Have you thought about getting a dog for your family but don’t know what breed to get? Many people think a small dog is best for a family and I have to agree!
The Best Small Dogs for Families usually are good with children, can adapt well to a variety of situations, are playful, full of personality, loving, hypoallergenic, and easy to train.
Small breeds tend to have personalities that are ready to please and usually they are great for children of all ages.
Introducing a pet into your family could be a wonderful addition for children and parents alike. Maybe you even have fond memories of growing up with a pooch of your own.
A dog can be a great way to teach children responsibility, the right capricious canine companion can keep kids active and entertained for hours, and family walks and trips to the park are just more fun with a furry friend!
These small breeds are ideal for apartment or suburban living, busy schedules, and a variety of activity levels.
Though they all come in under 30 pounds (usually) there is significant variance in build, temperament, and activity level.
What You Should Know About Small Family Dogs
Though breeds are often known and prized for certain characteristics, it’s important to keep in mind each individual dog will be different.
Devoting enough time to training and integration into your family is important to raising a kid-friendly and well-socialized pet.
A purebred dog might tend towards certain traits, but the only way to figure out your specific dog is with personal attention and time.
Know how much time you’re willing to put into grooming, walks, and playtime, and pick the breed that’s right for your family and your lifestyle.
Keep in mind some dogs require more space and more one-on-one time, while other dogs are happy in apartments with occasional walks.
Consider adopting an older dog. Sure, puppies are cute, but senior pups need love too. The benefit of finding an adult dog is you’ll have a better understanding of its personality, energy level, and medical needs.
Older dogs are also a great choice if you live a less active lifestyle – they are often happy to cuddle up next to you for hours on end and might only need short walks to keep him or her in great health.
Introduce a prospective pet to your family at meet-and-greets to see how they get along and find the right puppy personality for your fam.
Ready to meet your new best friend? Let’s explore some of the most popular small family dogs.
Best Small Dog Breeds
(In no particular order)
Cute, curious, and endlessly playful. The Beagle’s gentle nature and high energy make it a great companion for active children.
Often thought to be a little stubborn and hard to train, with the right guidance and early obedience work, a beagle can be a wonderful family dog.
Give this dog plenty of opportunities to let off steam – a bored or under-exercised Beagle can develop destructive habits.
Obedience school could be a great way for the family to connect and learn together with their newest member.
A sporting dog at heart, but a gentle play companion for a loving family.
Some good attention and training will make a Beagle a great addition to the family, and a wonderful way for everyone to learn and grow together.
Just look at that face! The ‘Frenchie’ as their fans like to call them, are highly adaptable and do great in a city setting.
They are known for their even temper and are happy to relax by your side, head out on a long walk, or engage in some light play.
Coming in under 28 pounds, French Bulldogs can be a gentle playmate and walking partner for kids, families, and seniors.
No wonder they consistently rank as the AKC’s most popular small dog breed.
Highly recommended for the urban family, and any city dweller looking for a low-maintenance, frisky friend! Nothing beats those bat-ears and inquisitive smiles!
These little puffballs of cheer are extremely friendly and affectionate. Alert, playful, and ready for fun and mischief, they get along well with children and other pets.
Their fluffy, bright white coat is hypo-allergenic – perfect for families with allergies or a household that wants to avoid shedding.
The Bichon Frise has a big personality in a huggable, loveable package. One of the smallest toy breeds on the list, Bichon Frise love to play, but their small size calls for a gentle touch.
Try to always teach family members how to play appropriately with your new pup!
Bichon Frise Pronunciation
A Bichon Frise will be a loyal companion and cuddly playmate for years and years.
Loyal and lovable, pugs were bred as companion animals for Chinese nobility, but are now a favorite breed the world over.
This is one of the more sturdy of the small dogs listed and can handle a little rough-housing with kids, as long as it’s well supervised.
Pugs don’t need long jogs or hard exercise, but be careful with their diet. Pugs are prone to weight gain if not fed correctly, and allowed to over-indulge in snacking.
Question for you! Have you ever wondered, do Pugs eyes fall out? You know they are famous for their big, bulging eyes!
Actually, Pugs have a short nose and their eye sockets are not very deep so yes it is possible that a Pugs eyes could fall out! More so, they would pop out with enough pressure on the skin around their eyes.
Pugs generally weigh in at 14-18 pounds and are happy in a single pet household, or around other small dogs and children, pugs are great for families big and small, in nearly any environment.
One of the best things about pugs is their ability to travel, and live just about anywhere!
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
An absolutely adorable companion. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are affectionate, smart, and loyal pets, it’s easy to see why they have a devoted following.
Their cool, gentle demeanor around children, cats, and other pets makes them a favorite dog for families. These dogs love activity and doing things.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Shedding. Because of their beautiful coat, many wonder about this. But the truth is they pretty much shed just like any dog does.
So the trick is regular brushing to keep things under control. Plus your Spaniel will love you for it!
They can keep kids active for hours with long walks, fetch, jogging, and even agility courses.
You certainly get the best of both worlds with this breed – an agile, intelligent sporting dog with the lovability of a small lap dog.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are highly regarded as one of the best family dogs, and small sporting breeds you can find.
So much more than a lap dog, Toy Poodles are often cited as one of the most intelligent breeds.
They are athletic, obedient, and highly trainable. Your kids will love teaching their new bestie tricks and basic obedience.
Toy Poodles’ curly coat is also non-shedding and hypo-allergenic, though they require regular grooming and clipping.
You’ll often see show dogs sporting a recognizable continental coat, but many owners go for a simple sport-cut.
Did You Know an average Toy Poodle Weight is only six to nine pounds?
Whatever style you choose, your toy poodle will be a super smart, athletic companion in both urban and wide-open environments.
Toy Poodles are eager to please and perform whether it’s basic obedience, obstacle courses, and even water sports!
An active family will love a toy poodle companion for their rambunctious spontaneity, and a family with younger children might be well suited to the toy poodle’s gentle and protective nature.
Another great city dog! The Boston Terrier is as fun and lively as its namesake city, in a small package.
These dogs are happy with regular walks and plenty of attention.
Boston Terriers are known to be people-oriented: good with children and other pets, and their small size makes them easy to carry around or drive to the park for some family fun.
The breed is known for a ‘tuxedo look’. They are sharp, crisp, and dapper white on black, but the colors of Boston Terriers also include Seal (looks black but has a reddish tint to it in the sun) and Brindle (streaks of color).
A Boston Terrier is sure to be a faithful and lively companion for every member of your family.
The Shih Tzu breed has a fascinating history that dates back over 1000 years when Tibet introduced the dog to Chinese Royalty as lovable, palace-roaming guardians.
Possibly the most lap-loving of lapdogs, Shih Tzu are completely content curling up and snoozing by your side for hours, and are happy in an apartment, or small backyard situation.
Shih Tzu’s are very friendly and outgoing. They make the perfect small companion for a less rough-and-tumble child and family.
Shih Tzu’s are dog show famous for their long, flowing coat. It is hypo-allergenic but needs to be groomed and brushed if kept long, to prevent matting and excessive shedding. This grooming could end up being your family’s favorite chore.
Quite a small breed, the Shih Tzu weighs about 9-16 pounds but is often prone to overeating and weight gain.
Check with your veterinarian to determine the right quality food and diet for your‘ little lion’.
Shih Tzu’s are a wonderfully adaptive and loyal breed who’ll do great in just about any environment.
Coming in under seven pounds, the petite Maltese might be one of the smallest dogs but don’t let their tiny stature fool you. Maltese are full of curiosity, personality, and spunk.
Like many breeds mentioned, the Maltese are low shedding dogs, and their bright white, straight, long coat against jewel-black eyes make for irresistible cuteness.
Maltese are relatively low maintenance. They need little room and exercise but prove to be fearless watchdogs and companions.
Maltese make a great first dog for any family as they are usually gentle and patient.
The only dog breed native to Brazil, and this adorable dog is just as vivacious, and lively as its namesake.
The Havanese is a bright-eyed, alert, and intelligent companion that does great in a city environment.
Their long, straight coat needs a little attention, but this dark-eyed cutie has relatively low activity needs. Havanese are hypoallergenic. Since they don’t shed much that is good news for your allergy suffers!
A Havanese loves to explore and go on walks, but don’t worry – this 7-16 pound breed needs little exercise to keep at the top of her game – she is happy with light excursions and a lot of attention.
The Havanese is happy in a house with children, other dogs, or a single pup family.
A watchful and vocal guard dog, your Havanese won’t let you down when it comes to gentle companionship and devoted attention.
Before you think about getting a Dachshund as a family pet remember the history of the breed.
Dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers. So they have a bit of a “sporty” and fearless personality.
Are Dachshunds Good With Kids? Why yes! They usually are good with children once they get to know them and feel comfortable.
Another concern to be aware of is that Dachshunds have a long body and often suffer from back issues. So children will need to be taught that there are limits to what they can physically do with them.
A Dachshund can make a wonderful small dog for a family if you have some patience as they can be a little more difficult to train and live with than some other breeds.
So you were interested in a small family dog right? Well, Chihuahua are known to be the smallest dog breed in the world so there you go!
As with a Dachshund, a Chihuahua can make a great family pet but they are a bit feisty at times. Children need to be introduced in a calm manner and realize that they should move slowly allowing the Chihuahua some time to get acclimated to them.
A great thing about Chihuahua is they are so small a normal house can be plenty of room for them to get their exercise and be happy. Chihuahuas have coats in many colors and weigh as little as just two pounds!
They will for sure become a long term part of the family as many live well into their teens. It is not unusual to see a Chihuahua live 18 or more years.
Mixed Breed / Rescue Dog
Who doesn’t love an underdog? Look around at your local shelters and rescue groups because you might just find a very deserving and life-long companion!
Shelters don’t just have senior or older dogs. Many shelters connect puppies with their forever home too.
The benefits of adoption are many. For instance, you could be saving a pup from euthanasia, or giving an older dog some much needed easy, and loving twilight years.
It’s also a great way to get to know the dog you’re about to adopt.
With a puppy, it can be hard to anticipate what kind of personality it will have as it grows. This is also true trying to project what its medical needs will be.
Adopting an older dog, you can find just the right character for your unique family. Start with outdoor meet-ups with your prospective pup, and let every family member get to know her or him over a few sessions.
Mixed breed dogs also may not suffer from the same genetic problems many pure-bred dogs do.
Highly selective breeding has made many toy breeds susceptible to injury, breathing problems, and joint issues.
A mixed-breed dog could be a great combination of health and personality. Plus, if you go the rescue dog route no one will have a cutie like yours!
Having your own one-of-a-kind lovable mutt is truly priceless. Who knows what package your next best, family-friendly buddy will come in. It may just be a lovable dog that steals your heart from the nearest shelter.
Whatever small breed dog your family falls in love with, find it from a responsible breeder or shelter.
And make sure your family has the time, patience, and activity level to meet your new pal’s needs.
Not everyone needs the endless energy of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or a lap-loving Shih Tzu.
Thoroughly research your breed of choice, and meet your new pup before making a commitment.
A puppy is for life! Taking a little time and choosing a dog that’s right for your family and your lifestyle can make a huge difference in the long run.
Some dogs will do better with younger children, some with more active older children, and some dogs might have just grown up unable to coexist with another dog.
Age Does Matter
Considering the age of the dog matters as well. Understanding the personality and disposition of your new pet is important in making sure everyone has a smooth integration into the growing family.
Usually, a puppy is the first thought for most families wanting a dog but it is not always the smart choice because they have no maturity and can require much more time to meet their needs.
With the right preparation, expectation, and love, you’ll be 100% ready to welcome the newest, member of your family! This can be one of the most exciting times! Wishing you all the best.