Little kids and little dogs usually don’t mix. Many small dog breeds are too fragile or don’t possess the temperament required for dealing with young children. However, if you’re looking for a family dog and don’t want a larger canine, there are small dog breeds suitable for sharing life with well-behaved kids ages 5 and older.
It’s hard to resist the squished-in face of the pug. This breed is the largest member of the American Kennel Club’s toy group, but still shouldn’t weigh more than 18 pounds at maturity. Of course, pugs may weigh more if overfed, but that’s another story. These loving dogs are blessed with good, forgiving dispositions, and are sturdy enough for a little roughhousing with kids. A pug may be your child’s best friend forever, and he’s also a decent watchdog. He’s not suited for long walks or jogging, but makes a fine house pet. Because of his moderate exercise needs, the pug is an excellent choice if you and your family live in an apartment or townhouse.
2. Boston Terrier
This dapper dog from Boston is kid-tolerant and makes a fine family pet. For show purposes, the Boston terrier is separated into three weight classes: less than 15 pounds, between 15 and 20 pounds, and 20 to 25 pounds. He’s also a sturdy specimen, always ready to play with his young companions. His short coat is easy to care for and he doesn’t shed much. In addition to kids, he gets along well with cats and other dogs.
3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
The gentle, sweet Cavalier King Charles spaniel readily adapts to family life. When full-grown, Cavaliers weigh between 13 and 18 pounds. Kids are natural playmates for these affectionate little dogs. Whether it’s romping in the backyard or snuggling on the couch watching TV, children and Cavaliers soon become inseparable. One caveat: This breed doesn’t like to be alone for long periods. A Cavalier isn’t the best choice for the family with no one home during most of the day.
The Havanese breed and kids are made for each other. Although this Cuban national dog usually doesn’t weigh more than 15 pounds in adulthood, he’s a little powerhouse. The Havanese is smart, playful and easily trained. He does require a fair amount of grooming if kept in a longer show coat, but a family dog can sport a “puppy clip.” Although he’s a good watchdog, the Havanese isn’t yappy.
If a small breed is the right dog for your family and lifestyle, contact a reputable breeder. Check out the American Kennel Club or the national breed club websites for information. A good breeder makes sure the puppy and family make a good match. Of course, puppies aren’t the only option. Search online for breed rescue groups who may have adult dogs available. These dogs are likely housebroken and have had some basic training.