Best Small Dogs for Families

For children who may be fearful of large dogs, these small breeds are family friendly. Many are great for small spaces — like apartments and studios. Good things come in small packages!

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Shelter Dogs


"When looking for a small dog, it is best to do your homework first," says Michelle Besmehn, Dogtown co-manager at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. "Ask yourself if you want a high-energy or laid-back dog. Shelter and rescue workers tend to match your personality with the dogs in their care." Besmehn recommends shelter dogs because they seem grateful to be adopted. And people are surprised that they can often find pure breeds at animal shelters and many breed-specific rescues.

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Pembroke Welsh Corgis


Small in size, these long-haired dogs require lots of exercise. Pembroke Welsh corgis live to please their owners and are easy to train. They just need a lot of mental stimulation and attention to stay out of trouble.

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Senior Dogs


Consider adopting an older dog. They come in all shapes and sizes, and many older and smaller dogs are quite laid back. They don't have that puppy energy, but they still are loving companions.

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Friendly, energetic, and fun loving, beagles are easy to train and enjoy being around children. Due to their curious nature, they require a lot of exercise. Their short hair makes grooming easy.

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Bichon Frise


These high-energy dogs always seem content. As long as they get attention and exercise, they remain jovial and are great family dogs. Their hair, not fur, also makes them perfect for families with allergies.

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Shih Tzu


Did you know that the word shih tzu means lion? This sweet and playful dog will protect those who are loyal to him. And good news for families who are not very active: shih tzus require a minimum amount of exercise.

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Since Maltese don't shed a lot, they are great for people with allergies. This breed is friendly around children, other dogs, and cats. They do require a lot of attention and don't like to be left alone for long periods of time. They like pleasing their owners and are easy to train.

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Miniature Schnauzer


These small, bearded dogs are spunky and curious. They are great with children and enjoy attention. Miniature schnauzers need exercise, but not too much. Their only downside is that they tend to bark a lot. But they don't shed!

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Miniature Poodles


Incredibly intelligent, miniature poodles get along well with children, other dogs, and cats. Since they don't shed, they do need to be groomed. They are great hypoallergenic dogs. Miniature poodles are loyal to their owners and are easy to train.

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The Havanese is the national dog of Cuba. They are hypoallergenic, playful, affectionate, highly intelligent, and gentle around children. They are quick learners and quite trainable.

Michele C. Hollow writes the family-friendly pet blog "Pet News and Views."

Pet News and Views