Choosing what dog to adopt is never an easy decision, but the stakes are raised when children are involved.

Options are limited further when size restrictions come into play, but plenty of small dog breeds are good with kids and are fantastic family pets.

Although all dogs' personality traits will vary, this list will give you an idea of which breeds are known for being patient and non-aggressive, with lower prey drive, while still fitting your individual needs.

17 Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids infographics

You should note that tiny dogs should still be supervised around young or excitable children, no matter how tolerant and loving the dog may be.

Teaching your kids to behave around dogs is also crucial.

Even the most well-meaning kids can sometimes play too roughly, and accidents may happen.

For the sake of the child and the dog, it is best for an adult to ensure that playtime is always gentle, safe, and supervised, even if you adopt one of the small dog breeds that are good with kids.

Small Dog Breeds for KIDS

How Do You Choose Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids? 

When looking for a small dog to adopt for your family, you want to pay attention to a few important requirements—most of these overlap with your considerations for adopting a dog regardless of the situation. 


Remember that small dog breeds that are good with kids will typically be more fragile than larger breeds.

If your kids are overly energetic or still very young, you may want to opt for a moderately small breed instead of a tiny one, like a toy breed. 


While all dogs require care, some breeds require more care than others.

Think about how much walking they require each day and if they are prone to any health issues. 

Energy and Temperament

Think about the temperament and energy levels typically associated with the breed and how that fits in with your family and your typical activities.

READ THIS: 25 Benefits of Kids Growing Up with Pets [Infographic]

17 Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

Small Dog Breeds for KIDS

Toy Dog Breeds for Kids
(average 10 pounds)

1. Papillon

Papillons (pictured above) are tiny dogs with big hearts.

This dog breed is very affectionate, but they are also quite delicate.

They would be a great dog for a family with gentle and loving children.

This breed adores people and can easily develop separation anxiety.

On the downside, they tend to bark, especially when left alone, and may not fare well in close living quarters.

Chinese Crested for Kids

2. Chinese Crested

As you see in the above photo, the Chinese Crested is a unique-looking breed.

These little dogs love people and are the center of attention. They are playful and patient with kids, and their lapdog personalities make them great for apartments.

Crested dog breeds tend to bond closely with their humans and are prone to separation anxiety if they do not receive plenty of attention.

It's best not to leave them alone for too long, but if you can manage that, they are definitely one of the best small dog breeds that are good with kids.

Maltese as Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

3. Maltese

The Maltese pack an outgoing, fearless personality into a small body.

This breed is naturally sweet and even-tempered but needs clear boundaries and discipline to avoid becoming spoiled and acting out.

These dogs are a good choice for apartment living and do not require more exercise than a regular walk and playtime to stay happy.

But even though Maltese are great with kids, you may still need to look through some resources to prepare to care for this breed, particularly if you have children.

Bichon Frise for Kids

Tiny Dog Breeds for Kids
(average 20 pounds or less)

4. Bichon Frise

Affectionate, docile, and friendly with kids and other pets, the Bichon Frise is an ideal family dog.

They are not physically demanding and only require regular, light exercise to stay fit.

As a bonus, this breed sheds very little and is a perfect fit for people with allergies.

However, these dogs have a reputation for being difficult to train to require some extra patience as puppies.

Havanese for kids

5. Havanese

Originally bred to be companion animals, the Havanese is easy-going and loves entertaining.

They are active but have minimal interest in spending much time outside.

They require little exercise beyond time to play, making them a good fit for apartments.

A Havanese will need consistent grooming to keep his fur healthy and free of matting, but other than that, he is one of the ideal small dog breeds that are good with kids.

Italian Greyhound as Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

6. Italian Greyhound

Italian Greyhounds tend to be clean, quiet dogs, making them perfect for apartment living.

Though normally calm, they can be prone to bursts of non-aggressive energy.

This breed is susceptible to the cold and will need sweaters or blankets to be comfortable in cooler climates.

They would be a good match for a household with calm, gentle children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for Kids

7. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Well-behaved and easy to train, King Charles Spaniel is definitely one of the best small breeds, for does well in any environment where they are showered with love and affection.

This breed is playful and adventurous but susceptible to anxiety without plenty of exercise and attention.

They are a wonderful choice for a family of any size that will include them in all of their adventures.

Norfolk Terrier for Kids

8. Norfolk Terrier

Norfolk Terriers are very pack-oriented and will bond closely with the entire family.

These dogs are usually quiet, making them a good match for apartment dwellers as long as they get daily exercise.

This breed is easy to train, endlessly playful, and would fit right into a home with many children to run around with.

Shih Tzu for Kids

9. Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is an affectionate, low-energy breed that is welcoming to all and a wonderful watchdog.

They can be difficult to train and require regular grooming, but their exercise needs are minimal.

Gentle and patient with all family members, these dogs can be happy in just about any location as long as their people are around.

Tibetan Spaniel for Kids

10. Tibetan Spaniel

Excellent with kids and loyal to their families, Tibetan Spaniels are ideal for a household with young children.

They love people and will likely get anxious if left alone for too long.

They don't crave exercise beyond regular walks, and their active time should be people-oriented rather than free time to play on their own.

With regular grooming, this little dog will be a happy addition to your family.

READ THIS: The Ultimate Guide for Raising Kids with Dogs

French Bulldog for Kids

Small Dog Breeds for Kids
(average 30 pounds or less)

11. French Bulldog

These dogs are not only even-tempered but endlessly entertaining as well.

French Bulldogs don't need much space and don't have specific needs for the environment besides constant attention.

Frenchies are prone to heatstroke and must be watched closely for signs of overheating in warmer climates.

This breed makes a wonderful family dog and warms up to everyone they meet with ease.

French Bulldogs are certainly one of the best small dog breeds that are good with kids.

Beagle as Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

12. Beagle

One of the best-known small dog breeds that are good with kids is the Beagle, an affectionate and curious breed.

These dogs are very patient with children and have the stamina to keep up with them.

They have a signature hound dog baying howl and may be too loud to be well-suited for apartments.

They love to explore and would fare best in a rural home with a spacious yard.

Pug for Kids

13. Pug

Pugs are sweet and funny little dogs.

They are sturdy enough to keep up with a playful child and quite patient as well.

This breed loves to play, but they are rather low-energy and susceptible to overheating.

Pugs are the definition of lapdogs and are gentle with babies and toddlers.

Just keep a close watch on their bulging eyes, which are prone to injury.

They are a perfect fit for a family that lives in a small house or apartment.

As long as they receive ample attention and naps, they'll be a wonderful addition to your family.

Cocker Spaniel for Kids

14. Cocker Spaniel

Cocker Spaniels make terrific family dogs with their loyal and affectionate nature.

This breed is also notably tolerant of other dogs and would make a good addition to a family looking for a second pet.

They tend to be sensitive, and early socialization is important to ensure they don't become too easily overwhelmed.

These dogs require regular grooming and adapt easily to different climates and types of housing.

Boston Terrier for Kids

15. Boston Terrier

Energetic, adaptable, and highly affectionate, Boston Terriers are wonderful pets for an active family.

They often bond closely with one person in particular, but not in a way that makes them aggressive towards others.

Dogs of this breed are usually very in touch with their owner's emotions and adjust their own behavior to meet their needs.

Bostons do tend to be loud, and while this makes them great guard dogs, it may result in complaints from neighbors in apartment buildings and compact suburban neighborhoods. 

West Highland White Terrier for Kids

16. West Highland White Terrier

This breed possesses a strong prey instinct, and while they may be a poor choice for a family with a cat or other small pet, they are one of the best small dog breeds that are good with kids.

Westies love to play and have the stamina to keep up with even highly active kids.

They also tend to be frequent barkers and may disturb neighbors.

These dogs are a perfect choice for a high-energy family in a home with plenty of space to run and play.

Sheltie for Kids

17. Shetland Sheepdog

Shelties are intelligent, playful dogs that need plenty of mental and physical exercise.

Though affectionate, they can be sensitive to loud noises and jerky movements, making them a better fit for a family with older children.

With their piercing bark and heavy shedding, this breed would fit in best with a rural household that offers lots of space for exercise and activities.

You'll also need to be prepared to give your Shetland Sheep Dog plenty of grooming, as they'll need regular brushing to keep their long coat soft and tangle-free.

Small Dog Breeds for KIDS

Honorable Mentions

The following are some other small dog breeds that are good with kids but didn’t quite make the cut for our list.

If you don’t find a breed you love in the above list, consider one of these: 

  • Alaskan Klee Kai
  • Australian Terrier
  • Basenji 
  • Biewer Terrier 
  • Bolognese 
  • Border Terrier 
  • Brussels Griffon 
  • Cairn Terrier 
  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund 
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • German Spitz 
  • Jack Russell Terrier 
  • Japanese Chin
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Miniature Pinscher 
  • Miniature Schnauzer 
  • Norwegian Lundehund 
  • Norwich Terrier
  • Parson Russel Terrier
  • Pekingese 
  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Pomeranian
  • Poodles (Miniature or Toy)
  • Pumi
  • Rat Terrier 
  • Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka 
  • Schipperke
  • Scottish Terrier 
  • Shiba Inu
  • Silky Terrier
  • Smooth Fox Terrier
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier 
  • Whippet
  • Wire Fox Terrier
  • Yorkipoo 
  • Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)

Common Questions About Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

If you still have some doubts about small dog breeds that are good with kids, the following answers should clear them up. 

Which Dog Is Most Child-Friendly? 

Some top child-friendly dog breeds include bulldogs, golden retrievers, beagles, pugs, Irish setters, Brussels griffons, Newfoundlands, and French bulldogs. 

What Is the Safest Family Dog?

The safest dog breeds are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Irish setters, beagles, and border collies. 

Which Dog Can Kill a Lion?

Rottweilers can kill a lion, as can wolf dogs, Neapolitan mastiffs, Boerboel dogs, Rhodesian ridgebacks, bloodhounds, Fila Brasileiros, Dogo Argentinos, kangas, and Tibetan mastiffs. 

What Is the No. 1 Dog Breed in 2020?

The most popular dog breed in 2020 was the Labrador retriever, followed by the German shepherd, golden retriever, and French bulldog. 

What Dog Is Most Dangerous?

The most dangerous dogs are wolf hybrids, Caucasian shepherds, Dobermans, German shepherds, Fila Brasileiros, Perro de Presa Canarios, Rottweilers, and pit bulls.

Small Dog Breeds that Are Good With Kids: Before You Go

Getting a small dog breed in your home can bring so much happiness to your kid.

But it's crucial to remember that having a little dog requires extra attention and affection.

If you can provide him with that, then it's a win-win for your family and your tiny goofball!

Growing up with a dog helps foster empathy and responsibility in children.

Dogs give kids special chances to connect with the family as a whole while spending time with the pet.

And kids who have dogs have more chances to be active and spend more time outdoors.

So, go out and find your child's new furry friend if you have your heart set on a tiny puppy!


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17 Small Dog Breeds That Are Good With Kids

Rachael is a writer living in Los Angeles and an alum of UNC Chapel Hill. She has been a pet owner since the age of three and began dog-walking in 2015. Her nine-year-old Pug and best pal, Ellie, is the queen of sassy faces, marathon naps, and begging.