If your family situation allows, it’s always nice to be able for children to have a dog. Growing up with a pet lets a child learn about empathizing with others, caring for animals and taking responsibility. Plus, dogs are just a whole lot of fun! Who better to listen to a child’s hopes and dreams or cuddle with a child when he’s feeling blue? If you’re thinking about the best small dog breeds for your kids, there are some things to take into consideration.
Dog Breeds by Size
Before we move on, let’s understand that dog breeds are ranked by size according to the following classifications:
Toy Dog Breeds - up to 12 pounds
Small Dog Breeds - 12 to 25 pounds
Medium Dog Breeds - 25 to 50 pounds
Large Dog Breeds - 50 to 100 pounds
Extra Large Dog Breeds - over 100 pounds
Finding the Best Dog for Kids
The first consideration is that supervision is always important. Don’t leave babies or toddlers alone with a dog. Even if you have small children, play can get out of hand. Even with the sweetest, gentlest dog, a child OR the dog can accidentally get hurt. An adult should be watching when small kids play with dogs.
If you have small children, some of the larger small breeds, such as the Beagle, the Boston Terrier and the Pug would be good choices. They are gentle dogs but large enough that they won’t be crushed if a small child trips or falls on them. If you have small kids but you like one of the very tiny breeds, such as Pomeranians or Chihuahuas, ask a breeder about an adult dog or perhaps wait until your kids are a little older. Breeders can be reluctant to place these puppies with families that have young children because the dogs are so small and easily injured.
If you have older children, the Bichon Frise, the Havanese and the French Bulldog all make good choices. Teach your children how to handle and care for a dog. Older kids can also help with some basic training.
Toy dogs can be a very good choice for teens. Dogs like the Yorkshire Terrier, the Pomeranian, and the Shih Tzu are all good for cuddling. Your teenager may also enjoy spending some quiet time with a Toy dog.
We recommend that you research any breed you are considering for your family, specifically its temperament. The dog you want living with your children should have a very stable, kid-friendly temperament. If you are adopting a dog from a shelter and you have small children, you need to pay extra attention to the dog's temperament. You can find lots of great dogs at shelters but if you have kids in the home it’s important to know as much as possible about the dog’s temperament and background so you won’t have any unpleasant surprises.
List of Best Small Dog Breeds for Kids
Here are some breeds that are known for being the best dogs for children. These are generalizations and it’s important to meet the individual dog or puppy and find out as much as you can about them. We also recommend training and good socialization for any dog or puppy you choose so your dog will learn the kind of good behavior you expect from him.
Small but feisty, Yorkies don’t really know that they’re small dogs. Yorkshire Terriers are brave, determined, curious and they have plenty of energy. They have a beautiful long coat if you let it grow out, but many owners prefer to keep it trimmed short. If you have your heart set on a Toy dog, the Yorkie can be a good choice for a home with children as long as you supervise.
Beagles are a very old breed with a fantastic nose. They have one of the keenest abilities to smell of any dog. There are two varieties: 1) up to 13 inches (at the shoulder) and 2) up to 15 inches. Beagles are gentle and merry with an even temperament. They are fun-loving dogs and good for families that like to do things outdoors.
The little white Bichon Frise is cheerful, charming and very intelligent. They are gentle, playful, and affectionate. They are sociable and they love to be with people. They are good with children and they have lots of energy. As an added bonus, the Bichon is considered a “hypoallergenic” breed. All dogs shed a little, but the Bichon Frise is considered to be a good choice for people with allergies.
The French Bulldog, or Frenchie, is another one of the best small dog breeds that has become very popular in the last few years. These adorable little dogs love to be with people. Owners say they are fun-loving clown dogs at home. They are patient, affectionate, and calm, getting along well with other pets. They do need air conditioning in the summer because of their short muzzle.
The spirited Havanese has a silky coat but don’t let his looks fool you. These dogs are very adaptable. At one time these dogs were little farm dogs, herding chickens. At other times they were kept by nobles in Cuba. In temperament they are active, lively, friendly and affectionate. The Havanese is very intelligent and does well with training. They can become very attached to their owner.
Here again, don’t let the hair fool you. The Shih Tzu is a sturdy little dog that originated in China eons ago. They are affectionate, loyal, outgoing, friendly and alert little dogs. They make good watchdogs. The Shih Tzu can be stubborn at times but they do well with training if you start at a young age. They get along well with children, adults and other pets.
These are some of the best small dogs for families that have children, but there are of course, other good breeds for kids that you may want to consider. If you’re interested in a specific breed, we suggest that you also meet some adult dogs. And when you are considering a puppy, make sure you know how those cute puppies will look in a couple of years when they’re all grow up. Once you have narrowed down your search you can take your kids with you so they can make the final choice.
Finally, no matter what kind of dog you get, big or small, puppy or adult, it’s always important to supervise when children and dogs are interacting, just to be safe.