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What is the Best Small Dog for a Family?

Family sitting at a table taking a selfie with their small poodle

Small dogs are part of various AKC groups. In today’s canine community, there is a variety of small breeds in terms of temperament, degree of activity, and coat type. Breeds like Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Maltese, and Bulldog are loved all around the world. Keep reading to know about the best small dog for a family and learn some key characteristics of these pups.

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Important Characteristics of a Small Dog for a Family

Small dog breeds make excellent companions for those seeking a pet that is neither too large nor too intimidating. They frequently outlive larger breeds and are often easier to train. Furthermore, because they are small, they do not require the same amount of space as their larger counterparts. There are other differentiating factors as well. Let’s discuss them in detail.


Chihuahua on a scale isolated on a white background.

Small dog breeds typically weigh less than 22 pounds and grow to be about a foot or 12 inches tall. The Chihuahua, Toy Poodle, and Pomeranian are among the smallest breeds.

Average Lifespan

Small dog breeds have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years, with some breeds living up to 18 years. In general, small dogs outlive their larger counterparts, with the shortest-living breeds outliving most large breeds on average.

Loving Nature

2 young girls laying on the ground with a chihuahua

Small dogs are generally very affectionate and outgoing. They enjoy spending time with their owners and show affection by snuggling, wagging their tails, and licking.


Small dogs are frequently highly intelligent and can quickly learn a variety of commands. This makes them simple to train and can help keep them out of trouble.

Playful Nature

Young boy outdoors playing with a jack Russell Terrier

Many small dogs have a lot of energy and enjoy playing. They enjoy being active, going for walks, and playing games like fetch and tug-of-war.

Low Maintenance Needs

Because of their small size, small dogs require less grooming and exercise than larger breeds and are easier to care for. A basic grooming session will usually include a bath, blow dry, nail trim, and ear cleaning. The cost of grooming ranges between $30 and $90, depending on several factors.

Small dogs usually need to be groomed every four to six weeks to prevent matting.

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Moderate Exercise Needs

Jack Russell Terrier outdoors running in grass with children

They often only require a moderate amount of exercise, which can be met by a daily 20–30-minute stroll and some unstructured playtime. The toy and miniature poodles would be the exception because they are more intelligent and active and need more mental and physical stimulation.

Consider Dietary Needs

Puppies of small breeds have a faster metabolic rate than puppies of larger breeds. As a result, they require feeding three to four times per day. It’s also a good idea to measure the food you give your dogs so they don’t eat too much and become obese. You can keep track of how much kids consume throughout the day by measuring their food.

Health Problems

Small white dog standing on an exam table while a vet listens to its chest with a stethoscope

While small dogs have fewer exercise and mental stimulation requirements, they require special attention when it comes to health. From defective knees, hips, and shoulders to heart and liver problems, collapsing cartilage in the neck, troublesome teeth, overall fragility, and easily broken bones, they are prone to several health issues.

Because they have a lower ability to regulate their internal body temperature, small breeds are more susceptible to temperature sensitivities. Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) — Small dogs are also prone to rupture or herniated discs in the spinal area. This causes pain, difficulty walking, and even paralysis.

What is the Most Affectionate Small Dog Breed?

Man sitting face to face petting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the most affectionate small dog breed. This breed is known for being friendly, loyal, and loving, and it gets along well with children. They are loving, gentle, and devoted to their owners. Other small breeds recommended by the AKC include the Italian Greyhound, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Biewer Terrier, and French Bulldog. All of these breeds are known for being friendly, loving, and loyal, and they make fantastic companions.

What is the Friendliest Small Dog Breed?

Maltese laying on a bench, nose to nose with a small child

Besides the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Maltese are one of the friendliest small dog breeds. The Maltese is an AKC-recognized breed and is renowned for its sweet and kind disposition. The Maltese are wonderful companions for both children and adults because it is very versatile and amiable. They are excellent family pets because of their well-known devotion and loyalty to their owners. They are incredibly bright and eager to please, which makes them simple to socialize and train.

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Which Small Dog Breed is Best for Kids?

Beagle puppy laying on a blanket trying to fall asleep

There is no specific dog breed to name. Several small breeds namely, the Beagle, Pug, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Border Terrier, Keeshond, Cocker Spaniel, Norfolk Terrier, and Maltese are the top small dog breeds for children. These breeds are renowned for being kind and gentle, which makes them excellent playmates for kids.

Additionally, because of their small size, they are simpler to handle and take care of. It’s crucial to teach your kids appropriate behavior around dogs and to be alert for any tiny symptoms of fear or nervousness in dogs.

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