to learn through pet care. Outline daily tasks they can manage, such as feeding, providing clean water, and tidying the dog’s sleeping area. Use these activities to instill a routine that your child can follow, emphasizing the importance of consistent care.

Patience is crucial, both in training and day-to-day interactions. Children should learn to interpret the dog’s body language and respond calmly to their needs. When it comes to training, simple commands like sit, stay, and come are foundational and can be taught by children under supervision. Positive reinforcement methods, using treats or praises, teach the child and dog cooperative behavior.

Here’s a quick reference for your child’s dog care routine:

Activity Frequency Tips
Feeding Twice a day Use measured amounts of food
Water Constant supply Fresh water in a clean bowl
Brushing Weekly Gentle strokes to build trust
Nail Trimming Monthly Gentle handling of paws
Ear Cleaning Monthly Careful and with proper tools

Remind your child that their small dog is a sensitive creature requiring love, care, and attention. Through daily care routines, your child will learn and grow alongside their pet and form a lasting bond.

Potential Challenges with Small Dogs

When considering small breed dogs for your family, it’s important to recognize possible challenges that may arise.

Fragility: Due to their size, small dogs can be more fragile and prone to injury. Supervision is essential, especially around young children who may play too roughly.

  • Injury Prevention: Teach your kids gentle handling to avoid accidental injuries.
  • Safe Spaces: Create safe areas where your dog can retreat away from boisterous activity.

Anxiety: Small dogs often have higher levels of anxiety. This can be due to their more vulnerable size or predispositions within certain breeds.

  • Routine: Establish a consistent routine to help reduce stress.
  • Comfort Items: Offer your dog comfort items like toys or blankets to help them feel secure.

Socialization: Early and ongoing socialization is crucial. Small dogs sometimes develop defensive behaviors when they feel threatened by larger animals or unfamiliar people.

Socialization Strategy Description
Positive Encounters Regularly introduce your dog to new experiences in a controlled manner.
Training Classes Consider puppy classes for structured socialization opportunities.
Controlled Playdates Organize playdates with other small dogs to build confidence.

While small dogs offer many rewards, these potential challenges require thoughtful management. Your awareness and proactive steps can ensure a harmonious relationship between your kids and your small dog.

Where to Adopt or Purchase a Small Breed Dog

When deciding to add a small breed dog to your family, consider both adoption and purchasing options.

Adoption Centers: Local shelters and rescues often have various small breeds available. Inquire with your local animal shelter or visit to find adoptable dogs in your area.

Breed Specific Rescues: Search for breed-specific rescue organizations that focus on the small breed you are interested in.

Responsible Breeders:

  • Reputation: Ensure they are reputable by researching and reading reviews.
  • Health Checks: Confirm they perform health screenings and genetic testing.
  • Visitation: A trustworthy breeder will typically welcome visits to their facility.

American Kennel Club (AKC):

  • Breeder Directory: Use the AKC’s breeder directory to find AKC-registered breeders.
  • PuppyFinder: AKC’s PuppyFinder service matches you with puppies from AKC-registered litters.

Events and Clubs: Dog shows and club meetings can be a resource to connect with breeders and enthusiasts.

Option Benefits
Adoption Centers Wide variety, potential for lower costs, and the opportunity to provide a home to a pet in need.
Breed Specific Rescue Specialized knowledge about the breed, and potential access to purebreds.
Responsible Breeders Assurance of lineage, health checks, and often the ability to meet the puppy’s parents.
AKC Resources Reliable listings, support, and information on breed standards and breeder practices.

Keep these options in mind as you search for a new family member. A small breed dog can offer affection, companionship, and lifelong joy. Remember to do your due diligence to find a healthy and well-socialized puppy that suits your family’s lifestyle.


Selecting the right small breed dog for your family requires considering the individual temperament of the dog, its energy levels, and how it interacts with children. Here are key takeaways for you to consider:

  • Temperament: Look for breeds known for their gentle, patient nature.
  • Size: Ensure the dog is not too fragile for interaction with kids.
  • Energy Levels: Match the dog’s activity level with your family’s lifestyle.
  • Maintenance: Be aware of grooming needs and health issues.

Recommended Small Breed Dogs for Kids:

  • 1. Beagle: Energetic and friendly
  • 2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Affectionate and adaptable
  • 3. Boston Terrier: Lively and intelligent

Consult with a veterinarian or professional breeder to assess the best fit for your family environment. Remember that while certain breeds may be predisposed to favorable traits, every dog has its unique personality. Committed training and early socialization are crucial for a harmonious relationship between your children and the new family pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the right small breed dog for your family comes down to temperament, energy levels, and the compatibility of the breed with children.

Which small dog breeds are known for being good with children?

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Beagle are great with kids due to their gentle nature and sociable temperament. Additionally, Pugs and French Bulldogs are known for their playful yet patient disposition with children.

What are some non-shedding small dog breeds suitable for families?

If you’re looking for non-shedding small breed dogs, consider the Bichon Frise and Maltese. These breeds are not only hypoallergenic but also known for being affectionate and good with children.

How do I choose the right small dog breed for a family with kids?

When selecting a small dog breed for your family, consider your lifestyle and the breed’s energy level, size, and temperament. Research breeds that match with your kids’ activity levels and your ability to provide training, attention, and care.

What are the most intelligent small breeds that are easy to train for families with children?

Miniature Poodles and Shetland Sheepdogs are among the smartest small breeds. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them highly trainable, suitable for families with children.

Can you recommend calm and friendly small dog breeds that are good for kids?

For a calm and friendly small dog breed, consider the Havanese or Coton de Tulear. These dogs are known for their gentle demeanor and are excellent companions for children.

What factors should be considered when looking for a small to medium-sized dog for a family with children?

Consider the breed’s energy levels, grooming needs, and known health issues. It’s important also to assess a dog’s temperament and how it interacts with children. Always meet the dog in person to ensure its personality is a good fit for your family.

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  • Avatar for Kids Who Learn binance says:
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    I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.
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