Small Family Dogs — Perfect Pint-Size Companions for Your Pack

small family dogs.

10 Small Family Dogs That Make Immense Pets

Whether it’s a diamond ring, the latest smartwatch, Kylie Minogue, or a new family pooch, people always say the best things in life come in small packages. Small family dogs may be shorter in stature, but they make up for it with big personalities and can be a joyful addition to your pack.

How To Choose the Best Small Family Dog Breed

When searching for good small dog breeds for families, there are several key factors to consider. Here are some important aspects to look for:


Look for breeds known for their friendly, sociable, and adaptable nature. A good family dog should be patient, gentle, and comfortable around children and other pets.

Size and Energy Level

The best little family dogs come in varying degrees of smallness, so consider your living situation and the space available. Additionally, assess the dog's energy level to ensure it aligns with your family's activity level and exercise routine.

Compatibility With Children

If you have children, it's essential to choose a breed that’s known for being good with kids. Look for dogs with a patient and tolerant nature, as well as a propensity for forming strong bonds with youngsters. 

If the children are very young or toddlers, some small dogs may be too delicate for their higher energy levels or erratic behavior. The best small dog breeds for families will be happiest with children old enough to distinguish between a toy dog and an actual toy.


Consider breeds that are intelligent and responsive to training. Dogs that are quick to learn and eager to please make the training process smoother and help foster a well-behaved and obedient family pet.

Grooming Needs

Take into account the grooming requirements of different breeds. Some small dogs have coats that won’t need too much attention. In contrast, others may have longer or more demanding coats that require frequent brushing, regular trimming, or professional grooming.

And, does the little pup shed, or could it be considered hypoallergenic? If you or anybody in the family suffers from allergies, a low-shedding dog is less likely to trigger allergic reactions in the home.

best small dog breeds for families.

Our Favorite 10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

There are so many cute little dogs out there, it can be difficult deciding exactly which one is going to be best suited to your family. Here are 10 of our favorite pint-sized pooches to nominate as new family members for you.

1. Miniature Schnauzer

small family dog miniature schnauzer.

It can often be a worry if you have younger, more active children, whether little family dogs are going to be able to handle the rough and tumble of playtime with the kids. The Miniature Schnauzer is one of the sturdier little dog breeds, coming from the same line as the larger Standard Schnauzer.

With their expressive eyebrows, wiry coat, and charming beard, Miniature Schnauzers are beloved for their loyalty, playfulness, and unwavering devotion to their families, including children. They’re generally patient, playful, and gentle with kids, making them excellent companions and playmates.

The low-shedding double coat of the Mini Schnauzer requires regular grooming to maintain their characteristic appearance. Handstripping is the traditional method, although clipping is deemed acceptable.

Whether you're seeking a devoted friend or a lively allergy-friendly playmate for your family, the Miniature Schnauzer is sure to bring happiness, laughter, and endless moments of joy to your home.

2. Bichon Frise

small family dog bichon frise.

One of the small family dogs that don’t shed, the loveable Bichon Frise. This lap dog has a fluffy, hypoallergenic coat, making them a popular choice for those with dog allergies. However, their beautiful coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and to maintain its signature fluffy appearance — nobody said low-shedding means low-maintenance. 

A sociable and outgoing pooch, the Bichon’s friendly and affectionate nature extends to children, making them wonderful family pets. They’re patient and gentle with little people, and their playful disposition ensures hours of fun and laughter.

While they don't require excessive exercise, regular walks and playtime are essential to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Yet, they can adapt to different living situations, such as apartments or homes with or without a yard.

The Bichon Frise is a small fluffy white dog with a big heart. Their friendly nature, hypoallergenic coat, and adaptability make them great small dogs for families of all sizes.

3. French Bulldog

small family dog french bulldog.

With their unique appearance and charming character, the Frenchie has quickly gained popularity as one of the best small family friendly dogs. Despite their compact size, this breed has an immense capacity for love and companionship.

French Bulldogs have a friendly and easygoing temperament, which makes them excellent canines for both children and adults. Their playful nature ensures that they can keep up with energetic kids, while their calm demeanor allows them to be gentle and patient in their interactions.

They’re generally low-energy dogs, which makes them suitable for busy families who don’t have much time for walkies. This breed is more than content to lounge around and enjoy the company of their loved ones. 

And, they’re pretty fuss-free to groom too. With a short, smooth coat a weekly rub down with a grooming mitt will suffice. However, keep a check on their facial folds — skin infections can develop if not kept clean.

4. Dachshund

small family dog Dachshund.

The ‘wiener dog,’ aka the Dachshund — with their distinctive long body, long snout, short legs, and expressive eyes, these good small family dogs have a big-dog personality.

Dachshunds are known for their loyalty and affection towards their families. They form strong bonds with their owners and are always eager to be by their side. While a canine of pocket-sized proportions, they have a bold and fearless nature, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They may be small, but they have a big bark.

Generally good with children, Dachshunds make playful companions. However, due to their elongated bodies, they can be prone to back problems, so it's crucial to supervise interactions between them and young children to prevent accidental injuries.

With various coat types — smooth, long-haired, and wiry. The smooth-coated Dachshund is the easiest to maintain — a quick rub down keeps their short coat healthy and shiny. The longer-haired or wiry coats will need regular brushing to prevent mats.

5. Pomeranian

small family dog pomeranian.

With their fluffy coats, pointy ears, and bright eyes, Pomeranians capture the hearts of many dog lovers. This breed is a great choice for families with children who are old enough to know the difference between a toy and a dog.

The Pomeranian is a pretty active little canine, but short walkies and indoor playtime will keep them happy — so they’re well suited to family life in the suburbs or the city.  An intelligent breed, the Pom can master new tricks and games with ease but is happiest when providing laughs and companionship for their beloved family.

Bold and confident, the Pom often thinks they’re titanic, not toy-sized tail-waggers. And, their level of alertness also means they make super little family watchdogs.

Grooming your Pomeranian involves regular attention to maintain their luxurious double coat. Brushing their coat a few times a week and regular professional grooming sessions will keep their fluffy fur in top condition and prevent matting.

6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

small family dog cavalier king charles spaniel.

Cavalier Spaniels are delightful small family dogs that bring a smile to any household. They’re loving and sweet-natured, and excellent companion canines for families of all sizes.

These small dogs are gentle and patient, hence, are wonderful playmates for children. Plus, their sweet and amiable disposition allows them to get along well with other pets, making them a great addition to multi-pet households.

King Charles Spaniels are also known for their adaptability — they’re suitable for various living environments, including apartments or houses with small yards. And, while they can be a shameless couch potato of a dog, they can also be upbeat athletes depending on the lifestyles of their owners.

Grooming the Cav requires regular attention to keep their long, silky coats in good condition. Brushing and occasional professional grooming sessions are necessary to prevent matting and maintain their elegant appearance.

7. Pug

small family dog pug.

As good small dog breeds for families go, Pugs form some of the strongest bonds, they’re often called a ‘Velcro dog.’ They’re generally good with children of all ages as well as other pets — an ideal choice for families with multiple furry friends.

This breed has an infectious zest for life and a cheerful spirit. And, although a pack of Pugs is called a grumble, they certainly won’t do that during playtime. They love the company of their family members. 

These dogs aren’t excessively energetic, but they do require regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. That said, they also love to be lazy and curl up for a snooze on the couch — Pugs make amazing house dogs. 

Be warned, however, they can shed quite a lot of hair if not brushed regularly. Also, those facial wrinkles must be kept clean and dry to avoid any skin issues.

With their funny facial expressions and unique personalities, Pugs have a knack for making their owners laugh at their comical antics. Their playful and mischievous nature will bring hours of joy to any family.

8. Boston Terrier

small family dog boston terrier.

Commonly called the “American gentleman” due to their elegant black and white tuxedo markings, the Boston Terrier can also be a total goofball! These canines are friendly, lively and sporty, and fabulous little family dogs.

One of the Boston’s endearing qualities is their love for children. They have a patient and gentle nature, making them excellent playmates and companions for kids — big or small. And, with a natural eagerness to please their owners, they’re relatively easy to train.

The Boston Terrier doesn’t bark excessively and requires only moderate exercise, making them perfect for city dwellers or those who live in an apartment.

And, fortunately for full-on family lifestyles, Boston Terriers don’t require much grooming, their short coat only needs the once over once a week. Regular brushing will help keep their coat in good condition and minimize loose hair around the house.

9. Cocker Spaniel

small family dog cocker spaniel.

The Cocker Spaniel, with its charming looks and delightful personality, is a beloved small family dog that makes wonderful companions for families with toddlers through to teenagers.

Although the smallest of the American Kennel Club’s sporting group Spaniels (approx 14 inches tall), Cockers are one of the larger “small” family dogs we’ve looked at, almost verging on medium. Their loving, gentle, and people-pleasing temperament makes them excellent playmates and cuddle buddies for children, providing endless hours of fun and companionship. 

A standout feature of the Cocker Spaniel is their beautiful, long, flowing double coat. Regular grooming is essential to keep it healthy and free from mats. Additionally, routine ear cleaning is important, as this breed is prone to ear infections due to their floppy ears.

Being a working dog, Cocker Spaniels are known for their intelligence and trainability. They enjoy participating in family activities and are adaptable to various living environments, from compact apartments to homes with a yard. Plus, the Cocker’s friendly and outgoing nature makes them great with strangers and other pets too.

10. Havanese

small family dog havanese.

The Havanese, the only breed native to Cuba, is our last pick of the best little family dogs. A cheerful little pooch with a spring in their step, the Havanese can be both vivacious and a sociable companion for your family.

And, then there’s that luxurious, long, and silky double coat. Regular grooming is necessary to keep it tangle-free and healthy. However, Havanese dogs are considered hypoallergenic, making them a great choice for families with allergies.

This breed is incredibly affectionate and thrives on human companionship. They form deep bonds with their family members and are always eager to please. And, their gentle and patient demeanor means they’re super tolerant of children of any age — the Havanese are wonderful playmates and trusted friends.

Needing only moderate exercise, playing fetch or frisbee in the yard or a short walk each day is ample for them. The Havanese breed offers a family-friendly combination of affection, intelligence, and adaptability, making them an ideal small family dog for life in the city or the countryside.

good small family dogs.


Whether you want an outgoing pup, like the Havanese, a more sedate Pug, or a little white fluffy dog like the Bichon Frise — choosing the perfect pooch for your family is never easy.

When deciding which breed is right for your family, consider factors such as temperament, exercise needs, compatibility with children, and adaptability to your living situation. 

By understanding your family's lifestyle and preferences, you can find the perfect small dog breed that will bring joy, love, and companionship to your home for years to come.

The best small family dogs can be a welcome addition to any family. Your children will love their new playmate. And, they can also offer you companionship once the kids have left the nest.

Small Family Dogs FAQs

Are the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families Non-Shedding?

Several small dog breeds are considered low-shedding or hypoallergenic, such as:

  • Bichon Frise. 

  • Shih Tzu. 

  • Maltese. 

  • Poodle (Toy).

  • Havanese. 

These breeds typically produce fewer allergens and are more suitable for individuals with allergies.

Are All Small Dog Breeds Suitable for Households With Children?

No, not all. Some breeds are better than others. Small dogs may feel anxious around loud or rowdy youngsters. Plus, due to their tiny size, they could also easily get hurt.

Hence, it's important to choose a breed known for their patient and gentle nature, and always supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

Are Small Family Dogs Easy to Train?

Small family dogs can be highly trainable, especially when using positive reinforcement methods. Breeds like the Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, and Havanese are known for their trainability and eagerness to please their owners. However, this will depend on the breed. 

What is The Happiest Small Dog?

With their cute fluffy white fur, the Bichon Frise is one of those dogs who looks like they have a permanent smile on their face. This is bound to be infectious with the rest of the family.

What Are The Benefits of Owning a Small Family Dog?

Many of the best small dog breeds are family friendly and offer several benefits to your family.

  • Compact size — makes them more adaptable to smaller living spaces.

  • Lower exercise requirements — small dogs typically require less exercise compared to larger breeds.

  • Portability — their smaller size makes it easier to take them along for outings, travels, and family trips.

  • Watchfulness — little dogs can still serve as effective watchdogs, alerting their families to potential intruders or unusual activity.

  • Longevity — small dog breeds often have longer lifespans compared to larger breeds, allowing for many years of companionship and joy.