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17 Best Small Dog Breeds For Families With Kids

| Published on July 6, 2023

One of the greatest joys of childhood is growing up with a dog, and if you’re ready to give that dream to your kids, you might be asking yourself what breeds are the best small dogs for kids? 

As a parent, safety is one of your greatest concerns, and this must be taken into account when choosing what breed of dog fits with your family. Some dog breeds do not do well with children, especially very young ones.

But don’t worry! There are so many family-friendly dog breeds that make excellent companions for young kids. If you’re on the search for a gentle dog who’s tolerant of loud noises, messy rooms, and odd schedules, these breeds are for you.

But be warned, no dog is suitable for a child that hasn’t been taught how to interact with animals properly. Don’t forget, all dog and child interactions should be supervised.

Kid holding small dog

We’ve put together a list of the best small dog breeds for families with children to help you find the right pup for your home!

Best Small Dogs for Kids 

#1 – Beagle

Beagle on leash

The Beagle is a small to medium-sized scent hound originally bred for hunting and is still a prized rabbiting dog today. Very gentle and even-tempered, Beagles are noted for making very poor guard dogs because they’re open to meeting anybody. These charming hounds make excellent companions for children.

#2 – Pug

Pug Dogs for kids

The Pug has a goofy, sociable personality that makes him a wonderful family companion for adults and children alike. Although strong-willed and exuberant, they are typically very lazy dogs and require relatively minimal exercise.

#3 – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

This small toy spaniel is gentle, playful, and very affectionate towards their family and strangers alike. Cavis are small but hardy, adapting easily to all kinds of environments and situations. These silky-coated lovelies make excellent family companions, proving a suitable dog breed for those with small children.

#4 – Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Although this active and muscular bully breed may look intimidating to some, Staffordshire Bull Terriers are actually very social and loving dogs. Staffies are not well-suited for quiet, indoor families as the breed does best with plenty of exercise and fun. That said, they make wonderful companions for children and are extremely affectionate.

#5 – Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier relaxing

The Boston Terrier, nicknamed the American Gentleman, is a true joy to have around for those who love a silly, sociable breed. Originally bred to be companion dogs, these gentlemen and gentlewomen dogs still excel at this job today. They are one of the best small breeds for kids, their temperaments making them well-suited for family life.

#6 – Border Terrier

Border Terrier for kids

Border Terriers are small terrier dogs originally bred for vermin and fox hunting. Today, they excel at a variety of dog sports and make wonderfully active companions. Although these wily terriers may chase cats and other small animals, Border Terriers are very even-tempered and make great companions for children.

#7 – Keeshond

Keeshond running

Fluff is the name of the game when it comes to this family-friendly dog breed. The Keeshond is a medium-sized Spitz breed that is very intelligent and eager to please. Very affectionate and attached to their families, the Keeshond makes an excellent companion for children. These people-pleasing pups have done well in obedience, agility, and even guide dog work.

#8 – Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel posing

The Cocker Spaniel, both the American and English varieties, are medium-sized bird hunting dogs that make excellent family companions. They are intelligent dogs who just love to lavish affection on their families. As the spaniel grows extremely attached to their families, these shiny beauties are great dogs for homes with children.

#9 – Havanese

Havanese with bow in hair

The Havanese is a small but hardy dog who makes an ideal family companion. As very social dogs, they do not do well when left alone for extended periods. These little floofs may be a toy breed, but they are even-tempered and a well-suited small dog breed ideal for kids. 

#10 – Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers

This Canadian retriever is a medium-sized dog originally used for hunting waterfowl. They are active and intelligent dogs requiring lots of play! This “Little Red Retrieving Machine” makes an excellent companion for families with children, assuming they get enough exercise. Eager to please, this red retriever performs well in a variety of dog sports.

#11 – Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terrier for kids

The Norfolk Terrier is a small, adorable terrier and is considered to be one of the softest tempered in the group. They are very social dogs and an ideal small dog breed for kids. Plus, the Norfolk is the scruffiest little cutie ever! 

#12 – Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Fluffy Wheaten Terrier Dog for kids

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a medium-sized Irish dog with a single-layered coat that rarely sheds, making them suitable for those with allergies. They are also very playful and friendly, making them excellent companion dogs for families with children. Kids will love snuggling this teddy bear dog! 

#13 – Maltese

Playful Maltese puppy

Fluffy, fun, and family-friendly, the Maltese may look regal, but the “Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta” won’t mind getting their majestic fur tousled while playing with the kids. This gentle breed is an excellent choice of a small dog who will happily play with children.

#14 – Miniature Schnauzer

Miniature Schnauzer close-up

Just look at that sweet smile! The Miniature Schnauzer will love having fun with the family. You’ll probably find him acting as your gray shadow because these lovey dogs want to be by your side all the time. And when playtime is done, the mini Schnauzer will love some cuddles while you stroke his beard.

#15 – French Bulldog

French Bulldog playing with toy

The French Bulldog has it all! Pizazz, cutesy looks, brains, and a heart that outweighs their small, but muscular bodies. These adorable small dogs are full of love and don’t mind getting goofy with the youngsters. But don’t let the kids tease the Frenchie. Their feelings are easily hurt!

#16 – Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise in the snow

Don’t be fooled by the glamorous, curly coats of this breed. These cloud-like pups love to play and snuggle! They get along with just about everyone they meet, regardless of age. They’re gentle, affectionate, and always ready to explore new places with their humans. Plus, their low-shedding coats are perfect for children with allergies.

#17 – Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu playing outside

Shih Tzu puppies are often too small and delicate for young children, but adult Shih Tzus are charming and outgoing. Most of the time, these dogs are people-oriented and thrilled to spend time with loved ones. They get attached to their humans quickly and love to follow them around. They’re the perfect balance of playful and lazy, so they make great companions for both adults and children.


Picking the Perfect Petite Pup: Tips for Choosing the Best Small Dog Breed for Families with Young Children

A small dog can be an excellent addition to a household, especially for families with young children. But before you fall in love with the first furry face you see, remember that not all breeds are created equal. Selecting the right breed can ensure a harmonious cohabitation between the newest four-legged addition and your little ones.

The first factor to consider is the dog’s temperament. Some small dog breeds are known for their energetic and outgoing personalities, which can be a perfect match for high-energy children. For example, Beagles and French Bulldogs, despite their small sizes, are very social and generally have an excellent temperament around children. They are playful and patient, and they love interactive games, making them great companions for kids.

On the other hand, families with quieter, more reserved children may benefit from a more laid-back breed. Shih Tzus and King Charles Spaniels are known for their calm and loving dispositions. They enjoy cuddles and relaxed playtimes, making them well suited for quiet afternoons reading or watching television.

Another significant consideration is the dog’s resilience. While children may not mean to be rough, their playful behavior can occasionally cross the line. Here, small but sturdy breeds, like the Miniature Schnauzer and the Cocker Spaniel, come to the fore. These dogs are tough enough to cope with a bit of rough-and-tumble, yet gentle enough not to pose any danger to children.

Grooming needs also play a key role in selecting a dog breed. Some dogs, like Poodles, have hair that continuously grows, requiring frequent grooming. On the other hand, breeds like Boston Terriers have a short coat that is easy to maintain. Families with limited time for grooming tasks may opt for short-coated breeds or those that shed minimally.

It is also essential to gauge the general health and lifespan of the breed. While some small dogs can live well into their teens, others may have genetic predispositions to health problems that can lead to significant vet bills. Pugs and Bulldogs, for instance, are adorable and well-tempered, but they often suffer from brachycephalic syndrome due to their short noses, which can lead to breathing difficulties and other related health issues. Be sure to factor in potential breed-specific health issues when making your decision.

Lastly, training ability should not be overlooked. Breeds like the Papillon and the Pomeranian are not only adorable but also highly trainable. This makes them a good choice for families that are willing and able to invest the time in training, which can also be a fun and bonding activity for children.

Remember, choosing a small dog breed for your family isn’t just about the breed’s size or appearance. It’s about finding a pet that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle and complements the energy levels and personalities of all family members. By carefully considering these factors, you’re sure to find the perfect petite pup to make your family complete.


Among these family-friendly dogs, you’ll surely find the best small dog for your kids. But maybe you’re thinking a BIG dog would be ideal for your family. Check out these large breeds known for their excellence as family pups. Either way, small or large, once your new pooch comes home, let the magic of growing up with a dog begin!

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