Hailey really loves animals, and ever since we have moved away from my family’s dogs Hailey has been asking about one. We have been discussing it because although Hailey is only 4, she is extremely good with dogs. She would play, pet, feed, and lay with my parent’s Golden Retriever every day. They were best friends. I’ve been doing a lot of research on dogs and children; however, since we are currently renting getting a larger dog is somewhat more difficult, and so we have decided to focus more on a smaller dog! I’m sure plenty of my fellow parents out there have the same problem with kids wanting dogs, and not being sure what’s the best idea, so I’m here to help you out (hopefully)!
The preferred size of a dog obviously varies from person to person so I have decided to make different lists for both large and small dogs. I have based which dogs I will mention on how often I have found them in positive standing reviews. For instance, if I researched “best small dogs for children” and looked at 15 different lists and the same breed came up in every one, I will name it here. Feel free to do your own research on each breed as well, but here is what I have found:
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
I named this one first because my family owned one, and he was a great dog. Great with kids, and super loving. He also house trained very easily compared to other dogs we had owned. Cavalier’s have 4 distinct color patterns, Ruby (solid rich reddish/brown), Tricolor, Black and Tan, and Blenheim (white and ruby), and take a little time with grooming. Their hair can become rather long, and although beautiful, it will require that you comb them a few times a week (unless you keep their hair cut short of course). As far as attitudes go, these dogs are about the best of the best – they’re friendly with children, other dogs, and strangers, AND they’re intelligent. They love cuddling up to their family and being loved, but they also dislike being left alone for long periods of time (because they loved you so much!) Also, they aren’t huge into the whole barking thing, and asmentioned earlier, tend to train easily. Cavaliers range from 13-18lbs, and have a lifespan of 9-15 years. All in all, they are GREAT dogs to have in apartment or home!
The Shih-Tzu is another great small dog! If you’re wondering, I did name this dog because I had one as a child, and because I know quite a few people with one as well. I should forewarn you, however, that while they are an excellent addition to any family they tend to be a little “mouthy”. What do I mean by that? I mean, Shih Tzu’s have a little bit of an attitude, much like a toddler does, but that’s kind of part of their charm! They are friendly dogs who love to cuddle with children, family, and strangers. Just like the Cavaliers, Shih Tzu’s also tend to bark less than other smaller dogs, and require a decent amount of grooming. How much grooming? Well that depends on how you want your Shih Tzu to look. If you’ve ever watched a dog show, you’ve probably seen a Shih Tzu, but it probably looked like this:
Obviously, keeping up a beautiful coat like that will take some time. If you’d rather not, you can always keep their hair cut shorter! Shih Tzu’s can be anywhere from 9 to 16lbs, and have a life span of 10-16 years! If you’re looking for a beautiful dog you can grow old with, this is definitely the one for you!
The Havanese is a wonderful family dog that loves everyone, including small children. They are playful and silly dogs who were made for companionship! Be warned though, their need for companionship makes them a little anxious if left alone for too long, so they’re best suited in an environment where someone is usually home. This breed is very intelligent and highly trainable. They have been used as service dogs, and have even taken on performance pieces ! This extremely versatile dog also likes to warn it’s family of potential threats, so they may bark when people come to the door, or if someone walks through the yard. However, these dogs need as much exercise as a larger dog! Don’t worry, if you live in an apartment they will still be a great addition to your family, but be sure to take your family member for plenty of walks! Havanese weigh between 7 and 13 lbs, and live from 12 to 15 years making them a great life long addition to your family!
Boston Terrier’s are fantastic dogs to have with smaller children. They weigh in at about 10 – 25 lbs (and pretty muscular to boot) so they’re small, but won’t be easily injured by a careless toddler. They are very loving, and accepting of other animals (even cats if introduced to them early on). However, Boston Terrier’s are pretty hyper and somewhat mischievous, but their spunky personality is what most people love (besides, could you really be TOO angry at those big beautiful eyes?) Extra little fun fact about these little loves: they’re prone to flatulence. Ya, that’s right, they fart A LOT, but if you’re like me the man in your life probably has you used to that by now anyway! hehe. On the plus side, their short hair makes their grooming basically non existent, and their shedding is also minimal. Which is wonderful, because who likes having to clean the floors everyday ? Definitely not me! Boston Terrier’s also have a life span of up to 13-15 years so you will be able to cuddle them for a long time, and really isn’t that what we all want?
Bichon’s are often confused with poodles, but it is actually related to a few other breeds such as the Havanese we already discussed and the Maltese (which we will discuss later). These affectionate and gentle dogs make extremely wonderful family pets, and often enjoy having another furry companion! Bichon’s are also great dogs for those who may have allergies since they have minimal shedding. However, just like a few of the other dogs we have already discussed, these super loving pups tend to suffer from separation anxiety of left alone for too long. Also, due to their size, they make excellent dogs for those who are renting, but they do require plenty of exercise so walks are a MUST. If you’d like an extra push towards the fluffy Bichon, they make excellent therapy dogs to hospitals and nursing homes if you were looking to have a family pet that could give back to the community! Bichon’s weigh 7-12 lbs, and live from 12-15 years of age.
These cute little guys weigh in at a max of 18 lbs, and are extraordinarily loving. They love their family, and basically anyone willing to give them a nice belly rub! Pugs are notoriously difficult to train so it is recommended to crate train them. Overall, Pugs are not the most intelligent breed of dog, but what they lack in intelligence they make up with their relaxed yet playful personality. Note that while they do have short hair, they still tend to shed quite a bit, so make sure to invest in some lint rollers for your work pants! These little pups are great for apartments, and are exclusively indoor dogs as they do not do well in heat or the cold. Like most of the other breeds we discussed, Pugs love companionship and will follow their loved ones everywhere which, as you may have guessed, doesn’t make them a suitable dog to leave home alone for long stretches of time. However,a Pugs immense love of children makes them a great family pet, and with a lifespan up to 15 years your children are sure to grow up with their favorite furry friend.
Maltese & Pomeranian
I want to mention both of these dogs together because they both tend to be very small, yet wonderful dogs. The Maltese (white with long hair) loves his/her family as well as other dogs, but may be shy with strangers until they warm up. You can avoid this being a habit by introducing your puppy to people regularly. Maltese are relaxed indoor dogs with light shedding and LOTS of cuddling. Similarly Pomeranian’s (red with fluffy hair) are loving and mostly relaxed dogs. The major difference here is that Pomeranian’s shed, a lot, and they have quite the attitude. Pomeranian’s are very tiny dogs, who tend to think they’re a lot bigger than they are, so while they CAN be friendly with other dogs if socialized properly, they do have a tendency to try to attack larger dogs (what can I say, they’re big at heart!) Why I mentioned both of these breeds last is because while they make excellent family pets, they are typically not suggested to families with small children. Why? Maltese and Pomeranians only grow to about 7 lbs, and young children can very easily hurt them without meaning to. However, if you have children who are a little older (They recommend about 6 years old), and understand the need to be careful when handling these pretty pups they can be excellent family pets.
Large dogs make for great family additions and tons of furry cuddles. The one potential downfall is for those who are renting. Apartments may be too small for some larger breeds, and many landlords -while willing to make exceptions for smaller animals- may not always allow for a larger dog on their property.
We are going to start off with my all time FAVORITE breed. I wanted a Golden Retriever ever since I saw Air Bud as a child, but my mother always told me no because they were large, and shed something fierce (which is definitely true!). One day, my sister and I managed to coerce my father into getting us a golden puppy, and I have been madly in love with this breed ever since. They are one of the most loving and loyal dogs you could possibly make a part of your family. Zeus (my family golden) is currently 13 years old, and still the highlight of going to parent’s house. He always meets you at the door, tail wagging, looking forward to giving whoever it is some love. They are fantastic with kids, and extremely patient. He slept by Hailey’s crib from the day she came home from the hospital, and has been her BFF ever since. I honestly can not hype them up enough. If we had the room right now, I would go out and get a Golden Retriever, but with renting it’s currently out of the question. Golden Retrievers are playful and require a lot of running around to keep up with their exercise needs. They’re also extremely intelligent and trainable (I’m sure most of you have seen a Golden being used as a service dog). The other plus to these beauties, is that they very rarely bark. In his 13 years of life, I could probably count the number of times Zeus has really barked, and it was usually in excitement at seeing another animal. Golden’s can be anywhere from 55 – 75 lbs, and have a lifespan of about 12 years (which as you can see is an average since my handsome boy is over that age. hehe).
Bernese Mountain Dog
I long to one day own a Bernese Mountain Dog. Aside from the fact that they are absolutely stunning to look at, they’re also very gentle and loving dogs. Weighing in at up to 115lbs, an old professor of mine once described his Bernese Mountain Dog as “the largest lapdog” he’s ever had. These intelligent and docile dogs make great family pets, but need a pretty large area to be comfortable, so a house with a yard is preferred. As I’m sure you can surmise from the photo, Berners tend to shed all that fur just about everywhere, so make sure you have invested in a good vacuum if you decide to bring one home! These dogs love everybody, which makes them an excellent choice in families with children of any age. However, since they are so large they may accidentally knock over small children. I feel it is important to mention that while they are a rather large dog that does well in the cold, they prefer to be apart of the family activities. So if you plan on getting a Bernese Mountain Dog, you should fully intend on having them living inside. While I love these dogs and their loving and tolerant ways, their large size has one major downfall (in my opinion) – lifespan is only 6 to 8 years.
Newfoundland’s are rather large dogs (100-150lbs) that tend to drool and shed on absolutely everything, and have a tendency to track dirt and mud throughout your home. All that aside, however, and these gentle giants make great family pets. They are highly tolerant of children, but just like the Bernese Mountain Dog, may knock over a toddler or two. Also due to size, these dogs would do much better in a larger home with a fenced in yard. His long coat will also need regular grooming, and he will need exercise and other activities to keep him fit and happy. Newfoundland’s may sound like they take a lot of work, but if you’re willing to put in the time I guarantee you’ll wonder how you ever lived without your furry (VERY furry) companion. A little fun fact: Newfoundland’s LOVE to swim, and there are a wide array of tales describing them rescuing children and sailors from icy cold waters! So basically, these dogs are super heroes in disguise! Who doesn’t want a super hero for a dog?! And not to fear, their lifespan is longer than the Bernese Mountain Dogs, with an average lifespan of 10 years.
You can’t talk about great family dogs without talking about Labradors. One of the most popular family dogs in the U.S., these dogs are loyal and loving animals who love nothing more than to play with their family. We had a black Lab for a few years (his name was Koal, I named him and thought the spelling was amazing at the time). He was an extremely intelligent dog, and very friendly. How intelligent? Well, lets just say he figured out how to open the garage down to get out of the house when no one was home. Afterwards, my father built a wooden cover so he couldn’t open the garage… he STILL opened the garage. Labs are also high energy, and do best in an environment where they can run around often. One of Koals favorite things to do (and my fathers) was to play wrestle. Him and my dad used to play fight like two puppies, probably not the best thing to do, but that’s how they played together. Labs also make excellent service dogs (just like their retriever relative – Golden Retrievers). A little story about how amazing Retrievers are, I was once walking home from school when I was younger when a car full of boys drove by. They screamed some vulgar nonsense out the window, and pulled the car over right in front of me, and at this point I was panicking. Out of NO WHERE this retriever jumps on the car door that one of the boys had started to open, slamming it shut. This dog was barking and growling at them until they sped off. This Retriever (that I have never seen before in my life) trotted over to me like nothing happened, licked my hand, and WALKED ME THE REST OF THE WAY HOME. I don’t know where he came from, or whose dog he was, but he was my angel that day. Similarly to Goldens, Labs average between 55 – 80lbs, and have a lifespan of about 12 years.
Now if you want to take gentle GIANT, look not further than the Great Dane. Great Danes can weight up to 200 LBS ! That’s a lot of dog! But don’t let their size fool you, they are sweet and loving dogs who are great with children, and are always looking to please their owner! Most Great Danes also enjoy the company of other furry friends, including cats! I think it goes without saying that this beautiful dog is going to need A LOT of space. Since these dogs are friendly and obedient they tend to train easily, but it is also important to know that Great Danes need special care. They have specific dietary restrictions, and usually have more costly vet bills due to their enormous size. It’s important going into ownership whether or not you will have enough funds to properly care for your family addition, so keep that in mind when deciding on which breed of dog you’ll be taking home. While Great Danes are very sweet dogs, they have a loud alarming back which can be great for deterring would-be burglars. The average lifespan of a Great Dane ranges between 7 and 10 years of age.
American Pit Bull Terrier
Lastly for today, I wanted to talk about the American Pit Bull Terrier. I know what some of you are probably thinking, but I assure you that you are HIGHLY misinformed. Pit Bull Terriers are AMAZING family dogs. As a matter of fact, they were commonly used as “nanny dogs” because they were so loving and tolerant of children. As with any dog, training is key. Make sure you socialize your dog properly to ensure that your dog behaves accordingly. American Pit Bull Terriers are not “Pit Bulls”, actually, “Pit Bull” isn’t even a breed of dog. The term Pit Bull is typically used to describe American Pit Bull Terriers, Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Terrier. But contrary to popular belief, these dogs are loving, loyal, and aim to please. They are extremely energetic and require a few hours of play/exercise daily. They also tend to be anxious when left alone for long periods of time. Why? Because they love their family, and want to play an active role in it! They are also HIGHLY intelligent, and easily trained. American Pit Bull Terriers are very very devoted to their families, and will protect them to their death bed. That being said, they are also friendly, and love meeting people at the door to slobber them with kisses. Honestly, my cousin has had nothing but “Pit Bulls” since he has been able to buy a dog, and they are wonderful. One of his dogs, my favorite, was named Rosco. This dog would literally LICK YOU TO DEATH if he could. That’s all he ever did, was wag his tail and love on you, and he was highly protective of the kids and always checked on them. They are a great breed of dog that sincerely loves their family. They are on the smaller end of the larger dogs we’ve mentioned weighing in between 30 to 85lbs with an average lifespan of 12 – 16 years.
For more detailed information about each breed listed here, and other breeds you may be interested in visit: Dogtime