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10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

best small dog breeds for families
Are you looking to buy or adopt a small dog for your home? Confused by the sheer variety available in small and compact-sized dogs? Did you know there are nearly 65 AKC-recognised purebred small dog breeds and countless small-sized mixed-breed dogs? Making a choice can indeed be challenging. Worry not! We’ve got you covered! Presenting a list of 10 of the best small dog breeds, perfect for Australian families. We have also covered the traits of a good family dog.

What are the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families, you ask? Are you looking to buy or adopt a small dog for your home? Confused by the sheer variety available in small and compact-sized dogs?

Did you know there are nearly 65 AKC-recognised purebred small dog breeds and countless small-sized mixed-breed dogs? Making a choice can indeed be challenging.

Worry not! We’ve got you covered! Presenting a list of 10 of the best small dog breeds, perfect for Australian families. We have also covered the traits of a good family dog.

What Characteristics Make for the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families?

Here are some general traits to look for in dogs that make excellent family pets:

Gentle and Friendly

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Families have a friendly, gentle, and tolerant temperament. It should be patient with children and other pets, and easily adapt to various situations. If you have young children, it’s important to select a dog that is naturally gentle and patient around them.

Choose a dog who is naturally friendly and enjoys social interactions with humans and other pet animals. Dogs who are open to meeting new people and forming bonds do well in family environments.

Avoid breeds that have a high tendency for aggression or possessiveness. The Best Small Dog Breeds for Families should be able to get along well with everyone in the household, including other pets.

Playful and Intelligent

Dogs that enjoy playtime can engage with family members, especially children, in a positive and energetic way. Playfulness helps build strong bonds between the dog and family members.

Similarly, an intelligent and eager-to-please dog is easier to train and can understand and follow commands. This helps with obedience and makes the dog a safe member of the family.

Adaptable

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Families are adaptable to various environments and lifestyles. Whether you live in an apartment or a house, in the city or the countryside, a dog that can adjust to different situations will be easier to integrate into your family life.

Energetic Yet Calm

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Families have a balance between energy levels, an on-and-off switch is important. Look for a dog that will enjoy active play but can also relax indoors.

Matches Your Lifestyle

Make sure the dog’s exercise, grooming, and training requirements match your family’s lifestyle. For example, if you have elderly parents living with you, they may not tolerate rambunctious, noisy dogs that yap all day.

Note that some small dog breeds need more physical activity, grooming, mental stimulation, etc. than others. Therefore, it is important to choose a dog that fits your schedule, family situation, activity level, and energy level.

Let us now study the breed profiles for 10 of the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

1.   Toy Cavoodle

10 Best Small Dog Breeds

Toy Cavoodles average 3-7kg (11-15 lb.) and measure around 30-35 cm (11-13 inches) at the shoulders. 

Cavoodles are obtained by crossing Toy Poodles with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. These small, fluffy dogs are affectionate, smart, and easy to train. 

They make great lapdogs but are also energetic and active, making excellent playmates for children. Cavoodles are generally calm and are also great for elderly people. The F1-B Cavoodle (Cavoodle backcrossed to a Poodle) is hypoallergenic and low-shedding.

The adaptable mixed-breed dog easily adjusts to apartments and homes with small yards. They are the most popular dog in Australia and our top pick for the 10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

Only buy your Cavoodle from a reputable breeder. Being the most popular small dog breed has encouraged puppy farms to offer Cavoodle puppies for sale. These dogs have been shown to develop behaviour problems and live shorter lives than dogs raised in loving family homes. 

2.   Australian Terrier

Small Dog Breeds for Families

Australian Terriers are small dogs weighing around 6.5 kg or 14 lb. They measure around 10 inches or 25 cm. 

These pint-sized dogs don’t need too much grooming, but they may still need weekly brushing to keep their coat healthy. Australian terriers are also energetic and active and need daily exercise and playtime to keep boredom and obesity at bay. 

This small dog is robust and generally healthy, it is one of the low-maintenance Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

3.   Bichon Frise

best small dogs

Bichon Frise are cute, white, and fluffy dogs measuring 24-30 cm (around 10 inches) and weighing about 5-8 kg (around 12-18 lb.).

Bichon Frise are playful, gentle, all-around dogs that get along well with children and other pets.

These adorable dogs need plenty of grooming, including monthly trips to a professional groomer. They also need to be walked for at least 30-45 minutes a day. 

Their non-shedding coat requires regular brushing making this one of the higher maintenance Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

4.   Pug

best behaved small dogs

Pugs measure between 25-33 cm (10-13 inches) and weigh about 6-8 kg (14 to 18 lb.). Pugs are playful, sociable, intelligent, trainable, and loving dogs. They get along beautifully with children and other pets.

However, being brachycephalic, they do come with their share of health issues. For example, you need to exercise your pet during the cooler parts of the day, especially in the warmer months, to prevent heat exhaustion or overheating. Pugs usually do not need too much exercise- but they must be walked at least twice daily for 5-10 minutes each to prevent obesity. 

Pugs have short coats that shed moderately all year round, so a grooming glove can be your best companion to prevent the hair from flying everywhere.

If you’re looking for a calm, child-friendly small dog, the pug is one of the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

5.   Australian Silky Terrier

best dog breeds for families

The Australian Silky Terrier, or simply Silky Terrier, is a small hypoallergenic dog that resembles a Yorkshire Terrier. It measures 23-26 cm (9-10 inches) and weighs about 4-5 kg or 9-11 lb. 

Properly socialised Silkies get along well with children and other dogs. However, given their small size, it is important to teach kids to be careful when playing around a Silky.

Silky Terriers need at least 30-45 minutes of playtime or walking every day. They also need a lot of grooming because their fine, silky hair is prone to matting and tangles.

6.   French Bulldog

calm friendly small dog breeds

French Bulldogs, or Frenchies, weigh around 8-14 kg (17-30 lb.) and measure about 25–34 cm or 10-13 inches.

Frenchies don’t take up too much space, making them one of the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families with small homes. They are generally mild-tempered and well-behaved dogs. Frenchies are also playful, loving, and affectionate. They love kids and make ideal companions and playmates for them. They also adapt easily to various situations, and they rarely bark. Aim to walk your French Bulldog for at least 30 minutes a day to prevent obesity and destructive behaviour.

7.   Maltese

best small dog breeds for families non shedding

Maltese are beautiful white dogs with gorgeous coats. These small dogs measure no more than 23 cm or 9 inches and weigh around 4 kg or 8 lb.

Maltese temperament makes them excellent family dogs. They are eager to please, cheerful, and loving. They enjoy learning and respond well to early socialisation and training. 

Maltese generally get along well with kids but need to be accustomed to them from an early age. Being small makes them easy to pick up. They don’t need too much exercise – a couple of walks around the block or indoor playtime should be adequate. However, they do have fairly high grooming needs.

8.   Toy Poodle

smallest toy dog breeds

Toy Poodles have a withers height of around 26 cm, or 10 inches and a typical weight in the range of 3-4 kg, or about 6-9 lb.

Toy Poodles are adorable to look at and incredibly smart. They are highly intelligent, trainable, and eager to please. 

They have fairly low exercise needs, but a walk or two daily will keep them happy and prevent boredom. Toy Poodles are hypoallergenic and suitable for people with pet allergies. However, they need a fair amount of grooming, including professional grooming.

Toy Poodles are small and can easily be injured; they are not one of the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families with young children. If you’re considering a Toy Poodle and have young children, a Cavoodle might be a better option.

9.   Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

low-maintenance kid friendly small dogs

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are small dogs measuring around 30-32 cm, or 12-13 inches. They weigh about 6-8 kg or around 15 lb.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are friendly, loyal, and intelligent dogs. They are patient with kids and, if socialised, get along well with other pets. The sweet, adaptable dog breed even makes an ideal pet for first-time dog owners. Cavaliers are mostly docile and don’t bark a lot. However, boredom and a lack of exercise can make them yappy and stressed. Aim to walk your Cavalier for at least 30-45 minutes every day.

10.  Shih Tzu

best family dogs

The standard size of a Shih Tzu is between 4-8 kg or 9-16 lb. They measure about 20-27 cm or 8-10 inches.

Shih Tzus are perky, happy, and playful dogs. They make excellent playmates for kids and can get along with people of all ages. However, Shih Tzus are prone to barking, so you need to train and socialise your pet from the beginning. These people-pleasing dogs also make excellent pets for beginners. However, they do need a lot of grooming, including regular trips to professional groomers.

Shih Tzus don’t need too much exercise – 15-30 minutes a day with indoor playtime should be adequate for most dogs. Their moderate energy levels make them one of the Best Small Dog Breeds for Families.

Conclusion – Best Small Dog Breeds for Families

The Best Small Dog Breeds for Families are generally calm and child-friendly. Despite a breed’s traits and temperament characteristics, there is always the potential for a puppy to develop behaviour problems without proper socialisation and puppy training. Similarly, it is important to only buy a puppy from an ethical breeder who health tests and raises their puppies as part of their family.

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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney
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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

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