Which are the Best Small Dogs for Kids to Add to Your Family?

Last Updated on April 24, 2023

Do you have young kids at home, but you also want to give them a furry friend? Try bringing home a small dog!

While little dogs don’t have that great of a reputation, each doggo is different, and there are plenty of breeds that love kids.

a happy little boy with a Yorkie
A child hugging a Yorkshire Terrier on a flower field

Let’s check out a few of the best small dogs for kids.

Best Kid-Friendly Toy and Small Dogs

We’ve compiled a list of the best kid-friendly small dogs for you to consider bringing home to your family.

1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

cavalier sleeping on top of another cavalier

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is gentle, sweet, and affectionate. They’ll make an awesome family dog.

This pup will be a great companion for kids as they don’t need too much exercise, but they’re playful.

While this dog breed is easy to train and intelligent, they won’t like to be left home alone for too long. They may get nervous and scare easily.

This doggo is relatively simple to care for as they’ll only need weekly brushing to keep their coat clean and healthy.

This small size will be great for small children.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will grow to be about 12 to 13 inches (30 to 33 cm) and weigh about 13 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg) and a lifespan of 12-15 years.

2. Havanese Dog

Havanese dogs on top of a bouncy ball
Source: @sweetlifeofsimba_and_cody / IG

This sweet and affectionate pup will make a great new pet for any family. They’re gentle and will enjoy being a lapdog for you.

Besides loving to cuddle, the Havanese will enjoy moderate exercise and playtime with you and the kids. They’re outgoing and funny and will enjoy running around.

This doggo is intelligent, but their trainability may be difficult. They’re stubborn and may bark a lot and even get separation anxiety.

In terms of caring for your Havanese, they’ll need a weekly brushing and will only occasionally shed.

This small dog breed will only grow to be 8.5 to 11.5 inches (22 to 29 cm) tall and weigh about 7 to 13 pounds (3 to 6 cm). They’ll live a long life from 14 to 16 years.

3. Beagle

an adorable Beagle sitting and looking up
Source: @chuchibeagle / IG

Beagle is a well-known, popular breed that’s friendly, affectionate, and curious. They’re also energetic, playful, and will love to run around outside, especially with young children.

Due to their energetic side, they’ll need a lot of exercise and time to adequately running around and blow off some steam.

However, this pooch is an attention-seeker. They’ll bark a lot, especially when they get separation anxiety, and they may be difficult to train as they might get distracted with other things.

The Beagle will shed seasonally and need weekly brushing to keep that loose hair at bay.

This dog breed can be a solid pup at 20 to 30 pounds (9 to 14 kg) and growing 13 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm). They’ll live about 10 to 15 years.

4. Pug

a Pug on a walk wearing a pink harness
Source: @kimpugdashian / IG

Pug loves attention and is friendly and laid-back. They’re also mischievous and comedic.

They’ll need a moderate amount of exercise and will enjoy playing with the kids, especially outside. However, they may be prone to several health issues due to the unique structure of their face.

This pooch can live between 13 and 15 years old and will grow to be as tall as 10 to 13 inches (25 to 33 cm) and weigh about 14 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg).

Weekly brushing will be needed, which is a great chore for the kids, as the Pug will shed regularly.

5. Shih Tzu

a charming Shih Tzu wearing dress
Source: @misumiharu / IG

Shih Tzus are happy, affectionate doggos that love to cuddle. They’re adaptable to any living situation, are friendly, playful with kids, and energetic.

They’ll also keep an eye on your kids, making an excellent watchdog.

This dog breed is eager to please so they’ll be easy to train, but housetraining is a different story. They may be stubborn with that, so beginning early is a must.

Given their size of weighing about 9 to 16 pounds (4 to 7 kg) and growing to be about 9 to 10.5 inches (23 to 27 cm).

They’ll need moderate daily exercise where they’ll enjoy short walks or playing in the yard with the kids.

The Shih Tzu will be your family pet for a long time, with a lifespan of 10 to 18 years.

6. Bichon Frise

a cute Bichon Frise wearing plaid
Source: @arang2o_o / IG

The Bichon Frise is social, loves attention, and is eager to please. When it comes to being around kids, these little dogs are playful, friendly, and curious.

They’ll need regular walks and plenty of playtime with you and the children in the yard.

The best part about this dog breed is that they have a hypoallergenic coat due to low shedding.

They have a unique coat, so regular grooming with a professional is a good idea to keep their skin and coat healthy and clean.

This doggo will grow to be about 9.5 to 11.5 inches (24 to 29 cm) and weigh 12 to 18 pounds (5 to 8 kg). Their lifespan is 14 to 15 years.

7. Maltese

a Maltese on a grass field
Source: @archie_lin / IG

This gentle and sweet pup is one of the best small dogs to bring home to your family.

They’ll need early socialization with strangers and young children, but they’re easy to train, playful, and energetic.

The Maltese will enjoy short, daily walks with you and playing in the yard with the kids. They’ll need daily brushing to keep their coat healthy, but they don’t shed too much.

This doggo will only be as tall as 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 cm) and only weigh under 7 pounds (3 kg). They’ll live as long as 12 to 15 years.

8. Miniature Schnauzer

a sassy Mini Schnauzer standing on his human leg
Source: @zeus.theschnauzer / IG

Miniature Schnauzers are intelligent, easy to train, and obedient. The best part? They get along well with kids.

They’re sweet and gentle but are also super energetic and playful, making them a great playmate for your kids.

With their energy level, they’ll need a moderate amount of exercise and playtime each day. Walks, fetch, and running around in the yard will do wonders for keeping their energy at bay.

If this doggo gets bored, they may become destructive.

They’re small, 12 to 14 inches (30 to 36 cm) tall and weighing 11 to 20 pounds (5 to 9 kg). They’ll live happily for about 12 to 15 years.

9. French Bulldog

A French Bulldog standing on a panda bench
Source: @georgie.thefrenchie / IG

The French Bulldog is one of the best dog breeds that’s kid-friendly. They’re loveable, affectionate, and don’t bark much.

While they can be stubborn, they’re adaptable, smart, and playful with anyone.

This doggo is a relatively calm breed, so they’ll get along with every family member.

Frenchies don’t need too much exercise, but short, daily walks and playtime in the yard will be enough to keep them fit.

Weekly brushing is a good idea because this dog breed does shed regularly.

This pup will weigh under 28 pounds (under 13 kg) and grow 11 to 13 inches (28 to 33 cm) tall. They’ll live to be about 10 to 12 years old.

10. Boston Terrier

Boston Terrier enjoying the outdoors
Source: @solotheboston / IG

Boston Terriers are friendly dogs that are gentle, affectionate, and great with kids.

They’re a durable breed, making a great playmate for kids. They’re social with everyone and easy to train.

This dog breed will enjoy regular exercise from taking a short walk once or twice a day or run around the yard with the children.

This small pup will grow to be about 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 cm) and weigh about 12 to 25 pounds (5 to 11 kg). They’ll live about 11 to 13 years.

11. Cocker Spaniel

a Cocker Spaniel adoring her bone shaped pillow
Source: @rachel_theshowcocker / IG

This well-mannered pup may be calm and sensitive, but they love kids, are gentle and sweet.

The Cocker Spaniel is also intelligent, making them easy to train, and they’re extremely loyal to their family. 

However, they can be timid or shy, get separation anxiety, and bark a lot.

They’ll need regular exercise to keep them fit with short walks or running around in a fenced-in yard with the kids.

This doggo will shed a bit and need daily brushing to keep its unique fur free of snarls and mats.

The Cocker Spaniel may weigh between 20 and 30 pounds (9 to 14 kg) and grow up to 13.5 to 15.5 inches (34 to 39 cm). Their life expectancy is 10 to 14 years.

12. Yorkshire Terrier

two Yorkies sitting on a couch
Source: @happyyorkiefamily / IG

This toy breed has an affectionate nature and is social, friendly, and playful. They want to be around kids and have fun with them.

This dog breed is also intelligent and eager to play, but they might have a feisty side, becoming aggressive in some situations.

The Yorkshire Terrier will need moderate exercise as they’re active and playful. Plenty of playtime outside with the kids or daily walks will be great for them.

This small dog breed will grow to be about 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) tall and weigh about 7 pounds (3 kg). They’ll live to be about 11 to 15 years old.

13. Dachshund

Two Doxies gazing far away
Source: @cheddarandchester / IG

Playful, kid-friendly, and curious, the Dachshund will make a lovely addition to your family. They’re social with others and will enjoy meeting new people.

They’re intelligent but also stubborn, so training may not be as easy as it could be.

The Dachshund is fairly active and will need regular exercise such as running outside with the children, chasing balls, or going for walks.

This hotdog has a unique body, so roughhousing should not be encouraged.

There are two sizes of Dachshund; the standard one may grow to be 8 to 9 inches (20 and 23 cm) tall and weigh 16 to 32 pounds (7 to 15 kg).

While the miniature Dachshund will grow to be 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) tall and weigh under 11 pounds (under 5 kg).

Their lifespan is about 12 to 16 years old.

14. Papillon

a Papillon sitting on dirt ground
Source: @joy.lucky_enjoy / IG

The Papillon will get along well with anyone, including kids. They’re friendly, affectionate, and friendly.

They’ll need plenty of exercise such as running indoors or outdoors, going for a walk, or playing fetch as this small dog breed is energetic and athletic.

This doggo is kid-size as they’ll only grow to be about 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm) tall and weigh about 5 to 10 pounds (2 to 5 kg). They’ll live a long, healthy life that’s about 14 to 16 years.

15. Border Terrier

two Border Terriers located mushrooms in a forest

The Border Terrier will enjoy roughhousing with the kids. They’re good-tempered, easy to train, affectionate, and obedient.

They’re also active and love the outdoors and will need plenty of daily exercise such as walks, running outside, or chasing a ball (or the kids).

This pup will weigh about 11.5 to 15.5 pounds (5 to 7 kg) and grow about 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm). They’ll live to be about 12 to 15 years old.

16. Chihuahua

a precious Chihuahua standing near pink flowers
Source: @maruto_00 / IG

The Chihuahua is a friendly breed that loves attention and will be affectionate and cuddle with you.

This small dog breed is energetic, playful, and eager to please.

The Chihuahua might be more suited for older kids than toddlers. They’ll bark a lot and act as your shadow.

Due to their small size, they’ll still need moderate exercise but can get away with small spaces to run around and short walks.

They’ll grow to be 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 cm) tall and weigh under 6 pounds (under 3 kg). This doggo’s lifespan is 14 to 16 years.

17. Toy Poodle

a Toy Poodle enjoying the sand
Source: @d_j_d_poodles / IG

Last but not least, there’s the Toy Poodle. This intelligent pup is loyal to their family, great with kids, and will make an excellent watchdog for them.

They enjoy the outdoors and exploring. They’re active and curious, so being outside with the kids will be great fun for them.

While they may get bored easily and bark a lot, they’re eager to learn and easy to train.

Toy Poodle will weigh 4 to 6 pounds (2 to 3 kg) and grow to be no more than 10 inches (25 cm) tall. Their lifespan is 10 to 18 years.

If you’re looking for other small dogs for kids, then you can check out some of these dog breeds.

  • Australian Terrier
  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Biewer Terrier
  • Bolognese
  • Brussels Griffon Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Chinese Crested
  • English Bulldog
  • German Spitz
  • Italian Greyhound
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Parson Russell Terrier
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Pomeranian
  • Pumi
  • Whippet

You can also look into bigger dogs that are great with kids, such as:

  • Collies
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Irish Setters
  • Newfoundlands

Dogs and Children

a girl smiling with Terrier on her lap
A patient Yorkshire Terrier sitting on a girl’s lap

Dogs can be wonderful companions for children. They’ll be your child’s best friend and playmate.

However, dogs need to be trained and socialized to know how to be around children, especially younger kids.

Kids, on the other hand, also need to learn how to be around dogs. For example, they need to be taught how to care for, act around, and play with a dog respectfully.

Why do small dogs have a bad reputation?

Every dog breed, no matter the size, has its personality.

Smaller dogs tend to have a bad reputation because they’re generally more combative and aggressive due to their small size. They think they are bigger than they are.

Their size also allows them to get away with more. They cause less damage and aren’t nearly as strong as a bigger dog.

Tips in choosing the best small dog breed for kids

When selecting a small dog breed to add to your family, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

First, try to pick a pup that has a friendly personality and is patient. You’ll also want to choose a doggo that’s easy to train.

If anyone in your family has allergies, be wary of that and choose a dog with low shedding or hypoallergenic.

While you want your dog to have the energy to be outside and play with the kids, consider your children’s ages and how active everyone is.

Choose a dog with low energy, so you don’t need to constantly worry about tiring them out at the end of the day.

Finally, try to avoid dogs that have many health issues. This will cause the pup to have a short lifespan, and it will be costly for you in the long run.

Before bringing your puppy home, you’ll need to prepare your kids.

If they’re younger, teach the kids how to pet a dog properly and know when to give them space.

If the kids are a little older, you can teach them leash safety and some tricks and commands to teach the new pup.

This will help them bond with the dog and show them that they need to listen to the kids and not just the adults in the family.

Also, ensure the kids know their responsibilities regarding caring for the new addition to the family. Older kids can brush and possibly bathe the dog.

They can watch them in a fenced-in yard and also feed the dog breakfast and dinner.

Are you looking to adopt a small dog breed? Try considering an older pup that’s at least five years old.

Older dogs may need less training and already have a history with kids. Plus, you’ll be giving them a good home.

How to train small dogs to be around kids

A girl laying on the grass with a Chihuahua
A Chihuahua playing with a girl on a backyard lawn

Upon bringing your small dog home, hire a professional dog trainer to work with you, your kids, and your pooch so you can all work together and learn how to care for one another.

Having a small dog at home is a delight and will make a great family companion.

Do you have a small dog at home with your young kids? Let us know in the comments below!

Further reading: Other Best Dog Breeds to Check Out

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