10 Best Small Dog Breeds For Families

family with dog at sunset – 9 best small dog breeds for families

This blog post appears in “Chloe’s Cozy Collection” *



The American Kennel Club (AKC) says that there are over 340 dog breeds known throughout the world. They recognize 193 of them and sort them into nine Groups.

What’s your favorite dog breed? If you love Chloe’s designer-inspired dog clothes and accessories you probably like the cute, small ones that we find in the Toy Group! But Toys are not always the best breed to have around if you have children.

We mustn’t discount small dogs, though. Some of them make wonderful family pets.

So, what are the best small dog breeds for families…?

Popular Small Dog Breeds – the Experts Weigh In

If you love small dog breeds but want one that’s great for family life, we need to explore more than one Group of dogs. We find small dogs in the Terrier Group also, and in the Sporting, Hound, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups.

While any dog can fit into any family, things go better if there’s a good match.

Melony Phillips, a professional dog trainer and training instructor, and owner of Delightful Dog Professional Play Care in Atlanta, says this: “When I try to help people find the right dog I’m looking at a lot of things about them. I need to know their activity level and learn about their goals and expectations for the dog. Their family dynamics and experience is key. If they are new to dogs, the small dogs I would recommend would be the Bichon Frise or the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.”

Petfinder (the biggest and best-known online adoption group) has its own recommendations for small family dogs. As they want all their adoptions to succeed, they are a great source of information for people looking for child-friendly dog breeds.

They recommend some breeds from the Toy Group (yay!) and some from other Groups. Let’s see which ones they chose to be the best family dogs:

  • • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Toy)
  • • Havanese (Toy)
  • • Pug (Toy)
  • • Dachshund (Hound)
  • • French Bulldog (Non-Sporting)

The AKC says we can also include the Bichon Frise (Non-Sporting) and the Boston Terrier (Non-Sporting) to that list.

The team over at Animal Planet adds Shih Tzu (Toy).

And we simply can’t ignore the Toy Poodle

“But wait,” says Chloe, “what about me????” Chloe loves children but knows that a lot of Poms don’t take their antics or rough handling well. Given the right family and a good breeder, however, Poms can be a great fit:


Who can resist the cute, happy, smiling face of a Pom? And how about that personality? Chloe the Pomeranian is a popular small dog breedAdorable, smart, playful, and friendly – this small breed will have you eating out of their paws right from the start! Loving, loyal, they also give the best cuddles. Chloe’s mom and dad can’t imagine not having this breed in their family.

People can be wary of Poms if they have children but the experts over at Pommy Mommy, a website all about the breed, say: “In many cases if a Pom doesn’t seem to get along well with kids, it’s because of how the Pom was raised. There are some dog breeders who are uneducated when it comes to breeding a good-tempered dog. A good breeder will raise a dog who can adjust to a variety of social situations.”

This is true for any breed, of course. Getting the right dog from the right place is key. Pommy Mommy also suggests that if you want a Pom you should consider getting a puppy. That way when you bring it home from the breeder you can begin socializing it with the kids immediately. Children should also be educated on how to live and interact with small dogs. Small children especially need to always be supervised with dogs.

Petfinder Profileclick here.

Chloe is so happy we included her breed! But now let’s break down what it is about the other recommended dogs that make them great for families.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

9 best small dog breeds for families - two cavalier king charles spaniels Most experts and owners would agree that Cavaliers are the perfect small dog for any household. Affectionate, gentle, and cuddly, the Cavaliers are small but not tiny and are good with children and other pets. They’re playful and athletic and have an adorable demeanor and expression. Don’t leave them alone for long periods and choose your breeder well as there can be health issues. They travel well, are light shedders, but need grooming. These smart dogs learn quickly and easily and can be a joy to train for agility, obedience, and rally activities. Get the kids involved for perfect family fun. Cavaliers are highly recommended.

Petfinder Profileclick here.

Toy Poodle

Ah yes, this breed! We love them, we love to dress them, we love to spoil them, we like to9 best small dog breeds for families - toy poodles carry them with us everywhere we go. But are they the best dogs to own for families? Marion Salters from Jasper, GA, thinks they are. She has been breeding poodles of all sizes for the last 20 years. She is passionate about the breed and recommends them for families with children – all her kids were raised surrounded by them!

“The toy poodle was bred down in size to make it suitable for French laps, but it retained the heart, intelligence, devotion, and spirit of the original standard,” she says. “They are long-lived (with good breeding), energetic, and loyal. When my daughter Cheyenne was growing up her best friend, confidant, and most loyal sibling was her poodle, Candie. They were inseparable. Poodles will forever be a part of my family.” They need grooming and like a job or an activity that uses their excellent brain or they can be yappy. Have fun training them and teaching them tricks.

Petfinder Profileclick here. This is the Miniature profile but stands for the Toy as size is the only major difference.

Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier - one of the popular small dog breedsThe Boston Terrier Society says that this breed is the perfect family dog. They say they have a long life span so can grow up alongside children. Other traits they boast about are:

  • • Lack of aggression
  • • Minimal grooming perfect for busy families
  • • Pleasant disposition and love spending time with the family
  • • Wonderful to travel with…they want to go with you!
  • • Perfect size for young kids

They also have a reputation for being friendly, trainable, and highly amusing with their many antics. Plus, who can resist that face? Is it time to get your Boston on?

Petfinder Profileclick here.

French Bulldog

This irresistible little dog is among the most popular breeds of all time. Frenchie World is a cute french bulldog puppy – great family dogswebsite devoted to the breed and its devotees. They maintain that the Frenchie is a wonderful family dog bred to live and work alongside its owners. They recommend you don’t leave them alone very often because they always want to be with you. Few would disagree. They are cuddly lapdogs but also clowns who love to play and entertain their family. They have sweet temperaments, don’t need a lot of exercise (as they prefer to lounge on your couch), and do not show aggression to children. In fact, Frenchie World says that kids and Frenchies are the “best partners in crime” because their playful personalities match so well. You can’t go wrong.

Petfinder Profileclick here.

Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise best small dogs for kids non sheddingQuincy the Bichon has a You Tube channel, a Facebook account, and is all over Instagram. Have you heard of him? His antics are making people laugh all over the world. He’s a star! And why is that? He’s a Bichon Frise. And they could well be the most adorable dog on the planet. If you have one, or know one, you’ll understand.

The breed won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 2018 but owners will tell you they’re all champions. Bichons are silly, happy-go-lucky dogs that love to perform…just ask Quincy! These cuddle bunnies adore their humans and stick to them like glue – but DON’T like being left behind. Luckily they travel well and are so friendly to humans and other pets that they’re easy to have out and about. Of course, that amazing coat needs grooming but they give you so much in return you’ll never complain. They pick you up when you’re down and give the best kisses! They definitely belong in our list of 10 best dog breeds for families. Life is never dull with a Bichon around!

Petfinder Profileclick here.

Shih Tzu

Are Shih Tzus good with kids? The pet experts at Animal Planet give the thumbs up. Here’s Shih Tzu dog on grassy areatheir testimonial: “Shih Tzus are ideal small dogs – lively and alert, yet rarely nervous or snappy. And despite their diminutive stature, they’re strong and unafraid, which means they have no trouble holding their own when playing with children and keeping up with an active family.”

Kimberly Kelley from Cottondale, AZ, agrees. She has rescued Shih Tzus since she can remember. “If you’re looking for a small dog that doesn’t shed, doesn’t bark much, loves to cuddle and sit on laps, doesn’t need a ton of exercise, and worships its humans…look no further,” she says. “They aren’t great for hikers and super-active families but for the laid-back ones they’re perfect.” Is a Shih Tzu for you?

Petfinder Profileclick here.


Cute pug dog is one of the best to ownEveryone knows the sweet, pudgy face of the Pug. The wrinkles and big eyes make us melt. And they make great family dogs. So what do we know about them? Well Pugs rarely get into mischief, they love to play, they love to sleep (as in most of the day!), and they love to cuddle. They’re real people-pleasers, too. If you want a dog to be with you and the kids, plus other pets in the household, you met your breed. Pugs are low maintenance (although shed quite a bit) and don’t need much exercise, so good for less-active families. They can be stubborn to train, especially housetrain, but don’t bark much. What’s not to love about the Pug!

Petfinder Profileclick here.


Small but sturdier than his tiny Maltese cousin, this non-shedding breed from Cuba is The playful Havanese is one of the 9 best small breed dogs for familiesbecoming popular as a city dog but does well anywhere. They are curious and playful and love being the center of attention – the more humans the better, including kids who they enjoy! The only downside to this is that they don’t like being left, so better with families than adults who are gone most of the day. (Have you noticed a trend here? Popular small dog breeds don’t like being left alone for long.)

These spunky little circus dogs are born comedians who will steal your heart. They are easy to train, love to do tricks, enjoy a nice walk but don’t need much exercise, and just have to sit on your lap! Their soft hair is irresistible but regular grooming is a must. The Havanese make good watchdogs but are non-aggressive. Choose your breeder wisely but feel free to choose this winning breed for your pack!

Petfinder Profileclick here.


The Dachshund is a popular small dog breedThere are many varieties of this small but mighty dog, but they’re all precious. It’s another very popular breed that’s revered by its many fans. “Doxie” owners wouldn’t trade for any other dog. But why? The experts over at I Love Dachshunds have a handy guide to help families decide if the breed is right for them. They say: “A well-trained dachshund is intelligent, loyal, protective, and fun. They’re good around children, as long as the kids are sensible around them. They don’t need a lot of exercise, and make great companions.” Christi Rich from Birmingham, AL, is in love with them. “Our doxies are so funny and smart,” she says. “They make us laugh every day and even though they’re watchdogs that will always bark to let you know someone’s at the door, or if they see a squirrel, they’re really just cuddle bugs who will also want to sleep with you and always be at your side.”

Petfinder Profileclick here.

A Quick Word on “Designer Dogs”

Many of the mixed-breed, so-called “designer dogs” such as the Cavapoo, Cavachon, Shihpoo, Cockapoo, Yorkipoo, etc, fit into the small dog category and are proving to be excellent family dogs. They are bred to take on the best characteristics of both the breeds they are made up of.

Look at what those are to see if they will make a great fit for your family before diving in. Genetics are often enhanced by the crossbreeding of these dogs so they can be healthier than purebreds.

Dogs and Children – Things To Remember

In conclusion, families can incorporate most dog breeds into their “pack” but some fit in better than others according to family dynamics. Even dogs with a reputation of being good with children shouldn’t be left unsupervised with them, especially with very young children.

Always teach your kids how to interact with dogs and be gentle with them. Don’t let them put their faces near to a dog’s face. Never let them climb on dogs, pull on their tails and ears, or hit them. There should always be a safe haven to put dogs in when the kids get too loud and unpredictable and the dog needs a quiet break.

So what small breed dogs do YOU like? Which ones do you own? With our list of the 10 best small dog breeds for families have we missed off a breed that you think should be on there, and if so, why? We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share this article if you enjoyed it. And Chloe says click here to find her other blog posts. Thank you!

Wendy Hollandsworth, Dog Copywriter

*Chloe’s Cozy Collection has closed its doors. So sad.