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Best Small Dogs for Families

From a fluffy toy poodle to the ever-patient Maltese, these are what vets claim are the best small dogs for families.

By Riley Raul ReesePublished 7 years ago 4 min read

If you are new to dog ownership, or if you are a family who lives in city apartments, then small dogs are probably what you should be focusing in on. Petite, friendly, and generally considered easy to train, most small dogs are good companions for families of every size — and in every type of neighborhood.

Though all small dogs can find an owner that works well with their style, there are definitely some small dogs that are more appropriate for families with kids than others. The AKC already knows this, though.

Experts at the American Kennel Club believe that these are the best small dogs for families of all kinds. Do you see your furry friend among the ranks?


Small, patient, and easy to train, Maltese dogs always seem to be featured on lists of the best small dogs for families with kids. They are sweet dogs that are known for being mellow, active, and patient pets for small kids — and for also being agreeable enough to work well with cats, too.

Older families who are looking for a good lap dog will also want to get a Maltese. While they are active enough to deal with kids, these pups really love a nice, warm lap, too. Overall, it's easy to see why they are one of the most family-friendly dog breeds in the world.

Shih Tzu

Known for their excitable nature and their cute "Ewok" face, Shih Tzus are tiny puppies with huge personalities. They are incredibly lively and playful dogs that work very well with hyperactive kids.

Despite their love of physical activity, Shih Tzus also know when to calm down and are most at-home inside of an apartment. They also are extremely affectionate and are known cuddle bugs. According to the AKC, this is the 20th most popular dog breed in the world.

It's one of the best small dogs for families of all kinds, which might explain why they are so popular around the globe.

Bichon Frise

Little Bichon Frises are known for having a lot of personality and charm to offer families, and that might be why they are one of the best small dogs for families. They are active, but not too active. They are playful but aren't reckless.

Better still, Bichons also have the added bonus of being hypoallergenic — yet super-soft to pet. So, if you have a kid who has allergies involving allergies, a Bichon Frise is a great dog to adopt.


Believe it or not, beagles are considered to be small dogs by most breeders — and they also happen to be the best small dogs for families who live out in rural areas. Lazy but playful, and incredibly loyal to younger kids, beagles are a great option for families who want a more traditional dog breed for their kids.

These dogs are known for being very patient, gentle and friendly. Their winning, human-friendly personalities make them perfect companions for kids. Besides, Snoopy was a beagle. Who can say no to Charlie Brown's dog breed of choice?


Pugs are goofy small dogs that love to "smile" and love to wag their tails at anyone nearby. They are super friendly, often to the point of extroversion, and that makes them one of the best small dogs for families who have tons of guests.

People who love "class clown" type pets will find pugs to be an amazing choice. However, if you're looking for a very athletic dog, this might not be the best option for you. Pugs are notorious for being a bit on the lazy side.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

If you've ever met a Cavvy, then you already know why so many breeders insist that they are the best small dogs for families. They are delicate, yes, but they are also super fun-loving.

If you get excited, they get excited with you. If you want to mellow out and rest, they tend to do the same. They're good like that, and that makes them great with kids.

An extremely adaptable breed, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are good choices for families that are constantly on the move. After all, these adorable little puppies thrive on change.

Boston Terriers

These dogs were, at one point, called "American Gentlemen" because they were so calm, quiet, and stately. One would think that would make them a bad match for kids, but it's totally not true. Rather, Boston Terriers are ideal companions for kids who need to find a calm friend.

Boston Terriers are natural companion dogs who have a goofy streak in them today. As a result, they are some of the best small dogs for families with goofy teens and kids.


Do not be fooled by their delicate appearance! Havanese dogs are known for being pretty rugged and pretty active little fluffballs — and that makes them one of the best small dogs for families with active lifestyles.

They love to walk, play, and really can get into a good tug-o-war game with the right kids. Despite the athletic streak, Havanese also have a pretty even keel when it comes to temperament. So, they work well with families, even if the kids in that family are fairly young.


If you love a cute face with a lot of personality behind it, look no further than Pomeranians. These little puffs of fluffiness are known for being very excitable, very active, and tons of fun to play with. They're attention-grabbers, and they know it.

Fans who love dogs that can double as exercise buffs and lap dogs will love this small dog breed. That's why they regularly get called some of the best small dogs for families of every type.

Yorkshire Terrier

Cute doesn't even begin to describe the adorable look of a Yorkie. Yorkies are upbeat, friendly, and sweet dogs that always love attention from a companion — and that's good enough reason to rank them among the best small dogs for families.

However, what really makes them awesome is that you can take a Yorkie anywhere. They're affectionate, small, and love to travel with their owners. So, what could be better than that? Oh, they also tend to be great small dogs for cat owners, too.


About the Creator

Riley Raul Reese

Riley Reese is comic book fanatic who loves anything that has to do with science-fiction, anime, action movies, and Monster Energy drink.

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    Riley Raul ReeseWritten by Riley Raul Reese

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