Small dog breeds are a handful, but most of that handful is made up of fun, joy, and love. Little dogs can get into trouble just like big dogs can. However, many small breeds are an excellent option for families with children and for those who are new to the dog ownership world.
Here are 28 of the best small-breed dogs for families.
The Top 28 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families
1. The Chihuahua
Known for being in Taco Bell commercials and several movies, the Chihuahua is fun-loving, interactive, attentive, and good-natured. They are great training students, and they enjoy playing, exploring, and cuddling with their human family members.
2. The Alaskan Klee Kai
These dogs typically weigh no more than 15 pounds when fully grown. They are rambunctious but play well with children. An Alaskan Klee Kai and a child can spend hours tiring each other out. They enjoy training and will work well with kids on the agility course.
3. The Japanese Chin
This toy breed is graceful, quiet, and intelligent. They prefer to hang out with kids who are calm and focused but will adapt to livelier children. They love spending time inside the house, they don’t need much activity or excitement to stay satisfied throughout the day, and they can spend their time alone at home while everyone is at work and school.
4. The Pomeranian
Furry, sweet, and playful, the Pomeranian is the perfect dog for families because they love both the excitement and dullness of family life. These dogs were cherished by royals centuries ago and for good reason. They are confident, prideful, and effective watchdogs who will do whatever it takes to keep the kids safe from perceived predators.
5. The Rat Terrier
This dog’s name was coined by United States President Teddy Roosevelt. This compact dog has a smooth, soft coat that is enjoyable to snuggle with. Their fine hair is almost waterproof and can ward off the buildup of dust and dirt as they play in the yard with the kids. They also happen to be the perfect size to act as a supportive companion for kids at bedtime.
6. The Pumi
Standing at only about 18 inches tall as an adult, the Pumi is a native of Hungary. These dogs have curly coats, erect ears, and playful personalities. These agile dogs can keep up with the most energetic kids in the yard, and their tenderness makes them a joy to cuddle up with when it is time to watch a family movie together.
7. The Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka
This dog’s name translates into “colored lapdog” in Russian. They were bred specifically to live in the house with families and are used to living in tight quarters. They are best known for their eagerness to please and their attention to children, whom they love to spend time with. They are rarely aggressive and tend to display submissive actions.
8. The Yorkipoo
Considered a designer dog, the Yorkipoo is small, adorable, and fun-loving. They love nothing more than playing with toys and children. They will follow the kids in their household around whenever possible, just to make sure that they are never left out of the action. They make great lap dogs, and they do not need tons of exercise to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.
9. The Dachshund
These dogs are also referred to as hotdogs by those who love them the most. They are long, short, and super lovable. The Dachshund has a huge personality that can easily keep up with the toddler or young child in your life. They can also be cuddly. They can weigh up to 32 pounds when fully grown and can live up to 16 years old.
- See also: Are Dachshunds Hypoallergenic?
10. The English Cocker Spaniel
The English Cocker Spaniel is a happy-go-lucky dog that loves to spend time around children. Their compact yet sturdy bodies can handle roughhousing, and their alert personality ensures that they always stay on top of what’s going on around them. These are soft dogs that are comfortable to cuddle with when it is time for bed.
11. The Yorkshire Terrier
These little dogs are adorable, affectionate, and engaging. The Yorkshire Terrier has been rated as one of the most popular breeds in the United States for the past several years and for good reason. They are easy to train, they are comical, and they can be groomed to create unique looks that help enhance family photos and days together in the park.
12. The Cairn Terrier
Hailing from the Scottish Highlands, this is one of the oldest terrier breeds in existence today. They are furry, snuggly, and stout. They are not afraid to guard their family members with all their might. They love eliminating rat populations, and they can play in the yard with kids for hours at a time without getting worn out.
13. The Whippet
Small, lanky, and full of energy, the Whippet is a dog that any active household with kids should consider adopting. These dogs are reminiscent of greyhounds but are much smaller. They have a deep chest, a lanky body, and a big personality that no child can resist. They are happy to play tag, hide and seek, and fetch any time of the day.
- You might also like: 15 of the Best Large Dog Breeds for Families
14. The Maltese
These dogs typically weigh less than 7 pounds as adults, making them a super cuddly addition to any home with kids of any age. They move gracefully and always seem to have an enthusiastic look on their face. They never want to miss out on the fun and games, and they will never leave a child family member’s side once they get to know them.
15. The French Bulldog
The French Bulldog is sturdy, brave, and alert. They always seem to know what is going on and will guard their child family members with their life. They are fun-loving and can learn all kinds of tricks, such as how to ride a skateboard. They do not seem to mind going down slides and riding on swings with kids.
16. The Shiba Inu
This is an ancient Japanese breed with well-defined muscles and a great deal of stamina. They can keep up with even the highest-energy children, running circles around them for the most part. They like to work and are good at paying attention to what is happening around them.
They enjoy pulling kids in sleds, helping children solve block puzzles, and swimming in a body of water with anyone who wants to join them.
17. The Lhasa Apso
While there’s a grooming commitment as part of being a Lhasa Apso owner, these dogs will show your kids affection and loyalty until the day they leave the house. It is not uncommon for this breed to sit against a family member’s bedroom door all day until they get home from school. They are loving, inquiring, insightful, and intelligent dogs that every human should take the time to get to know.
18. The Basenji
These dogs do have high energy levels and require a great deal of exercise, which makes them ideal pets for households with kids who are just as active. If your family has time to spend an hour or more outside playing ball, riding bikes, going on hikes, or just hanging out in the yard, this may be the right dog breed for you.
19. The Pekingese
These little dogs look like they have manes, just like lions do. However, it is just an illusion: Their hair is simply thick and lustrous around the neck and shoulder areas. The Pekingese is lighthearted, friendly, naturally trusting, and loyal. They enjoy spending time with kids and can easily become best friends with anyone willing to play with and pet them.
20. The Miniature Pinscher
These stout dogs are full of pride and high on life. They love strutting around with their long legs, letting everyone know that they are around and available for interaction. They get along well with kids and can be trusted around toddlers if they are socialized from a young age. They are easy to care for and require little grooming throughout the year to maintain a fresh and pleasant look.
21. The Havanese
The Havanese dog breed has large, respectful brown eyes that always seem to show what they are thinking. When they are happy and feeling social, their tails will curl up above their backs. Their coats are thick yet soft, which allows them to put up with the rain and mud well. They are a joy to cuddle with, and kids tend to enjoy their ability to quickly learn tricks.
22. The Shih Tzu
This is the perfect dog for kids who want to dress their pets up with bows, dresses, and other accessories. They will happily sport anything from socks and shirts to sunglasses and bandanas any time of the day. They are excitable like kids are, and while they may bark or nip at strangers, they tend to be angels when it comes to dealing with members of the household, young and old.
- Related read: 8 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus: Reviews & Top Picks
23. The Jack Russell Terrier
This small but sprite dog is not one for households that like to lounge around. The Jack Russell Terrier wants to be outside exploring and playing with kids during the day. They are not ones to spend much time napping and instead, can be found trying to get involved with whatever the kids happen to be doing around the house or out in the yard at any given time.
24. The Miniature Poodle
As nice looking as the larger version, the Miniature Poodle is known for being hypoallergenic, calm, nurturing, and investigative. They will hang out with a child while they are doing homework, hang out on the deck while the family is eating their barbecue dinner, and sleep on the foot of the bed while waiting to wake their housemate up for school in the morning.
25. The Miniature Schnauzer
These funny-looking dogs tend to make children laugh with their comical beards and bewildered facial expressions. But make no mistake, there is more to the Miniature Schnauzer than their looks. They have big hearts and tend to understand when someone needs extra support and security in the form of snuggling and simply being present. They seem to understand kids and get along well with other animals.
26. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Tough and little, these dogs can handle themselves well while roughhousing with kids. They enjoy being house dogs and love daily walks. The Pembroke Welsh Corgi can weigh up to 30 pounds when fully grown, making them one of the larger breeds for families on this list.
27. The Beagle
Beagles are loyal, patient, caring, and inquisitive. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them easy to train, and they make great hunting companions too. They prefer living where they can run free and play during the day, but they can adapt to apartment life if they can spend time outdoors with family members each day.
28. The Pug
These small dogs have huge personalities. They yearn to solve problems and will do anything to get outside and explore with their human family members. They do have a lazy side that could result in long days of lounging on the couch while watching the kids play. The Pug enjoys activities such as playing frisbee and catch.
All the small breeds on our list are excellent options for families with children. However, it is always a good idea to meet with a potential pet before deciding whether they are the right fit for your household. Every animal has their own personality, habits, and quirks that set them apart from every other animal, just like humans. Which of these small breeds appeals to you most?